At a Tuesday ceremony honoring distinguished police work, Attorney General William Barr warned that if communities don’t show greater respect to their law enforcement officers, they could lose out on the “police protection” they receive.
Barr compared law enforcement officers to members of the military and said while the military receives public support and parades, police officers go about their own demanding jobs without much public support, USA Today reported. He said Americans need to recognize “the sacrifice and the service” of police or risk losing those police.
Barr said after a lack of support for troops during the Vietnam war, America gradually began to show those military members newfound respect. He said police should receive the same respect.
“They have to start showing more than they do – the respect and support that law enforcement deserves,” Barr said during the ceremony. “And if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.”
The ceremony was meant to recognize 19 distinguished officers and deputies from 12 precincts across the country. Those officers were recognized for their work combating gang violence, stopping active shooters, helping in natural disasters and extending youth outreach in their communities.
Barr’s comments drew criticism, with some suggesting he was directing his comments specifically to communities of color that have complained of police brutality.
Walter Shaub, a former director for the Office of Government Ethics under Presidents Barrack Obama and Donald Trump challenged Barr to elaborate on what communities he was referring to when he suggested some have shown a lack of respect to police.
“if communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need”
And what “communities” would those be, Bill Barr? https://t.co/BGeqCxO8LW
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 4, 2019
In comments provided to the Huffington Post, Jeb Fain – the spokesperson of liberal super PAC American Bridge – said Barr’s comments are “as revealing as they are disturbing.”
Fain said Barr’s comments were “flagrantly dismissive of the rights of Americans of color, disrespectful to countless law enforcement officers who work hard to serve their communities, and full of a continuing disregard for the rule of law.”
Barb McQuade, a former US Attorney and MSNBC/NBC legal analyst, called the comments divisive and said Americans should be grateful for the service of police, but should call out misconduct and instances of police brutality.
Barr’s divisive comments are unworthy of an AG. We should all be grateful for the sacrifices and service of police officers, but misconduct should be called out and addressed. Blind devotion is not a requirement for receiving police service. https://t.co/vpE6fCuIlC
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) December 4, 2019
“Blind devotion is not a requirement for receiving police service,” McQuade said.
At an August speaking event with the Fraternal Order of Police, Barr reportedly warned police not to tolerate those resisting arrest criticized district attorneys who act as “social justice reformers.”