It is Summer 2021, the fifth anniversary of the July 7, 2016, Dallas, Texas ambush on law enforcement that left five officers dead and the second anniversary of the murder of Jersey City detective Joseph Seals coming. And, with the COVID pandemic and the anti-law enforcement bias across the country, 2020 will almost certainly go down as one of the deadliest for law enforcement in history.
As I write these words, I recognize this moment in our history as one of the worst, if not the worst, time to be serving in law enforcement. The current national conversation that consistently disparages law enforcement can almost make it seem difficult to recall a time when law enforcement was respected for the dangerous job we do every day.
But those days are not that long ago. It was just last spring when our brothers and sisters in law enforcement were being lauded for keeping streets and neighborhoods safe in the middle of the deadly global pandemic. We were praised as we devoted our own time to attend uplifting motorcades to help children celebrate birthdays and graduations and help remind people of the sense of community we would all need to pull through those difficult times.
In the meantime, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) reported that 264 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year, representing the largest death toll since 1974. And in the midst of these tremendous sacrifices, many major media outlets have seemingly turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to all positive law enforcement news while far left-leaning groups literally try to “cancel” law enforcement.
These organized efforts are part of the ongoing war on policing, a movement harmful to both our livelihoods and our personal safety. As violent crime and gun violence continue to rise across the country, the spread of anti-law enforcement rhetoric threatens to destroy public safety within our communities even as the negative sentiment impacts law enforcement recruitment.
And it is hurting recruiting candidates for the job, one of the most important tools to secure the next generation of law enforcement officers. Today, there are less men and women who view law enforcement as a rewarding career as a result of this war on policing. Law enforcement agencies throughout the country are having difficulty recruiting quality candidates for law enforcement positions due to burdensome new regulations, negative law enforcement sentiment and the increased risks of the job in this environment.
But I believe that the silent majority is unwavering in its support of our critical mission to keep our communities safe. And I also continue to believe that common sense and level-headedness will win the day.
Even as the advocates against law enforcement grab larger bullhorns and taller soapboxes, we continue to go to work every day and get the job done. Even if some community leaders, elected officials and newsrooms do not see a war on policing as misguided and dangerous, that does not change our mission and that certainly has not impacted our dedication and professionalism.
The truth is that the entirety of our profession has been branded because of the actions of a small few, the same individuals we have all worked so hard to separate ourselves from while we do the often difficult work associated with enforcing the law and protecting communities. That is the way of the world we live in today, with people waking up each day looking for the next person to cancel and the next institution to topple.
The important point lost on so many right now is the potential danger this cancel culture and war on policing brings forth for our brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
But I believe the good work we do always wins the day and that the silent majority can, and will, help swing the pendulum back to a place where law enforcement officers are once again respected for their service. A place where the inherent dangers faced every day by each of you is more readily acknowledged and appreciated by those we have chosen to protect. And a place where people recognize that the stereotypes and misinformation they are being handfed each day are not representative of the vast majority, but rather of the small handful we also condemn.
Here in New Jersey we have been able to cultivate relationships with groups and politicians who feel the same as we do when it comes to law enforcement. In the coming weeks and months we will be putting forward recommendations for the November election and asking for your help to make sure those that prioritize our health and safety are in position to continue providing that support.
In the meantime, keep doing the important work. Keep protecting and keep moving forward. Stay safe. Look out for each other.
And remember the first rule: Make it home safe to your family after each shift.