“Who is La’Ron Singletary?”
Chief Singletary is the suddenly retiring Black Police Chief in Rochester, NY. Announcing his retirement in the wake of the firestorm following the death of Daniel Prude while in police custody, the Chief, only 40, said, “As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for.”
Police leadership, and the rank and file, are beginning to feel betrayed by the very people they serve. They are retiring, quitting and otherwise giving up in the very cities and neighborhoods where they are needed the most.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
The iconic novel, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, starts with “Who is John Galt?” As the book unfolds, it is revealed that Mr. Galt is the reclusive leader of the capitalist producers of the world, who, led by Galt, go on strike against a world that rewards needs over contribution, and virtue signalling over real virtue. Although not very well written, the hugely popular book makes an interesting point.
I am not making the case that Chief Singletary is the new John Galt. Police are retiring, quitting and otherwise giving up on their own, and do not need to be led in that direction as in Atlas Shrugged.
What kind of cops do we want, and what kind of cops will we have as a result of today’s growing anti-cop environment? What kind of quality law enforcement officers will remain on the job and committed after Black cops are called “Coon” “Uncle Tom” by in-your-face screaming mobs? The very same frenzied mobs that call White officers “Fascists” and “White Supremacists’, with not a single one of the mob being able to give a coherent definition of fascist. To them, a fascist is anyone who does not fully agree with them and their actions. Their definition of White Supremacist is much the same; to them, the terms are interchangeable. What kind of people will want to be cops when they and their fellow officers are attacked physically or verbally by mobs, by the media and in social media?
Let’s go over the wildly different roles that cops play in our communities. From giving out parking tickets, to being on SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) teams, from desk jobs to patrolling dangerous neighborhoods, from responding to noise disturbances, to showing up in active shooter situations. In every role I want well trained officers, in departments with high morale; dedicated officers who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the citizenry. I want officers who are proud of the roles they play in the community, and are proud of doing it well.
I do not want cops who simply want a paycheck and a pension; cops who are willing to put up with the growing vilification because they have no pride in their roles as law enforcement. Those types are not going to stick their necks out; they are going to lay low for 20 years, then retire. Crime would soar, and we’d be far less safe, with things getting worse all the time as the bad guys figured out they had things going their way.
Back to Rochester. Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements. Two other high ranking officials, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor, voluntarily returned to the lower rank of Lieutenant, where they are protected from being fired by Civil Service regulations.
Here is what the Mayor of Rochester, also Black, said after the death of Mr. Prude. “Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police, our mental health care system, our society, and by me.” Let’s examine those claims.
Let’s look at the facts as a way of tempering the emotions that arise anytime we hear about a Black man being killed by White cops. Police came across Mr. Prude at 3 AM, naked in the streets, shouting mostly irrational phrases and sentences, including repeated references to the size of his genitals, threats to sue, and claiming to have COVID. When Mr. Prude began spitting, the cops put a standard issue mesh spit hood over his head. The officers are then seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died a week later when the family took him off of life support.
Mr. Prude had a history of mental illness, but the fatal night was not an example of that history; he was high on a powerful drug. Toxicology studies showed he was under “acute phencyclidine intoxication.” In other words, he was whacked out on PCP, explaining his aberrant behavior, and, perhaps, helping to explain his death
Could Rochester have done a better job of offering Prude better mental health assistance? Would Mr. Prude have been willing to participate? Could the cops have done a better job that night? In every case, hindsight will always show there was a better path, that better choices could have been made. Hall of Fame Quarterbacks, winning five star Generals and Admirals, medical professionals–and you and I–are subject to such critical reflections. Daniel Prude deserved everything that our society appropriately had to offer to help him to help himself. Society does have certain responsibilities when the individual and his family, friends and close-in support groups are not succeeding.
Today’s Key Point: Where is the support for the cops? Are they expected to do everything flawlessly, even when judged by the always perfect, and perhaps impossible, hindsight standards? All while the perps and suspects have no responsibility for much of anything during the encounters? If that is the case, who would want to be a cop? More importantly, would you want the type of “put in my time” cop that you will get in a no support for cops environment showing up at your house if you have a home intruder–or worse?
And it is not at all just Rochester. Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall, also Black, announced her resignation, the latest in a string of police chiefs to step down amid growing calls for police reform.
As did Carmen Best, the Black police chief in Seattle.
And did Erika Shields, the Chief in Atlanta.
Almost 20 Chiefs of Police have resigned or been fired since June 1st.
We all remember the sing-song phrase from our childhoods, “Stick and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That’s complete nonsense. Words, in this case critical, often vile words, aimed at law enforcement can do vast damage, including lessening the protection that the citizens have against the sticks and stones.
Here, Atlas, the Greek God who held up the Earth, is not going to shrug and let everything fall in protest. Soter, the Greek God of safety and deliverance from harm, just might shrug, shedding much of his responsibility in the face of crumbling support, and increasingly vicious criticism.
So, my friends, which kind of cop do you want showing up at your door in a time of need? The high morale, ready to do the job cop, or the one just putting in his time?
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple, Google, or Stitcher.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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