Fox News recently published a list of American police chiefs who have retired, been demoted, or been terminated around the country since the murder* of George Floyd by four Minneapolis cops. This list comes from the Fox story. I suspect that it’s not complete, and that more resignations and terminations are on their way. Indeed, I hope so.
All of these top cops retired or were dismissed for reasons of departmental misconduct, or in protest of criticism or proposed reforms.
- U. Renee Hall, Dallas Police Department, resigned
- Rochester police Chief La’Ron Singletary, resigned, with two other members of RPD’s senior command
- Kipp Coker, chief of the Lake City Police Department, resigned
- Marion, SC, police Chief Tony Flowers, resigned
- Pamplico, SC, police Chief Danny Brown, resigned
- Cobden, Ill., Police Chief B.J. Hale, resigned or fired – uncertain reporting
- Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, resigned
- Steve Anderson, chief of the Nashville Metro Police Department, resigned or fired – uncertain reporting
- Former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, demoted and retired
- Las Cruces, NM, police Chief Patrick Gallagher, retired
- Rising Star, Texas, Chief Wayne Edgin, fired
- Los Angeles Unified School District police Chief Todd Chamberlain, resigned
- Jefferson City, TX, Police Chief Jason Carroll, resigned under pressure
- Prince George’s County police Chief Hank Stawinski, resigned,
- Richmond, VA., Police Chief William Smith, resigned under pressure
- Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, resigned
- Portland Police Chief Jami Resch, resigned
- Louisville, Ky. Metro police Chief Steve Conrad, fired
I see these resignations and terminations as welcome news, regardless of the individual stories or accomplishments involved. In the big picture, these former top cops will merely be remembered as examples of cop culture’s resistance to institutional change. They have proven to history that resistance is found in all ranks of law enforcement, from top to bottom, even in the 21st century.
Every “top cop” is thoroughly socialized in cop culture. Every one of them has already been a career cop, has already been a card-carrying, dues-paying union member; and every one of them becomes a member of extremely conservative, politically effective, top cop police or sheriff associations. Every one of them is old-school. They live by the world view of cop culture, and they rule by it.
Until they don’t.
Citizens own and pay for their law enforcement. Citizens – not cops – have the last word as to what law enforcement can and cannot do; what responsibilities and authorities cops will and will not be granted; funding and budget priorities; and so much more. Cops come and go, but these principles of democracy cannot be allowed to be diminished by force of personality, by threat of resignation, or by fear of consequences. Citizens are, by right, the ones who decide the nature of their law enforcement — regardless of the wisdom, or lack thereof.
There’s an old saying that I heard time and again throughout my life, from my grandparents, my parents, and managers everywhere: nobody’s irreplaceable.
Or how about this one: lead, follow, or get out of the way.
In the big picture, every one of these resignations will mean little to American history, just as the careers of these cops meant little. Just as the careers of just about all of us mean little.
And every one of these vacant positions creates an opportunity – however unlikely to be fulfilled – for local law enforcement to bend more toward public will. To bend more toward the future, and become better for it.
I’m not worried about the problems that may follow from these resignations, nor these terminations. Americans will solve them.
I welcome the winds of change.
* Note on my use of the word “murder”
Cops, lawyers, and critical thinkers alike will notice that I have called the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops a “murder.” Legally, that has yet to be determined. But I’m not talking about legalities here. I won’t be the least bit surprised if a court of law finds any or all of these cops “not guilty.” The criminal justice system has been protecting cops from accountability, prosecution and conviction for 400 years.
That’s what the BLM protests are all about, after all.
No, I’m not concerned about the legal term of “murder.” I’m talking about the court of public opinion, not the court of law. And in the court of public opinion, whether law enforcement likes it or not — and they most definitely do not — America has already, overwhelmingly, found the four Minneapolis cops guilty as charged. These are four convictions with which I most whole-heartedly, emphatically, decidedly concur.
And I intend to continue prosecuting cop culture in the court of public opinion.