The Outcry over Violent Crime?

Many American cities stand at the precipice of violence, yet the national silence is deafening

By Joseph Padilla   |   Aug 24, 2016
Where the magic happens: The control room of a major news network.

On August 2, 2016, a shooting in downtown Denver involved over 200 rounds fired by 18 different weapons. In the middle of a congested city, 18 different shooters firing in a downtown free-for-all is a chilling example of how dangerous our cities can be. The result of this shooting was one dead and one wounded. All the suspects were gone by the time the police arrived.

We have yet to hear a pronounced public outcry condemning this type of violence, which is becoming common in many American cities.

Condemnation of … Police?

Why aren’t citizens outraged by this event of violence? Is this the norm in America? Is it that we’re becoming accustomed to random gun violence? I don’t hear the media reporting that society is disturbed by rising violence.

Is the media reporting that citizens are demanding that the police make our cities safe? I haven’t heard that either. Instead, we hear more condemnation on the actions of the police than we do on crime. It appears to be more popular to degrade and attack the police than to speak out about the rising crime rate in our cities.

As of August 18, 2016, 77 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. Each of their deaths is an American tragedy. The loss of these officers serves as a sad example of the daily threat law enforcement officers face. I don’t want to minimize other sacrifices, but why did it take the multiple police deaths in Dallas and Baton Rouge to finally generate public support for law enforcement?

During my years of working as a cop, I always believed police officers had a lot of community support. When I walked into a convenience store or a restaurant in uniform, I was often acknowledged or thanked for being a police officer. People would strike up conversations with me or make small talk. These were positive interactions.

As a rookie policeman, I walked a foot beat in Denver. It was a great feeling when people spent time talking with me about problems in their neighborhoods. I helped them by finding those who were victimizing them. A level of trust existed between the police and the communities I patrolled, and together we worked to reduce violence and solve crimes.

I believe the majority of the American population respects and supports the police. But, unfortunately, the majority of news media attention is given to a vocal few who don’t. While there have been abuses by individual police officers, these corrupt few do not represent all law enforcement officers in the country. Not even close. In my opinion, their actions have damaged public trust of the police and have made it difficult to develop working relationships to focus on reducing crime.

Most people form their opinions of police officers upon their contact with them. The problem is that many of the interactions the police have with the public are negative in nature. The incident could be an arrest or a citation, or the subject may have been the victim of a crime. Police officers see people in a stressful and critical time in their lives—it’s the nature of the job. Doing that job shouldn’t subject them to ridicule and attack.

With more than 700,000 law enforcement officers in the United States doing their jobs in a professional and honorable manner, where is the support for them? How many criminals are caught, how many crimes are solved and how many lives are saved by these officers every day?

The national media frequently interviews anti-police community activists who have opinions on how the police should be doing their jobs. What suddenly makes these activists experts on law enforcement? Why is credibility being given to those whose only claim to fame is being a vocal antagonist of the police? Especially when the same credibility is not extended to law enforcement? Where were the activists when more 200 rounds were fired in downtown Denver? Is it only an issue when the police fire their weapons and no one else?

I have also been disgusted after viewing videos of police officers using inappropriate deadly force. These officers are, and should be, held accountable for their actions. However, I’ve never seen an organized campaign against the police like we are now witnessing. I am hoping that many of these people channel the efforts they use protesting against the police into working with the police to combat crime in their communities.

Conclusion

Our communities need the police to keep them safe and should be able to depend on a police department willing to make them safe. Ideally, support should be given to those officers who dedicate their careers to improving our communities and who risk their lives safeguarding citizens—not just from the citizens in those communities but also from the news media purportedly covering the concerns of those communities.