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OPINION

Police Unions Should Be Defended Along With Much Needed Reforms

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Eric Gay

The worst of the looting, arson, and vandalism seems to have dissipated, but it has transitioned to rioting in the public policy realm. A puerile mob, with support in the media, is pushing for the elimination of police unions.

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Many Americans, probably a majority, want to see reforms made in policing. That’s a noble cause. From banning chokeholds to expanding bodycam use to instituting liability insurance requirements, there are plenty of solid reforms that towns, cities, and states should strongly consider sooner than later.

Those and other sorts of policy changes could be opportunities for restoring unity and trust in communities across the country. Unfortunately, they get overshadowed by ridiculous calls to disband police departments or abolish police unions.

Police unions should not be lumped in with other public sector unions. There is no private version of the police, a fundamentally legitimate government function. 

What also sets police unions apart from other public sector unions, and most institutions for that matter, is their conservative bent. Politically speaking, it is nearly impossible to find another institution like police unions, and that should mean something in a country whose academia, media, arts, and even military are all dominated by the left. 

As Tucker Carlson keenly observed earlier this week, “law enforcement is one of the very few institutions remaining in this country that the left does not yet control,” and that explains most of the push to take out the police unions. 

No true conservative honestly believes that they can appease the left or that somehow they will gain respect by sabotaging their own side in the form of “reining in” police unions. Anyone on the right falling for this diversion has to snap out of it immediately.

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As stated previously, it’s clear there are many Americans upset over police brutality in the news, and they may believe that cops will be more accountable without the benefit of union protection. But the first thing to acknowledge is that those spearheading the effort to gut police unions are primarily driven by their hatred for working class conservatism.

Witness the declaration of war against police unions from other public sector unions. The police are being accused of “racism,” of course. Thankfully, most unionized police officers don’t belong to larger federations like the AFL-CIO.

Not only that, police unions have to put up with pressure from others in law enforcement and the military to self-immolate in the face of the mob.

After FBI agents, National Guard troops, and even police officers kneeled (or worse) to anti-police protesters, it was refreshing to see the dozens of police union leaders in New York City on Tuesday stand up against the vicious lies and false narratives.

Holding up his badge, Mike O’Meara, who presides over the New York State Police Benevolent Association, said, “This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it, and so do theirs.”

O’Meara cited the statistic of over 375 million civilian-police interactions last year, lauding their “overwhelmingly positive responses.”

“But I read in the papers all week,” he continued, “we all read in the papers that in the black community, mothers are worried about their children getting home from school without being killed by a cop. What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen.”

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That is one of the very few voices of sanity at the local level that is taking on the likes of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who cowardly obliged the lawlessness that shut down and damaged Times Square.

Also this week the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, promised to kick out officers who decide to kneel at the protests. Meanwhile, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, Michael Solan, condemned local leaders for losing “all the political will to enforce the law.”

These voices of blue-collar, law-and-order populism are simply being ignored or denounced by the left and much of the media. Conservatives must do the opposite and raise their messages like a battle flag if they want to maintain any ground in this culture war.

If the Republican Party doesn’t fight for these police unions, no one will. Then not only will the unions be overtaken or demolished, leaving cops even more beholden to leftist mayors and the mob, but the GOP itself will be futureless.

The blue-collar voters who gave President Donald Trump his current job title are not blind or stupid. They will not be taken advantage of. Their support and record turnout must be earned again this year, not just for Trump, but for every Republican in office.

Conservatives simply can’t afford to fall for the scapegoating of police unions. If reform is necessary, so be it. Let local town halls facilitate the next steps. Collective bargaining would be a better target for reform than the unions themselves, for instance. More often what needs to change are the laws or the legislators responsible for writing them, not those who are sent out to enforce them.

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Defend police unions as an institution that’s inherently conservative for upholding its duty to provide law and order. Show courage for those who show it for their communities and this country everyday. That will give the right momentum, something to fight for this November. And when Trump wins again, the mob may finally think twice before taking on the police.

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