New Year Will Require Resolve to be “Happy” About Public Safety

“Good morning” is a greeting that is commonly shared early in the day. The expression acknowledges the start of a new day, as well as a statement of hope. Yet we have also heard the greeting shortened to just “morning.” The shortened expression makes no claim beyond a statement of time. Fatigue and a discouraged sense of what the new day has in store can often explain why the shortened greeting is used. The greeting “Happy New Year” is similar to “good morning,” and it too seeks to express hope for the time ahead. As a nation we lived through 2020, the year like no other. The year 2020 was one with many issues, including significant public safety disappointments. Sadly, relative to violence, 2021 was also a disappointing year. A “happy” new year in 2022 will require resolve beyond the mere use of an optimistic greeting.

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

2021 Was Not a Happy New Year Relative to Public Safety

Long ago it was observed that no one can “fool all of the people all of the time.” A great many people have been fooled into believing that the saying was one uttered by Abraham Lincoln. The wisdom does sound like something our 16th President would have said. However, the first sourced use of the expression was in 1885 by Judge William. J. Groo, from New York state.

We have also been told Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein was a genius who said many things worth remembering. However, he was not the one who provided this witty statement on insanity. What we can verify is, before becoming president, Ronald Reagan spoke the following words in October 1964. “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Excerpt from “A Time for Choosing.” Originally aired 27 Oct 1964. The full video is available from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s YouTube page.

Today, far too many Americans, across a wide political spectrum, are convinced of matters that are simply not true. The assertion that America is an irredeemably flawed nation built on injustice is the most damaging to the republic. The use of this position to seek political advantage has harmed the nation and weakened public safety.

Not Fooled on the Surge in Violence:

Many political operatives and media outlets sought to minimize the nation’s spike in violence in 2020. Americans, particularly those living in the nation’s major urban areas were keenly aware of the surge in violence. In fact, 2020 saw the greatest recorded year-over-year increase in the nation’s murder rate. As compared to 2019, the murder rate in 2020 increased nearly 30 percent. As we have described in prior posts, America’s surge in violence has continued into the “new year” that was 2021.

Not long into the “new year” of 2021, concerns over public safety were widespread. In July 2021, polling by Rasmussen Reports showed that more than twice as many likely voters believed 2020’s anti-police protests harmed public safety efforts. Navigator Research also released polling on crime and violence in July 2021. Of 14 topics, violent crime was listed as a “major crisis” for 54% of their respondents – higher than all other issues listed.

On 15 December 2021, Rasmussen Reports released its most recent national polling results relative to crime. They reported: “89% of Likely U.S. voters are concerned about the problem of violent crime in America, including 64% who say they’re Very Concerned.” They also noted that the concerns had continued to worsen from earlier in the year. The December percentage of respondents “concerned about violent crime” was up 10% from the 79% who so responded in July. The percentage of likely voters “very concerned” rose even more sharply. Those “very concerned” about violence in December were up 15% from the 49%, who were “very concerned” about violence, in July 2021.

Issues Requiring Resolve Now

The past two years are a reflection of the chaos and lawlessness created when the foundations of a society that simultaneously seeks liberty, justice and public safety are undermined. In 2022 we must resolve not to be fooled about the foundations of a functioning society. It might even be said that the definition of insanity includes undercutting the foundations of society and expecting liberty, justice and public safety will remain.

In our Christmas message a key lesson was observed via Ebeneezer Scrooge from Dicken’s Christmas Carol. “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” If America seeks to turn away from the chaos and lawlessness experienced over these past two years, we must be resolved to rejecting the politics of division that paved our current path of violence and disorder.

Understanding Police Legitimacy:

Even vocal critics of the police speak of “police legitimacy.” Jonathan Blanks is an ardent police reform advocate. While Blanks seems to lay the burden of maintaining legitimacy on the police alone, he has identified legitimacy as the “most valuable” police department resource. In modern times, the police are indispensable to public safety and maintaining a stable community. Therefore, if one is seeking to topple the social contract and structure, attacking police legitimacy is key. Those within the profession are keenly aware that it is essential for the police to be seen within the community as being legitimate. But such is an effort that is also impacted by elected officials, civic leaders, the media, and the community itself. Maintaining a strong police-community relationship is unquestionably a shared responsibility.

