Yes, times have changed form the more laid back peaceful interactions of the police and every day citizens, to the war zone streets where everyone including law enforcement fear more for their lives.
Gangs and individuals, have become more violent and armed to the teeth like first rate military forces. Attitudes fueled by more permissive social expectations and allowances, and a lack of legal punishment as a deterrent. Even more gun laws are not the answer as proven by Chicago with thousands of shootings a year, and more actual deaths than some foreign battleground.
Former Asst. FBI Director Concerns
One expert we turn to for insight and answers is former FBI Assistant Director, Mr. Ron Hosko.
His distinguished thirty year career in the FBI started after graduating Temple University School of Law. He worked undercover in assignments focused on complex financial and violent crimes, and closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in joint task forces, serving on both the Jackson and Chicago SWAT teams targeting the most dangerous subjects of FBI investigations. He then went on to lead the FBI’s Crisis Management Unit in Quantico, Virginia.
He was promoted to the Senior Executive Service and then to serve as SAC (Special Agent in Charge) of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, overseeing all criminal and cyber cases in the FBI’s second largest field office.
In 2012, he was asked to serve as assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, responsible for oversight of the organization’s largest program, worldwide.
He remains active in “protecting America’s protectors” and supporting law enforcement through his position as President of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. (I encourage your review of our original articles on Mr Hosko and the FBI and its activities, in PART 1 and PART 2) PART 1 of this series can be found HERE.
Law enforcement has changed. It’s had to in order to keep up with more sophisticated criminals and their enhanced techniques for stealing, murdering, dealing and terrorizing Americans.
RB – Has the election of President Trump and appointment of AG Sessions had any benefit or influence on your group’s direction in dealing with specific or general law enforcement, training or defense?
RH – President Trump’s election has changed the tone from the top of our government and I think it’s trickling down to some extent. Late last year, the president spoke to those attending the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Orlando. I was there. He reiterated his longstanding support for the men and women in law enforcement, repeatedly saying “I have your back.” That message was different than that of his predecessor, who repeatedly questioned the police response in multiple conflicts with citizens, who challenged the police, who suggested that racism and abusive conduct was pervasive in policing. He was often wrong in his prejudgments and his words helped widen the perceived rift between police and many in the communities they serve. Unlike Obama, President Trump attended this important gathering and voiced his support. Unlike Obama, he had the White House lit in blue during National Police Week. These are simple and symbolic.
I’m among those who believe Obama’s words were, in part, responsible for the two year spike in violent crime and homicide rates in 2015 and 2016. Also jumping during that period were violent and deadly assaults on law enforcement. When the president, the media, and others spoke suspiciously of law enforcement, many believe that law enforcement started to pull back from proactive policing, giving hardened and opportunistic criminals to fill that space. There are painful examples of that in Chicago and Baltimore that continue to this day.
President Trump’s support for law enforcement is welcome, as was evident during and after his speech in Orlando last year.
The LELDF saw the byproducts of negativity toward police in our work. Several officers who acted in accord with their training and experience were charged with felonies after deadly encounters with citizens. Many of them (often with our financial support) were later cleared of the charges but only after grave damage to their careers, their family life, their emotional health, their financial well-being, and their reputations.
RB – At the end of World War II, there were 7 border walls or fences in the world. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there were 15, Today, as President Trump pushes his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, there are at least 77 walls or major fences around the world — many erected after the Sept. 11, 2001.
Building a wall has had very positive effects in areas like Israel and elsewhere, but, in a very general sense, would building a wall make sense and have a positive effect on overall border security and law enforcement here? More and more people are talking about the wall and any actions Trump might take to build it.
RH – A wall, a barrier, properly surveilled and controlled, is critical to the US reclaiming it’s borders and internal spaces. There are some 10-11 million people unlawfully present in America. Too many of them are violent criminals who live and act in defiance of US law. Some have and others will take the lives of Americans who are simply living decent productive lives. Look at Kate Steinle, look at Mollie Tibbetts, look at California sheriff’s deputies Danny Oliver and Michael Davis, Jr., all Americans who lost their lives at the hands of criminal illegal aliens. It has to stop.
As a sovereign nation, America has not only the right but the duty to secure our borders and to determine who is admitted, who is denied and how long a visitor may stay here. Congress needs to do its job before more are harmed.
RB – Are the states being called on more and more to take some of the burden of national law enforcement (immigration, drug and human trafficking, terrorism etc.) and are they ready to meet that responsibility? Is help from the federal level adequate and growing?
RH – Crime is changing constantly. On one level, we have a flood of illegal aliens that’s created a massive problem that few want to help clean up. With it, there is drug trafficking, human trafficking, violent crime that requires all available personnel at every level.
Some of the listed issues belong to all of us. While the FBI takes the lead on international terror investigations, with the evolving threats posed by groups like ISIS, which invites attack in their name by any means at any time, a person (often a citizen) who is radicalized online, can pop up in any city or town. State and local police cannot be blind to that occurring in their town, so a coordinated response is critical with time of the essence. Again, joint task forces, intelligence fusion centers, and effective information sharing are essential to success. The challenge may be greater, though, in rural environments where there is no FBI office, no task force, and widely spread law enforcement generally.
RB – Basic crimes have been around for centuries, but what has motivated a new boldness with the increase in LEO ambush killings, general disregard for LEOs in traffic stops etc. resulting in more loss of life? Has political activism had its influence?
