The Loudoun Crime Commission is a private, non-profit, charitable 501(c)3 organization established in 2005 as an opportunity for citizens, businesses, law enforcement, educators, students, elected officials, government representatives, and others, to collaborate and share their unique perspectives, experiences and insights promoting safe communities for our families throughout Loudoun County.
The Commission embraces an anti-crime mission and has adopted the motto,
“Fighting crime is every citizen’s business.”
OPINION: Loudoun Crime Commission – Supporting Law Enforcement and Peaceful Protest
The Loudoun Crime Commission, through its Board of Directors, offers this statement as part of the public discourse involving criminal justice reform, the police “defunding” commentary, the peaceful protests and lawless rioting we have all witnessed in cities across the U.S. in recent weeks.
The Loudoun Crime Commission is a private, non-profit, charitable 501(c)3 organization established in 2005 as an opportunity for citizens, businesses, law enforcement, educators, students, elected officials, government representatives, and others, to collaborate and share their unique perspectives, experiences and insights promoting safe communities for our families throughout Loudoun County. The Commission embraces an anti-crime mission and has adopted:the motto, “Fighting crime is every citizen’s business.”
Since Mr. George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25th, protests have been conducted nationwide with extensive national media coverage amid calls for criminal justice reform and police “defunding.” These protests generally began as groups of concerned citizens exercising their right to peacefully assemble while ostensibly protesting alleged police abuses and racism. It appears peaceful protests certainly have occurred in many cities and towns across the country. Unfortunately, many of those peaceful protests have devolved into acts of civil disobedience and even extreme mob violence resulting in personal injury to both citizens and law enforcement personnel, the tragic loss of life, and the destruction of personal and government property valued in the millions. It has rocked the Nation and scarred many of our cities.
Hundreds of local and state police officers across the country have been injured, some severely, ending careers and impacting the officers’ families. Injuries sustained have included vision loss from lasers, broken limbs, serious lacerations, blunt force head trauma from thrown bricks and frozen water bottles, hearing loss from exploding professional-grade fireworks directed at officers, officers being struck by moving vehicles, and other medical concerns. Several officers have been killed in the line of duty during these protests and riots, including a Police Captain in St. Louis who was shot and killed by rioters while attempting to protect a pawnshop from looters on June 2nd. A Federal Protective Service officer was also shot to death at a U. S. courthouse in Oakland, California on May 29 during protests. Other federal officers have been injured while protecting federal sites and preventing the arson and destruction of U.S. courthouses. Tragically, innocent children have also been caught up in the violence, including an 8-year-old girl shot and killed near a fast-food restaurant and BLM protesting site on July 4 weekend in Atlanta. And a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Seattle’s so called “Autonomous Zone” while police access to that area was restricted. There have been other child deaths as well associated with the riot-related violence in our communities.
There is also the wanton destruction of businesses, police precincts and vehicles, personal property loss, and government property damage totaling in the many millions. It has recently been reported that public officials in Portland, Oregon have posted an initial property loss estimate of $23 million resulting from the protests and riots in recent weeks. The City of Minneapolis is reporting losses totaling approximately $1.0 billion, and Seattle is reporting $12.6 million spent just on police overtime costs. These initial figures in those three cities suggests staggering dollar losses nationwide resulting from damages sustained during the protests and riots.
Some in our communities have continued to call for the defunding, dismantling or abolishment of police departments. They do so while disregarding the reality that our cities and towns across America rely on the committed men and women of law enforcement, and our intelligence community, every minute of every day, to ensure our national security and public safety. Our law enforcement agencies are called upon to respond to every kind of emergency imaginable to save lives and property, with officers routinely putting their lives at risk. The rioters who have ravaged some of our cities in recent weeks conveniently ignore the irony that, the thousands of men and women who have taken an oath to protect us, many of whom have been injured in recent weeks and some who gave their all, did so while actually protecting the constitutional rights of the “protesters” who violently attacked them. This extreme lawlessness, mob violence, and assault on law enforcement must end. We must peacefully resolve our differences and work together as citizens and community leaders to address any concerns regarding criminal justice reform and other important issues.
