After a years-long national campaign to demonize members of law enforcement, some police officers are embracing a unique way to push back. These individuals are retiring from policing and entering the world of politics, hoping to make a positive difference for their communities and show the nation that not all peace officers are racist agents of the state.
From the Streets to the Campaign Trail
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, progressives launched the “Defund the Police” movement and pressured major cities to slash their law enforcement budgets, arguing that this would somehow protect black lives. The activist media perpetuated the narrative that police officers are racist thugs salivating at the thought of murdering black folks.
These actions resulted in demoralized police forces and a record number of resignations nationally. But “[m]ore than 100 current or former police officers” have decided to run for “federal, state and local offices,” according to The Washington Times. “Nearly all are running as Republicans,” the report added.
Anthony D’Esposito, a former NYPD detective who is running for Congress, told the outlet, “There has been a war waged against law enforcement by Democrats and the far left. and those of us who have worn the uniform, those of us that have respected law enforcement our entire lives, just can’t sit back anymore.”
The former officers are employing a tactic that other Republicans have been using to great effect on the campaign trail: Calling out Democrats for supporting soft-on-crime policies. With polling showing that crime is a major concern for voters heading into the upcoming congressional elections, this strategy appears to be appropriate.
Alison Esposito, another former NYPD officer, is running for lieutenant governor in New York. Up until this point, she had never considered a career in politics, but “said she couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore after witnessing firsthand New York’s post-pandemic crime surge.”
“I never wanted to retire, but I was watching the city that I love in turmoil, and I realized I was sitting in the wrong seat and wearing the wrong hat to effect the type of change New York so desperately needs,” she explained.
Can Police Officers Make a Difference?
After the widespread anti-police sentiment pushed by the hard left, law enforcement agencies have faced numerous difficulties in hiring and retaining officers. Chief David Zack of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina told The New York Times that his office has “lost about one-third of our staff to resignation and retirement.”
“Certainly, with the way that police have been portrayed and vilified in some cases, they have decided that it is not the life for them,” he added. From the Times report:
“Those reductions in Ashville echo a nationwide trend. A survey of about 200 police departments indicates that retirements were up by 45 percent and resignations by 18 percent in the period between April 2020 and April 2021, when compared with the preceding 12 months. The percentage of officers who left tended to be larger for departments in big or medium-size cities, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington policy institute that will release full data next week.”
Is it possible that at least some of these individuals can rehabilitate the image that has been foisted on law enforcement? Sure, but it will not be easy. The left has been quite successful in labeling police officers as quasi-terrorists of which Americans – especially minorities – should be terrified. Nevertheless, addressing this problem will require a balanced and nuanced approach, one that protects decent officers without letting the bad apples off the hook.
When America sees law enforcement agencies showing themselves to be just as willing to punish officers who tarnish the uniform as they are to defend those who are simply doing their jobs, much of the damage can be undone. This will be especially true as those who push policies that protect criminals while villainizing law enforcement are exposed as the destructive force they have become.
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