By now, everyone has seen the videos from the Board of Supervisors’ supplemental budget hearing. In what for some was a complete about face, they implored Chief Scott to send officers to their districts and to value lives over Versace and Louis Vuitton purses, so that the people in their districts can feel safe walking down the street and not get shot, robbed, or assaulted.
Where the hell were these people three years ago? Oh, that’s right, they were the very same ones calling for defunding and even abolishing the police! My, my, my here we are just three short years later and now they want cops, and want cops everywhere! These very same people pushed the narrative that police are not needed and not wanted. Clearly their constituents want a better quality of life for themselves and their families. The same narrative that turned cops away from the city and had many fleeing to more police friendly jurisdictions. And now the communities that we serve, and our department, are reaping what they sowed. I don’t think we need to rehash that the haters of police are now singing a different tune, as evidenced by the show put on at the hearing and by the countless memes (the histrionics!) popping up on social media. Many news articles about where politicians stood about police just a short time ago continue to be written. One local journalist coined the term, Hypocrite Hill, I would go one step further to call it Hater Hill. Oh how they love to hate us because they know their constituents need us, and that they will always need us, despite their personal ideology, which to this point has been foisted upon those they purport to serve.
Any police officer could have told you what was going to happen. People who commit crimes were not going to turn over a new leaf and suddenly do the right thing. For some criminals this is a lifestyle. They know it, and we know it. We got vilified and now police are in protective mode because no one is trying to catch a case, lose their job and go to prison. All that and there was no discussion about how SFPD is a model for reform and one of the most diverse departments out there. When we swore that oath to serve and protect, we knew what we were putting on the line. We understood what we signed up for and there are those that don’t like us, but that dial has been turned up to a degree many of us didn’t see coming. It is one thing to have a few haters, but entirely another when the haters outweigh the supporters, and include many government officials. Fair or not, it is another hurdle that police officers must overcome. If there is one thing that cops know it is that life is not fair. We have seen too many tragedies of all sorts to not understand that fact.
The real losers in all of this nonsense are the communities that we, elected officials and cops, vowed to serve. They are the ones suffering because their elected officials chose to use an of the moment phrase — defund the police! — as a platform to further their career, be damned how their constituents feel. Let’s be real, most of San Francisco’s elected officials have no skin in the long game outcome for the City. They are not from here and most have their sights on higher office elsewhere. Their constituents are asking them to care. Care about them and this city. One hallmark of a functioning society is how people in that society feel about their safety. Do they feel safe when they step outside of their home or now a days even inside their home. Even those that are housing challenged need some level of safety in their lives. During the meeting, one woman spoke during public comment. She said that there are custodial workers who need to feel safe and protected as they go to and from work in the downtown area, often at night. She spoke about the workers who work in retail, as well as the hotels, bars, restaurants, etc, that bring in a significant amount of financial resources to the city coffers. This is not about designer bags. We all know it, no matter how anyone else tries to spin it.
So how do we get on the same page to provide the services that everyone wants and needs? One, is realizing that we are not the cure for every societal ill, we have advocated for others who are the experts and professionals in their fields to join us to get to the solution. We will not get to the root cause. That is not our role. Again, we are not sociologists. Police are not going in to raise or be the moral authority on raising another person’s children. We are not here to tell adults what is right and what is wrong. We are not the moral authority to make choices for people. We come in after something occurs and our job is to focus on doing the best job we can to make sure that the choices that people make when they come into contact with us, do not happen again. So, if there are investments that need to be made then they needed to happen long before we come into contact with people, and by others.
What we don’t need is politicians grandstanding on nonsense because a microphone and camera are in their face. That does nothing to keep anyone safe.