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AG Says If Communities Don’t Support Police, They May End Up Unprotected

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said law enforcement officers are being treated like Vietnam-era soldiers.

Washington, DC – U.S. Attorney General William Barr warned citizens with anti-police sentiments that they may find themselves without law enforcement protection if they continue to denounce the nation’s men and women in blue.

Barr made his remarks during the Third Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing ceremony on Tuesday.

“Honoring and supporting the work of law enforcement officers and deputies is a top priority for the Trump Administration, and today is an opportunity for me to personally express my gratitude and commitment to those who risk their lives daily to protect our communities,” Barr said of the awards, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

“The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing honors exceptional police officers and the vital public service they provide,” he continued. “The brave men and women in law enforcement are engaged in an unrelenting and often unacknowledged fight to keep our communities safe each and every day. It is an honor to thank them for their service.”

Barr also discussed the lack of support that many officers face as they work to serve and protect citizens who openly detest them.

“I think today, American people have to focus on something else, which is the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers,” the attorney general said. “And they have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.”

“If communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need,” he added.

Critics honed in on Barr’s use of the word “communities,” and declared that he was clearly referring to communities of color, the HuffPost reported.

“Barr’s words are as revealing as they are disturbing ― flagrantly dismissive of the rights of Americans of color, disrespectful to countless law enforcement officers who work hard to serve their communities, and full of a continuing disregard for the rule of law,” liberal super political action committee American Bridge spokesperson Jeb Fain railed to the HuffPost.

During a speech in August, Barr told the Fraternal Order of Police that he believed there should be “zero tolerance for resisting police,” the HuffPost reported.

He also denounced prosecutors who have been sacrificing public safety in favor of giving offenders breaks and lesser penalties.

“There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety,” Barr declared in August, according to the HuffPost. “That is the emergence in some of our large cities of district attorneys that style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook and refusing to enforce the law.”

On Tuesday, Barr told the crowd at the awards ceremony that America’s law enforcement officers are being treated much in the same way that Vietnam-era soldiers were treated when they returned home, The Washington Post reported.

“In the Vietnam era, our country learned a lesson. I remember that our brave troops who served in that conflict weren’t treated very well in many cases when they came home, and sometimes they bore the brunt of people who were opposed to the war,” he explained. “The respect and gratitude owed to them was not given. And it took decades for the American people finally to realize that.”

In the same vein, law enforcement officers are “fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society,” and don’t deserve to have citizens protesting against them, Barr added.

A total of 414 law enforcement officers were nominated for the Attorney General’s Award this year, according to the DOJ’s press release.

Suffolk County Police Department Detective William Maldonado was recognized posthumously for his lead role in arresting “several dozen” MS-13 gang members who were ultimately charged with 17 murders.

Det. Maldonado’s effort eliminated the local MS-13 “clique,” and disrupted several other groups, according to the DOJ.

“Maldonado accomplished this while battling cancer, and rarely missed work,” according to the press release. “He succumbed to his illness in 2018, but not before arrests were made in the cases.”

Providence Police Department Detective Jeffrey Richards and Detective George Duarte were awarded for investigating and apprehending a vicious serial rapist who allegedly attacked multiple victims, including a 14-year-old girl.

Aventura Police Department Detective Kenneth Sealy and Detective Sandra Marquez were awarded for busting a multi-state credit card fraud and money laundering scheme that had resulted in victims losing nearly $4 million.

Prince William County Police Department Officer John Yenchak, Officer Rachel Mynier, Officer Nicholas Kelly, and Officer Evan Jurgensen were recognized for the courageous and heroic actions they took during an active shooter situation in November of 2018.

The officers identified one shooter positioned on a nearby roof, and likely saved other officers’ lives by effectively communicating the shooter’s location.

“Although officers feared a possible second shooter, they exposed themselves to harm once again to extract the shooter for medical treatment, and also pulled an occupant from the residence to safety,” the DOJ said.

During the Deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, California in 2018, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Hassna “led more than 16 unmanned aerial vehicle teams, and conducted 517 flights in two days, taking more than 70,000 images” of the blaze, which allowed investigators to create a map of the area, according to the press release.

Evacuated residents were able to assess the damage without the risks associated with responding to the area.

“This was likely the largest response of small UAS’s to a disaster scene in U.S. history,” the DOJ said. “Deputy Hassna has also developed tactics and training for this technology that has redefined high-risk tactical operations and air support as we know it.”

Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ross Jessop was awarded for having saved the life of an infant who was kidnapped in 2018.

The armed suspect claimed to have murdered and buried the child.

“During Deputy Jessop’s search in more than a million acres of forest, he heard a faint whimper, and found a baby boy lying face down,” the DOJ said. “To his surprise, the baby was alive and uninjured. There is no question Deputy Jessop’s instincts, perseverance, and dedication saved the child’s life.”

Cohasset Police Officer Alexander Stotik and Aaron Bates were recognized for kicking in a door to save the life of a woman during an “attempted murder in progress,” according to the press release.

They apprehended the suspect following a heated struggle.

“The officers exhibited extraordinary valor, bravery, courage, and professionalism in the face of extreme danger that would no doubt have resulted in the murder of the victim,” the DOJ said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Phalon McFate was awarded for having developed an initiative targeting “crime hot spots” that dropped violent crime rates in the downtown area by 50 percent.

“Through positive police interactions, Officer McFate was able to create transparency and build trust in neighborhoods, where these previously did not exist,” the DOJ said.

Tulsa Police Officer Jesse Guardiola was recognized for developing a Hispanic outreach program that has since become a national model.

Providence Police Department Detective Anthony Roberson was awarded for using programs like the “Handshake Initiative” and “Shop with a Cop” to “build partnerships between law enforcement and local businesses to support underserved families,” the DOJ said.

Irving Police Department Officer Jonathan Plunkett was recognized for conceptualizing and establishing ShopTalk – a series of 16 barber shops where law enforcement officers and members of the African-American community can connect to discuss citizens’ concerns in a comfortable setting.

“Through ShopTalk, Officer Plunkett has created a way to build mutual trust and respect between law enforcement and community members who had not been reached with traditional police outreach efforts,” according to the press release.

Isleta Tribal Police Department Detective Kathleen Lucero was awarded for multiple community policing initiatives that have helped to “build connections between law enforcement and the community,” as well as for providing resources to impoverished youth, the DOJ said.

Conyers Police Department Officer Troy Quick, a school resource officer, was recognized for helping a number of youths to pull themselves away from “gang life,” according to the press release.

“Whether it is though the mentoring sessions he coordinates for students, donating items to families in need, or just taking an interest in student’s daily lives, Officer Quick is a true example of dedication and service,” the DOJ said.

Holly Matkin - December Wed, 2019

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