As civil unrest and calls for “defunding the police” continue around the nation, the US is facing an extreme change in how, when, and where policing is done. However, there will always be a need for some type of law enforcement. But as certain jurisdictions struggle to find out what exactly that looks like, they are finding themselves ever short of those who are willing to do the job.
Take the Florida city of Hallandale Beach, for example.
Here, as with most of the nation, the city is taking a closer look at its law enforcement and considering some changes. But due to surrounding circumstances, several of the city’s finest have decided to no longer serve, including the entire swat team.
The ten-member team, which is made up of eight officers and two sergeants, just announced their resignation in a letter to the city’s Police Chief Sonia Quinones on Friday.
In the letter, they cited that both the police chief and city’s mayor have made their job extremely difficult and that, mixed with the current national political climate, has left the team in an “untenable” position. Therefore, they will not continue to serve a community that clearly doesn’t appreciate them.
According to the letter, the swat team has long felt under-appreciated, if not wholly unwanted and used.
“The team is minimally equipped, under-trained and often times restrained by the politicization of our tactics to the extent of placing the safety of dogs over the safety of the team members. … The City Administration has shown a clear disdain for our agency and the team with their lack of willingness to provide adequate budgets to address the above-mentioned equipment and training concerns.”
In addition, the letter cites that the deputy mayor of Hallandale Beach has badmouthed the SWAT team in particular on several occasions, both from her podium and her social media accounts. Once, she even compared them to the Minneapolis Police Department.
Naturally, the team is not feeling the love all that much. And, understandably, doesn’t want to continue working for a city that acts like it doesn’t want them around.
But the cherry on top of it all was a recent event in which the Vice Mayor Sabrina Avellana and the police chief took a knee together, agreeing to blame the SWAT team for the death of Howard Bowe.
Bowe, a black man, was shot and killed in his kitchen by the team back in 2014. And although the team was acquitted of any wrongdoing, their boss and the vice mayor are bowing to the community’s demands that the case be re-opened and further investigated.
But as the letter states, the incident was already thoroughly delved into, and not just by the local police department.
“This case was investigated by a Grand Jury, The State Attorney, FDLE, and settled in a civil action. The city also went so far as to hire Greenwood and Streicher, LLC, a consulting company that focuses on government accountability and policing solutions to assist in the investigation of the incident internally as well as to conduct an audit of the uses of force by this agency. Scott Greenwood has been general counsel for the ACLU and Tom Streicher is a former Chief of the Cincinnati Police Dept. They too found no misconduct on the part of the involved officers.”
Yeah, I think I’d be a bit miffed at my commanding officers and city officials too.
These officers have proved themselves in service of their community for years on end. And yet, at the first sign of trouble in the city, their COs are willing to throw them to the wolves.
It’s no wonder the team is turning in their badges en masse.
As they noted in the letter, “This lack of support by members of the Command Staff is crippling to the agency and its rank and file.” And they continued, “Until these conditions and sentiments are rectified and addressed, we cannon safely, effectively and in good faith carry out our duties in this capacity without putting ourselves and our families at this needless increased level of risk.”
And the Hallandale Beach SWAT team is not the first to decide that their job is no longer worth the hassle.
In Buffalo, New York, the police department’s entire 57-member Emergency Response Team has quit.
The nation may say it doesn’t want its police force. But can we really afford to lose them? After all, there’s only so much that social workers can do.