Brian R. Marvel
In the past several months, our profession has worked harder than ever before to spearhead positive change in our communities, listen to concerns from residents and immediately call out unacceptable actions by members of our profession. Yet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find much from the media about the monumental strides our profession has made, from the groundbreaking formation of the new PORAC-led United for Positive Reform (UPR) coalition to our continued efforts to push for a national conversation about universal training, recruitment and use-of-force standards.
Instead, the media has taken what happened in Minneapolis and used it to spread misinformation, sensationalism and bald-faced lies about our profession in an attempt to tarnish law enforcement as much as possible and turn our cities into fend-for-yourself wastelands. One such article that made my head spin was a hit piece from The New Yorker by a Harvard history professor titled “The Invention of the Police,” in which she claims “two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 who were treated in emergency rooms suffered from injuries inflicted by police and security guards, about as many people as the number of pedestrians injured by motor vehicles.” You can imagine my surprise when the author, who failed to provide any sort of evidence to support this outrageous claim or mention where this information came from, received zero consequences for her clearly false claim. Instead, after enough people called out the deceitful rhetoric, The New Yorker finally acquiesced and placed a correction — a short, one-sentence blurb at the end of her 5,000-word tripe — that stated the passage was simply a “misrepresentation.”
This article is just one example of the constant attempts made on a daily basis to wreak havoc on our proud and hardworking profession. When radicalized and false messaging is pushed out and consumed by the public, it’s unfortunately no surprise when we see violence and harassment against peace officers erupt around the country. In the past few months alone, we’ve seen disturbing incidents in which officers have had their homes vandalized, their cars defaced for sporting thin blue line stickers and their children threatened simply because of their parent’s profession. Yet, this same media barely covers the violence against us and continues to use the misnomer that these protests are “peaceful.”
As a result of the noise from a very vocal minority, the “cancel culture” hysteria has been set on overdrive in recent months against anything that portrays law enforcement in a remotely positive light. First, the Paramount Network canceled Cops right before the premiere of its 33rd season. Then, A&E pulled the plug on Live PD (with the network seeing a 49% viewership drop and a loss of roughly $292.6 million in advertising since doing so). Now we’re seeing cancel culture rear its ugly head toward cartoon shows, with the popular children’s show PAW Patrol facing backlash, not from the kids who watch the show, but from grown adults, with some calling for the removal of Chase, the crime-fighting police dog, from the show’s cast of characters.
The insanity doesn’t stop there. The Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon, canceled its outdoor screening of the 1990 classic Kindergarten Cop (which was filmed in Oregon) over complaints that the movie “romanticizes over-policing in the U.S.” Finally, I recently read a post that had me shaking my head from an Austin, Texas, bike shop that decided to cancel its $314,000 contract with the Austin Police Department after three employees said they felt uncomfortable providing bikes to officers and didn’t like how officers were using the bikes to manage crowds. You can’t make this stuff up.
We are indeed living in a much different world than we were at the beginning of the year. Being a peace officer in California, and nationally, has never been smooth sailing, but now we are faced with more challenges than ever, thanks in large part to our elected officials being so afraid of the mob and so out of touch with reality that they’ve chosen to slash police budgets without thinking of the consequences and move forward with the push to let non-sworn civilians do the job of trained law enforcement officers. If this “reimagined” public safety solution ends badly, like the maiming or death of one of these workers, there will be blood on the hands of these elected officials.
As shown in the countless hours PORAC has spent working on positive change, we understand as well as anyone about the need to have important conversations on policing and public safety. True wisdom is knowing what we don’t know and recognizing that. Sadly, that lack of true wisdom is on full display in Sacramento!
With all the craziness that’s happened in recent months, there is still reason to celebrate. This month, as we celebrate PORAC’s 67th birthday, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful and humbled to be the president of such a tremendous organization. An organization that championed professionalizing law enforcement, protecting the rights of our members, and most recently creating the first-in-the-nation standardized statewide training on use of force, to name just a few. As we near 70 years as an association, please take a few moments to reflect on why you entered this profession and how all of us together can ensure PORAC remains strong for years to come. But make no mistake, taking law enforcement shows off the air, removing characters who portray police officers and shunning the hundreds of thousands of peace officers who serve and protect this country is no way to do it.