The scoreboard is pretty clear: Voting for Democratic candidates is a cop’s best bet. For all of the rhetoric and rah-rah cheering of police during national scandals, when it comes to actually supporting police and funding initiatives that pay for pensions and equipment and proper salaries, it is Democrats who lead the way, according to a legislative scorecard published recently from the National Association of Police Organizations.
And before you go thinking this is some tiny group of super-liberal officers, the organization claims more than 250,000 current cops as members. It endorsed former President Barack Obama twice, but it also supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Because NAPO doesn’t really care about party or rhetoric. It cares about how lawmakers vote on issues that directly affect police officers. The organization takes a cop-friendly position on those specific issues and it then scores lawmakers based on whether they vote with NAPO or against.
Guys like Alabama’s Mo Brooks and Mike Rogers — two congressmen who do a lot of jabbering about how much they love police — failed miserably when judged on their actions.
Brooks scored 43 percent. Rogers scored 40 percent.
To put those scores in perspective, Alabama Democrat Terri Sewell scored 86 percent. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got an 80.
And just so you don’t think those scores are somehow biased by party, over in the U.S. Senate, Alabama’s Richard Shelby scored 80 percent. Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, from California, earned a perfect 100.
But the big-talkers — Brooks, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise, Kevin McCarthy — all had failing grades. Rand Paul got a zero.
If this is perplexing to you, it shouldn’t be. Because the discrepancy between word and deed on display here is the same discrepancy that’s on display in all of American politics: The GOP has become a party that simply opposes things while offering no ideas and refusing to participate in the actual governance of this country.
Take the “defund the police” initiative that has been so overhyped by Republicans. Is it one of the worst named good ideas in American political history? Certainly. But it also happens to be rooted in a governing philosophy that is supported by most police officers.
Because the overarching idea of “defund the police” isn’t to eliminate the police budget and pull cops off the streets. It’s to shift funding from jobs that cops were never supposed to do — like serving as counselors on mental health calls — and instead use those shifted funds to pay for social workers and trained psychologists to accompany police officers on mental health calls.
Similarly, county jails would lose some funding, but that funding would be shifted to mental health facilities that could house and properly care for the people going through mental health crises, instead of shoving those poor people into cages and ignoring them. Ask any sheriff in Alabama if he or she would take that trade.
These initiatives help police.
You know what doesn’t help police? Standing in the way of COVID relief money that will pay for their salaries. Or cutting pension programs that provide their retirement benefits. Or voting against — or outright blocking — aid for the cops who went charging into the rubble of 9/11.
Guess which party did all of those things?
And those are just the big-name events that you hear about. There was also the 2019 vote to provide $30 million annually to the Justice Department to dole out bulletproof vests to cash-strapped state and local police departments. That bill passed the House, 400-9
Care to guess from which party all nine “nay” votes hailed?
Then there were various amendments that Republicans attempted to attach to the 9/11 compensation funds — all of which would have placed severe limits on the payouts for health care costs to police officers and first responders. Some of the amendments would have allowed officers to collect just pennies on the dollar to cover the healthcare costs incurred directly from their time spent at Ground Zero.
Every single vote for those amendments — and there were 54 “yea” votes in the Senate in support — came from Republicans.
Because this is who they are.
They’ve been using cops and soldiers as political pawns forever. Happy to put them in campaign ads or hold PR photo shoots or issue pro-police press releases during the next national scandal, but bailing at the first inconvenience.
Surely, if nothing else, Jan. 6 has taught us that much.
Look at those images of cops being beaten, spit upon, cursed and sprayed with chemicals. All the while, those officers did their jobs and protected the lawmakers and their staffs inside the Capitol. They lured those crazy MAGAs away, stood their ground when they could and ensured that a mob hellbent on killing some of our country’s leaders were not successful.
And how did the Republicans in that group repay them?
By killing the bipartisan commission that would have investigated those atrocities, and then 21 Republicans, including Alabama’s Barry Moore, voted against honoring those police officers with medals.
Because honoring them was a political inconvenience that didn’t fit with the nonsensical lie they’ve been telling people about those riots. So, they did what they always do.
At this point, the only surprise about those NAPO scores is that anyone thought they’d be different.