Violent Attacks on LEOs: Get informed, focused and involved!
I just finished reading yet another story of LEOs attacked simply because they were wearing the uniform. On Sunday January 23, 2011, a gunman entered a Detroit police station and shot four LEOs. The suspect was shot and killed and it appears that all of the LEOs will survive. On November 29, 2009, four Lakewood Police Officers were not as fortunate. Maurice Clemmons assassinated four LEOs who were sitting together in a coffee shop. In a recent article, Lt. Dan Marcou wrote about the new phenomenon of an “active shooter assassin.” However we choose to categorize these killers, the idea that LEOs are targeted for violent attacks is nothing new to those who wear a badge. Neither is the idea that these violent individuals rarely decide to perpetrate a violent attack as their first foray into the world of criminal acts. This was certainly the case with the late Maurice Clemmons or Gregory Favors who shot and killed a Georgia Trooper last month.
At the end of 2009, there were over 1.6 million inmates in state and federal prisons. With the current budget problems of several states, politicians are talking about releasing more inmates through early release. When will they learn! Enough about gun laws, suits against gun manufacturers and “mean-spirited” political rhetoric! Criminals assault LEOs every day. It only makes the news when they use a firearm or take a life.
As LEOs, we have a tremendous opportunity to focus the debate. We also have an obligation to do our best to prevent future tragedies. This year, I am taking a lead in the political process, and I encourage you to do the same.
I proposed a bill that would prevent any person who causes an injury to a LEO from receiving First Offender Status under Georgia law. This will prevent lenient sentences and also prevent these individuals from hiding behind a law intended to allow people to have a fresh start when they plead guilty. Assaulting a LEO has become an acceptable offense in our society. The time has come for that philosophy to end. In our country, a LEO is the highest level of authority a criminal will face. An assault on a LEO is an assault on all of us and a clear manifestation that the criminal will not respect any other law.
I am not the only person working to make a difference. A local LEO, Eric Smith, is working to prevent another tragedy like we experienced with the murder of Georgia Trooper Chad LeCroy on December 27, 2011. Read his petition that seeks to prevent the release of criminals on probation when they are arrested. What can you do in your state?
Contact your legislators. Work with them to plug the holes that allow violent criminals to walk the streets. Do not take “no” for an answer. No one knows more about the effects of violent crime than the LEOs on the street. The First Amendment gives you a voice. Use it and do not let anyone keep you silent. Join groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Rifle Association who are working hard to keep violent criminals behind bars.
I worked the street and investigations. I have been involved in training LEOs for over 20 years. I was also a public relations and community outreach officer for my department. Second only to the injury or death of a LEO, the tragedy of these vicious attacks on LEOs is the potential for all LEOs to develop a distrust for the public we serve. There is a difference between sitting with your back to the wall in a restaurant and living in fear of everyone. In a time when our communities see LEOs as heroes and role models, we cannot afford to create any distance from the public. When a thief takes property, the victim loses. If we allow violent criminals to take away the bond with our communities, we will all lose.