I’ve heard a lot of talk about HR 1280 (The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act) and a lot of you have reached out to hear my opinion on things. Here’s my explanation and thoughts. Please keep in mind I am not an attorney or politician-this is simply the best I have interpreted things. Also, before the comments begin-yes, I am a police wife, and therefore yes, you’re right, I am biased towards law enforcement 😉 However, I also have a masters in social work and “lean left” on a lot of matters. I typically run towards the middle of things, depending on what bill or policy we’re talking about. This is not one of those things-I have some strong opinions about HR 1280 and “defunding the police” simply because the safety of my family is at stake.
Let’s imagine that someone stopped by the coffee shop you work at to grab a latte. They ask you, the barista, to make it extra hot, so that it’ll last them until they get into the office. You agree, handing it over with the reminder “be careful, it’s super hot!” They smile and nod, then take a drink and burn their tongue. They sue you personally.
Let’s say you were serving on a jury. You act in good faith, take into account all of the evidence and testimony you’re provided, and finally, stressfully, decide on a verdict. Next year it’s decided that verdict is incorrect, so you’re sued personally.
Would you ever be a barista or serve on a jury if the stakes were that high-where your entire life could be turned upside down because you did what you thought was the right thing, and acted in accordance of your job parameters? That’s what we’re talking about here when we say “eliminate qualified immunity”. Qualified immunity as it already stands does not protect bad cops. If an officer acts outside of policy and procedure, they can already be charged/punished/sued/jailed/etc for it. That’s why the bill name “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” doesn’t make any sense-because that was NOT a time where an office acted as they were supposed to. In fact, I haven’t once talked about that incident with a LEO who supports and agrees with what happened. You know that saying “no one hates a bad cop more than a good cop”? It’s true.
Speaking of training-that’s what makes good officers. And you know what it takes to have good training, and therefore good officers? Funding. That’s why “defunding the police” seems like an oxymoron to a well equipped police force-because how are they supposed to have the ability to make good decisions and deescalate situations without the proper tools? In fact, how are they supposed to get the dash cams and body cams the bill talks about? These things actually protect good officers (why would they want to hide anything when they’re doing what they are supposed to?). I don’t know any LEOs who oppose use of them-their departments simply can’t afford them or the cost of securely storing all of that footage. Because they’re usually tight on money, a lot of times local departments will get “hand me downs” from the military (such as vehicles) that are no longer used and have already been paid for-this bill eliminates that. So, I ask again-where’s that necessary money going to come from, if police are “defunded”?
Another part of the bill is especially frightening to me as the wife of a police officer. First, we have the knowledge that our home/cars/savings could be taken away by an angry civilian. Phew-that’s rough. But now, we also have the fear that anyone-including a recently released felon or an activist raging against law enforcement-could find our personal information, thanks to a national database that’s available to the public. Yes, officers who do wrong should be held accountable. Yes, their wrongful actions should be tracked. Absolutely! But let’s do that in a way that doesn’t put the safety of thousands of law enforcement children and spouses at risk.
When we take away protection, training, funding, and safety from cops and their families, guess what? A lot of them are going to leave. A lot of the good ones. And what does that leave us with? Less cops-especially good, veteran ones-and even more untrained, super stressed out ones.
I don’t think that’s the direction anyone-Democrat, Republican, or anyone in between-wants to head, and a reason why the misconceptions of this bill are so dangerous, not only for law enforcement but for the public. If you have questions, please do your research. Make sure you understand what certain terms do and don’t really mean. Reach out to your law makers. Have the hard conversations. Go for a ridealong. Make your own decision, but please make sure it’s an informed one.