Guest columnist Andrew C. Trushaw: ‘We, the police, want change’

Published: 6/17/2020 3:47:48 PM

I’ve been involved in law enforcement for the past 44 years, 42 with the Northampton Police Department.

I understand how people feel about George Floyd as a human and also because I’m a cop. We, and I do mean we, need to come together as humans and do something about this issue. The screaming at cops full of hate is not a solution. It is counterproductive. It is wrong.

We hear decries of “Defund the Police” and “No Justice, No Peace,” and more. Really, is this how we are going to solve the issue at hand? I get that people are upset, but being angry and making a decision in haste is not the answer.

Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “Loving Your Enemies” sermon, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, Only love can do that.”

At this time should we not be listening to this man? Isn’t hate what we are trying to fight here? Is there a reason why many are shutting the police out in an attempt to resolve the issues? You want to claim that cops hate and that is wrong. Stop and think about it.

We, the police, want change. We would love to have professionals assist us with those who need assistance in the cases where an arrest is not the right thing to do, but many times, due to lack of immediate services, we are forced to act to ensure the safety of all involved. The fact is that the addition of better services, while the right thing to do and I do hope this is accomplished for all of our sakes, does not mean that the police can be cut out.

There are various situations where immediate response means sparing someone serious injury. Violent people and many that suffer from mental illness need to be secured in order to assist them. First aid applied in a couple minutes is far better than several minutes.

I have heard complaints about the gear the police were wearing at protests in Northampton. Some folks out there will remember 1981, Northampton’s first Pride Parade. I was wearing a riot helmet, leather gloves and leather jacket. I also had my police K-9, Thunder, walking beside me. Mind you, we were not geared up against the parade people. We were geared up so that we could protect them. We, the marchers and police, got showered with all kinds of debris. Northampton PD got the job done. Sometimes, all is not what it appears.

This defund the police movement seems more like a move to punish the police. Yes, it will accomplish that. It will take away from training and the like. Having sufficient manpower is also key to the safety of the public and the officers involved. Defund the police is the mantra, but the reality is that it will do harm sometime, somewhere to somebody. So defund them, “get er’ done.” I hope you can look in the mirror and be proud when there is a victim of your move to get the police back for the bad some cops have done.

In March of this year, 10,697 Northampton voters turned out to vote on an override. The city has 21,385 registered voters. We recently heard about a “virtual meeting” of the City Council where over 500 people “attended.” Were these 500 people registered Northampton voters? I highly doubt that. Out-of-town people routinely speak up at Northampton forums. Five hundred people would be less than 2.5% of Northampton voters, or whoever, weighing in on this very important public safety matter. As a lifelong Northampton resident, I feel that the voters should decide about defunding the police department. Again, we do need change, but let’s not do in in haste without fully working it out.

Police are needed in our society, just as every other vocation is needed. The recent COVID-19 issues have taught us that.

I am used to the fact that some people don’t like the police. We are the ones who are there at awful times for many. I am used to people screaming that they hate me. That’s not a problem. I have never taken it personally. I’m not saying it doesn’t bother me, once again, I am human. As most cops do, I don’t think about skin tone, religion, orientation or anything like that when I respond to assist someone. I respond to help the human at the other end of the situation, and I feel proud of that.

So, you can hate me. No big deal. But if you need help, ya’ know what, I would be there and so would my co-workers.

Andrew C. Trushaw is a retired member of the Northampton Police Department, a special officer and a lifelong resident who lives in Florence.

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