It is essential for us not to be deceived by those who are seeking perpetual division for their own ideological and political purposes. When the police are one with the community, the community is safer, freer, more stable, and better positioned to help foster the improved wellbeing of the entire community. Those seeking and participating in police reform efforts must not lose sight of this reality. The community must reject the efforts to demonize the police. Police accountability efforts must distinguish between unintended or unavoidable tragedy, and true misconduct. As a community, we need our elected officials and civic leaders to foster unifying approaches that advance constitutional policing, reduce violence, address chronic crime conditions, improve public safety, protect victims, foster wellness, and enhance community support for the police.

Demonization of the Police Breeds Lawlessness:

When anarchists and others are able to co-opt community attitudes regarding police accountability, there should be great concern across the community. By creating a narrative that the police are “them,” the demonization process can seek to convince the community that the police are a threat. If the police are viewed as a community threat, they cannot be trusted, and they must be tightly constrained, if not entirely abolished.

The Importance of Us

During the height of the civil unrest in 2020, “ACAB” (all cops are bast**ds), or “all cops are bad,” was a popular rallying cry. The slogan was chanted and spray-painted on police vehicles, buildings, and pubic monuments in many cities. The slogan advanced an “us versus them” view of policing, with the police in the “them” group. The view declared the police to be illegitimate, which placed “them” outside the community of “us.” I spoke about these dangers, and their connections to significant changes to the law and police procedures in the article, The Importance of “Us:” The Failure of Being Cast as “Them.”

There is a long world history of demonization – a very long history. In its most extreme forms, it gives rise to the evils of concentration camps and mass executions. In lesser forms, it cripples the ability of the demonized group to interact with others in society. Once a group has been demonized, the normal protections of the law are removed. The members of a demonized group can be stripped of their civil rights, and relegated to the status of second-class citizens, or worse. But what follows when the police are demonized? The answer is – lawlessness.

Violence spiked nationally in the aftermath of sustained anti-police efforts that intensified following the May 2020 George Floyd incident. As noted in our post in September, the 2020 increase in America’s national murder rate was about 30 percent. Violence in America continued to rise in 2021. By 8 December 2021, the New York Post reported that at least a dozen major U.S. cities had already surpassed their full-year 2020 murder totals.

Chicago as a Demonization Example:

Chicago was one of those cities worse off in 2021. Since May 2020, there have been various levels of demonization of policing in Chicago. Protests, vocal criticism, tepid support from key elected officials, a distant local prosecutor, a drumbeat of negative media coverage, and expanded and critical monitoring by a host of entities. As in other cities, morale among officers is low, and staffing levels have decreased, particularly among experienced officers.

From January thru November 2021, 314 law enforcement officers across the country had been struck by gunfire. Nationally in 2021, data from the Officer Down Memorial Page shows 86 officers were murdered by gunfire, stabbed, or otherwise fatally assaulted. In August 2021, Chicago Police Officer Ella French was murdered and her partner, Officer Carlos Yanez, Jr, suffered life-altering injuries. According to Chicago Police sources, Officers French and Yanez were among 76 Chicago police officers who faced gunfire in 2021. By comparison, 22 Chicago officers faced gunfire in 2019, and 80 officers came under fire in 2020. On the morning after the murder of Officer French, the title of a Chicago Sun-Times editorial read: Officer Ella French wore the insignia of the Chicago Police Department — but it did not keep her safe.”

At a press conference following the murder of Officer French, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot remarked, “the police are not our enemies.” The remarks highlight that the impact of demonization on the police in Chicago was discernible by the mayor. There is no need to assemble the Chicago news media and spread the word that the police are not the enemy, unless the mayor was concerned that this view was held by at least some in the city.

