Obama’s Silence Should Be a Clue to Police: Standing at Their Side Is Not on His Agenda

Ron Hosko | February 18, 2016 | 4:46pm EST
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Members of the Harford County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard stand with the flag draped casket of Senior Deputy Patrick B. Dailey during his funeral service in Joppa, Md., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Dailey was shot and killed while responding to a complaint at an Abingdon restaurant. Senior Deputy Mark Logsdon was also slain before deputies killed the gunman. (AP Photo/Matt Button/The Baltimore Sun)

In the space of less than a week, February 5th to February 11th, six U.S. law enforcement officers were gunned down in the line of duty.  A seventh, and his pilot, lost his life in a California plane crash. 

Sgt. Jason Goodding was shot dead in Seaside, CA while encountering a man he recognized as having a felony warrant.  Three days later, Deputy Derek Greer was killed in Mesa, CO by a 17-year-old suspect when responding to a “man with a gun” call.  Two days later, two veteran Maryland deputies, Patrick Dailey and Mark Logsdon, were shot dead by a 68-year-old suspect after one of the deputies approached him in a restaurant and asked, “How’s your day?” The next day, Fargo, ND officer Jason Moszer died from a gunshot wound during a standoff with a barricaded domestic violence subject, and Riverdale, GA Major Gregory Barney was shot and killed while assisting other officers in serving a warrant.  Six officers with decades of experience shot down in less than a week.

In a reported Facebook posting by the sheriff of the two Maryland deputies, the sheriff suggested he would be holding a seat for President Obama at the deputies’ funerals.  That seat, of course, was empty.  As were any similarly held seats at the funerals for the other officers.  And this president offered no words of comfort to the respective police chiefs and sheriffs, or to their families, or to the American law enforcement family, which is the point here. Law enforcement should invite no comment, should expect no response and should stop wasting their time and energy waiting on our president to do the right thing when it comes to police officers making the ultimate sacrifice.  His absence and silence tells us all we need to know.

In contrast, the president dispatched three White House emissaries to the funeral of an overgrown teenager who robbed a Ferguson, Missouri convenience store before assaulting the shopkeeper and then attacking a uniformed police officer who dared to shoo him out of the middle of the street.  Today, he is filling seats in the White House as he hosts a Black Lives Matter activist who sees Michael Brown as an icon of his anti-cop movement.

Soon, the president will mark one of the two pillars of his term in office – Obamacare and the normalization of relations with Cuba – when he travels to that oppressive country and celebrates with the Castros.  And the law enforcement leadership in America should once again manage their anger as our president sips drinks and poses for pictures with two dictators while saying nothing about cop-killing fugitive Joanne Chesimard or the dozens of other fugitives from U.S. justice who found sanctuary in Cuba.  Her seat, and all the others on an extradition flight to the United States will be unfilled as securing justice for them doesn’t fit into the normalization strategy.

Our men and women in blue, now watching violent crime turn upward after two decades of decline, now fearful that their next citizen encounter will be the subject of a misinterpreted viral video, now ever more cautious in responding to calls for assistance that might put them into a criminal’s gunsights, need to see this president as he is and not what they want him to be.  Standing at their side, either mourning at the funeral of a fallen hero or figuratively in the broader fight against crime in America, is not on his agenda. 

Sadly, the pandering and posturing of those who tout criminal justice reform schemes that point to police as the problem only portends more of the same mistreatment of law enforcement, perhaps at another misguided president’s hands.

Ron Hosko was formerly Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assistant director and is currently president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

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