OPINION -- Chiefs Kneeling with Protesters Shows "A Complete Failure of Leadership"
By John Miehle
I am a retired Santa Monica Police Officer who served for three decades. At retirement, my Civil Service Rank was Captain. My appointed position was Chief of Staff, second in command of the department.
During this past week of protests, violence and looting have been both sad and disturbing. My condolences to the Floyd family. I condemn the actions of the Minneapolis Police Officers and want them to face all appropriate state and federal consequences.
However, this is not about my opinion regarding what caused the above actions, and I have many which will be addressed in another way.
This is about what I see as a complete failure of leadership in some police agencies that, sadly, includes my own department.
Since the first day I went to the police academy, we were taught that we Serve and Protect the entire community and the citizens we serve. All of them, regardless of race, creed, color, political affiliation or causes they support or detest.
We would do this without any appearance of bias. We raised our right hand and took an oath to do exactly that and defend the constitution. Those principles are the foundation of our profession.
Those principals are ones which are foremost emphasized in the transition from your previous life to one of public service as a police officer. We are taught that we will abide by these guiding principals in a unbiased manner, no matter the issue.
This means that regardless of your personal beliefs, political or religious affiliation or any other personal opinion you may have, you will leave all of that at the door when you put on the uniform and badge.
During my career, I have been a part of or supervised the security of people and groups whose positions weren't my business. I was there to ensure that they had the freedom to express their constitutional right to free speech and be safe while doing so but NEVER to join or side with them.
I am deeply saddened to see those principles cast aside when I see Chiefs of Police on their knees with those carrying signs condemning the police and supporting the Black Lives Matter mantra of all police are racists.
Locally, I observed the Santa Monica Chief, the LAPD Chief and LAPD Commander, submit to protesters' demands to do this. In some cases there were chants from the crowds, KNEEL, KNEEL, KNEEL and the chiefs surrendered their principles of UNBIASED protection for all and knelt.
The result of these leader's actions sent a message of approval to their officers. I saw a Santa Monica Police Sergeant walking hand in hand with protesters in the days following mass destruction in the city. I then observed other officers nationwide taking part and siding with protesters.
The most disturbing to date was a Police Chief not only yielding to the KNEEL chants of the crowd but laying down prone, hands behind his back, simulating Mr. Floyd's position, with the anti-police signs and protesters in the foreground cheering him on. Disgusting!
Do I object to the signs, the chants, the anti-police rhetoric? No, it's their right. My vehement objection is to the officers of any rank violating the law enforcement guiding principles of equal and unbiased protection, surrendering and displaying with gestures of obedience and allegiance to specific groups.
In my opinion, the Chief's showed a complete lack of leadership. Along with all the other officers who obediently complied with the orders of the protesters to KNEEL, joined hands or marched with them, they put the stamp of approval from their department on their actions and beliefs that all of us in the law enforcement profession are guilty of nationalized systemic racism.
Lastly, in addition to my career, I am a U S Navy Veteran 62/68. I stand for the flag, I stand with my hand on my heart for the National Anthem and sing the words.
The souls of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms are borne in that flag, RESPECT IT! The souls of the officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to Serve and Protect are borne by the badges every one of us wears or wore, RESPECT IT!
I kneel for one reason, to recognize, pray and thank my God and Savior Jesus Christ.