Even if we believed that “feel-good” police reform measures from the Left had the best of intentions (I do not), the fact would remain that most of its proposals are wrongheaded and dangerous. The Washington, D.C., City Council adopted measures apparently aimed at making its leftist base feel good; now, let’s see how it reacts when the reality of those measures play out.
One of the myriad of “policing reforms” the legislation establishes is a ban on the use of chemical weapons and the use of riot gear during “First Amendment assemblies.” While that might sound reasonable upon first reading, we must keep in mind that the Left has redefined what the First Amendment allows. The right of the people to assemble peaceably apparently includes blocking roadways, arson, attacking police officers, shooting, looting, and beating bystanders.
Despite using the liberty-invoking phrase “First Amendment assemblies,” this is, in reality, a ban on the use of this equipment in almost any circumstance. Of course, there is the exception for when “there is an immediate risk to officers of significant bodily injury” tucked in there, but what leftist will ever agree that there is a risk to an officer during one of his or her “fiery, but mostly peaceful” First Amendment assemblies?
Riot gear consists of shields, helmets with face shields, shin and foot protection, chest and arm protection, and riot batons. These are defensive tools meant to protect an officer during circumstances outside of his or her normal patrol duties during the chaos of a riot. It should be noted that throwing a rock or a bottle at an officer’s head is deadly force. So is using a spear, bike lock, knife, or any other improvised weapon meant to inflict great bodily harm by the user.
A patrol officer does not wear riot gear during his or her normal function, and being attacked by any of these means without the extra protective gear could result in a lethal force response by the officer and would likely be justified. Riot gear lessens the threat of most of these otherwise deadly improvised weapons and allows officers to respond in a less lethal manner. Take away that protection, and the officers’ perception of what constitutes a deadly threat will change, and so will their response to it.
Is this really what the Washington, D.C., City Council wants? Forcing officers into more deadly force encounters? The Left’s tolerance, and sometimes encouragement, for rioting has found support in a compliant media willing to light the fire of civil unrest with false narratives on police brutality and then strategically avoiding coverage of the lawlessness that ensues.
The same can be said of the current rallying cry from the Left to defund the police. What exactly does it think defunding will do? While many likely think it will punish officers by cutting their paychecks, this is not what defunding does. Defunding cuts into training budgets and personnel costs. Again, this is where the unintended consequences are dangerous. An untrained, incompetent officer will react to a potential threat very differently than a highly skilled, competent, and physically fit officer.
Unskilled and untrained officers become a hammer, and every problem becomes a nail. They will escalate force quicker precisely because they have no other option. Defunding the police will ensure that we have less skilled, less capable police officers on the street who will justifiably use deadly force more often, not less.
That’s right, the Left’s most passionate calls for reform will sentence more people to death at the hands of police, not fewer.
Defunding the police department takes officers out of the areas where the most vulnerable among us will now be left alone with the predators. This is not what our communities need and certainly not what they want. Policing can be improved, just like any other part of our government, but “feel good” measures are not the way to do it. Improving policing can be done through better training. Training takes money, and unlike most government spending, it would be money well spent.