Cory Mills: What's next for police — and our country — as unrest continues?

Protesters throw bottles at Portland police

Lawlessness in parts of our country, including Portland, Ore., is met with willful tolerance by many on the left. In some Democrat-led cities, rioters are given carte blanche to engage in destructive behavior.

This lawless chaos raises two related societal questions for the United States of America. First, how do we continue to recruit and retain brave men and women to serve in law enforcement? Second, what does all of this mean for the American way of life as we know it?

In Portland, what started as peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd, led by groups such as the NAACP and “Black Lives Matter,” has escalated into something quite different. Protesters set fires to public buildings, shine lasers in law enforcement officers’ eyes and try to pull down security fences.

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One businessman passenger on a recent flight from San Francisco to Portland engaged a group of Antifa volunteers on the same flight. During his conversations, the businessman expressed surprise that the volunteers would take the time, and spend their own money, to fly up to Portland for the protests. One of the volunteers replied that “they were happy to fly up, especially since someone else was footing the bill.” They didn’t know who it was, just that someone else was paying. 

Under such circumstances, how do we continue to recruit and retain brave men and women to serve in law enforcement?

Over the years we have come to expect as common acts of valor from law enforcement. Officers run toward gunfire, come to the aid of victims, support investigations to get justice for families. But today’s problems are far more encompassing. Our law enforcement officers are being attacked by violent rioters, anarchist groups and politicians.

Law enforcement is dangerous and difficult. It takes continuous training and daily willingness to step into the unknown. A routine traffic stop, for example, can result in a gun in the face. Every day, our officers face a tremendous amount of stress and risk, but they knew what they were volunteering for and were willing to accept those challenges to keep our streets safe.

But things have changed significantly. Police officers are told to guard street graffiti while gun violence and murders skyrocket in their cities. Local officials demand that police not respond to criminality in autonomous zones. Police face defunding threats by mayors, governors and congressional representatives who should be defending law enforcement, not considering ways to weaken them.

Let’s hope and pray that our politicians will not encourage anarchy, but instead will get control over their cities so that our economy can reopen fully.  

The New York Police Department has had to limit retirement applications after seeing a 400 percent surge in July. The police academy is seeing cadets drop out, or not even show up for training. Officers are calling in sick and refusing to come to work. Who can blame them?

With law enforcement numbers dropping, what does this mean for the law-abiding citizens who believe their cities are being overrun by criminals? For the parents of young kids who are being killed in their strollers?

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has police lock down children’s parks to prevent COVID outbreaks, but seems unable to shut down the massive gun violence taking place in her city.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio commits 27 full-time officers to protect Black Lives Matter street graffiti, but apparently refuses to control the looting and rioting plaguing his streets.

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What can average American citizens do to keep themselves from becoming one of the victims? In a previous op-ed, I discussed the potential of privatized security companies providing security for citizens. This is possible in affluent neighborhoods and not uncommon for gated communities that employ officers at the entrances.

But what about those facing economic turmoil after politicians shut down industries and businesses, and then refuse to let them get back to work by opening up the economy? What do they do for protection?

Let’s hope and pray that our politicians will not encourage anarchy, but instead will get control over their cities so that our economy can reopen fully.

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During this process, let’s not forget the courage of our law enforcement officers. And let’s also remember the American principles underlying the Constitution that these officers swear to support and defend.

One of those principles is federalism, which mandates that all governmental functions, including law enforcement, be controlled at the lowest level possible – so that the consequences of choices made by officials are felt most by those officials. That’s also part of the American way of life at risk today.

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