Back on September 11, 2001, America became united in their hatred of an entity, Al Qaeda. It did not matter if you were conservative, liberal, libertarian, a hippy, a criminal or an upstanding citizen. There were a few naysayers out there, but by and large, the country came together and had a new enemy, and for very good reason. Al Qaeda had attacked this country in the most cowardly of fashions, and killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans that day.
Jump forward 13 years and the country is once again united in their hatred of a group, Law Enforcement. Look around and you will see that every “news” source, conservative, liberal, libertarian, even the conspiracy theory nut jobs, scratch that, especially the conspiracy theory nuts, are running stories painting law enforcement as evil. Even one of my favorite conservative political pundits, Bill Whittle, has even joined in with spreading the cop hate.
The problem is, there is a gigantic difference between Al Qaeda and Law Enforcement. Al Qaeda actually did something to earn their hate; Law Enforcement has not.
Law Enforcement, as an entity, is the victim of a hugely successful smear campaign originally waged by the far left, aided by the Alex Joneses around this country. These folks have been running this campaign for years. They run completely sensationalized, one sided stories which portray Law Enforcement as some evil oppressor, but later when the facts surrounding the incident disprove the lies and distortions they had originally broadcast, repeatedly, for days, they are nowhere to be found. If they actually run a correction, it is a back page or closing commentary footnote, and is only said once. But by that time, the damage has been done.
That smear campaign from the left has been so successful that it has bled over and begun to infect the right. Conservative news outlets have begun running the same stories, and while they tend to offer a slightly more balanced version, it is still far from level.
These news stories, that do so much to tarnish the reputation of law enforcement as a whole, are based on nothing more than lies and distortions, told by one side of the event, and are broadcast as if they were the gospel truth without doing an ounce of fact checking. If and when the facts come out, they almost never support the original story. The statistics absolutely do not support the narrative. The occurrences of legitimate police brutality are not in fact on the rise. In fact, while the reporting of those incidents has remained fairly constant over the years, the advent of in-car cameras, cameras in detention facilities and now body cameras have been a blessing to Law Enforcement because those videos have done far more to completely destroy a huge number of unfounded complaints. However, the reporting of the alleged incidents is most definitely on the rise, by any and all media sources from print to video. And to the uninformed masses, perception sadly is reality.
Only a few months ago, on June 8, 2014, what was once a not-so-common occurrence happened. Two nut jobs, fueled by the constant flow of “police state” propaganda pushed by sites like “InfoWars” and “Cop Block”, snuck up on and murdered two Las Vegas Metro PD officers, in a most cowardly fashion, while the officers were eating their lunch. It was a completely unprovoked attack on the cops for no reason other than the uniforms they wore. It was by no means the first incident like that to happen, but it was one of the few incidents of its kind to make major, national news. The reason it made national news was not because the cops were killed though, but because the killers shot and killed another person, who from all accounts was a stand-up guy trying to end the event, and that shooting took place in a WalMart. They media ran with the story because initially it appeared to fit their mass-shooter, guns are bad agenda, but once the true facts of the event came out, the story quickly lost steam in the national news.
A few short months later, Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, MO Police Department shot and killed “an unarmed teen” who was nothing more than a “gentle giant”. The media went crazy over the story. The race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson rolled out in force. The New Black Panthers quickly arrived and began issuing death threats to cops. President Obama, like he has done so many times in the past, jumped in and made uninformed, erroneous comments about the situation, and he sent Attorney General Eric Holder (a man who should be occupying a jail cell) to the area to conduct his own “impartial” investigation. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, even put out a video, long before all the evidence had been reviewed, in which he called for the prosecution of Officer Wilson. The media of every stripe was lapping this situation up. The ratings soared! The story was non-stop for weeks. Riots, I mean “peaceful protests” ensued. Cops were shot at for nights on end and had Molotov cocktails thrown at them. Stores were destroyed. People were shot (by the “peaceful protesters”, not the cops) and injured. Even the media people were attacked and had rocks thrown at them.
Then, as more and more of the evidence of the case comes out, the more and more it looks like what actually happened was not remotely what they were selling. Yet the cries of “police brutality” continued. The screams about the “militarized cops” got louder, and louder, and even though the story that started this whole situation, fueled by the lying media (if you knowingly allow people to spew lies on the news without correcting them by offering the truth, you are as guilty as the person telling the lie) continued to grow. Senators (Rand Paul) jumped into the fray complaining about the “militarization” of the police, but their comments were based on the totally skewed, and completely untruthful coverage of the incident by the mainstream media.
What lies? How was it skewed? Well, we saw hundreds of videos and photographs of the cops in camouflage and body armor carrying rifles. We saw picture after video of armored cars, which are constantly, incorrectly referred to as tanks. We heard about how the cops are running around with “machine guns”. All of which sounds scary as hell. However, it was nothing but smoke and mirrors. Those cops in camo, those were the SWAT teams that were there, and the armored cars were theirs. The regular cops, the vast majority of the cops dealing with the riots, sorry, protests, were the patrol guys who do the job on the street every day. Those guys were out there in their regular uniforms wearing regular riot gear. They were not wearing plate carriers and were not running around with rifles, but the media played them down.
