Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Penzone is the Democrat in good stead.
He’ll probably never have to buy a meal again at any Democrat-friendly restaurant in Phoenix, having been the man who ousted former Sheriff Joe Arpaio back in 2016. So when he talks about the problems with defunding the police, he’s not coming from a positionality of Joe Friday conservatism.
Penzone made the remarks at a Thursday news briefing in which he updated the media on an officer-involved shooting in the city of Mesa. According to KPHO-TV, 70-year-old Rodney Liveringhouse was shot and killed on July 5 after he pointed a gun at deputies. His wife had called police about him acting out of character.
One reporter asked Penzone about calls to defund police and replace them with social workers or other trained responders who could de-escalate the situation.
“I have serious concerns when I hear the statements to defund the police,” Sheriff Penzone said.
“If you truly want to see law enforcement represent the greatest values and principles of what we stand for when done right, by defunding, you will take away resources, training and support services necessary to help men and women in this profession be better, be stable, be mentally well. Because you cannot care for others if you are not cared for yourself.”
“I have deputies now who have suffered a significant trauma during this event,” he said, referencing the shooting. “If I have less dollars that means I can’t have a program in place to check and care for them to ensure that they can return to service in a healthy capacity.
“If you defund law enforcement that means when we make decisions relative to do we have a gun and a Taser or just a gun — if we’re going to face lethal force we’re going to have to at least have that option available to protect ourselves and others — now you’re limiting other options that could be non-lethal,” Penzone continued.
He added that a more selective process in terms of talent and training those individuals was the answer, not just taking money away from police officers.
“If we continue to go about this issue as demonizing and criticizing law enforcement without limitations and not recognizing the dangers, the challenges and the human elements, then we will live in a space that is lawlessness because you won’t find good men and women willing to do this job, and that changes the entire dynamic of who we are as a nation,” Penzone said.
“I’m the first one to condemn and agree that we have problems in law enforcement that need to be overcome,” he said.
“But law enforcement, as a profession and in its majority, is not the problem. It’s more about the solution.”
“We just cannot tolerate racial injustice, implicit bias, explicit bias, racist policing — we can’t tolerate those things, and we cannot tolerate abuse by law enforcement,” he added.
“But don’t ever underestimate the balance in the two — that there’s violence out there that’s inherent and we are the ones that have to go out there and engage it and try to mitigate it.”
The shooting, by the way, involved an alleged suicide-by-cop. The operative assumption by the journalist asking the question was that, had someone without a gun — presumably a social worker, going by the cookie-cutter arrangement most police-defunding advocates want — this could have ended much differently. I would agree with that, but I think our definitions of “differently” are polar opposites.
This isn’t the only point of Penzone’s we ought to listen to. The mental stress of law enforcement in 2020 is obviously a serious issue, one which we gloss over when we don’t consider the invective hurled at police officers by the less-peaceful quadrants of peaceful protesters. Those same officers, of course, are expected to maintain Buckingham Palace guard-like stoicism while they’re called uneducated race traitors by individuals who look as if they’re very white liberal arts graduates.
They’re expected to deal with COVID-19 and overtime and defunding, yet the mental health resources cut out for them would necessarily decline the further that police defunding goes.
It’s not just that, either. It’s the kind of support they’re getting from the politicians who want to defund them — or lack thereof. That’s why you see a mass exodus from the New York City Police Department.
“When you want to retire, you have to make an appointment with the pension section to go file,” a detective and 25-year veteran of the NYPD told CNN last week. “Usually you can get one fast. Now it’s more like a week wait.”
“Every day the pension section sends out a notice of who went that day and filed. [It] used to be a page, maybe two the most … the other day it was six pages,” he added.
Between June 29 and July 6, NYPD retirements were up 411 percent over the same time the previous year.
Who will replace these officers? If you defund the police, not the kind of top talent you need to replace them.
Police officials know they don’t have the support, the financial security or the career opportunities they once had. So, instead of reforming the department, you’ll end up with something very much the opposite of that.
He may be a Democrat, but Sheriff Paul Penzone also lives a) the life of a law enforcement officer and b) in reality. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, arrayed against him are people who a) don’t live in reality and b) refuse to.
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