Less than 72 hours following the latest incident in a weekend of more horrific and senseless acts of mass violence, we find ourselves faced with a sad and pathetic challenge — finding new words to express our outrage and disbelief over more lives being tragically and prematurely ended due to acts of mass violence. Just as pathetic is the thought that our previous expressions may have gone unheard, unnoticed, and discarded, as have the pleas and expressions of thousands of Americans. Our Nation is staring crisis in its face and yet many of our elected officials seem immobilized. Perhaps they have become as numb and disillusioned as the rest of us. Our plea today is that elected officials recognize this as their moment — and responsibility — to lead our Nation to a better place by taking concrete steps to prevent more of these tragedies.
As many mayors, governors, police chiefs, and sheriffs have said, these incidents do not define us as a people or a nation. Yet, in many ways, these tragic events have begun to do exactly that.
Time after time, the men and women of law enforcement, along with the organizations that support them, have spoken out following these and other tragedies. While there may be no consensus view among law enforcement and the organizations associated with them or the public about the solutions required, we are united and consistent in confronting these incidents when they occur. Law enforcement officers heroically deal with the tragedies unfolding before their very eyes, living with the pain, the trauma, and the suffering that results, all while remaining prepared to respond again. This, against a backdrop of more senseless violence that occurs each and every day in communities across America, taking one victim at a time and collectively destroying families and communities alike, often with little notice.
Following each of these incidents, it is common to ask questions about law enforcement’s preparedness to handle similar future incidents. Training in incident response tactics, firearms, team drills, “battlefield” first-aid and trauma care, cover and concealment, and more are revisited. Tactical equipment and gear are re-assessed. With each needed hour of training and each new piece of tactical equipment, we reluctantly move further and further away from the seemingly naïve view of law enforcement as community partners and problem solvers and closer to a view of law enforcement as soldiers, ready for the ultimate fire fight at any and all times. This is not what we or the families of those who serve and protect, including those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, would hope to see or wish for and it certainly should not be how we are seen as a nation.
The National Police Foundation has conducted research and developed policy proposals to strengthen criminal justice system responses to gun violence for decades. Our Center for Mass Violence Response Studies was recently established to learn more from these mass violence incidents to bring persons and organizations together that are dedicated to preventing extremism and mass violence and improving the response and recovery from these tragic events. We will continue these and many other efforts and will do all we can to support law enforcement, support our communities, and to support the victims and their families who are affected by these outrageous acts. The talent and resources of our entire organization and of our Center for Mass Violence Studies is at the disposal of anyone committed to taking concrete steps to address mass violence.
This statement is intended to serve as our statement today, tomorrow, and the next day and so on. We are shocked. We are outraged. We are indescribably saddened by the impacts of violence within our communities and we are utterly disappointed that we need to continue to issue these statements in the hope that someone will do something. Our views on these issues have been repeatedly expressed and shared. The National Police Foundation remains committed to engaging policymakers at all levels to address this issue.
The thought that our collective expressions of outrage have been insufficiently noticed is deeply troubling. As a society, we must come together to never accept inaction. We challenge our elected officials and policymakers to do what law enforcement officers do every day — confront these challenges by running to them as opposed to away from them.
— James Burch, National Police Foundation President