Congressman Adam Schiff announced over the weekend that he is pulling his endorsement from Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey in her re-election bid. Schiff joins Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti, another early Lacey endorser, who intimated in an interview that, “it may be time” for a change in leadership in the D.A.’s office.
The consequence of the L.A. district attorney race has been spelled out in numerous places, with Lacey challenged by George Gascón, the former San Francisco District Attorney, and darling of the progressive movement for justice reform.
Seeing some establishment politicians attempt to jump in front of the parade of a hot issue is not necessarily a sign that this debate over policing and law enforcement is moving solidly in one direction.
There may be more shifting back and forth in the D.A.’s race and the broader question of police reforms, police defunding and police responsibilities ahead because the police are starting to speak up and defend their profession.
Members of the law enforcement community are pushing back against what they see as an assault on their profession as many officers and law enforcement officials believe they are faithfully carrying out their duties.
This is not to say that police organizations are opposed to reforms and acknowledge that poor practice and training has led to unfair treatment of the Black and downtrodden communities. The major California police unions joined together to offer support for reforms in a high profile public relations effort last week.
Whether what the police unions called for is enough on the reform front can be argued, but it is only part of the law enforcement reaction to the criticism that has been levied at policing across the nation.
In a San Diego Union commentary, David Leonhardi, president of the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, wrote as troubling and heart-wrenching incidents around the country were for law enforcement officials, “we’ve also had to sit back and watch as our profession is callously torn down. We’ve silently watched the media show little regard for the data and zero concern for the validity of their claims, and we’ve witnessed an increase in community fear-mongering, misinformation and lack of respect for facts and statistics as a result. “
Leonhardi wrote that his members “have had enough.”
Evidence points to this attitude manifesting itself in police protests with a proposal that a national “blue flu”—police calling in sick—occur in coming weeks to express concerns over the tenor of the current discussions over policing.
Will a law enforcement offensive to balance the debate and strive for better justice give pause to politicians who are trying to find safe ground on two foundational issues of fair justice and public safety?
Importantly, how will the general public respond to the question of defunding or dismantling police if law enforcement goes on an offensive?
If that occurs politicians who test which way the political winds are blowing might find shifting positions is unwise.
A debate over “defund or defend” the police is just heating up.