It has only been two days since eight law enforcement labor unions decided to partner with the San Francisco 49ers, a move that has pissed off a huge portion of those very union’s membership. As I mentioned in my previous piece on this topic, I’ve been contacted by members of at least four of the unions that signed this agreement without the knowledge and consent of their members. Most of the cops I have spoken to are absolutely fuming about this move.
Apparently, this is not just a local phenomenon. According to a friend who works for the LAPD, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPD’s union) sent out an email to all the members attempting to explain why they did so. Below is the entire content of the email, absent the name of the person who forwarded me the email.
Membership Alert: Pledge for a More Understanding and Safer America
The League joined eight other law enforcement unions and the SF 49ers in signing a Pledge for a More Understanding and Safer America. The words understanding and safer are important to virtually everything we do as police officers. As members of law enforcement, any time we are able to bring more understanding to a situation or a crisis, the higher likelihood we have for a successful outcome. And we all know that any time our union has an opportunity to make your job and the communities we serve safer, we have a moral obligation to do so.
The other police unions we have pledged to work with have excellent reputations for standing up for their members’ rights and have in their own communities dealt with their fair share of anti-police rhetoric, unfair scrutiny and some of the very same issues that we face.
We were joined in signing the pledge by the owner of the 49ers, the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, San Jose Police Officers’ Association, Sacramento Police Officers Association, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County, Oakland Police Officers Association, Santa Clara Police Officers Association, Portland Police Association and the Long Beach Police Officers Association.
Here is some brief background on how this developed. 49ers owner Jed York reached out to the president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association in an attempt to rebuild bridges with law enforcement. San Jose’s president, Paul Kelly, who has been a true ally to other police unions across the country, told him fixing the issue wouldn’t be easy. Police officers were mad. We were insulted. We were angry.
Fixing this issue requires rebuilding trust. It requires a sincere personal commitment by Mr. York. Money would not solve the issue. It would require his personal support correcting the false narrative about the American police officer being spread by anti-police individuals and organizations. There has not been one of us who has not said something along the lines of, “We have to fight back against the false narrative and lies being spread about cops.”
Up to now, the NFL, political leaders and others have left the rank-and-file beat cop out of the national conversation about policing in America. We cannot expect to influence the national dialogue about policing with no seat at the table. We can’t be expected to correct the lies and misinformation about policing in America without a platform to do so.
Jed York committed to funding that platform, funding a national public service announcement campaign and working with other NFL owners to amplify our message about policing in America. The goal of this campaign is to work to ensure that every encounter possible between a police officer and the citizens we serve be grounded in mutual respect.
As these discussions were occurring, the mass shooting in Las Vegas happened. A massacre that killed 58 people, including an officer, and injured over 500 people, including over 30 members of law enforcement. There were over 200 law enforcement personnel in attendance at that concert and their lives along with thousands of others will never be the same.
The issue of mass violence was on everyone’s minds. As law enforcement, and the 49ers as the operator of a major entertainment venue, this was an area where we could work together to make things just a little bit safer for all of us.
Remember, the pledge is for a more understanding and safer America.
We have stated continuously that we are unwavering in our support for the Second Amendment. Unwavering. We stated that at the press conference as did the other law enforcement representatives, as did Jed York. The pledge looks at addressing a few key gun accessories, not guns.
Let’s look at bump stocks
No major organization that we know of has endorsed this device. Not the NRA, not law enforcement leaders. There is a specific bill going through Congress right now that addresses bump stocks. It has bipartisan support.
Whether you feel that a bump stock, or similar device, truly turns a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic rifle makes a small difference. The reality is that it exponentially increases the rate of fire. It allows you to fire hundreds of rounds in a minute. This device aided the Las Vegas shooter in firing rounds into a crowded space. He used this device to fire on many of our own LAPD brothers and sisters.
If there is something specific you are concerned about from a legislative point of view on bump stocks, we now have a seat at the table to address any unintended consequences, such as outlawing a “drop-in-trigger.” We would not have that opportunity if we were staunchly opposed to this reasonable regulation.
As a League, we have a record of defending the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Recently, we fought to ensure that our retired officers and reserves were able to carry large capacity magazines to help protect the public’s safety in the City of Los Angeles. Our commitment to the Second Amendment has not changed one bit.
Correcting the Anti-Police False Narrative
After nearly five years now of false narratives about how the American police officer does his or her job, false narratives of bias and on use of force, it’s time to address this head on.
The pledge was about going beyond politics, protests and fist pounding. It was about creating defined goals and concrete solutions to a problem we have been dealing with for years. That is, an inability to have a seat at the table and offer our perspective of what it is like policing in America. It is usually the police chiefs or police commissioners and politicians and protesters that are talking about and making decisions about policing and community relations.
That changed with the signing of this pledge. We secured half a million dollars to help with our public awareness plan that will develop, produce and disseminate a series of public service ads aimed at correcting false narratives and educating the public on what and why the police do what we do. Every dollar will go towards these ads; absolutely no money will go towards advocacy of any legislation.
The pledge states: As such, those signing this pledge will dedicate the necessary resources to strive to make every encounter between an American police officer and the citizens they serve to be grounded in mutual respect.
The pledge further states: To partner with professional sports franchise teams, corporations, faith-based and community-based organizations to produce, promote and distribute a series of public service announcements designed to improve police and community relations.
For the last five years, law enforcement unions, including our own have boycotted concerts, performers, movies, directors and products. Yet our problem persists.
We are problem solvers. The false narrative about policing will go on with or without football. What we are aiming to do is use the immense public platform of professional sports to deliver our message to the American people. We can shout until we are blue in the face that players should stand for our anthem, or we can take action to educate our citizens about who we are and what our values are. We are choosing the latter.
We have inserted ourselves into the national conversation about community-police relations in a manner that is productive. Currently, it’s a shouting match that is being had without the voice of the rank-and-file officers.
And as we move along, we will encourage the players that rather than take a knee, take a seat at the table. For those who continue to protest, without taking any real actions to provide solutions, their efforts will become minimized.
We could focus all our attention on the players. We could demand that they stand. But then what? What happens when they stand yet some still use their public cache to disparage police officers? How have we helped you while you’re on patrol?
Our pledge also now commits at least one professional sports franchise to stand up and lobby for more resources in dealing with the mentally ill. This is an issue that few care about and is constantly on the back burner but affects every officer on the street every day.
And our work does not end with the 49ers. Jed York has committed to working with us to get other sports franchises involved; to get other major organizations aligned with creating real meaningful programs aimed at bettering relations between communities and their police.
Does this all mean that we are not still offended and upset about what has been said by some athletes regarding law enforcement? Absolutely not. But we have an obligation to work through our anger and work toward improving the environment that police officers work in both today and for years to come.
We understand your anger, but we must utilize that anger and channel it into something meaningful and productive. A national campaign to educate the public about policing from the perspective of the beat cop will be meaningful and productive. This is a pledge with one NFL owner who understands, as we do, that there has been enough talking past each other, and it’s now time to start talking to each other.
We now have a seat at the table—a table we helped create.
Very truly yours,
Los Angeles Police Protective League
In reading that, specifically this part, “We understand your anger,” it is pretty clear to me that the union leadership is feeling the heat from a very angry membership, and rightfully so.