Another police officer has been murdered in Kansas City, Kansas this week. Joining all too many that have fallen before him, his name will soon be etched onto the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
National Police Week is fast approaching. May 15-May 21 is a sacred time for the men and women of law enforcement. It is the time when the lives sacrificed during the year are honored as their names are unveiled carved into the granite of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
During these events, law enforcement and political leaders will be featured. They will speak of honor and of duty. They will talk about integrity and loss and sacrifice.
The words of those chosen to speak will have power before this somber gathering, if they are spoken from the heart. If the speeches are mechanical and devoid of passion, they become insulting.
It is for that reason that I publicly call for banning President Obama from addressing this gathering of law enforcement officers, survivors, and supporters.
I make this plea with a heart heavy with disappointment and the pain of betrayal. I believe that our president has not only abandoned the men and women of law enforcement, but has actively pursued an agenda that purposefully undermines the American people’s trust in those who sacrifice so much for the communities they serve and protect.
I am not alone.
Untold numbers of law enforcement officers and their families feel as I do. Allowing the president the opportunity and the honor of again appearing before this gathering would be an affront to the fallen, their surviving family members, and law enforcement officers throughout the United States.
With thousands of law enforcement from all over the world converging on Washington D.C. to show solidarity that week, there is no better time to make a statement to the Leader of the Free World. Support our Police. Blue lives matter. All lives matter.
Before appearing before the Police Week gathering, the president must demonstrate to the community something he has yet to do during his nearly two terms as Commander-in-Chief: respect and honor for their brothers and sisters who gave their lives for their local communities. Apologize for failing to acknowledge the terribly sad loss of officers, many who were killed in the line of duty just miles from his backyard at the White House.
Only then should he be allowed to face the families of the fallen. Their anguish will be a palpable, as 18 brave officers have already been murdered thus far in 2016 (a 50% increase over this time last year) and another 18 have perished from other perils on the job. Wives, husbands, parents and children will silently run their fingers over the names of their fallen loved ones almost as if they were being granted one final touch.
The events surrounding these days of honor will culminate one evening with a beautiful vigil within the center of the Memorial when the light of thousands of candles will reflect off of the proudly worn gleaming badges of the assembled company. Tears will unapologetically glide slowly down the faces of these men and women whose practiced stoicism will this night be surrendered.
I truly wish that I didn’t feel this way. I wish that our president had used his position of power and respect to build a safer America. To inspire unity between local communities and their police. To break down barriers of distrust and create opportunities of unity and friendship, all of which are possible. But he chose a different path and our country and its police are paying the highest price.
This year has already been a bloody one for police. Each day brings news of another shooting, stabbing, or random targeting via a violent attack. From the White House there has been silence and that silence speaks volumes to a nation that is looking for guidance through these difficult times.
I can only hope that the next president of the United States, elected officials, and police leaders realize that the very fabric of our nation depends upon unity. That unity comes from mutual respect between the people and the police who serve them. That unity can only be repaired when barriers of bias, prejudice, and distrust are removed and open, meaningful relationships are rebuilt in their place.
It can be done. It must be done. Our nation depends upon it.
Lt. Sutton is the National Spokesman for Blue Lives Matter and a 34 year police veteran, 24 years of which he spent with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department before his retirement.