Living in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, I watched with interest earlier this week when it was announced that a Tulsa police officer had tested positive for COVID-19, leading to 25 other officers being taken off the streets and put into self-quarantine. While the chief informed local media that losing 25 officers would have no effect, that’s a hard statement to swallow.
Digging a little deeper, it is easy to see that Tulsa is only the tip of the iceberg. More than 100 Chicago police officers have contracted COVID-19. And week-old numbers from Time magazine report more than 700 New Jersey officers have the virus. Some estimates put the number of cops with COVID-19 as high as 2,500, with more than 6,000 off work. And, the Fraternal Order of Police says 21 officers have died from COVID-19 nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some might say, “Fewer cops, so what?” But since history shows that violent criminals nearly always take advantage of the weak during emergencies and disasters, fewer officers on patrol is a negative thing. Combine that fact with a handful of other factors, and you can see somewhat of a “perfect storm” brewing throughout the country.
First, gun sales are being stopped or grossly curtailed in some states, and in some of those states, so-called “universal” background check laws make it illegal even to purchase a gun from a private owner without a background check. As a result, only criminals can get a firearm, since they typically acquire guns through illegal means anyway.
Adding to the danger is the fact that many law enforcement agencies are cutting back on what kinds of arrests they’ll make to limit officers’ exposure to the coronavirus. In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw instructed her department to stop making arrests for many criminal offenses, including all narcotics activity. Other cities have implemented similar guidelines. The result: Burglaries are up 30 percent in Houston, and up 60 percent in New York City.
To further exacerbate the problem, many local, state and even federal officials are making a concerted effort to have inmates and prisoners released. Currently, New York City is looking to release about 1,000 inmates, and Detroit has also released hundreds. And while those who are opposed to incarceration might argue that such a move is for the good of the country as a whole, that’ll be little comfort to innocent Americans who fall prey to released prisoners, who have already proven they don’t follow the law.
In reality, police have never had the duty to protect individual citizens. The Supreme Court ruled that to be the fact back in the 1981 case Warren v. District of Columbia, and the ruling has been upheld on more than one occasion since then.
Fact is, we’ve always largely been on our own, and our protection and that of our family has always been our own responsibility. Current events during the COVID-19 lockdown have just made that fact clearer than ever before—even to those whom it is a completely new concept.
Mark Chesnut is a freelance writer and the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.