RH – Once upon a time, few young folks would entertain the notion of talking harshly to the police, let alone physically attacking them. But our society and its mores are changing. Social media portals invite us to spew the most vile comments with little recrimination or thought. Internet trolls lurk in every website, commenting without knowledge or care, simply throwing gas and dropping matches. Politics has driven many to opposite poles with no thought or expectation of finding middle ground. Add to the volatile mix a (former) president who leaps to unfounded conclusions against police and you have a recipe for violence against law enforcement.
According to FBI counts, and those counts are very low, law enforcement officers are attacked some 55-60,000 times a year in America. Dozens will lose their lives in fatal attacks, many by ambush. A poisonous “cops are racists” narrative is spread in communities and amplified by a biased media that loves a good riot. One result is a flight from the police ranks across the country and dwindling applicant pools for police jobs that have never been harder.
RB – In looking at situation like Chicago where the murder rate (while basically confined to gangs) is having a terrible effect on every day citizens and the city at large. What can be/needs to be done to solve this out of control environment?
RH – What’s happening in Chicago very likely has many causes: large and violent gangs, drug trafficking turf battles, inter-gang disputes played out on social media leading to gunfire, distrust of police and a pervasive “stop snitching” culture that prevents witnesses from giving truthful accounts of crimes, a gun culture and local judges who put illegal gun possessors back on the streets quickly, and entrenched cycles of revenge.
Chicago police have had a history of excess and of corruption. That has to be addressed as a priority so objective observers can say, “CPD is not corrupt, they police and address their problems.”
CPD and all available feds must build strong cases against violent criminals and drug trafficking organizations and those convicted subjected to severe sentences. Catch and release gun offenders must fear arrest and incarceration. Today, they don’t because of soft on crime local judges.
Corruption must be rooted out of local politics so massive tax money is spent in a targeted, impactful way rather than wasted on pet projects while pols line their own pockets.
Whole neighborhoods of good, decent Chicagoans are being held hostage by violent thugs and gang members who run the streets without fear. It’s those folks who need our support so their kids are given a chance to live a meaningful life.
RB – Does public sentiment and support through groups and movements like “Blue Lives Matter” have a positive effect on today’s law enforcement community? Does it really make any difference or just another great slogan aimed at a social problem?
RH – Give me Blue Lives Matter any day over the alternative. Good cops everywhere thrive on community support. Ideally, our support is a “given” but it’s not been in recent years. Sometimes police who never should have been hired squander public support by acts of stupidity or excess. Police must police themselves and hold accountable those who act outside of expected and trained behaviors. Body cameras offer increased transparency but police leaders and supervisors must do their jobs too.
Meanwhile, it’s incumbent on all of us to know the facts. Police have an estimated 40 million face to face contacts with the public every year. Less than two percent of those contacts will involve police force. In an even smaller number of contacts, police will use deadly force and take a life. In about 75% of those, the person killed by police will have been armed with a knife, a gun, a car or some other weapon. If you look at all of the data, it would be easy to see the story of police force against citizens as one of restraint, not one of excess. The LELDF uses a program that includes a police training simulator to tell some of this story. It’s an important one.
RB – What is the purpose of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) in today’s law enforcement environment?
RH – It’s largely twofold: we raise funds to help certain police officers who are charged with serious crimes resulting from their on-duty actions; and, we work to educate the public, often through the media, on the challenges of modern day law enforcement.
On the former, we’ve raised funds to offset massive defense costs for dozens of deserving officers and we’ve succeeded. In the last four or so years, our record is 17-0-1 with officers having charges against them dismissed or their being found not guilty.
We’re proud of that record. (Our cases are on our website www.policedefense.org)
More cases, particularly those where good cops have to make an instantaneous use of force decision that’s often presented by an armed suspect, will follow.
RB – Is your work considered a positive for the local LEO or a possible adversarial position against local LE groups based on facts of the situation. Are you finding a positive working relationship possible to arrive at the facts and the truth of cases?
RH – We vet our cases closely. We want to know as much as possible before we undertake a fundraising course of action. That includes the details of the event, the personnel history of the officer, the record of the person they engaged. Quite often cases can be “awful but lawful.” It seldom looks good when police are putting their hands on someone, struggling to get a subject into handcuffs or shooting at someone. But we have experienced law enforcement folks and attorneys in our organization who are capable of looking at these events through the right lens.
RB – What can the public do to be more involved in supporting LELDF
RH – Visit our website – www.policedefense.org and donate to our cause. Look at our cases, don’t simply believe what’s printed in a local paper or said on a news broadcast. The facts of these cases can often be far more complex and very often support what a law enforcement officer did. Also, find your own facts about policing. The raw numbers support the police, not the narrative of Black Lives Matter and other operations who simply want to demonize law enforcement while ignoring the acts of those who challenge them.
Again, we can’t thank Mr Hosko enough for his service to our country, but also his time and expertise in helping us look at these problems plaguing America. As Trump pushes to build the wall, it’s just one weapon in the arsenal of protection to keep us safe.
The everyday duties of police officers and law enforcement in general are meant for one purpose – To Protect – and they can only do that with proper training, equipment and the support of the public. Please visit the websites listed in these articles, participate as you can, and see how Mr. Hosko’s organization is helping to protect those who protect us.
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