AP featured image
Protesters rally Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Phoenix, demanding the Phoenix City Council defund the Phoenix Police Department. The protest is a result of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Matt York)

 

Given all the animus toward police at the moment, where is the country headed?

In a snap, we’ve gone from a battle cry against police brutality to the cancellation of TV hit Cops and the pulling of A&E’s Live PD and Discovery’s Body Cam.

Moreover, the Minneapolis City Council has unanimously voted to dismantle the city’s police department as calls for defunding come from all over the left flank of the politiverse.

So…what next?

Members of law enforcement may not wanna stick around to find out.

And as it turns out, some previously putting their lives particularly on the line are taking steps back.

Such is the case for Hallandale Beach, Florida’s ten-member SWAT team.

The crew — which includes eight officers and two sergeants — recently resigned.

In a memo Friday to City of Hallandale Beach Police Chief Sonia Quiñones, the irked officers explained:

The risk of carrying out our duties in this capacity is no longer acceptable to us and our families. The anguish and stress of knowing that what we may be lawfully called upon to do in today’s political climate combined with the team’s current situation and several recent local events, leave us in a position that is untenable.

Even before the sudden and thunderous national shout against law enforcement, the bunch was already embittered:

The team is minimally equipped, under trained and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics to the extent of placing the safety of dogs over the safety of the team members. … The City Administration has shown a clear disdain for our agency and the team with their lack of willingness to provide adequate budgets to address the above mentioned equipment and training concerns.

What’s more, according to the letter, Hallandale Beach’s deputy mayor has disparaged the team with “ignorant and inaccurate statements attacking the lawful actions of the city’s officers and SWAT team both from the dais and her social media accounts.”

Allegedly, she even had “the gall to compare [them] to the Minneapolis Police Department.”

But the real dealbreaker, evidently, was when the police chief knelt with the vice mayor amid a call to reopen the case of Howard Bowe, an unarmed black man shot — as per the Sun-Sentinel — by SWAT in his kitchen in 2014:

Lastly, and most shockingly, having members of the Command Staff taking a knee in solidarity with Vice-Mayor [Sabrina Avellana] (who stated she wants the officers fired and charged) and a handful of political activists while they chanted, “Howard Bowe, re-open the case, State Attorney, re-open the case.”

The letter asserted there’s already been a thorough probe of the incident:

This case was investigated by a Grand Jury, The State Attorney, FDLE and settled in a civil action. The city also went so far as to hire Greenwood and Streicher, LLC, consulting company that focuses on government accountability and policing solutions to assist in investigating the incident internally as well as to conduct an audit of the uses of force by this agency. Scott Greenwood has been general counsel for the ACLU and Tom Streicher is a former Chief of the Cincinnati Police Dept. (1999-2011). They too, found no misconduct on the part of the involved officers. This lack of support by members of the Command Staff is crippling to the agency and its rank and file.

“Until these conditions and sentiments are rectified and addressed,” the letter concluded, “we cannot safely, effectively and in good faith carry out our duties in this capacity without putting ourselves and our families at this needless increased level of risk.”

On Friday, the Miami Herald noted the chief had “set a meeting with the 10 officers on Monday to hear their concerns, collect their equipment and thank them for their service.”

The group in Florida, as you may well know, isn’t the first to pull out of auxiliary duties.

As covered by RedState’s Brad Slager, the Buffalo Police Department recently saw its entire 57-member Emergency Response Team withdraw.

That departure occurred following the suspension of two officers in the wake of an older man being purportedly pushed down and injured.

In the cases of Buffalo and Hallandale, the cops remain on the force — just not in their capacity as specialty team members.

As for the Howard Bowe situation, I’m not familiar enough to speak on it — which is to say, I wouldn’t suggest the case shouldn’t be reopened.

But putting particulars aside, this story combined with many others at the moment brings to mind a question. Given the current general state of anti-police rhetoric — and if our condition continues — it’s not difficult to imagine people quitting in droves.

Ultimately, would that leave us safer?

Personally, for years, I’ve believed in the need for law enforcement reform.

At times, horrific wrongful shootings and beatings have taken place, without justice served; abuse has gone inadequately addressed. But doing away with law enforcement (as some have suggested) — or seeing those currently employed go elsewhere en masse — may not lead us where we want to go.

-ALEX

 

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