“As a nation, we cannot rebuild our communities or the trust in police until the fires are out.”
Our nation was justifiably horrified by the death of George Floyd, and we share in the pain and anger from the communities we protect. The Fraternal Order of Police has confidence in our criminal justice system. This incident is being thoroughly investigated: All four officers were fired the day after the incident, and now all four have been charged. We are heartened that the case will be handled by the State Attorney General. I believe justice will be served.
This tragic incident cannot be allowed to define our profession or our nation’s police officers. Law enforcement is one of the most diverse professions in our nation. During this pandemic crisis, the men and women of law enforcement were in the field putting themselves, and by extension, the members of their family, at risk of exposure to the virus. We have been and will continue to do our duty no matter what the situation.
It is also our job to protect peaceful protesters, who only want their voices to be heard, from those who are taking advantage of these events by burning buildings, looting stores, defacing churches and monuments while committing random acts of violence. These criminals are not just stealing high-end merchandise, they are also robbing the people of their voice — especially from citizens who believe that their voices have not been heard.
Thousands of officers have been injured in these riots, and more than 20 officers have been shot. Hundreds of officers have been struck with bricks, Molotov cocktails and other projectiles while others have been run over by cars and injured by physical assaults in hundreds of communities. Our fellow citizens in these same communities have also been killed and injured, some quite seriously, by the recent widespread violence.
Protesters do not injure cops or set fires; rioters do. Protesters want to use their pain and anger to make their voices heard; rioters exploit this anger for their own profit.
The FOP stands ready to work with anyone, speak with anyone and cooperate with anyone who genuinely wants to work collectively, in a fact-based way, to help improve policing in our country.
As a nation, we cannot rebuild our communities or the trust in police until the fires are out. Let’s take the critical first step and stop setting them in the first place.
Patrick Yoes is National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.