Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
When I consider the calls for defunding and disbanding police departments, I cannot wrap my head around what those people are thinking. How do they imagine they will be safe in their home, work and play without the protection our police provide? I would not be able to sleep soundly at night if I knew our police were not there. Just being there serves to provide a sense of security and well being. Without them, we would have chaos and anarchy.
The primary role of government is to protect the public so they can live safe, productive lives as they build their community, state and nation. The founders understood this, and the police powers they created are essential to what has made America great and safe. Imagine a world without our police? Without them, all individuals and households would have to be armed to the tooth to protect their very existence. These are unsettling times and so many people have lost their way and have no respect for human life and what it means. To suggest that in these times of crisis we should eliminate the stabilizing force of police in our land is irresponsible.
While no one should die at the hands of the police, the nature of the role law enforcers are asked to perform sometimes brings the need for use of deadly force to protect public safety. Most do not, but some fail in the use of that power. George Floyd should not have been killed by the officer arresting him. We must not, however, paint all law enforcement with this tainted brush, and see only the bad acts and forget the countless good our police have done. Humans by nature are imperfect and people in all professions fail and disappoint us. How would you feel as a teacher that you were condemned because a teacher abused a minor in their charge? What if you were a surgeon who was condemned because another surgeon committed malpractice, and someone died? Because some business people are crooked, would it be right for you to be so accused because you own your business? We hold the bad apple accountable and try to build into the system a better way to prevent such wrongful acts in the future. That is the way it should be with our police.
We all know that this wrongful act by the arresting officer is being used by criminals, anarchists, terrorists, and haters, to kill, burn, loot, and destroy. Some are intent on creating chaos, but we should not be a party to this. We have a right to protest and sometimes, the louder the better. But we must be alert not to be used by those who would destroy our way of life. Police are targets from those who benefit from uncontrolled chaos and we must not let this dim the truth that police provide deterrence of criminal acts by some and protect us each and every day while putting their own lives on the line. While we are legitimately concerned about any wrongful police action, we must not unwittingly join in the call for a form of justice that would eliminate those who bring justice to the people.
Justice can never be at the hands of a mob or outside the good order that society has established in dealing with it. Justice is supposed to be blind. It is not driven by emotion, fear, and hate. The justice in the streets where buildings and cars are burned is not justice but is hate and revenge. The officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck until he died, is and should be prosecuted. That is where justice will and must be had. If we reject that ideal, then we are doomed as a civilized nation. Even this officer is entitled to due process and a trial before his peers to determine his guilt. It cannot be decided by those rioting in the streets or by a biased press who seem to want the role of prosecutor, judge, and jury.
So, in closing, the words in “This Badge,” written by an unknown author are worthy of presenting to speak of the overall value and service of our police.
Let me tell you about the badge and the thousands of good men and women it represents.
This badge ran towards certain death as the Towers collapsed on 9-11.
This badge ran into the line of fire to save the people in the Pulse Night Club.
This badge sheltered thousands as bullets rained down from the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas.
This badge protected a BLM rally that left five officers dead in Dallas.
This badge ran into the Sandy Hook School to stop a school shooter.
This badge killed the Oregon District mass shooter in seconds.
This badge has done CPR on your drowned child.
This badge has fist fought the wife beater who left his spouse in a coma.
This badge has run into burning buildings to save the occupants.
This badge has been shot for simply existing.
This badge has waded through flood waters to rescue the elderly trapped on the roof.
This badge has intentionally crashed into the wrong way driver to protect innocent motorists.
This badge has helped find the lost child so his mother would stop crying hysterically.
This badge has helped the injured dog off the road and rushed it to the vet.
This badge has escorted the elderly woman across the street because she could not see well and was afraid to cross.
This badge has bought food for hungry kids because they had been abandoned.
This badge has been soaked in blood and tears.
This badge has been covered by a mourning band to honor those who have sacrificed everything in service.
You may hate me because I wear it. But I wear it with pride. Despite your hate and your anger, I will await the next call for help. And I will come running without hesitation. Just like the thousands of men and women across this great nation.
— Author unknown
Please remember that what happened in Minneapolis was the action of one bad person and should not be attributed to those police who are our family, friends, neighbors and protectors. May God bless and protect them all!