Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V
Forensic Criminologist/Law Enforcement Expert
Copyright (C) 08-20-17
These days in this very challenging and dangerous law enforcement environment, some people for a variety of reasons of have become highly skeptical of law enforcement officers. As a forensic law enforcement practices expert, many of the cases I am retained in are in defense or agencies and officers. However, as any expert worth the title should be, my advocacy is for facts and evidence, rather than entities. I have and do work cases where I find that law enforcement is at fault. When I see something that is wrong and dangerous, I feel an obligation to report it.
Like the supporters and some of the detractors of law enforcement, I just want to improve our rapidly evolving profession. When I see idiots doing things that are dangerous for our brave officers and citizens that degrade our honorable profession, I get angry. Such is my state of mind where I see law enforcement headed these days.
I am standing on my soap box today to warn the law enforcement and civilian communities about a growing specter that is harmful to both communities – the snowflake, politically correct “PC” law enforcement administrator. The poster child target of my rant this week is Charlottesville, VA Chief of Police Al Thomas. So, while I criticize Chief Thomas, my message is intended for all of you “PC” law enforcement administrators who think of yourselves as “leaders” of the men and women behind the badge, who have the unenvious circumstance of working for you. Chief Thomas typifies the new and dangerous type of law enforcement administrator we are seeing these days who kowtow to incompetent, biased and/or politically expedient city administrators. In doing so, put us all at extreme risk.
Let’s get one think straight right away. Law enforcement today is a very difficult job that few people are cut out for. Officers face daily challenges of community service that few people who don’t wear the badge can hardly imagine. On a yearly basis, we lose more officers on the mean streets of the United States than we do military personnel internationally in the War on Terror. In 2016, we saw the highest murder rate of law enforcement officers since the 1970’s. We also average over 55,000 violent assaults upon officers every year, compared to only hundreds of our soldiers wounded in combat zones.
Officers working in our high-crime inner cities of Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, New York and Miami are far more likely to encounter armed subjects than soldiers on patrol in the streets of Bagdad and Ramadi. It’s not like our officers can call in a drone strike or a Spector gunship to address the armed threats they face every day. One of the most violent cities in the world is now Chicago and it is the politicians of that city and their weak criminal justice system who are largely responsible for that city’s soaring murder rate.
Sufficed to say that it takes a special profile of leader to direct and supervise officers in the field. Police administration is no place for the weak at heart. This is not “snowflake” country. Police work is certainly not the job nor environment for men or women who are more afraid of losing their precious jobs and pensions, than displaying heroic courage in supporting their troops and citizens and doing the right thing in the face of political adversity. Yet, that is one of our major officer and civilian safety problems today – law enforcement administrators who are either hired and/or function primarily from a position of political correctness; rather than from an understanding of their community caretaking responsibility and obligation.
The tragedy of the deaths of two brave officers and a civilian female; as well as scores of injured people this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA is a vivid example of how an inexperienced, naïve and politically correct administrator failed to respond proactively to a known threat. Chief Thomas’ inference during his recent press conference that he and his men were in any way surprised when the protests turned violent underscores just how inept this chief is.
However Chief Thomas’s tepid police response was more likely than not a result of his giving in to the designs of his city’s black Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, who wanted to make a name for himself by forcing the circumstance of the removal of the Confederate statute of Civil War general Robert E. Lee from the city’s Emancipation Park. At least one anonymous officer in his department has confided that officers were given a “stand down” order from their administration during the melee. I am investigating this.
By not doing his due diligence and failing to bring to light his Vice Mayor’s very public racist rants against whites and women on social media, Chief Thomas could well have circumvented Bellamy’s plans which ultimately caused injury, death and extreme embarrassment to that formerly quiet and friendly southern university town
Complicit in the Charlottesville debacle was Federal Court Judge Glen Conrad of the U.S. District Court – Western, VA, who refused to listen to the police department’s argument that the Unite the Right protests would grow violent because of the history of its actors. The dishonorable Judge Conrad instead sided with the Alt-right protesters and the ACLU and allowed the protests to move forward.
In the aftermath of the violent merger of diverse and warring factions of Nazis, “anti-fascist” fascists, anarchists and Marxist Black Lives Matter, Chief Thomas’ explanation of his department’s actions was nothing less than incredible.
