Trust! What an interesting word. The concept of trust has been around since the beginning of time. You hear it in all walks of life. If you are the quarterback, you have to trust your offensive line to protect you or you have to trust your wide receivers to make you look good, but if your defense does not stop the other team, you don’t stand a chance to win. We in law enforcement put our trust in each other to ensure that we can protect our communities and the good people who reside in them. In order for the working troops to accomplish their mission, we need our leaders to have our backs and ensure that we have the tools to effectively accomplish our goals.
I have learned a lot about trust in these past few months. A couple of years ago, I watched all the candidates who were vying for public office make phone calls and promises and come to the door of the LVPPA, asking for our support. I watched in awe as some of these candidates appeared at our special events, and we even answered requests to appear in commercials. I heard the heartfelt speeches about their support for law enforcement and how they all wanted to be tough on crime. The LVMPD went through a massive reform during the Obama administration, and we worked tirelessly with the federal government to ensure that we were transparent and doing things the right way. Things like de-escalation and recognizing when not to use deadly force were and are being taught on a regular basis. We placed our trust in a guy running for governor who said he would work with the men and women in law enforcement, and we placed our trust in many officials who came to us with their hats in their hands, asking for our support.
When the events unfolded in Minneapolis, we were outraged just like everyone else seemed to be. But for all the hard work performed by the men and women of the LVMPD, we had no support shown to us by our esteemed elected officials, no words of encouragement, no praise for our hard work and dedication. But what we did have was people turning their backs and spitting on law enforcement. We had people with political agendas who were trying to appear to be tough on law enforcement but not on crime. So I ask you today, where is the leadership? And, more importantly, where is the trust? None of our so-called elected leaders have come forward and shown any support for the men and women who work tirelessly in our career field to make this community safe.
I have to be fair and admit that some of this noise comes from within our own ranks. When you have a chief and a captain on this Department who will publicly and openly criticize the LVPPA and hurl accusations that we force the Department to keep bad cops hired, that is typical of someone who is not a leader but is saying what they think people want to hear. It is disheartening for our members to think that there are certain people in command do not have their backs or who simply have their own agenda. When someone makes the statement that we should be able to fire someone and not have a third party give them their job back, they are showing that due process and an employee’s rights mean nothing unless it benefits them.
So where do we go from here? The LVMPD is not perfect and we are not without flaws. We make mistakes, and sometimes we get it wrong. But instead of working with us and trying to reasonably effect some positive change, we are faced with people who are not willing to stand up for the rank and file. We have heard the term “reform” used a lot lately. Unfortunately, no one can tell me what type of reform is needed. I chose this career field because I truly believe we make a difference. I think of all the people we have helped over the years, and to us it does not matter about race or political stance. We will push forward and continue to support and represent our members. We will not allow the cowardice of a few politicians to derail us from our goal.