The Men and Women in Blue, We Have Your Back

A failed idea: leaving the police force that didn’t leave you.

Since the ‘defund the police’ slogans have been heard on American city streets, the police force has taken a hit. Their hands were tied behind their back and confusion as to how to police and act has taken prominence among blue force ranks.

An old fashioned and absurd fear of the police is instilled in kids. Kids are told that if they do not behave, the police will come to take them away.

LeBron James, admired basketballer, and a few times over millionaire came up with the ludicrous statement that, “I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as black people in America. Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified.”

Mr. James, scared of what exactly?

We hear that police are hunting black people and black people are fearful of the police. Fearful of what exactly? For being chased and caught for unacceptable misbehavior, felonies or crime?

To promote that people should fear the police is outrageous. Painting the entire profession as systematically unfair and even racist is ridiculous. To emblematically paint the profession with a broad brush is outrageous. To point, in unison, that all men and women in blue force are bad apples is unacceptable.

But perhaps we need to look at it all from a different perspective. That it is not about the police. Rather, it is about taking law and order out of the equation, resulting in unchecked lawlessness that even some politicians have gone along with. Have the politicians who encourage racial tension become the enemy of the people?

By targeting the police and taking way their immunity, they will have to defend themselves for each action they take when some person does not approve. Evntually, they may need to choose what calls they will answer and which they will simply be unavailable to act on.

Policing During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the landscape. The rioters’ violent misbehavior toward police and the instructions of local politicians forced them to put their hands in their pocket and step back. The lawless crowd took advantage of the police direction to not act as normally is expected of them. Lawlessness took over many of America’s city streets.

Even some religious communities have come out against the police. Churches had to shut their doors for the fear of the spread of the virus, and the police, having to enforce policy that they may not even agree to, set them up to be the bad guys in the public’s eyes.

Taking police guns off the streets that normally prevent a lot of bad things happening in many American cities is a social crime in itself. Castigating, vilifying, hamstringing and defunding the police, as so many jurisdictions have done in recent months, and then expecting police to act as normal, is utter stupidity.

What the Men and Women in Blue Tell Us

I joined Bishop Mendez to a luncheon organized by Churches In Action and its associates for the Los Angeles Police Department North Hollywood area staff. This action’s purpose was to loudly demonstrate the public’s support for the police and put a personal touch on very relevant – police and public – relations. More so, to put on full display, that we, the people, have the back of the men and women in blue.

From Left-Capt. Rafael Ramirez, Benito-Benny Bernal, Chief Jorge Rodriguez, Jim Leahy, Cpt. Rich Gabaldon
Delegation members and the men in blue-From Left-Capt. Rafael Ramirez, Benito-Benny Bernal, Chief Jorge Rodriguez, Bishop Mendez, Jim Leahy, Cpt. Rich Gabaldon – Photo credit Nurit Greenger

Several officers sat down with us, a delegation of citizens, to discuss the issues, i.e. defunding the police action that the city of Los Angeles took, the current state of affairs of the police force and the actions that could be taken.

The case of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, both Latino, shot by a black person in an ambush attack in Compton, central Los Angles, captured on surveillance video, was a topic endlessly discussed. The tension is now growing between the Latino and black communities.

“It is our family members they [the black people] are targeting and shooting and that has gone way too far. It is now personal. When a criminal or a gang member is shooting police officers it may be someone’s family member,” stated one Latino person participating in this most relevant discussion.

From L-Benito-Benny Bernal, Bishop Mendez, Capt. Rafael Ramirez, Capt. Rich Gabaldon, SgtII Amy Standage
In the meeting: From L-Benito-Benny Bernal, Bishop Mendez, Capt. Rafael Ramirez, Capt. Rich Gabaldon, SgtII Amy Standage-North Hollywood Community Relations Officer; with their back to the camera [L] Jim Leahy & [R] Manny Figueras – Photo credit Nurit Greenger
The budget cuts affect the work of the police. We will be seeing a massive nationwide retiring of police officers. A job that is a target of the public is not a good job to have. Morale is down. Many officers will retire and will not be replaced due to the lack of funds, thanks to the ‘defund the police’ drive.

In Los Angeles County, some 350 policemen and 150 civilians who work for the Police Department will retire and will not be replaced. This means a much weaker police force. Management is reassessing situations and reassigns staff as needed. They say patrolling the city streets will remain strong but the downtown specialized division staff may be reduced due to budget cuts.

The next election is a current topic. The Los Angeles County police force, some ten thousand, will certainly vote to elect only officials who support the police.

All this upheaval creates a dangerous situation for the population at large. Weak policing brings about crime and lawlessness.

Chief Jorge Rodriguez Valley Bureau and Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez [S]
At the station, Chief Jorge Rodriguez Deputy Chief Valley Bureau, commander of 7 police stations with Churches In Action, Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez – Photo credit Nurit Greenger

Policing Strides

Police need to work on the mindset of and teach the public that they are simply doing their job. A policeman fearing to go out and do his or her job is not an option, could be categorized as bad performance.

The paradigm has changed. In any police-public encounter case, it demands thorough analysis, scrutiny and investigation.

In the past 2-to-3 decades, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has made many strides to improve its conduct when interacting with the public. This is mostly directed at de-escalation methods in order to avoid using a firearm.

Keeping the Police Force’s Morale

Evil has taken control of our society’s discourse. That demands a change in narrative and much police outreach.

Sometimes a child has to act as a parent to his parents. Sometimes a society has to have the police’s back while the police are facing challenges to have society’s back.

Good meal serves good morale, Churches In Action lunch served at the LAPD North Hollywood Station- NewsBlaze Photo by Nurit Greenger
Good meal serves good morale, Churches In Action lunch served at the LAPD North Hollywood Station – Photo by Nurit Greenger

One organization that has been showing hearty support for the police force is Churches In Action. Started in 1997, by Rev. Juan Carlos Mendez, as a local social justice outreach of Centro Christiano Bet El, the organization has grown into a global outreach that continues operation now under Bishop Mendez’s direction. The organization is reaching across the church’s wall, to touch neighbors, in this case, many police precincts.

Spending several hours at the police station, hearing what police face nowadays, sensing their frustration, even a sense of bitterness, is alarming. A civil society lacking the proper policing loses its civility as we have been witnessing for several months.

Between Chief Jorge Rodriguez and Bishop Mendez
The writer with Between [L] Chief Jorge Rodriguez and [R] Bishop Mendez – Photo credit Nurit Greenger
Having the lunch that the Churches In Action delegation provided, with the men and women in blue of the LAPD North Hollywood station, was my honor. I take pride in my support for ‘defend, not defund the police.’

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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