Police Unions Picking the Wrong Fight
September 21, 2016 (Fault Lines) — There’s a scene in the Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino where Eastwood’s character rhetorically asks some thugs:
You ever met someone you shouldn’t have f@cked with? (spits) That person is me.
Right now, the Broward County Sheriff’s Union is messing with football.
Four Miami Dolphin players took a knee recently during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” to protest police shootings and racial discrimination, both of which are present in the United States with shameful regularity. At this, the Broward County Sheriff’s Union called for an end to their deputies participating in team-sponsored events.
The International Union of Police Associations local 6060, based in Sarasota, Florida, which other than amending its charter in 1966 to allow Canadian police to “associate,” has no actual “International” presence, is headed by Jeff Bell who told the Miami herald:
I respect their right to have freedom of speech However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech temporary [sic] while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game.
He’s right about one thing; in certain professions, like law enforcement, you curb your free speech rights while on the job. But adding, “while you play in an NFL game” is ludicrous. Clearly he doesn’t respect the right at all, except for himself.
In a letter last Friday, Bell wrote:
I can not fathom why the Miami Dolphin organization and the NFL would allow the blatant disrespect of the American flag and what it stands for during the national anthem. It is a privilege to play in the NFL, not a given constitutional right.
Complete and utter tone-deafness must be the top job requirement for police union bosses.
Across the country in California, the Santa Clara Police Officers Union sent a letter to the San Francisco 49r’s football team saying if the team didn’t take action against quarterback Colin Kaepernick:
…it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.
Team management, unimpressed responded with:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony, It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
Both the Broward County, Florida Sheriff’s Office and Santa Clara, California Police Department issued statements saying they would continue to provide service to the teams.
It seems that unlike police union heads, they understand a few simple things, like the fact that millions of people buy and wear football jerseys with the name of their favorite player on the back. Few, if any people have a jersey with their favorite cop’s name on the back. While a few upset fans are burning those Jerseys, by and large the players are revered in this country; even by cops.
From the moment they show promise in grade or high school, these players are carefully groomed. In college, they can even get special classes. It is also rumored that women begin throwing themselves at athletes at a very early age. The result is a protected, special class of person with an ego on par with, say, a cop. They are some of the most recognized names in American society even after they are long gone.
Cops are not so revered in this country. Even the notably heroic ones, while remembered dearly by family, friends and co-workers, are sadly remembered by society only with their names on a piece of crumbling infrastructure or strip of highway. Police unions are doing nothing to improve this image. Instead, they are picking a fight they can’t win.
The NFL basically owns three days a week. Many of its players are men of color who came from less than privileged environments. Many know someone who was killed as a result of racial hatred, or even died at the end of a cop’s gun. So a union boss telling them it’s a privilege to play football is going to fall on deaf ears.
NFL players work very hard in a competitive environment. Unlike a cop, if they are bad at their job, they are finished and out the door so fast their cup of Gatorade is still left momentarily suspended in mid- air. It can take years to get rid of a bad cop. Sometimes the only way they go is via retirement.
Lastly, it’s a sure bet that the NFL detail is prestigious for cops. They probably get overtime and to hang out with pro-football players. Getting the rank and file behind a boycott of such a sweet gig is a hard sell.
Cop Unions are messing with something they shouldn’t have f@cked with. (spits)