To be clear, racism in any form is utterly abhorrent, and the right to peacefully assemble and peacefully protest is fundamental to our democracy as a means of calling out and addressing many of the inequities in our country. Likewise, criminal acts by sworn law enforcement officers and public officials are equally intolerable and any such allegations must be swiftly and fully investigated and referred as the evidence dictates to prosecutors and the courts. Anything less than that is, again, abhorrent, and intolerable.
Just as we support the right to peacefully assemble and protest, we also steadfastly support, defend, and believe in the rule of law as being fundamental to our republic. And we will always support, defend, and believe in our Nation’s law enforcement professionals, who must uphold and obey the law as they enforce the law. We count on those men and women in law enforcement at all levels of government to keep us safe; to reach us quickly and skillfully in our darkest hours when our lives are threatened, and our property is being taken or destroyed. They are the peacekeepers among us, and, at the very least, we owe them our loyal support and our deep gratitude. They must also earn our confidence and always be accountable for their actions. The vast majority of men and women who have taken the oath consider it a great honor to professionally serve as our country’s law enforcement officers and they take their responsibilities very seriously, protecting and defending all of us to the best of their ability.
“Defunding” or abolishing our police departments and other law enforcement agencies is absurd on its face. That is not sensible for the world we live in and we can never expect to have law and order in our communities without well-trained, well-equipped, highly professional law enforcement organizations.
Consider these statistics posted online by various government accountability sites, police departments and public news sources:
- The median number of sworn law enforcement officers in cities large and small across America ranges between 15 to 20 officers per 10,000 citizens. Loudoun County has approximately 17 sworn personnel per 10,000 citizens; many departments nationally, have far fewer officers per capita. Also, these are sworn personnel deployed across their departments in patrol divisions, detective units, training, forensics, and other assignments. The point is that, only a percentage of those officers can be out on the street in uniform and in marked units patrolling their communities twenty-four hours a day. It should therefore be clear that reducing their ranks makes no sense if our collective goal is to improve community policing in America, a recognized way to reduce crime.
- A total of 1,627 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of one death every 54 hours or 163 per year. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2019. Thousands more were seriously injured.
- Currently, 22,217 names of fallen officers are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. There are 1,181 federal officers listed on the Memorial, as well as 720 correctional officers and 44 military law enforcement officers. Some 365 female: officers’ names are engraved on the Memorial, with 11 female officers killed in the line of duty in 2019.
- During the recent July 2020 protests and riots in Portland the homicide rate for that month was the highest it has been in over 30 years.
- Shootings in Atlanta spiked 265% during anti-police protests and riots in June and July.
- The Chicago PD reported 31 murders in a 6-day period from July 6 – July 12 , a 417% increase over the 6 murders recorded during the same week in 2019.
- As for police retirements accelerating across the country with agencies and personnel feeling they are under attack from all sides, NYPD has reported a 411% increase in retirement applications for the first week of July 2020.
Our Nation cannot tolerate racial abuses and discrimination in any form, and it is appropriate that we hold our law enforcement officers and agencies to the highest level of professionalism and conduct. They must always be held accountable for their actions, legally and ethically. We as citizens need to take responsibility as well, to achieve and maintain safe communities for our families and the most vulnerable among us. As citizens it is our duty to elect and hold accountable our local, state, and national leaders who should create sensible laws and the policies that support their proper implementation. Police enforce laws, they do not make laws; elected officials create our laws and they must empower law enforcement to implement them – or these same officials must take responsibility to change them. They must also answer for failures of implementation. If politicians do not ensure adequate protections are in place to keep our communities safe, our citizens must act in the voting booth, not lawlessly riot in the street. As our motto:states: “Fighting crime is every citizens business”.
Criminal justice reform is a conversation we should, of course, be having in this country. It is an extremely complex issue requiring thoughtful, experienced, insightful interactions between a variety of stakeholdersand experts working toward the common goal of always improving our agencies and processes. Rather than defunding or abolishing our: country’s: law: enforcement: departments: and: agencies, forcing experienced law enforcement professionals to resign or retire when they are needed most, we must provide them with whatever support is needed to ensure they are able to recruit across their communities, properly select, fully screen, and effectively train top-level candidates who will meet the demands placed on today’s law enforcement professionals. These are perilous times, nationally and globally, and we all need to be at our best.
END OF STATEMENT
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