17 Jan 2021 Good Officers’ Lives Matter
Project 21 member Rich Holt held some apprehension about law enforcement officers because he was pulled over in the past for what he called “driving while black.” But, after he went on a police ride-along, he gained a new respect for the rank-and-file officers whom he called “the best and most dedicated among us.”
In a Washington Examiner commentary, Rich writes:
My ride-along had begun with a feeling of uncertainty about a day in the life of a police officer. I found these are good, dedicated people we desperately need to be doing this work. They face down the criminals, help the guy stranded in the street, and get dangerous drunks off the road.
I believe the officers I rode with are a representative sample of the culture of the police nationwide. Unfortunately, there are also officers lacking this altruistic philosophy of community service. And union contracts oftentimes prevent bad officers from being fired, force departments to rehire disciplined officers, and expunge disciplinary records.
Rich describes several of the police calls he experienced – from wellness checks to a tense and violent arrest. He says he discovered “the mantra of a capable, competent and professional police department”:
- Be polite
- Be respectful
When it came to the arrest, over a half-dozen state troopers were engaged in an effort to subdue a drunk driver who kicked, spat upon, rushed and threatened to kill the troopers. “Despite the resistance,” Rich reports, “not one trooper pulled a gun.”
I later asked a trooper why they didn’t just shoot the guy. After all the videos of physical violence on social media, I wondered why they didn’t act similarly when the drunk guy said he wanted to kill them.
I felt it was the toughest question of the night and the crux of current law enforcement debate. Most officers do a fantastic job, but there are enough rotten apples to encourage the “all cops are bastards” narrative pushed by the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement.
The officer and his colleagues didn’t skip a beat in answering my question.
“When I’m out there, I’m all alone,” he said. “I’m 20 to 30 minutes from backup. I have to deescalate, or people die. If people die, people won’t trust the police. Deescalating is what we do, and killing that guy wasn’t the right thing to do. It’s my job to handle it.”
“While the media highlights ‘bad apple’ officers, police violence is far from the nationwide epidemic it’s portrayed to be,” Rich concludes. “Most police departments are filled with the kind of officers with whom I rode. They’re the best and most dedicated among us.”
To read Rich’s Washington Examiner commentary – “Good Police Officers’ Lives Matter” – click here.
This commentary is an abridged version of a longer essay Rich wrote in which he was able to describe in more detail the police calls during his ride-along and his thoughts on policing. That essay can be found here.