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My Personal Side

By Craig Hastings
It’s been a week to remember in America for sure. I’ve lived long enough to remember a few riotous events in America but nothing like what’s happening now. I was confident that in just a few days, maybe four or five at the most, cooler and more sensible heads would prevail. At the end of these few days chaos would end and talking would start. I’m someone that’s never ventured out of my safe and more normal rural community. And after what I’ve just witnessed I’m glad I haven’t. Legal protesting turning to criminal destruction of property and criminal burglary theft is not what the constitution provides anyone to do. How in the world can anyone justify the criminality of what has happened in many cities across the country by the actions of one police officer in Minneapolis? Some people may argue the number is four officers but that remains to be determined by the courts and surely not by the courts in Minneapolis. There will certainly be legal arguments concerning the other three officers and their responsibility to intervene in the actions of the one.

So protests supporting “police reform” are taking place all over America because a Minneapolis police officer may have been the direct cause of the death of a man in his custody. I say “may have” because I believe in our criminal justice system. I’m a police officer and I believe what this officer was doing to restrain George Floyd was wrong in everyone’s eyes. I also believe that breaking the law is not the proper course to achieve change in how your own police department operates. These people running around with signs and speaking out supporting the abolishment of their police department should not be part of any City’s conversations of reform. Where is there any logic to abolishing police completely!?

There are definitely two populations in America for sure. I nor any of my friends would feel an obligation to destroy Tuscola because of something that happened in say Arcola or Arthur. I don’t believe for a minute that residents in Tuscola would burn our own town down because a police officer in a neighboring community committed a heinous crime. Quite the contrary as a matter of fact. So in my simpleton thinking, why would the residents of New York destroy their own city because of a crime that happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota? It’s become apparent by the evidence coming out that probably the peaceful protesters have been infiltrated by outsiders with an agenda. That agenda is to divide America more than it is and what better way to do that than by taking advantage of a peaceful march by citizens with good intentions. Blend in with the crowd and by training and instruction, rile some of the marchers into a frenzy and show them how easy it would be to destroy and loot retail businesses. And that they have done.

Wouldn’t you like to know how many of these criminals could even recite George Floyds’ name? I doubt they could tell you what “COVID-19” is really all about. Tell me, how in the world would anyone expect the owners of those looted and burned out businesses, their employees, the actual property owners, and any of their friends and relatives to get behind their cause!! They wouldn’t. Those business owners who were robbed and burned out do have a real and obvious complaint about the police in their cities. Why were the police not deployed in full strength and arresting as many of the looters and arsonists as they could get their hands on? Why didn’t the mayors in those cities take advantage of not only their own National Guard posts in their states but also those offered up by the federal government? These National Guardsmen could have been assigned to stay stationary all up and down the retail business districts while police tended to the rest of the chaos. But no, that was the President’s strategy so these cities and states being run by democratic governors and mayors had to say “no” so the President couldn’t have a “win” even though their citizens were losing.

I won’t pretend to know what goes on between the police departments and their minority citizens in these large cities. I can’t sit here and tell you this movement of police reform is overblown because I don’t know. I would have had to work in one of them to know. I only know from my forty years experience in small town, small rural county police work that I haven’t seen it here. I’ve probably worked with or around nearly a hundred police officers in my career and have never seen a minority arrestee physically abused or intentionally arrested for a crime he/she was believed to have committed. I can’t even wrap my head around why any police officer would intentionally cause more harm than necessary when making an arrest that turned physical. I’ve been in more than my share of physical confrontations in my career while trying to gain control of a situation. In a few of those I became really angry after getting hurt myself during the scuffle but I didn’t intentionally cause harm to any of those arrestees after they were under control. I also haven’t been witness to any of my officers abusing use of force protocol.

I’ll make an observation other than the obvious one in the Floyd arrest and subsequent death. Why wasn’t Mr. Floyd being loaded in a police car and transported from the scene? It is usually advantageous for police to cuff, load, and transport anyone arrested away from the scene as soon as possible. Maybe there was a reason those officers on scene were not loading Mr. Floyd in a squad car but, what I saw in the video made no sense to me. It appears this should have been a reasonably routine and simple arrest. I guess we’ll find out in the months to come.

So what was all the hype of trouble coming to Tuscola last week? We fielded several intelligence reports of outsiders being on their way to Tuscola to loot and pillage some of our own retail establishments. Fortunately those reports never materialized. Along with reports of looting events we also received reports or rumors of protest marches that would number in the hundreds. We did have a few protest events but they were well organized and peaceful. I personally wish to thank the many people that without being requested, showed up to support us when they heard via social media there was a group on their way from Champaign to loot our own mall. This is what we do in our hometown rural communities in a time of crisis. We join together and don’t choose sides and pull apart. This police department had nothing to do with what happened in Minneapolis and the actions of our citizens show me they understand this. I’ve been the Police Chief here since 1986 and fair and balanced is how we police here in Tuscola. For anyone to believe all cops are alike is unfair and certainly unsupported by any research. America is in crisis right now. The problems and complaints seem to be centered around cities with larger populations. Let’s keep it that way. They’ve created their own problems through poor government management. Let them figure this out.

(The views and opinions expressed in the submitted columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Journal.)

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