Let me get this straight chief, scores of men wearing battle dress uniforms and military web gear carrying assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols from the alt-right arrive in formation on your streets. Other protesters from the American Nazi Party, the KKK; alt-left fascists and the Marxist, militant Black Lives Matter wearing riot gear, shields and weapons also arrive and converge in your parks and streets. And based upon their history you somehow felt that these divergent groups were going to comply with your agreement and not violently clash? Is that your story? Not even the MSM believed you and I can assure you that real cops certainly don’t.
The facts gleaned from reviews of multiple videos and the statements of officers, citizens and other law enforcement experts, show that the violent protest factions were better organized, prepared and geared for battle than the Charlottesville PD and mutual assistance agencies present. In fact, the majority of Chief Thomas’ officers were initially attired only in their patrol uniforms during much of the protests and resulting riots. Meanwhile, the masked protesters formed organized battle lines with weapons, chemical agents, helmets and riot shields against the officers and opposing factions. It looked like a scene out of Braveheart. Are you kidding me?!
It is difficult to list all the mistakes made by the liberal Charlottesville Mayor, their overtly racially biased Vice Mayor, the City Council, Chief Thomas and his administration after they learned that Judge Conrad was going to allow opposing protest factions to converge on their city. Apparently, none of these bureaucrats or the judge had watched TV or read any news articles in recent years following the Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas, San Jose, Oakland and most recently Berkeley protests that quickly evolved into violent riots involving some of the same players. Apparently, no one on Chief Thomas’ senior management team ever attended any post-incident briefings on those violent incidents, nor bothered to call those agencies to see what they learned from those encounters.
Sometimes who just have to take the hit
One wonders what the law enforcement response would have been had the timid Chief Thomas just told his Mayor and City Council that due to the exigent circumstances of community safety, he was going to ignore Judge Conrad’s ruling and order his officers to separate the protesters, engage and arrest protest leaders and provocateurs on the spot and remove every resisting protester from the streets and parks. Yes, he would have probably be looking for work today and been cited by the ignorant Judge for contempt of court. However, my sense is that this tragedy, injuries and deaths could have been avoided and the city’s reputation would have been saved. Unfortunately, poor Charlottesville will now forever be equated as the Ferguson of the South.
Expressing a vague regret is not the same as taking ownership for serious mistakes
Perhaps the thing that bothers me the most about snowflake law enforcement administrators like Chief Thomas is their refusal to take ownership for their mistakes and/or incompetence. During his press conference, the chief told the assembled media that he regretted this tragedy and the loss of two state troopers and one female civilian. I don’t doubt his sincerity one bit. We all regret any loss of life under these circumstances. That’s an obvious given. However, what Chief Thomas stubbornly refused to do when asked was to take ownership of his failure to properly lead his troops and take any proactive steps to mitigate or thwart the insane violence that was sure to erupt given the known players. While the deaths of the VA State Troopers helicopter crew was unfortunate and devastating, the death of 32-year old protester Heather Heyer, was senseless and could more likely than not have been avoided.
Reconsider your positions and responsibilities as law enforcement administrators
It has become increasingly apparent in today’s law enforcement community that most of our chiefs and sheriffs have been relegated to the position of paper pushing, budget sensitive bureaucrats, instead of leaders of peace officers. A growing number of police chiefs are selected more because they fill a racial, gender, or sexual orientation nitch; than because they possess any valued law enforcement experience.
Many police chiefs easily succumb to the political pressures placed upon them by underinformed, biased, and scared Mayors, City Managers and councils, who capriciously align themselves with any political action group that challenges their authority, or calls them racists, or have a political agenda that ignores public safety. These chiefs are so scared of losing their precious jobs and pensions that they bow down to their civilian overseers; rather than assertively taking a stand for what is right and safer for their officers and community. No job is worth comprising one’s profession and community safety for personal comforts.
As chiefs and sheriffs, you have a community caretaking responsibility that supersedes all other considerations of your office. Your officers have high expectations of you and are taking life risks supporting your department and its mission of safety. If you are staying up at night worrying about where your allegiances lie, then do us all a favor and take off that badge and go home. This is not a job that fits you any longer. Are you listening Chief Thomas?
About the Author
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and a Federal/State Courts qualified law enforcement expert. Dr. Martinelli is a retired police detective and directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations & Independent Review Team. He specializes in high-profile officer-involved death cases and experts for several State Attorney Generals’ Offices and major metropolitan cities. He is the author of the book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” (Amazon.com). His forensic site is found at www.DrRonMartinelli.com.