Opinion: America’s Law Enforcement Problem is Egregious

The police motto “protect and serve” gives the impression that all Americans should feel safe and revere law enforcement officers; for the most part that is the case.

However, recent revelations demonstrate that far too many in law enforcement are not living up to that motto and it presents the country with an existential danger.

Most Americans are aware that one of the big problems with some bad actors in law enforcement is what appears to be their wanton killing of unarmed African Americans. And they have a world of support among the nasty Trump crowd. That atrocity alone demands major law enforcement reform immediately, but there is more underlying danger that not only threatens people of color, it is an existential threat to the population in general, a relatively peaceful society, and any sense of serving the rule of law.

Two reports this past week exposed what’s going on in America’s “protect and serve” community, and both reveal that there is a serious epidemic plaguing the nation’s law enforcement that has serious support from conservatives and the religious.

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First, there was a not-so-shocking story via a data breach late last week reporting that police officers and politicians had donated to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal fund. Rittenhouse was the (then) minor who crossed state lines with an assault weapon to shoot and kill two American citizens and injure a third because they dared to exercise their 1st Amendment right to protest against police violence targeting unarmed African Americans.

The data breach revealed that a Christian crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo, helped raise $586,940 last year alone to defend the murderer. A murderer, by the way, that many in law enforcement consider courageous for killing American citizens simply because they were protesting against police violence targeting African Americans.

According to a report in “The Guardian,” one police officer from Virginia included a loving note of encouragement to the murderer along with a donation that said:

“God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”

That was not the only note of support for murdering Americans exercising their constitutional right to protest, but that one statement should terrify American citizens enough that they raise their collective voices and demand that the time for police reform is long past.

The second story that should mortify Americans was from an interview on “60 Minutes” on Sunday when an Oath Keeper revealed that his paramilitary anti-government organization is rife with “active-duty law enforcement in their ranks” and are an integral part of their militia training. Jim Arroyo, an Oath Keeper leader said:

Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement.

According to several groups that monitor domestic terrorism and hate groups, the Oath Keepers is a far-right, anti-government extremist organization. And they are full of current law enforcement officers assisting with training and militia tactics.

In fact, according to a description by the FBI, the Oath Keepers is a “paramilitary organization of militia who believe that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes the group as “heavily armed extremists with a conspiratorial and anti-government mindset looking for potential showdowns with the government.” And they are proud to count current law enforcement officers among their members.

Michael German is a former FBI special agent who has reported often on United States law enforcement’s failure to control right wing terrorists and racist militias in their ranks. In fact, he found In August 2020 that “law enforcement officials are increasingly tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000.”

Mr. German’s report also revealed that “police had grown increasingly linked to far right militias and white supremacist groups in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.”

The worst part of this plague on America’s law enforcement community is that none of this information is new. “PBS reported in 2016 that ten years prior, the FBI began warning of the problem.” But because the federal government is powerless to interfere with state and local law enforcement issues, it has only gotten much, much worse.

Americans should be frightened as well as concerned about police brutalizing and shooting unarmed people of color. But the real issue is why there is little to no public and political outrage that one of the primary reasons police are killing unarmed African Americans is because white supremacists are flocking to law enforcement departments and being welcomed with open arms.

Any society needs law enforcement, and one hopes the preponderance of the police are only doing the job to “protect and serve,” but it is getting more difficult by the day to believe that is the case. America desperately needs major police reform, but it has to start with excising the racists and anti-government extremists with extreme prejudice and the racist politicians supporting them.

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