As of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the official Chicago murder count stood at 797. As we have previously discussed, the city’s official count excludes at least 17 murders on Chicago’s interstates that are investigated and reported by the Illinois State Police. So for the first news cycle of 2022, Chicago managed to come under 800 murders in 2021. Sadly, that count will likely rise in the weeks ahead, as people shot in 2021 may still die as the result of their injuries. The media will likely give the revised count far less attention than had it been today’s headline. Even so, the official 2021 Chicago murder count is up over 3% from 2020, and up 60% from the city’s 497 murder tally in 2019.

Given that lawlessness follows when the police are demonized, the question the community must start asking is: Who benefits from lawlessness?  

The Trap of a Tragedy-Free Policing Standard:

In July 2021, I explained that “tragedy-free policing” was a dangerous worldview that holds the police should never take any actions that could cause harm, their actions should never use any force, and the police must act without ever making a mistake. We have witnessed how anti-police activists have coupled an “or else” to this worldview, and in so doing they created an unattainable policing standard. Under this “standard,” whenever the police are involved in an incident that has a tragic outcome, rage, violent protests, and looting are then falsely “justified.”

Tragedy-Free Policing or Else

In the article, Tragedy-Free Policing or Else: The Need for Critical Thinking, I provide a comparison to the medical field. Estimates show that errors in judgment, skill, coordination and analysis, as well as system failures and preventable adverse events, by medical professionals, are equivalent to the third leading cause of death in America. Deaths associated with police-related activities are a tiny fraction of the annual death count of more than 250,000 killed as a result of medical-profession errors.

Yet a “tragedy-free medical system” is not demanded. Why? Because we all understand that tragedies occur within the practice of medicine, and a “tragedy-free” standard would cripple the medical profession. As with medicine, such a worldview is unrealistic in policing.

In reality, the police are regularly thrust into circumstances that are already tragic or a risk of quickly turning tragic. Acceptance of “tragedy-free policing, or else” standard inevitably damages the police-community relationship that is essential for public safety. As a community, we must reject this false and politicized approach to assessing policing and addressing true misconduct.

Failing to Prioritize Victims – Another Recipe for Lawlessness:

In our society, truth and consequences can be deliberately obfuscated concepts. Too often we are told to ignore the truth. Violence in our nation’s major urban areas, like Chicago, is a deadly truth and consequences lesson. Over the past two years, the political power structure has not prioritized victims, and public safety has suffered. It is amazing the level of disruption that can be justified simply by inserting the word “reform.” In many places across the country, public safety structures have been dramatically altered.

Police pursuit polices have become far more restrictive, even foot pursuits. Yes, not all pursuits are the best approach. Undesired outcomes, even tragedies can occur. But, what could go wrong when the police no longer pursue offenders? Well, when coupled with prosecutors who unilaterally refuse to charge a long list of offenses – official legal consequences are greatly diminished. When this occurs, lawlessness is encouraged. When lawlessness is encouraged, then the consequences inevitably play out in the community. Smash and grab robberies, mobs of shoplifters, and carjackings were all part of the 2021 reality. So too was continuing violence. In the realm of cops ask questions,” we are left to consider why letting offenders offend is a higher priority over the victims of their crimes?

Legal system changes under the umbrella of “bail reform” are another truth about consequences issue. Illinois is set to experience the full impact of “cashless-bail” in 2023. Cook County’s (George Soros backed) state’s attorney, Kim Foxx, was among those who hailed the bond “reform” legislation signed into Illinois law. This legislation was opposed by other Illinois prosecutors. But, in Cook County, under orders of the county’s chief judge, Timothy Evans, the pre-trial release of offenders (including some charged with murders and other violent offenses and gun crimes) is already commonplace. During 2021, CWB Chicago chronicled 62 cases involving offenders “accused of killing, trying to kill, or shooting someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for a felony.” The violent crimes committed by offenders, while charged and released back into the community, resulted in 95 new serious violent crime victims, including 25 who were murdered by an offender on bond.

Relative to the fragility of public safety and the impact of some “reform” efforts, 2020 and 2021 have provided a harsh reality check.

