This has been a bad few weeks to be a police officer. Not only do you have to worry about the unhinged anger emanating from the protests that have engulfed the country, you also have to be concerned about overzealous prosecutors willing to throw any red meat at the rage mob to keep the ignorant masses fed and satisfied.
In Minneapolis, that means assuring the protesters that they will completely disband the police department. In Seattle, it means giving up several city blocks to anarchists who want to form their own “autonomous” country in the middle of downtown. And in Atlanta, it means charging a police officer with murder for doing nothing more or less than his job.
Well, that last bit, which came down from the Fulton County District Attorney on Wednesday, may be the last straw. The Atlanta police union announced this week that police were resigning at record rates and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms admitted that there is a growing morale problem inside the city’s police force.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, eight officers have resigned since the beginning of the month – a big jump from previous months in 2020.
“We are now going into the third consecutive week of unabated protests in which officers have worked 12-hour shifts seven days per week. As you can imagine, their stress levels are exacerbated by physical and emotional exhaustion,” Dave Wilkinson, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, said.
Things are undoubtedly compounded by the decision to fire Officer Garrett Rolfe and charge him with no less than felony murder for shooting Rayshard Brooks on Saturday night. As bad as the move to fire Rolfe was, the decision to charge him with murder is on another level. We’re not police protocol experts, but this seemed to us like a completely justified killing. Unfortunate? Of course. But what, really, could have been done differently? If our new national normal calls on police officers to “win” every physical struggle with suspects without drawing their guns…well, it’s going to be pretty damn hard to find anyone willing to be a cop.
Wouldn’t it make (much) more sense to take this time and explain to everyone – white, black, Hispanic, and other – that if you resist arrest and start fighting with the police, you are very likely to get shot? This would seem like the kind of baseline common sense that everyone would already possess, but apparently not. Not in the moment of resisting and not, astoundingly, even when discussing the video of Brooks’ final moments.
As best we can tell, racial activists and pundits believe that Rolfe and his partner should have just allowed Brooks to flee the scene, taser in hand. Either that, or they think police should have engaged Brooks in some kind of taser vs. taser fight in the Wendy’s parking lot – may the best gladiator win!
Sorry, but that’s just not how it works. The moment Brooks decided to start fighting with the cops, his chances of dying that night went up astronomically. The moment he stole the taser, the chances of him dying eclipsed those of him getting through the encounter alive. And the moment he turned around to actually shoot that taser at the pursing cops, he sealed his fate.
But hey, if many police officers decide in the coming weeks that this job is no longer for them, the activists will slowly but surely get what they’re fighting for, right? No police, no problems.
Yeah, we’ll see how that works out for those Black Lives the activists are trying to make Matter.