As we watch the destructive aftermath of the devastating death of George Floyd, I am asking all members of LAAPOA to take a deep breath.
Clearly, something went horribly wrong in the circumstances involving Mr. Floyd. Clearly, the outcome of the arrest that led to his death wounds all of us as peace officers and as human beings, whether we are black or white or any shade of the rainbow. Clearly, those involved (whether they are involved officers or policy writers dictating and training unsafe tactics) need to be held accountable after a complete and fair investigation with full due process. Mr. Floyd’s family and friends and the public deserve nothing less.
At this point, as peace officers, it is important that we process the incredible stress all of us are under. We work in one of the most internationally diverse, closed-in environments in the world, and we are disproportionately exposed to unique and serious health hazards. We have members who are working in public parks where multitudes congregate and split-second decisions are being made to ensure the overall public safety. We are worried about the health of our family and loved ones. We are balancing an essential and at times dangerous job with the strains of homeschooling, worrying about our parents and all of the other concerns that American citizens are experiencing. We are weighing the financial impact of COVID-19 on our livelihood and our colleagues and friends. We are also members of a majority-minority police union who have personally experienced many perspectives relating to policing, race and class.
With so many conflicts emanating internally and externally from Mr. Floyd’s death, I implore all LAAPOA members to lean on one another during these times. This is the time for us to tell each other if we are having an unusually stressful time of it. Maybe that is not how we usually look at our relationships with our brother and sister officers, but we have never been through a time of so many burdens.
While Mr. Floyd’s death is inexplicable, it also places more responsibility on our shoulders. Even though 99% of the 800,000 peace officers in the United States show up every day and do the right thing, we now bear this additional weight. I make no excuses for the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death. But we are not those officers, and we must remember that, even if some members of the public seek to paint us with that brush. We must not be baited. We must not make any rash decisions that will change the lives of those involved because we feel these immense pressures that none of us could have ever contemplated. I would ask you all to be your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers if you see a fellow officer in need of some extra support.
We are all human and doing the best we can, and we must get through these times to better ones together, while never forgetting and feeling empathy for each other and those with whom we interact every day. Remember why you chose this profession, and remember the oath you took when you were sworn in.
God bless all members of LAAPOA, our families and the people we protect.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association
MARSHALL E. McCLAIN