JUST THE FACTS is an editorial written by Sam Cabral, President of the International Union of Police Associations, republished here, in its entirety and unedited, with the express permission of Dennis Slocumb, Legislative Director, International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO.
I hear the hand wringing lament of political figures and the news media about the broad distrust of America’s Law Enforcement Officers. The fact is this is simply untrue. According to a Gallup Poll, conducted in December of 2020, your American Law Enforcement Officer is the fifth most trusted profession in this great nation.
This drone of rhetoric, shouted by a vocal minority and repeated by a dishonest media as well as some political figures, is intended to divide this nation and is not helpful to the public or to the men and women who suit up every day to protect their communities.
Today, our officers are responding to events for which they have not been sufficiently trained. They are called for mental health cases, homeless issues, fires, floods, and earthquakes. They encounter people daily who are ill, drunk, enraged, or experiencing some traumatic event for which they are unprepared. Our officers respond to these events and ALMOST ALWAYS, resolve the issue successfully. When we do not, we are on the front page and the lead story on CNN.
We certainly acknowledge that there are bad cops and no one wants them removed from the profession more than good cops. We also know that outliers exist in every profession from the priesthood to our schoolteachers. Those few must be weeded out and removed. We also believe that we, along with every American, have the presumption of innocence and the right to due process to determine guilt. We defend that process for our members. If, after a thorough investigation and presentation of evidence, the preponderance of which indicates a person’s abandonment of our oath, we are happy to see them leave our ranks. We also support the notion that they should not be employed as a law enforcement officer in another jurisdiction.
According to the FBI, our officers make about ten million arrests each year, including more than 500,000 for violent crimes.
Almost all of these arrests result in no use of force. In those cases where force is necessary, it is almost always due to resistance by the suspect being arrested; that resistance dictates the level of force. Therefore, it is the subject being taken into custody, who determines the necessity for any level of force.
As the American Law Enforcement Officer continues to be vilified, they have substantially decreased their self-generated crime suppression activities. They do not wish to be the lead story on CNN or featured in the next YouTube video in the event of a violent confrontation with a criminal. Traffic stops have been discouraged and have decreased. Many self-generated arrests come as a result of these traffic stops. Guns, likely to be used in a crime, are discovered and seized as those in unlawful possession of them are taken into custody – before they are used in a crime. In Columbus, Ohio, it has been reported that as traffic stops decreased by 80%, the murder rate increased by 75%.
Police Officers are retiring at an alarming rate and recruitment is down significantly. Cities and counties, still facing fiscal challenges brought about by the pandemic, are now paying overtime to staff their departments. Many have reduced greatly, the types of events they will respond to. None of this bodes well for the public’s safety.
The most basic role of government is the protection of its residents. Many people in inner cities are still putting their children to bed in cast iron bathtubs to protect them from random gunfire. It does not have to be that way. We can all do better.
Law enforcement has to work with the communities AND, the communities have to work with us, to find a path forward absent the venomous attacks from a loud few.
* * *
Originally chartered in 1979, the International Union of Police Associations is the only chartered labor union that exclusively represents law enforcement personnel. The I.U.P.A. represents active-duty, rank and file law enforcement professionals and emergency medical personnel nationwide – including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The I.U.P.A.’s mission is to protect and advance officers’ wages, benefits, and work conditions. Membership includes officers from agencies throughout the United States, including the U.S. territories in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. More information is available at www.iupa.org.
* * *
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.