A few days ago Dave Mutchler, President of the River City Fraternal Order Of Police, released an open letter to the “public we serve.” It was more of a rant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Police Chief Steve Conrad issued a joint statement saying that Mutchler had a “threatening tone,” that he “does not understand the impact of the tone of his remarks and original letter,” and that Mutchler’s “words do absolutely nothing to help build community-police relations.”
Best to read what Mutchler wrote in full:
Consider this an open letter to the public we serve, the criminal element in our city, and the self appointed spokespersons who choose to remain blind to reason, who use misinformation and who sensationalize tragedy at every opportunity to forward their political agendas.
Know this: The members of River City FOP Lodge 614, who serve and protect Louisville every day, will no longer stand on the sidelines while anyone continues to assault and demonize us.
To those of you that support us while we serve and protect you — Thank You. Although you are not chosen for media interviews, we know that you understand we are here for you and your families. We know that the vast majority of you see that ninety-nine percent of police officers serve with integrity and courage. Although we know in our hearts that you are the silent majority, sadly, that may not be enough. Soon, we may have to ask for you to rise with us against the small, but very vocal group of people in our city who resist everything we all strive to attain — freedom, safety and the ability to live our lives happily and without fear.
To the criminal element in our community-we do not fear you. We are not your punching bag and we will not simply stand by and accept your verbal or physical assaults. No matter what craziness occurs, we will always protect our citizens and ourselves. No matter how weak our criminal justice system, we will hunt you down again and again until they put you away or you go away. No matter how weak our policies we will find a way to make you understand that Louisville isn’t where you want to live. Most importantly, though, take note of the following: If you actively resist or assault us, we will use every option available to take you into custody. If you use deadly force against us or use or attempt to use a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon against us, we will use deadly force against you and we WILL stop the threat to us, our fellow officers or the citizens we serve.
To the sensationalists, liars and race-baiters —we are done with you. At first it was good enough just to sit back and watch your ridiculous spectacle. No more. Now your rhetoric, lies and hate puts all of us, police officers and citizens alike, in danger. From now on we will call you out each and every time you tell a lie, twist the truth or otherwise engage in vile behavior meant to push your selfish agendas. If your behavior or untruths causes harm to us or the public, we will make every attempt to have you investigated, charged and prosecuted at the local, state or federal level. Your idiocy and lies are what caused the destruction in Ferguson and other cities around our country and we won’t be tolerating that here. We watched in shock most recently as some of you flat out lied to the media after a critical incident here in Louisville. Many in the media are self serving too, and we watched as they stood on the sidelines and fanned the flames for financial gain.
It is obvious to nearly everyone that you are attacking and lashing out at the police instead of attacking the real problem — those who commit crimes in our city and those who enable the criminal element. Are you not paying attention to what is happening around the country? As police are disempowered the predominately minority areas of cities, including Louisville, are suffering at the hands of killers and violent felons. Yet you continue to attack law enforcement. Your attacks can’t stop the truth from shining through. The truth is that every day there are millions of encounters during which police officers interact peacefully with all kinds of people, even during very difficult circumstances.
Your flawed logic and lack of reason regarding events that occur in our society makes you appear stunningly inept. Let me help you. All citizens in Louisville, regardless of race, creed, color, gender or national origin have the SAME rights and responsibilities. No one gets a separate set of rules. Politicians may fear you and your tactics-we do not. You and those you enable must abide by the law and comply with law enforcement like everyone else. If you refuse to comply or even worse, attack a law enforcement officer, expect to be met with force.
Your ridiculous demands and anti-law enforcement attitude has reached a level that is unacceptable. You want our attention? Well you have it. Consider yourselves on notice. We challenge you to have the same integrity and dedication to serving the community that you say you seek in the police. We already have it. You need to get it.
On behalf of the members of RCFOP Lodge 614,
Mutchler is in trouble for this letter. Not because it doesn’t represent policing. It does, quite well. This wasn’t Mutchler expressing his own deviant personal opinion. This is how most police feel. The problem was that it is too candid for public consumption. It shows us the way that police officers feel about themselves, about criminal suspects, about a free press, and about the public at large.
The narrative of “protecting” and “serving” is perpetuated; not only to the public, but among police themselves. This is important, because few people are able to cope with the cognitive dissonance of doing something wrong and knowing that it is wrong. It’s more important for police officers themselves to believe they are doing something right than it is for the public at large to believe it.
Mutchler refers to the “silent majority” and “vast majority” of people who support the police. Those who do not are a “small, but very vocal group” who “choose to remain blind to reason.”
Reality check. According to a recent Reuters poll, a full third of Americans believe the police “routinely lie to serve their own interests,” only two-thirds “approve of the job being done by their local police department,” and only half of Americans “trust the police to be fair and just.”
It drops to 30% of African Americans and 43% of young people for “trusting the police to be fair and just.” That’s right, Mutchler. The “silent majority” are in fact a minority in the black communities most abused by police. The individuals who are in fact a majority want you to get the fuck out of their communities.
According to Mutchler, the supporters of the police “are not chosen for media interviews.” In fact, the media is an element of the status quo and law enforcement is a part of that status quo. The media overwhelmingly works in the interests of law enforcement. We see this every time a crime is reported on, or every time suspects have their faces plastered on the television. The purpose of intensive crime coverage and reporting is to prop up the law enforcement apparatus.
Mutchler wrote that “we will not simply stand by and accept your verbal or physical assaults,” the “rhetoric” of “sensationalists, liars and race-baiter” supposedly “puts all of us, police officers and citizens alike, in danger.”
None of this rhetoric puts me in danger, Dave. Stop trying to put citizens in your own leaky boat. If police officers are in danger it is because the public is abandoning its support for law enforcement. This is democracy in action. It means that people are going to stop consenting, they are going to stop participating, in your criminal justice system. No longer will the people report crimes to you. Instead, the people build alternative solutions and systems. No longer will the people render aide to you. When the police are in trouble, they will be on their own.
In fact, this is the way policing has been for a long time. The police are already on their own. The only way the police are able to survive at all is by applying extreme and overwhelming violence.
Mutchler says “we will find a way to make you understand that Louisville isn’t where you want to live.” Don’t forget – Louisville, as with all cities, belongs to the people. It does not belong to the police. Don’t be surprised when the police are abolished and it ends up being you who is run out of town, Dave. The people are not going anywhere. Your safety depends on the consent of the people.
And consent evaporated in these communities long ago.
“Politicians may fear you and your tactics-we do not. You and those you enable must abide by the law and comply with law enforcement like everyone else,” Mutchler wrote. He is wrong. The “law,” whatever form it takes, is only valid insofar as those it applies to grant consent. If you intend to apply laws, rules or policies to a population that no longer views them as legitimate then you are an aggressor. You are an occupier.
The police are an occupying force. This is how law enforcement are viewed in these communities. This is why, in response Mutchler’s letter, protesters shut down the Louisville Metro Police building. In fact, they could have done more.
Mutchler’s biography says he has other experience participating with an occupying force: in 2003 he was sent to Iraq. He should know as well as anyone, then, how insurgents respond to occupation.
I don’t know why he thinks it is going to turn out any different for law enforcement in the end.