jonathan madison

The name of Officer Alyssa Vogel may not ring a bell for you. To the residents of New York City, her name invokes hope, stirs belief, and invokes pride in our nation’s police officers.

Lost in the shuffle of “defund the police” advocacy, there are many who no longer hear of the heroism espoused by officers like Officer Vogel.

Just last month, a bystander captured video of Officer Vogel rescuing a 4-year-old victim shot in Times Square. Vogel raced the 4-year old a great distance to an ambulance, ultimately saving her dear life. The heroism did not stop there. Officer Vogel has gone beyond the call of duty to raised thousands of dollars for the 4-year old’s family to cover the costs of medical care.

That story is just the tip of the iceberg. The month of October recorded record numbers of officers who went beyond the call of duty to preserve human life, uplift and safeguard their communities.

Calls for defunding our nation’s police come at a critical time. According to the CDC, our nation has recorded the highest increase in our nation’s homicide rate in modern history. In particular, the homicide rate rose 30% between 2019 and 2020. There is no doubt that certain conduct committed by certain police officers in recent years has inflamed racial tensions and diminished the public trust in law enforcement. However, some have taken the actions of certain police officers to be representative of all police officers. As a result, movements to defund police departments have come at a time when crime is at a legendary high. Here in the state of California alone, there was a 31% increase in crime in 2020. There is no question we live in a culture that often discounts the risk police officers take in safeguarding our communities.

As a collective, history tells us that human beings can overcome even the single greatest threats to our existence, including crime. This speaks to our culture’s most impactful and influential entities. Taken together, large factions, political parties, and large-scale industries create the driving forces in our society. By extension, this explains why we have a tendency, whether consciously or subconsciously, to adopt a “herd mentality.” We flock with political parties that most align with our ideals, engage with coalitions, embrace certain religions, and often remain within the same sphere of influences.

When isolated, the individual often finds great difficulty in facing the question of whether they have the capacity to affect their family, friends, local community and society in a meaningful way.

In spite of this unprecedented movement and the policies enacted across the nation, political factions and propaganda always seem to have the final word. The movement becomes political, and the present tragedy quickly becomes yesterday’s news. I consider the speed at which demands for meaningful reforms in police conduct have quickly turned to calls for defunding police departments. The narrative of saddened mothers struck by tragedy has quickly turned into a blanket perception that police officers do more harm than good.

We cannot bring meaningful reforms by following false narratives and adopting political talking points on these matters. One must take it upon themselves to be the agent for change within their own community.

That’s why I am pleased that there is a movement afoot to acknowledge and encourage police officer heroism and recognition. “Coins for Cops” is a nonprofit organization launched right here in San Mateo County. Coins for Cops Founder Rachel Lassman, like many of us, was deeply troubled by the villainization of police officers around our nation.

She noticed a growing sentiment of disrespect, threats, and even violence against the men and women tasked with protecting and serving our communities. Lassman decided to thank police officers throughout the nation in a meaningful way. “My goal is to thank every police officer in the nation for their service and let every officer know that they are appreciated and supported,” says Lassman.

With each donation, each officer will receive a hand-written “Thank You” card and a beautiful, one-of-a-kind Challenge Coin, specifically designed to let officers know just how thankful people are for their service. Communities can engage in Coins for Cops by selecting a police department to which they wish to make a contribution, simply donating for a small “Thank You” card, or purchasing a “challenge coin” honoring the commitment of certain police officers.

This Thanksgiving, I would encourage each of us to show our police officers we are thankful for their commitment and sacrifice. Whether through Coins or Cops or other efforts to support our police officers, we can break the lines that divide us, bring meaningful reforms that can bridge the divide between communities and law enforcement, and begin the process of healing in our culture.

A native of Pacifica, Jonathan Madison worked as professional policy staff for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Financial Services, from 2011-2013. Jonathan is lead attorney at The Madison Firm. Reach him at jonathan@themadisonfirm.com.

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(5) comments

Ray Fowler

Thanks, Jonathan, for sharing information about Rachel's "Coins for Cops" campaign.

Too often, we hear self-serving, cop-hating iconoclasts... masquerading as activists... vilifying police officers. Their calls to defund the police are sheer lunacy. However, when a police officer abuses the public's trust, calls for accountability must be heeded. I don't know anyone on either side of the political aisle who disagrees with holding all public officials responsible for their actions.

Rachel wants to thank those hard working men and women in blue who do their best to serve the public. Good for her. Rachel's campaign is something that people on both sides of the political aisle can and should support.

Tafhdyd

Ray,

You said "I don't know anyone on either side of the political aisle who disagrees with holding all public officials responsible for their actions." Are you including politicians as public officials in your statement?

Ray Fowler

Hey, Tafhdyd!

Good morning, buddy. The short answer to your question... yes. The long answer... heck, yes.

We both know in reality that dishonest politicians... D, R and anything in between... will not be held accountable for irresponsible words and deeds. I would just like to see elected officials held to the same level of scrutiny that is focused on police officers when officers have allegedly acted outside the scope of their authority.

Do you think anyone (DJ readers) on either side of the political would disagree with holding public officials responsible for their actions?

Tafhdyd

Ray,

I would think most DJ readers, almost all for that matter, would hold public officials accountable. I can think of one that may not, at least publicly may not, although maybe in private would.

Ray Fowler

I agree. Knowing that virtually all DJ readers would like to see politicos held accountable should give us hope that things can get better.

Welcome to the discussion.

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