During the past few years, we have repeatedly discussed the ever-increasing pressure on law enforcement. Whether it be politicians looking for an easy headline or media outlets hunting for clicks, we continue to find ourselves at the epicenter of blame for all of society’s ills. The New Jersey Comptroller’s Office may be the latest to pile on.
The state comptroller’s office, an “independent” agency overseeing the executive branch of state government, announced that it will spend the next several months investigating police reforms. The agency will prepare an investigation into whether law enforcement agencies are complying with reforms covering training and discipline for law enforcement officers.
Of course, a fair and objective study would report back that our job has become tougher and more dangerous than any time in our history. We have served on the frontlines during a global pandemic even as the public reads special report after special report alleging we are all overpaid or guilty of criminal behavior as politicians seemingly trip over each other trying to find a hot microphone. Of course, to the surprise of absolutely no one serving in law enforcement, this has all led to open hostility and increasing disrespect toward our brothers and sisters on streets and in neighborhoods throughout New Jersey.
Even as members of law enforcement are targeted, we are told we need more reform. Meanwhile, many of the most recent reforms have created a situation that sides with those committing crimes. But they got the positive headlines desired.
A prime example is bail reform, legislation that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree needs to be revisited because of the existing loophole that allows violent criminals to get out of jail following their bail hearing. Meanwhile, almost immediately, everyone spoke glowingly of the needed reform, crime and gun violence escalated.
This is only one of the many prominent examples of headline-generating reforms that create problems for law enforcement and the communities in which we serve. Currently, members of law enforcement risk their careers by simply questioning individuals in the possession of marijuana and alcohol. The marijuana reforms basically criminalize any response or investigation by a law enforcement officer for illegal use by juveniles. In the simplest terms, an officer who sees or smells marijuana or alcohol cannot even inquire about the age of the user to ensure they can legally possess it without the officer facing potential discipline.
We can also look at the new policy changes regarding the strict rules on pursuing a carjacker or other offender, a headline-making reform that informed criminals that law enforcement cannot pursue them. This is a new policy so laughably bad that we have actually heard stories from our brothers and sisters who are confronted directly by offenders who know that they can’t be pursued if they flee.
Yet, people are wondering why we have an historic rise in crime throughout all our communities while these one-sided headline-generating reforms make our jobs more difficult and much more dangerous. We are witnessing one of the biggest upticks in violent crime in a generation and, yet there are groups that still spread the idea of defunding the police while ignoring that rise in violent crime in communities throughout our state and country.
Our leadership has never, and will never, oppose common sense police reforms. But that is not what we are seeing, so we will continue fighting every day against these ridiculous easy headlines. In the meantime, crime continues to rise, attacks on police are escalating and law enforcement at all levels is having difficulty attracting recruits. It is beyond my comprehension how any of that can be surprising when criminals are prioritized over law enforcement officers and rhetoric for headlines and clicks takes precedence over the people we have sworn to protect.
President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union that “We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. The answer is to fund the police.” Let’s hope this is the start of new thinking on law enforcement and not just more political speak.
As always, look out for one another, protect your brothers and sisters, and make sure you make getting home to your loved ones your No. 1 priority.