I am standing on my soap box today to warn the law enforcement and civilian communities about a growing specter that is harmful to both communities – the snowflake, politically correct “PC” law enforcement administrator. The poster child target of my rant this week is Charlottesville, VA Chief of Police Al Thomas. So, while I criticize Chief Thomas, my message is intended for all of you “PC” law enforcement administrators who think of yourselves as “leaders” of the men and women behind the badge, who have the unenvious circumstance of working for you. Chief Thomas typifies the new and dangerous type of law enforcement administrator we are seeing these days who kowtow to incompetent, biased and/or politically expedient city administrators and in doing so, put us all at extreme risk.
Let’s get one think straight right away. Law enforcement today is a very difficult job that few people are cut out for. Officers face daily challenges of community service that few people who don’t wear the badge can hardly imagine. On a yearly basis, we lose more officers on the mean streets of the United States than we do military personnel internationally in the War on Terror. In 2016, we saw the highest murder rate of law enforcement officers since the 1970’s. We also average over 13,000 violent assaults upon officers every year, compared to only hundreds of our soldiers wounded in combat zones.
Officers working in our high-crime inner cities of Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, New York and Miami are far more likely to encounter armed subjects than soldiers on patrol in the streets of Bagdad and Ramadi. It’s not like our officers can call in a drone strike or a Spector gunship to address the armed threats they face every day. One of the most violent cities in the world is now Chicago and it is the politicians of that city and their weak criminal justice system who are largely responsible for that city’s soaring murder rate.
Sufficed to say that it takes a special profile of leader to direct and supervise officers in the field. Police administration is no place for the weak at heart. This is not “snowflake” country. Police work is certainly not the job nor environment for men or women who are more afraid of losing their precious jobs and pensions, than displaying heroic courage in supporting their troops and citizens and doing the right thing in the face of political adversity. Yet, that is one of our major officer and civilian safety problems today – law enforcement administrators who are either hired and/or function primarily from a position of political correctness; rather than from an understanding of their community caretaking responsibility and obligation.
The tragedy of the deaths of two brave officers and a civilian female; as well as scores of injured people this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA is a vivid example of how an inexperienced, naïve and politically correct administrator failed to respond proactively to a known threat. Chief Thomas’ inference during his recent press conference that he and his men were in any way surprised when the protests turned violent underscores just how inept this chief is.
However Chief Thomas’s tepid police response was more likely than not a result of his giving in to the designs of his city’s black Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who wanted to make a name for himself by forcing the circumstance of the removal of the Confederate statute of Civil War general Robert E. Lee from the city’s Emancipation Park. By not doing his due diligence and failing to bring to light his Vice Mayor Bellamy’s very public racist rants against whites and women on social media, Chief Thomas could well have circumvented Bellamy’s plans which ultimately caused injury, death and extreme embarrassment to that formerly quiet and friendly southern university town.
Complicit in the Charlottesville debacle was Federal Court Judge Glen Conrad of the U.S. District Court – Western, VA, who refused to listen to the police department’s argument that the Unite the Right protests would grow violent because of the history of its actors. The dishonorable Judge Conrad instead sided with the Alt-right protesters and the ACLU and allowed the protests to move forward.
In the aftermath of the violent merger of diverse and warring factions of Nazis, “anti-fascist” fascists, anarchists and Marxist Black Lives Matter, Chief Thomas’ explanation of his department’s actions was nothing less than incredible.
Let me get this straight chief, scores of men wearing battle dress uniforms and military web gear carrying assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols from the alt-right arrive in formation on your streets. Other protesters from the American Nazi Party, the KKK; alt-left fascists and the Marxist, militant Black Lives Matter wearing riot gear, shields and weapons also arrive and converge in your parks and streets. And based upon their history you somehow felt that these divergent groups were going to comply with your agreement and not violently clash? Is that your story? Not even the MSM believed you and I can assure you that real cops certainly don’t.
The facts gleaned from reviews of multiple videos and the statements of officers, citizens and other law enforcement experts show that the violent protest factions were better organized, prepared and geared for battle than the Charlottesville PD and mutual assistance agencies present. In fact, the majority of Chief Thomas’ officers were initially attired only in their patrol uniforms during much of the protests and resulting riots. Meanwhile, the masked protesters formed organized battle lines with weapons, chemical agents, helmets and riot shields against the officers and opposing factions. It looked like a scene out of Braveheart. Are you kidding me?!
It is difficult to list all the mistakes made by the liberal Charlottesville Mayor, their overtly racially biased Vice Mayor, the City Council, Chief Thomas and his administration after they learned that Judge Conrad was going to allow opposing protest factions to converge on their city. Apparently, none of these bureaucrats or the judge had watched TV or read any news articles in recent years following the Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, San Jose, Oakland and most recently Berkeley protests that quickly evolved into violent riots involving some of the same players. Apparently, no one on Chief Thomas’ senior management team ever attended any post-incident briefings on those violent incidents, nor bothered to call those agencies to see what they learned from those encounters.
