Having spent time early in my career in law enforcement, there’s not much I haven’t seen. I served for a number of years in differing capacities in very challenging environments. The recent violence at the Capitol has left me with a mix of unwelcomed emotions. For one, we are a society that operates under a set of laws to ensure the welfare and safety of our citizens – the utter disregard for these laws was troubling. Second, this tragic event could have been avoided had we better consumed available intelligence and deployed greater levels of preparedness. It’s no secret radical supporters of President Trump were planning to be at the Capitol in protest of the transition to a new administration. A properly measured response, including reinforcements, should have been in place well before the protests even started, to guarantee rioters could never gain access to the Capitol. A hard perimeter should have been established. It wasn’t. People died. Truthfully, there was no reason for this to go so far.
In the eyes of many, America failed that day. And the responsibility for what took place doesn’t fall on any one individual. The problem starts with the lack of respect and appreciation for our country’s police. At a time when there are many calls to reduce resources, funds and, as a result, training, it concerns me to consider how much worse the attack at the Capitol could have been without well-equipped law enforcement. If our police struggled to control this most recent riot, imagine what could happen if they had even less funding and, therefore, less resources.
That is why I am a strong supporter of law enforcement and a strong opponent of defunding police. The display at the Capitol clearly showcases the need for well-prepared, well-equipped law enforcement – and if we cut funding for law enforcement, riots like last week’s will be even harder to control, let alone prevent.
Despite the FBI’s warnings of potential threats in capital cities across the country on Inauguration Day, there are still people demanding the defunding of law enforcement and calling for a loosely defined self-governing system. While in the same breath, these individuals are blaming police officials and looking for scapegoats among our ranks for not properly guarding the Capitol during the recent riot. This hypocrisy will only propel us further away from a safer future for our country. It requires a fundamental ignorance of human nature to think people will simply police themselves.
Last week’s attack was not an isolated incident. Understaffed and unprepared law enforcement will only invite more violence and suffering. I recognize that we’ve witnessed high-profile cases of misuse of law enforcement power over the past year. While we must forcefully condemn criminal actions by police, most officers deserve our gratitude for the work they do. Law enforcement in America is made up of more good people than bad – people who are raising their hands to step up, put themselves in harm’s way and provide us with safety and peace of mind. As a society, we must support them – while still holding them accountable – and give them the resources they need to keep the peace. It’s critical to our democracy.