Respecting Constitutional Rights Must Include Our Officers:

Intimidating and humiliating peace officers seeking to coerce them into abandoning their moral and religious beliefs is beyond dangerous. Timothy Barry was the first member of the Massachusetts State Police fired for refusing to submit to Covid vaccination. The truth is that the “vaccines” remain experimental. Barry has been active in his faith. For five years he taught religious studies, and he has served his church as a Eucharistic minister.

Barry had filed a request for a religious exemption relative to the vaccine mandate. He told the Boston Herald: “I had to empty out my cruiser as the entire class was looking at me, like I did something bad.” He was placed into a no-pay status before facing a hearing before a state police captain and a lawyer for the state. Neither hearing officer was a member of the clergy. Barry’s exemption request was denied, and he was subsequently fired.

The practice of medicine can be among the most powerful tools of healing. But it can also be among the cruelest means of oppression. In a prior post, we discussed the Nuremberg Code. This code was established through the World War II War Crimes Tribunals. In a 1996 British Medical Journal article, the code was summarized as follows: “the requirement of voluntary informed consent of the human subject. The principle of voluntary informed consent protects the right of the individual to control his own body.”

A society that denies those who enforce the law the ability to exercise their own rights will have an army of enforcers who are unsympathetic to the rights of others. Neither liberty nor public safety are the fruits of such a system of government.

Pandemic Restriction Enforcement and Public Safety:

Secure 1776 has also cautioned against the use of the police as the face and muscle of pandemic restrictions enforcement. Among the worst examples internationally of this practice have occurred in Australia. There mass protests, even riots, as well as daily enforcement actions have placed Australian police into conflict with a sizable (and growing) percentage of that nation’s population. The conflict has weakened the nation’s police-community relationship.

Unfortunately, in December, we witnessed how New York Police Department (NYPD) members are now also being utilized to enforce that city’s vaccine mandate to access public spaces, including in-person dining. In one video, numerous NYPD officers are involved in a struggle and arrest of a man for ordering food without showing proof of vaccination. In a second video, several NYPD officers are tasked with ordering a mother and child out of another restaurant. There are other videos. The comments associated with these videos show reason for concern relative to the potential damage to public support for the police following police involvement in such incidents.

The continuing rise in the our nation’s murder rate is tied directly to a weakened police-community relationship here. America needs to strengthen its responses to violence. Improved public safety requires strengthened support for the police from the larger community. Pandemic response strategies do not operate in isolation. Efforts that create further divisions between the police and community are ill-advised. As our nation’s elected leaders and public officials continue to respond to the pandemic, they must choose wisely. Severe restrictions, which place the police in the forefront of controversial enforcement efforts, pose a significant risk to overall public safety.

The New Year is Now

There is really no magic about the change from 31 December to 1 January. It is a passage of time that in one sense is no different from the change from 10 March to 11 March. A day has passed. But since yesterday, a new year has begun. In Chicago, the city already has three murders on the first day of the “new” year. Chicago continues to be a spectacle relative to lawlessness – and Chicago is not alone. There was no magic, but in another sense, there is power perceived and reflected each first day of January. With the start of a “new” year, it is almost universally a time of reflection on the passage of time, and a time for contemplation as to what the future might hold, particularly if we resolve to do so. 

So in this “now year,” what will the people of America, particularly those in cities like Chicago, resolve to do? Will they demand both constitutional policing and public safety? Will they hold accountable those that pander to the most divisive and destructive voices? Will they insist that crime victims are made a priority? Will they acknowledge that crippling the justice system and demonizing the nation’s police officers weakens the very foundations needed for a society to be just, free, and safe? Will they demand more of their community leaders and elected officials?

So, on this New Year’s Day, I do wish that the new year is one that brings health, prosperity, and happiness to each of you and to all those close to you. For this “now year” to be a “happy new year,” there must be a resolve to foster public safety. We must also resolve to fondly remember those we have lost; to shed off the limitations of past disappointments and sadness; to gain wisdom from our past experiences, and to embrace each day as an opportunity to use well the gift of time – a truly precious gift. The new is now, and each today of the coming year. Let us guard against taking time for granted, and let us not miss the moment.

We are interested in your thoughts, and invite you to comment below.

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