Sometimes you just have to take the hit
One wonders what the law enforcement response would have been had the timid Chief Thomas just told his Mayor and City Council that due to the exigent circumstances of community safety, he was going to ignore Judge Conrad’s ruling and order his officers to separate the protesters, engage and arrest protest leaders and provocateurs on the spot and remove every resisting protester from the streets and parks. Yes, he would have probably be looking for work today and been cited by the ignorant Judge for contempt of court. However, my sense is that this tragedy, injuries and deaths would have been avoided and the city’s reputation would have been saved. Unfortunately, poor Charlottesville will now forever be equated as the Ferguson of the South.
Proactive strategies that could have been employed
Perhaps someone could have called the Cleveland, OH Police Department to learn how they prepared for and successfully managed protesters during the 2016 Republican National Convention. I was there and I will attest that the Cleveland PD did an outstanding job. The reason that agencies involved in such critical incidents host training briefings is so that other agencies can learn from both successes and mistakes made.
The Charlottesville city and police administrations had enough time to author and implement several emergency edicts based upon citizen/officer safety and exigent circumstances. These decrees and municipal ordinances should prohibit public display and/or possession of firearms, improvised or manufactured weapons, chemical agents, sticks, shields, protective gear, helmets, backpacks, containers, masks and vehicles within city and/or designated protest zones for the duration of the protests. Only paper and fabric signs without stick or rope holders should have been allowed in the city that day and in the future. Some ordinances should be made permanent for citizen and officer safety.
It’s amazing to see how less brave and intimidating protesters become when they have nothing to attack or protect themselves with; and when they can be easily identified in videos and photographs.
There should have been an overwhelming police presence using outside agencies through mutual assistance agreements. All officers should have been properly equipped and attired for riot duty.
Large city vehicles such as dump trucks, bulldozers, snowplows and physical barriers such as K-rails should have been used to block streets and points of egress to isolate, contain, separate and funnel protesters to mitigate conflict and control movement.
Four-man recon and Rapid Response Teams dressed in full riot gear should have been deployed very early on to identify, arrest and remove violators who might later become violence instigators before protesters even had time to organize and stage their members.
As soon as there was any significant resistance and non-compliance to officers’ orders, an unlawful assembly order should have been given and then immediately enforced.
Calls to the Department of Homeland security should have been made and an agreement should have been reached to place all arrested protesters on the “Do not fly” list. Then broadcast this information to the protest leaders and followers beforehand via the news and social media. It’s difficult to get people to protest violently if they know they will never be able to fly again for vacation or business. It is also quite costly to fight this order in court. In short, police need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best outcome.
Expressing a vague regret is not the same as taking ownership for serious mistakes
Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most about snowflake law enforcement administrators like Chief Thomas is their refusal to take ownership for their mistakes and/or incompetence. During his press conference, the chief told the assembled media that he regretted this tragedy and the loss of two state troopers and one female civilian. I don’t doubt his sincerity one bit. We all regret any loss of life under these circumstances. That’s an obvious given. However, what Chief Thomas stubbornly refused to do when asked was to take ownership of his failure to properly lead his troops and take any proactive steps to mitigate or thwart the insane violence that was sure to erupt given the known players. While the deaths of the VA State Troopers helicopter crew was unfortunate and devastating, the death of the female protester was senseless and could more likely than not have been avoided.
Reconsider your positions and responsibilities as law enforcement administrators
It has become increasingly apparent in today’s law enforcement community that most of our chiefs and sheriffs have been relegated to the position of paper pushing, budget sensitive bureaucrats, instead of leaders of peace officers. A growing number of police chiefs are selected more because they fill a racial, gender, or sexual orientation nitch; than because they possess any valued law enforcement experience.
Many police chiefs easily succumb to the political pressures placed upon them by underinformed, biased, and scared Mayors, City Managers and councils who capriciously align themselves with any political action group that challenges their authority, or calls them racists. These chiefs are so scared of losing their precious jobs and pensions that they bow down to their civilian overseers, rather than assertively taking a stand for what is right and safer for their officers and community. No job is worth comprising one’s profession and community safety for personal comforts.
As chiefs and sheriffs, you have a community caretaking responsibility that supersedes all other considerations of your office. Your officers have high expectations of you and are taking life risks supporting your department and its mission of safety. If you are staying up at night worrying about where your allegiances lie, then do us all a favor and take off that badge and go home. This is not a job that fits you any longer. Are you listening Chief Thomas?
Dr. Ron Martinelli, a retired San Jose Detective and world renowned forensic criminologist has done exhaustive research on the Black Lives Matter movement. He wrote the book: The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police
Website and Blog: https://drronmartinelli.com