Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The Letter - Charlotte City Council Member Bokhari Read Aloud Monday From CMPD Spouses
We saw the video. We felt the pain and sorrow and we grasped for understanding, thinking through the multiple use of force explanations our spouses have shared with us to help us better understand the actions officers take in these situations. This time, there was nothing. There was not a reasonable explanation for the actions this officer took.
We fully understand and acknowledge that the actions of Officer Derek Chauvin was excessive use of force and indecent. As spouses of officers we are deeply grieved by what took place that day. We also felt the foreshadowing of despair as we knew what this would mean for officers throughout our country.
From this situation thousands of miles away, an ugly beast of hatred, vitriol and disdain has marched across our nation. The anger directed at law enforcement agencies and officers as a whole has been astounding and overwhelming. I know that we, as many of our fellow police spouses across America this week, have felt overwhelmed with the messages being thrown at our officers and our way of life. We have seen our community support completely dissolve. Friends and even family have been vocal with their anti-police rhetoric. We have been silent.
Social media has exploded with disdain for law enforcement. We have been silent.
Thousands of people have marched the streets of our city screaming profanities in the faces of our CMPD men and women and we have been silent.
We have felt helpless as we have watched the media fail to report accurate information surrounding the violence occurring in our city and towards our officers. We have been afraid for their safety as agitators have threatened to call out their vehicle information and encouraged others to follow them home. We have worried for the safety of our children as agitators have encouraged others to seek out LEO families through social media and “go get them.”
We will be silent no longer.
Our husbands and wives have been called to serve and protect. We are called to stand beside them. We have heard their stories, we have spent hours discussing their training, the situations they encounter on a daily basis and the reason why certain policies and procedures exist. We have a unique privilege as spouses to law enforcement officers to hear and understand what their job is, how they do it and why they do it.
However, anyone in the community has the opportunity to do this. CMPD provides resources such as the citizen’s academy and the option to do a ride-along with an officer. CMPD has gone above and beyond in recent years to hold public forums and more intimate events like “coffee with cops” to facilitate community engagement and dialogue with our officers. These are tremendous opportunities for the public to engage with our officers and understand more about their role. Precious few take advantage of these opportunities. It is easier to point the finger than make efforts to understand.
We the spouses of the CMPD would like to take this opportunity to speak up for our men and women on the line.
There has been discussion about defunding police departments and specifically discussion in Charlotte of defunding the chemical agents they have available to use in situations like those that have occurred in the last 10 days in our city.
We as spouses would echo what Chief Kerr Putney has stated; chemical agents are in fact a more humane and less forceful way of regaining and maintaining control of a violent crowd.
You may say that various media outlets have reported that CMPD has used chemical agents on unlawful protestors. We would simply say that we have seen the bruises, the cuts, the burns and the blood of our spouses. They bear the physical marks of being assaulted with bricks, rocks and mortars and they will bear the mental and emotional side effects of these events for the rest of their lives.
Please do not take away important, non-lethal options from their tool belt. Please do not leave them in more vulnerable positions than those that they are already faced with. The tactics they have used to manage violent agitators has been in the interest and protection of the men and women they serve to protect, including our members of the city council.
We the spouses of the CMPD would ask that you consider their recommendations and opinions.
We have seen surveys circulating seeking to gain perspectives and opinions from the public on CMPD’s handling of the Charlotte protests. Public opinion certainly has its place, but how can the public speak to what they don’t know and don’t understand? Our officers go through a 6 month intensive training academy.
They train physically and academically to be prepared for the many demands of the career they are undertaking. When our officers swear that oath and put on that badge it is not done lightly or on the spur of the moment. They have a comprehensive understanding of policy and procedure that is then built upon further by spending a minimum of 15 weeks under the training and supervision of other more experienced officers. Yet, in years past there has been more time and effort put into gaining public opinion and setting up community accountability than in allowing officers to have a voice in decisions being made for them and for the department they serve. Some of our CMPD spouses were involved in meetings in the last 6-12 months discussing changes to CMPD’s use of force policies.
They spend countless hours on continuing education and required certifications every year. Will their opinions matter? Will their voices be heard and seriously considered in the decision making? They speak from years of service and thousands of interactions with citizens, ranging from “routine calls” to dangerous use of force situations.
Your officers are your greatest allies in defending your constituents. We the spouses of these officers ask that you would listen to their voice and give them the same consideration you ask that they give to our citizens every day.
We the spouses of the CMPD would ask that any talk of defunding our department end right here and right now.
Our city has carefully considered their options and voted for each one of you to represent their best interest. We know, and the vast majority of your constituents know, that defunding and/or disbanding the CMPD is in no way in the best interest of anyone in the city of Charlotte or the surrounding suburbs. In the words of a retired CMPD officer “We address the immediate need, provide resource information that is seldom followed up with and move on to the next call. Rarely is anything truly resolved as we do not have the time to deal with the root of these problems.”
Your police officers are the ones answering these 911 calls and doing their very best with the resources they have available to handle everything from domestic disputes and violence to mental health issues, traffic violations, rape, assault, theft, fraud, drug violations, suicides, homicides and violent crime. To put it simply, they are irreplaceable. If the police were not in the community handling these situations, what would our communities look like? They are the force restraining evil and keeping it at bay. We have come to expect them to solve our issues but they are in fact our first line of defense and our officers continue to go above and beyond with providing the necessary resources and tools for citizens to address “the root of these problems” autonomously. To eliminate them would mean a dark, violent and unsafe community for our citizens, their children and the generations to come.
We the spouses of the CMPD ask that you observe and appreciate the diversity of our department and the work they do in minority communities. Our officers have worked tirelessly not only to engage and facilitate open dialogue with our black community but they also put their lives on the line to serve and protect them each and every day. Regardless of color, race or background our officers are willing to face the possibility of injury and/or death on a daily basis to protect our citizens. They do not pick and choose whom they will serve but simply put on their uniform and answer the call of duty. Their proactive policing have made the black community of Charlotte and our community as a whole a safer place to live and thrive.
We the spouses of the CMPD who represent a variety of races and nationalities ask that you encourage and facilitate racial reconciliation between officers and people of color. We the spouses of the uniform ask that you take the first steps in promoting BLUE as a color representing safety, security and trustworthiness, regardless of the color of the individual inside of the uniform. Stand by them, encourage them, have their back and let the community see the trust you have in them.
We the spouses of the CMPD ask that our voices be heard. You may not know who we are but we are involved in this community. Our families make up this community. We are accountants, we are nurses, we are teachers, we are mothers and fathers, we are business owners, we are city employees, we are hospitality workers, we are real estate agents; We are the people of Charlotte and its surrounding communities. We are the men and women who have had to take down the thin blue line stickers from our vehicles.
We are the spouses who have had to change our names on social media. We are the parents who are trying to explain to our children why their friends and their friend’s parents have directed unspeakable hatred towards them for what their parent does for a career. We are the families who will not publicly identify ourselves as law enforcement for the safety and protection of our children. We are the families who are not strangers to “girding our loins,” to hold down the fort for days to weeks while our spouses are answering the call. We represent the silent majority of citizens who have reached out and expressed their support for the CMPD.
We have been here before, in this place of isolation and sadness. We have formed powerful bonds and we have helped each other through difficult times. We will pass through this trial and emerge stronger on the other side. We will continue to stand by our officers as they fulfill their calling to serve and protect.
We the spouses of the CMPD ask you to join us. Join with us and stand up for the men and women of the thin blue line who daily risk it all for our safety and well-being. Join our bond of police community. Join our family and hear our voices.
Over 450 Spouses of the CMPD