Recent incidents across the nation involving the police have sparked controversy. Riots and protests run rampant over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor or the shooting of Jacob Blake. People around the country are calling on local governments to defund the police. And they are chanting that Black Lives Matter. Yes, they are correct, black lives do matter, but so do blue lives. Judges who publicly support law enforcement should not be reprimanded for doing so – and here’s why:
- Supporting the efforts of law enforcement is not a political move. The role of law enforcement is to maintain public safety, prevent crime, and investigate infractions of the law. This holds true for all citizens regardless of political views or affiliations.
- The roles of judges and law enforcement work together. While cops enforce the law, judges interpret and uphold it. Both entities work towards a common goal.
- Judges rely on law enforcement to help bring criminals to justice. Without police officers patrolling the streets and arresting those who break the law, judges would have a difficult time finding lawbreakers and holding them accountable for their actions.
- Judges are called to perform their duties fairly, impartially, and diligently. It’s not fair or impartial to withdraw support for an entire entity because a small percentage of its members acted unlawfully. Like judges, most police officers are committed to service and shouldn’t be treated the same as those who have broken the law.
- Public sentiment may be influenced by the media, but judges should not. The narrative amongst conventional news outlets is heavily influenced by those calling for the defunding of the police. Whether or not this narrative is justifiable is up for debate. However, it should not influence how judges view the role of law enforcement.
- To function properly, communities need law enforcement. Police morale is extremely low right now. Many officers have already resigned this year. If we don’t support those who work in this profession, we run the risk of losing even more good cops.
- You can call for criminal justice reform and still support police officers. Recent events have shed light on the fact that some areas in this country do need criminal justice reform. But you can support change within the system without withdrawing support for those working in the system.
- Judges are called to be leaders. As leaders, judges have an important role to play in the community. By showing support for police officers, who are crucial to upholding the law, judges model fair and impartial behavior to citizens in the community.
- There are times when we all must speak up. In some cases silence is best. Judges are expected to refrain from inappropriate political behavior. But showing support for police officers who risk their lives daily to protect and enforce the law is not inappropriate political behavior.
- Right now, law enforcement needs our support as much as we need theirs. In Texas, the average number of officers and cadets leaving the Austin police department has more than doubled since 2017. And the police chief of Dallas recently resigned. In other states, reform and defunding has led to the loss of hundreds of officers. The police need our support because without their work, the system is broken.
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