To my friends in law enforcement, and many whom I don’t know serving our country:
First, thank you. You do an incredibly difficult job that often goes unseen, and you put your life at risk to make this great country safer. For that, I am deeply grateful.
Many of you have suddenly found yourselves on the wrong side of history. Our country has what, by many appearances, seems to be an illegitimate president who may be the product of the Russian intelligence community, and possibly even the head of the FBI, both of whom played a role in defrauding or manipulating our election system. Within one week of taking office, Trump has shown himself a madman who uses racism and personal prejudice to fill in the gaps that his incompetence affords. Seemingly overnight, our country has been transformed from what many had considered a free country struggling to overcome their indifferences, now into a place of fear for basic human rights. Racist extremist minority groups, deeply rooted in our country, have suddenly become empowered to hate, igniting hostility against anyone who is different from the majority in skin tone, religion, or sexual orientation.
With the stroke of a pen, livelihoods and families have been discarded by the government, as many who have lived legally in our country for years now have had to fight against illegal deportation orders, or have been banned from re-entering the country they call home. These men, women, and children are considered among enemies of the state not for committing a crime, but for merely existing. Meanwhile, science, technology, and even the arts are being harmed through this disgraceful practice, as many of these human beings are scientists, engineers, movie directors, and other productive human beings working for large technology innovators, defense contractors, or even in Hollywood. All of them went through several layers of vetting far beyond what the president has ever been subject to, just to be in this country and get the jobs they have. We’re in very troubling times – times that frighten everyone, except those in power.
The secret to abusing power, as has been done throughout history, is to control the chain of command. In my ten years of assisting the law enforcement community, I’ve worked with many different individuals from various agencies, and I know most of you to be good people at the core who wear a badge to make a difference in the world; to make our country safer. I also know that there’s a chain of command and that is held in high regard. When that chain of command is corrupted from the top down, as is being done today at its topmost levels, there will come a time when you may have to choose between the brotherhood that solidifies your badge, and the brotherhood that is your fellow man (and woman).
Our country has a long history of holding the line, whether it’s the thin blue line, the protest line, or other lines in the sand in our country. Over the next four years, you will very likely be forced to choose between doing your job, or doing what’s constitutional, moral and humane. If you allow one small compromise, eventually you’ll make more, and like a frog in a pot, will find yourself to have lost all that you believed in when you first swore your oath.
Quitting your job isn’t going to fix anything, and that’s not what I’m asking you to do; government will always find somebody to take your place. What our country needs is for men and women like you – those who still believe in our constitution, in freedom, and in human rights – to continue filling these positions, but to be ready to demonstrate firm and public acts of disobedience when given orders that violate our constitution and your conscience, and to hold your superiors accountable to orders that violate human rights. Accountability is the antithesis to a culture shift that forms regimes. When you’re ordered by your chain of command to violate the freedoms that your relatives died to protect, no matter how small of a compromise it may feel at the time, it is not only your decision, but it is your duty to refuse such orders.
I understand the camaraderie and the sense of family you have in the many different areas of law enforcement. When I first started in forensics, many of you took me in like a brother, invited me to your homes, introduced me to your wonderful families, and told me your stories. I understand that you would literally take a bullet for your brothers. But there are other ways to protect your brothers too – namely, by saving them from the corruption that comes through being tainted by those in your ranks that follow after racism, prejudice, and hate. The only way to do that is to hold the bad ones accountable, whether they’re your partner or a superior. You have an internal affairs department for a reason – it’s to protect your agency from corruption and from destroying the lives of both your brothers and their families. If you fail to use that when necessary, you run the risk of something far worse than betraying a brother… you run the risk of letting them be corrupted and transformed into something awful. This will eventually destroy the fabric of who you are, and the values that led you to wear a badge in the first place.
What I’m asking you to do is simple: I’m asking you to stand up for our constitution, and when you’re asked to do something that violates human rights, to refuse and publicly disclose. Refuse to carry out the orders you’re given, lay down your badge if you must, and immediately go to the press or at least to your internal affairs department to report what you’ve been ordered to do. As the White House continues to black out the media in order to establish their own state run propaganda, public disclosure will become more and more vital to the world learning of such atrocities. This may cost you your job, but it may also save your soul. It’s cost many others that came before you far more. I hope you will find it your duty and your privilege to stand among those that fought to defend our country, rather than just go quietly along with unconstitutional and inhumane marching orders.
We are in uncertain times, and it’s hard to tell just where the ground falls out from underneath us. You can help to keep the ground solid. I see the writing on the wall, that we’re in store for some really bad human rights violations – they’ve already started. I urge you to choose not to play a role in it, no matter how small, but rather to be a reporter and hold your superiors accountable. The small decisions you make now have the power to hold the ground up underneath of us all. I hope you’ll be on the right side of history when whatever plays out finally does.