Politicizing the death of an officer

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: public safety

In today’s Arizona Republic, columnist E.J. Montini admits he politicized the death of Glendale Police Officer Bradley Jones. Why? To call out all the politicians who characterize police officers and firefighters as heroes when they die in the line of duty and leaches when debating wages and benefits.

This past spring I wrote an article that spoke about that very issue. You can read it here.

Back then politicians and certain Tea Party members were demonizing public safety workers for the pension problems that resulted from the Great Recession as well as a lack of the fund’s oversight by the legislature. Somehow the collapse on Wall Street had everything to do with selfish demands of our first responders and nothing to do with corporate greed or government bailouts.

Police and fire unions strongly objected to the legislature using them as scapegoats for the state’s problems, and pointed to the hypocrisy of some politicians feigning support for first responders while drastically reducing benefits.

The result? Campaigns decrying “union support” with false claims of “outlandish benefits.”

Look no further than this year’s Phoenix’s mayoral race to see the drastic difference in the tone and language used by candidates Wes Gullet and Greg Stanton. Stanton bills himself as “pro-police” while Gullet says he’s “anti-union” and “pro-taxpayer.” Apparently, Gullet believes police officers and firefighters don’t pay taxes.

It’s a creative way to use the middle class to wage war on… the middle class. Don’t speak about corporate welfare but rather use the very men and women who protect our country as the reason for our demise.

Sadly, many in the electorate are falling for these tactics, believing unions and public safety workers are the bad guys while corporations and wealthy individuals are the job creators who deserve all the benefits and bailouts paid for by the middle class.

Montini quotes Brian Livingston, the Executive Director of the Arizona Police Association, as saying,

“It is an act of deflection to blame officers. The politicians don’t want to point the finger at themselves for their inability to do their jobs and provide proper oversight of the system and the fund managers. Instead, they blame the men and women in the field.”

Yes, Mr. Montini and others have politicized Officer Jones’ death. But they did so to point out his sacrifice should never be forgotten. And that’s one political statement all Americans should stand behind.

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2 Comments to “Politicizing the death of an officer”

  1. Barbi Buchanan says:

    Does “pro-police” mean you are “pro-police-union”? Does “anti-union” mean the opposite? Check how many patrol officers out of the total belong to PLEA, how many have dropped out in the last few years, how many have joined in the last few years. I think that it makes complete sense to be “pro-police” and “anti-union” and “pro-taxpayer” all at once. For those of you who don’t have access to those figures, most Phoenix patrol officers do not below to PLEA, the police union for non-management officers.

    • Julie Erfle says:

      Barbi, I agree that you certainly do not need to be pro-PLEA or pro-union to be pro-police, and I can understand the frustration many have with some of the actions of one particular police union. There are many issues PLEA supports that I disagree with (immigration reform being at the top of that list), however, the debate in this last election went beyond anti-union rhetoric and into a demoralization of all officers when candidates decided to characterize officers as over-paid and under-worked. Yes, there are problems in the pension system, but they were not caused by greedy officers but rather a bad economy and some risky investments by those in charge of managing the funds. PLEA is also not the only union to represent officers. PPSLA and the FOP also represent officers and take a much different tone than PLEA. It should also be noted that though there may be issues with PLEA management, they did agreed to pay cuts, furlough days and a larger share of benefits costs. For that I believe it is quite possible to be pro-police, pro-union and pro-taxpayer.

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