By Major Donna Kinsey (ret.)
While reflecting on the “human cost of war,” a news anchor referenced a sign posted at the main gate of a United States military camp in Bagdad, Iraq. Its oversized letters read:
“IS TODAY THE DAY? No U.S. personnel beyond this point without weapon – IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) – Kevlar – no PT uniform allowed.”
That same sign should hang on the wall of every police department squad room in America.
There is a human cost to war. The question in the minds of many police officers: Is there a war on cops, whether it be waged by violent criminals or through administrative, legislative and legal attitudes and decisions.
The words, “IS TODAY THE DAY,” are a reminder that the enemy is not only the armed offender with the intent to kill a cop. There is a different enemy that ballistic armor is useless in defending.
Case In point: Riverside County (CA) Sheriff Motorcycle Deputy, Isaiah Cordero, was gunned down on December 29, 2022, while approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop. He was pronounced dead at Riverside Community Hospital. For Deputy Cordero, 32, December 29 was his End of Watch…his “Day.” Why? Because Deputy Cordero’s killer, a violent career offender with felony charges dating back to 1999, should have been serving a 25-year prison sentence based on California’s “three-strikes” law. Instead, after being convicted of multiple violent felony charges in November 2021, the killer’s bail was reduced by a judge and he was released.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Deputy Cordero’s killer “was convicted on November 8, 2021 of false imprisonment, evading a peace officer, criminal threats likely to result in death or great bodily injury and receiving stolen property. Evidence included zip ties, duct tape, an ax, and gang paraphernalia,” based on the court filing. (Winton, R., et al, 2022).
Police officers know that traffic stops and vehicle approaches carry hidden dangers and they constantly need to balance their safety with ensuring professional service. But are they defenseless against a system of justice that dismisses them as mere casualties of war?
No weapon, Kevlar, or Interceptor Body Armor can protect the police from the very laws that are in place designed to help keep them safe, yet are summarily ignored. Such was the case in Deputy Cordero’s killing.
How can officers protect themselves from that form of justice?
A growing number of District Attorneys either refuse to prosecute assaults on police or reduce the charges. They should be met with the type of resistance that former Los Angles Sheriff Alex Villanueva exhibited after the murder of one of his officers.
Sheriff Villanueva bypassed the LA County District Attorney to file federal charges against four individuals accused of murdering off-duty Los Angeles Police Department Officer Fernando Arroyos. Villanueva cited his lack of confidence in the local District Attorney to file the enhanced charges that were warranted against the suspects in the murder of Officer Arroyos.
Today is the day to stand against the political leaders and elected officials whose policies seem to be adversarial against law enforcement. Communities as well as police officers should examine their stance and their voting record on criminal justice reform and bail reform. If they are for it, vote against them. Let your voice speak through your vote and encourage others to do the same.
Is there a war on cops? Many feel there is, whether deliberate or as a by-product of questionable policies within the criminal justice system.
We need to reevaluate our policies and thoroughly think through the ramifications of our decisions and their impact on cops and society.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? We want to know!
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About the author:
Calibre Press instructor Major Donna Kinsey is a retired veteran law enforcement officer who has been actively involved in training and program development for over 30 years. During the course of her career, she was awarded the FBI Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Award and was the three-time recipient of the Department’s top honor, the Administrative Excellence Award.