We all expect justice and the ability to pursue happiness without fear. We all are entitled to equality, protection and a voice.
It was irresponsible for Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux to tweet the following: “For all those people hating cops across the nation. Just leave your name and address at the local police agency and let them know whenever you dial 911 or need emergency police services you no longer wish for them to respond to your calls for help.”
What that tweet does is crumble the trust bestowed upon him to give us protection when called upon despite our political beliefs or feelings about current events that involve law enforcement.
In fact the general essence of the protests we see today is exactly because of this kind of behavior from police. Small to high profile police misbehaviors are once more thrown into public view by the explosive, mean and inhuman police killing of George Floyd.
Yes, law enforcement officers do us all a great service and it is them we call when we need help or assistance. They go beyond the call of duty at our most vulnerable moments. So when the head of the county’s law enforcement agency tweets otherwise with prejudice it should concern all of us.
The President of the Tulare County Board of Education Celia Maldonado-Arroyo’s newspaper quote best illustrates her concern and the general feeling of local leaders and residents of Boudreaux’s tweet, “When you say things or you write things, they really reflect what’s in your mind and your heart.” Does this mean we have a Sheriff that is motivated by his politics over his duty?
County leadership is led by conservative Republicans. Makes me wonder what will happen to the driver who drove his big Trump flag waving jeep into two protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in Visalia recently? Will he be charged? Thus far he hasn’t been.
It begs the question, if the driver without a Trump flag hit one or two at a Trump gathering, would he or she be charged? Some would argue yes particularly now that the tweet released by our Sheriff sheds a light on how his colleagues in power may share similar sentiments about progressives and people of color.
Latino leaders are speaking out on behalf of the majority of the county’s residents in asking for a citizen advisory committee. Ironically, just my mention of considering something similar for my city this week was met with immediate push back from the city administration. It was viewed as undermining the police department, not one to better it.
We have to hold government accountable. We need it to be fair and impartial in accordance of the law. We know the majority of officers are good men but will the department leadership have the courage to weed out the bad apples when they exist. Can we trust that this can happen in our county?
As an elected official, I look at what contribution I can make. Taking cues from local officials across the country, I believe it would be good to evaluate how we can improve the relationship between law enforcement and the public they serve.
We need to look at the disproportionate number of arrests, mistreatment and incarceration of people of color and those of low income status. We need to implement policies if they don’t exist. Consider a citizen police commission to address police and constituent issues, a police activities league and a thorough background and social media check of potential new hires to a force.
I attended a protest recently that was peaceful. It was moving in that it was passionate and heartfelt. It was diverse. It was great to see the colorful ethnic fabric of the San Joaquin Valley come out to stand against the ugliness of Floyd’s death and call out for justice.
A call for community justice is not new. What is different this time around is that, on a large scale, people of all walks of life are joining the call for a cultural change and an end to our broken system of justice. So I know, we want better than what we have now.
It is fair to state Boudreaux’s following tweet, “Regardless of your position or belief in cops or the environment surrounding law enforcement right now, we will and always will respond and provide safety, even to those who hate us.”
Some might hate but most don’t but do want assurances that they can trust law enforcement. If we have not learned anything during this perfect storm of global protesting, pandemic and economic distress is that we can have empathy and understanding for a better place.
Let’s stand for justice, let’s deliver it without prejudice and let’s respect each other despite our political or personal beliefs.
City Councilman, Farmersville
Founder and President, Latino Democrats of Central California
Member, National Association of Latino Elected Officials
Former LA Times newsroom staffer