Try it, do a Google image search for the term “Ferguson riot police”. You will see the difference. There are images showing both groups; the SWAT guys and the regular cops. The difference is, the images we were constantly bombarded with by all of the media sources, liberal to conservative, were not of both groups, but were rather just the SWAT guys. Why is that? Could it be because regular cops in regular riot gear don’t make nearly as juicy a story as the scary SWAT guys in camo?
I mentioned Bill Whittle above and for good reason. He is a man who I find myself in nearly complete agreement on most topics, and I have a good deal of respect for him. Our ideals are very similar, we share similar ideas on the scope and size of government, etc. Yet, this man whom I admire shows so much disdain for my chosen career. A career inhabited by people who mostly share the same ideals he and I do. Bill, in a recent Trifecta episode, complained about the militarization of law enforcement, talking about us running around with machine guns (false) in camo (mostly false) arresting reporters (false) arguing we should be wearing white uniforms and if weaponry was needed at a scene, we should call for the National Guard. Ignoring the absurdity of running into harms way daily with the only means of fighting back being the National Guard, who generally take days to respond, the irony of him complaining about militarized cops, followed by wanting the actual military to respond to police Americans was jaw dropping for me. If an intelligent, well spoken, politically astute man such as Bill is buying into the bogus media hype, what hope does the average person have?
So, as the media continually bombards the public with the carefully edited, sensationalized propaganda, sorry, I mean news coverage, the fear and hate and distrust grows. Law enforcement has a big enough public relations problem already, and with the coverage we received over the last month, that hole we are in got about ten times deeper. The people out there, the ones who were already on the edge, are now seeing stories everywhere that feed into their fears.
For Pete’s sake, the fear and distrust has gotten so ridiculously bad that an article, one as clearly satire as this one, where a local police department is supposedly receiving a surplus US Navy aircraft carrier to patrol the Tennessee river, is being taken as factual. You know people are losing touch with reality when they start believing stuff like that. Seriously, read some of the comments in response to that article. People are losing their minds.
Another similar instance is where some nut job blogger recently accused the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department in Florida of purchasing eight (8) Apache attack helicopters (in 2007, the price tag for a single Apache was $20 million), and last I checked, they are not yet available as surplus freebies. As ridiculously insane as that claim sounds, people bought it. It became so big of an issue locally that the Sheriff had to write a public response, which he happily posted on their Facebook page, in order to deny the preposterous claims.
Suddenly, and on a national level, the occurrences of completely unprovoked attacks on law enforcement have skyrocketed, as have the number of assaults due to suspects resisting. Cops from coast to coast are being ambushed for no apparent reason. A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles times ran a story in which a LA County union official was quoted as saying it was like an “open season” on the cops down there due to the number of incidents where cops were taking gunfire. Every single day for more than a week straight, I got an email in my inbox talking about another officer shot in the line of duty. Some days, I got several of those emails.
Just in the last 10 days, five cops were killed by gunfire, and a number of others were wounded but are expected to survive. Of those cops shot and killed during that timeframe, the majority of the shootings were ambushes.
An Indiana officer, only 24 years old, was shot and killed by a gunman wearing body armor, who ambushed two officers inside an apartment. A Kansas cop was shot and killed during a traffic stop, but little has been released about the incident. A South Carolina officer was killed, and another shot, by a man who ambushed them by firing through a door when they knocked. An EMT also died from a heart attack while responding to this event. In Pennsylvania, two troopers were ambushed outside their station at shift change. One of them died, the other was only injured. A Georgia cop was shot and killed, and his partner was also shot but will survive, by a suicidal man they were responding to assist.
This year, 2014, is poised to be the first year in a very long time in which gunfire is the leading cause of on-duty law enforcement deaths. For most of my career, the leading cause of death has been car crashes, but this year gunfire has a very strong lead. Cop deaths by gunfire are currently at a rate that is 52% higher than last year. By any measure, that is a substantial increase.
What has changed? Well, this month marks my 18 year anniversary on the job. Our riot control training has not changed once in my career. My department has had an armored car for far longer than I have been on the job, and still does. The armored car has been replaced and upgraded over the years, but it is still nothing more than a bullet proof vehicle with no offensive armament. Our SWAT team has always had access to much better body armor than the regular patrol guys, and has always had access to “machine guns”, although they recently traded their MP5’s for 10” select-fire AR’s (due to the fact that .223 ammo is less likely to over penetrate compared to 9mm). Cops have always had access to riot gear, going all the way back to the 1950’s, so that is not new. A few of our tools have changed since the 1960s. Now we use sound cannons instead of water cannons. We use rubber bullets instead of real bullets. We still use tear gas in riots, but now the tear gas is fired from a 40mm launcher instead of a hand thrown gas grenade. The tactics have not changed. The attitude has not changed. The only thing that has actually changed is the public impression.
Why are cops being assaulted more now than in the last 20 years? I believe much of it has to do with the image that is being portrayed by not only the media, but by political figures all the way up to the president. We, Law Enforcement, are the new Al Qaeda. We are the new, hip group to hate. We are the enemy du jure. The leftist progressive media has hated law enforcement for decades. Now, sadly, it appears that the rightwing media has decided to jump on board with them.
I’m not sure what either wing of the media expects to gain from this, other than revenue, but I can tell you one thing for certain, the damage they are doing to law enforcement will have direct repercussions for many years, and the side effects of their distorted coverage is putting my coworkers and I at much greater risk of being killed for no other reason than what we choose to do for work.