from the and-zero-respect-for-the-general-public dept
Inside Attorney General William Barr’s long rant about the lack of respect for police officers in this nation was a shot or two at recently-elected District Attorneys (like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner). Barr feels — like many of the police union reps he was speaking to — DAs that institute reforms, reduce incarceration, and punish police officers for misconduct are on the wrong side of history.
There is another development that is demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety. That is the emergence in some of our large cities of District Attorneys that style themselves as “social justice” reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law.
These anti-law enforcement DAs have tended to emerge in jurisdictions where the election is largely determined by the primary. Frequently, these candidates ambush an incumbent DA in the primary with misleading campaigns and large infusions of money from outside groups.
Once in office, they have been announcing their refusal to enforce broad swathes of the criminal law. Most disturbing is that some are refusing to prosecute cases of resisting police. Some are refusing to prosecute various theft cases or drug cases, even where the suspect is involved in distribution. And when they do deign to charge a criminal suspect, they are frequently seeking sentences that are pathetically lenient. So these cities are headed back to the days of revolving door justice. The results will be predictable. More crime; more victims.
A department that frequently touts the power of prosecutorial discretion is angry because prosecutors are exercising discretion. And it’s a bit rich for AG Barr to complain about “revolving door justice” when law enforcement agencies all over the nation continue to hire officers fired for misconduct and abuse by other agencies.
The administration’s back-the-blue attitude is on full display. Barr’s angry speech about the respect he believes officers are owed has trickled down to the lower ranks of federal prosecutors. In the wake of a shootout between a criminal suspect and several Philadelphia police officers, US Attorney William McSwain decided to take his own shot at Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.
What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement – a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive.
Where does such disrespect come from?
There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner – and I am fed up with it.
It started with chants at the DA’s victory party – chants of “F*** the police” and “No good cops in a racist system.”
We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement – the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even “war criminals” that he compares to Nazis.
This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.
While McSwain was bitching about a prosecutor he doesn’t like, DA Larry Krasner was praising the Philadelphia PD — which saw six of its officers wounded — for their handling of the volatile situation.
McSwain also suggested the federal branch would step in to directly control the actions of the Philly DA. His exact words were “We’re going to provide some adult supervision.” As Adam Steinbaugh points out, that’s not how federalism works. Someone must have pointed that out McSwain, who walked back this comment (but none of his press conference remarks) less than two hours later.
Perhaps the federal prosecutor was just being reflexively defensive. The person who allegedly shot all of these cops was a federal snitch who got a break on his most recent prison sentence because of how helpful he was.
McSwain failed to mention, however, that alleged shooter Maurice Hill’s interactions with law enforcement predated Krasner taking office. Nor did McSwain acknowledge that the 36-year-old Hill, who on Saturday was charged by Krasner’s office with attempted murder and multiple counts of aggravated assault related to the incident, has been a federal informant for years, according to documents obtained by The Appeal.
McSwain may have known this news would eventually come out and needed to get out ahead of the narrative before it flipped. Or he may have been blissfully unware and simply decided to engage in the DOJ’s “criticizing law enforcement kills cops” politicking. Neither move makes McSwain or police officers look any better or does anything to close the divide between the public and its public servants.
But this is the narrative that’s being aggressively pushed with Bill Barr running the DOJ. Anyone who isn’t willing to shower cops with respect and adulation is an enemy — even those basically playing for the same team. There will be no prosecutorial discretion under this administration. There will only be as much cruelty and punishment as it can possibly mete out. Every time something bad happens to a cop, some federal law enforcement rep will be there to claim it was disrespect — rather than guns and bullets — that hurt or killed the officer.