Op-ed: Society must re-establish respect for law enforcement

July 19, 2022

By Scott G. Erickson

Six years ago, the law enforcement community experienced one of its darkest periods in recent memory.

On July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, LA, three police officers were shot and killed in an ambush-style attack by a deranged lone gunman. A fourth officer, gravely wounded in the shooting, ultimately succumbed to his injuries earlier this year after enduring years of rehabilitation. Two other officers were seriously injured.

That tragedy came on the heels of another mass-casualty event aimed at Dallas-area police officers only a week before. Five police officers lost their lives in that shooting, with another nine seriously injured. 

At the time, I was in the waning months of a nearly two-decade career in law enforcement. While I had seen police and community relations ebb and flow over the years and understood that violence directed against police officers was nothing new, the extreme violence, moral depravity, and callous indifference among some toward the murders in Dallas and Baton Rouge felt different.

In the aftermath of Baton Rouge, I wrote, “What we are experiencing right now no longer feels isolated. It no longer feels extraordinary. Sadly, this extreme violence against our men and women in blue is beginning to feel routine.”

Those attacks occurred at what at the time felt like a generational nadir in police and community relations, actively under the strain of an aggressive and growing anti-police movement spurred on by high-profile events sensationalized by a media more inclined toward inflaming public passions than being the neutral purveyor of facts.

While tensions eased over the next few years, the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis rekindled them. The ensuing civil unrest, riots, and violence that marked the response to Mr. Floyd’s death inspired the contemptible “defund the police” movement — a misguided narrative that systematically diminished respect for the rule of law and gave cover to far-Left activists looking to pursue the irresponsible dismantling of our traditional criminal justice system in favor of one predicated on vague notions of social justice. 

Scott G. Erickson is the Director of the Center for Law and Justice at the America First Policy Institute. He previously served at the Department of Homeland Security, concluding his service as the Acting Chief of Staff, and earlier spent nearly 20 years as a uniformed police officer in San Jose, CA.

Read the full op-ed at The Washington Times.