SADOW: In Caddo Parish, Stupid Politics Trumps Public Safety

And this is how irresponsible politicians decrease public safety, in this case in Caddo Parish.

Earlier this month, the Parish Commission – unlike the other major government bodies in the state’s northwestern-most two parishes, still refusing to meet in person – rejected a proclamation supporting in the parish National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was Jan. 9 nationally. It stated that “the Parish of Caddo is the proud home to many dedicated law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep our community safe … these officers stand as leaders and teachers in the community, educating the citizens about the importance of public safety; and the Caddo Parish Commission appreciates the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by officers and their family members on a daily basis in order to protect our schools, workplaces, roadways, and homes.”

A last-minute agenda item offered by Republican Commissioner Mario Chavez, at least it drew the unanimous support for addition at a late date – unlike a few Angry Left talking points offered up parroting national Democrat policy preferences in the form of resolutions sprung at the last minute without text brought by Democrat Commissioner Ken Epperson. They received a varying number of vetoes, but Republican Commissioner Todd Hopkins voted nay on all, later stating he wouldn’t approve of any resolution for which he hadn’t seen the text.

Yet it would seem most Democrats on the Commission wanted the matter to come up just to express disapproval of it. Democrat Commissioner Steven Jackson (ironically, with a backdrop on his screen apparently reading “Be a good human”), who hadn’t read it beforehand, led the charge, saying in representing his district (that he claimed was wary of law enforcement) he wanted to be “cautious” with it. After hearing the text read, he said, in light of the unrest that occurred at the U.S. Capitol the previous day – accusing support of the proclamation creating a “double standard – that he hesitated in a general commendation of law enforcement officers.

Jackson may have referred to as-yet unfounded allegations that Capitol police aided, or at least didn’t detain out of sympathy, protesters in entering the building. An investigation, begun after the Commission meeting, has been opened on that question. A Capitol officer died in a melee that broke out during the hours-long incident.

Chavez volunteered to drop the “national” from the phrase, but it would have run afoul of the rules for an addition, nor would Jackson offer a substitute motion accomplishing the same. It went to a vote, where all four Republicans present (one was absent) plus Democrat Commissioner John Atkins voted for it and the six other (black) Democrats voted against it. A tie vote or more opposition votes than those in support causes a measure to fail.

Thus, the black Democrats on the Commission delivered a slap in the face to all law enforcement, including the parish’s deputies and constables. While just symbolic, this adds fuel to a fire that increasingly threatens citizens’ safety, as demonstrated in other jurisdictions where not only rhetoric like this but policy and budgetary actions have escalated the difficulty in keeping law and order.

It’s no accident that in cities where police have undergone the most sustained criticism and policy-making adverse to agency performance homicide rates increased the most in 2020, as police cut back on proactive measures in communities poisoned against law enforcement and adoption of other measures like elimination of cash bail put more violent criminals on the street. Adding to that, a mass exodus across major cities of officers, whether compounded by budget cuts to departments, has left agencies short in personnel and in an extreme reactive mode which has led to cutting, ironically because many who have advocated for budget reductions and other policies hamstringing police work support these, programs that allegedly reduce crime.

No institution is perfect, but clearly the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials in this country emulates the behavior described in the text of the rejected proclamation, and thus law enforcement in general merits that small token of recognition. Would those Democrats voting against it like to have the public, if this were possible, vote against a resolution commending them on their government service just because one of them, Lynn Cawthorne, awaits trial on defrauding the federal government of more than a half million dollars, on the idea a bad apple spoils the entire bunch?

This dangerous signal sent by commissioners more interested in scoring ideological points than in safeguarding the public only validates irrational distrust of law enforcement generally, and contributes to a process that, if allowed to germinate, would unfold to make Caddo citizens less safe.

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