Police Union Leaders Appeal to the Citizens

What few have acknowledged until now is that too often the legitimate expression of views has devolved into vilification and violence against this nation’s front-line public safety servants.
What few have acknowledged until now is that too often the legitimate expression of views has devolved into vilification and violence against this nation’s front-line public safety servants.

An Open Letter to the Residents of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland

As the presidents of the three largest police unions in the Bay Area of California, our overriding responsibility is to ensure that each and every police officer we represent makes it home to his or her family after every shift.

Police officers must swear to uphold our constitution and we also take seriously our responsibility to protect the First Amendment rights of the public we serve. Unfortunately, recent events threaten to bring these two great responsibilities into conflict.

Our members and their families have been shaken to the core by the brutal slayings of two New York City police officers and a Tarpon Springs, Florida, police officer. All of our members are on heightened alert. In the line of duty, deaths of police officers are up significantly: 120 police officers have already paid the ultimate price for protecting their communities in 2014.

The protests that followed the grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York are a legitimate expression of our First Amendment traditions. The reaction is not unexpected but the vilification of front-line public servants by some politicians and media pundits has been demoralizing and unjust. Public safety in the Bay Area and the nation will be a subject of major debate going forward and we will each participate vigorously in that debate.

But what few have acknowledged until now is that too often the legitimate expression of views has devolved into vilification and violence against this nation’s front-line public safety servants. Demonstrators in New York chanted in unison: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” That was disgraceful. So, too, was witnessing protest marches in the Bay Area degenerate into violence, destruction, and mob rule.

Despite the efforts of organizers, too often protests were hijacked by shameful cowards who take refuge behind the truly law abiding demonstrators while destroying property and injuring our officers.

The overwhelming majority of our members—who represent the most diverse police departments in the nation—bear such malice in dignified silence. Even following the murder of three of their own, our officers continue with their duty, answer your calls, respond to your crises, fulfill their mission, and honor their commitment to the people of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.

In short, they will always be there when you need them. In return, as their “voices,” we simply ask that you join them in a cooperative effort to keep our streets safe and to engage in constructive dialogue that calls for a common sense approach to very complex issues.

Hopefully, we can all take a time to reflect and pray for one another and search for solutions together, as the law enforcement community honors those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Martin Halloran, President
San Francisco Police Officers Association

Paul Kelly, President
San Jose Police Officers Association

Barry Donelan
Oakland Police Officers Association

2 comments

I fully support my community police officers. I just donated to the police benevolence society and will continue to do so.

Presidents Halloran, Kelly and Donelan

First, as a retired LEO and military veteran of over thirty years I feel for all of our brothers and sisters in the profession. I pray that everyone gets to go home at the end of a safe tour of duty. What has worked for me as an a civilian and military LEO was getting to know the people in the sector I patrolled by using active community policing. This meaning getting out of our cars and knocking on doors, talking to kids, and attending functions at schools, churches, and centers. I knew the citizens in my sector by first and last name. I took personal interest even on my off days when a crime was committed involving my sector. I even followed an investigation through to locate property that had been stolen and pawned. The victim cried when I escorted her to identify and pickup her ring that had been in her family for centuries. Handing out teddy bears, baseball and police car cards were very positive with the youth. I served in all types of social and economic areas. we must treat everyone with respect and have no respect of persons when applying discretion of the law. As officers we need to support each other in the most positive ways possible and remembering we are public servants and are to blind when enforcing the laws of this country, community, and individual states. It is wrong for anyone to threaten officers or their families because of their chosen profession, these type of incidents and actions should never be supported as we all have a right to lawfully defend ourselves regardless of our profession. Now officers are very cautious about using any type of force putting their lives and other at risk. We obey officers as we have passed laws that are just, legal and not abused. The power of the police come from the people and those who break the law even in our profession should be held lawfully and legally accountable. The criminal justice system works when politics and race are not factors. This includes the selection of citizens for jury duty as well. In order to gain the trust back we will have to put boots on the ground in the community at all levels as there are still citizens who need our protection and support. our country has a long history of law enforcement highs and lows that can not be ignored, no more us versus them. We are now in a salad bowl and the melting pot has vanished. We must be transparent in our hiring, firing and disciplining of officers even if we are wrong. Body cameras are fine but a picture is still worth a thousand words and up to one’s interpretation.

We have to change to restore the trust back to a profession that will be around one way or another. Review all incidents where video was used and did it make a difference for or against.

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