I was just given a copy of the Texas Police Star which is a publication by CLEAT. For those of you who don’t know, CLEAT is a police union. The acronym stands for Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas. We, at this publication, believe in unions. So many of the good things workers have are due to unions and CLEAT has been an excellent supporter of officers. That having been said, the article, Banning Class C Arrests by the executive director, Charley Wilkison, is an embarrassment.
Officers have a tough and dangerous job. They go into situations that others are running to get away from. But according to Wilkison, an officer’s only value is being able to decide if someone with a Class C violation (that’s a stupid ticket, people) goes to jail or not. If an officer can’t make that decision, well, then according to Wilkison, that officer is no different than an Uber driver. That is an insult to every single officer working diligently to protect the public. Officers are so much more than ticket givers.
Times are changing. Issuing tickets is something a robot can do. There are already manned prototypes, which no doubt, will be quickly followed by independent robots viewed from a central location. Speeders are caught on camera and tickets are mailed to them. This is an area that has already been changing. To think this low-level function is the main value an officer has and that the loss of the ability to arrest for certain tickets will make him an unskilled worker, will cause his pay to go down and will harm his family’s ability to survive is ridiculous.
Wilkison is intentionally acting as if the proposed change in law is an attack on police officers. Police enforce the law, they don’t make it. If the legislature says the new law is that they don’t arrest for Class C misdemeanors then all that does is tell them the new way to handle those specific charges. It’s not an attack on police officers. Laws change all the time.
Selling alcohol used to be illegal. The law changed. Legalizing alcohol wasn’t done to attack police officers. We anticipate that at some point marijuana will become legal. When that happens, it won’t be because people want to attack police officers either. It will be because people felt the law needed to be changed.
Wilkison mentions “standards” 7 times in his short article. He insists that this change in law would be a lowering of standards for officers which would decrease an officer’s value. That’s a load of crap. The law is the standard, regardless of what that law is. If an officer follows the law then he is maintaining his professional standards.
The whole article written by Wilkison was manipulative propaganda. But the attack on our officers’ self-worth wasn’t the extent of his terrible article. He chose to include hate-mongering as well. Here are some of the comments from his article meant to incite defensive instincts in officers; “…out of hatred for you and the job you do”, “…turned on you like a pack of wolves”, “…by mean police officers hell bent on hurting families.” All this does is help to cement the “us” and “them” mentality that hurts both sides. Yes. Both sides.
But why did he do this? He obviously does care about officers so why would he act in a manner that is, in the long run, detrimental? He has to know that his comments will be viewed by the general public as more proof that law enforcement just wants to throw people in jail, not serve and protect, as is claimed by law enforcement. The answer is simple. It comes at the end of the article. It’s about money. He wants officers to give money to the CLEAT PAC.
It’s easier to manipulate people when they are in a state of fear. Making officers feel as if everyone is out to get them, as if their whole economic world is going to come crashing down, will make them angry but the underlying emotion is fear, and who can blame them? No one wants to be financially comfortable in life then suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them. He, and many others like him, is using a simple change in the handling of Class C misdemeanors, that even he says is only 1/2 of 1%, to rile up officers, so he can get money out of them.
It would have been better if he treated officers with respect, told them what the union’s plans were and asked for donations to their PAC, instead of treating officers like they’re stupid and manipulating them into looking bad in the eyes of the public.