In a Tuesday speech, Mike O’Meara, president of the New York State Association of Police Benevolent Associations decried media reports describing people across the country as being fearful of police interactions.
“I am not Derek Chauvin. They are not him,” O’Meara said, pointing to police officers gathered with him during his press comments. “He killed someone. We didn’t. We are restrained.”
O’Meara said lawmakers and members of the press were among those trying to “shame” officers into being embarrassed about their professions.
“You know what,” O’Meara said, raising his police badge. “This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it and so do theirs. So do theirs. Stop treating us like animals and thugs. Start treating us with some respect.”
O’Meara said there are an estimated 375 million police interactions in the United States in an average year, a majority of which he said were “overwhelmingly positive.”
“But what we read in the papers all week is that in the black community, mothers are worried about their children getting home from school without being killed by a cop,” O’Meara said. “What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen. It does not happen.”
O’Meara’s comments come amid continued mass demonstrations following the death of a black man, George Floyd, while in Minneapolis police custody. Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer O’Meara referenced, was caught on video, pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before an ambulance arrived and Floyd was later pronounced dead.
Floyd’s death sparked mass demonstrations and public debate over racism and whether police in America are unfairly targeting minority communities.
In defending police actions, O’Meara pointed to several police officers who have been targeted and killed in the past two weeks of demonstrations.
On Saturday, police in Santa Cruz, California were ambushed by a suspect with explosives and multiple firearms. One officer was killed, another was critically injured and a third was injured in the hand.
David Dorn, a 77-year-old retired police captain in St. Louis, Missouri was also shot and killed in recent days of rioting.
“Our legislators abandoned us, the press is vilifying us. Well, you know what guys,” O’Meara said. “I’m proud to be a cop and I’m going to continue to be proud to be a cop until the day I retire.”
O’Meara delivered his remarks as calls to defund the police have circulated around the country. Days earlier, on Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for removing some funding from the NYPD and diverting it to social programs in the city.
De Blasio also called for greater transparency in police disciplinary actions.
In a follow up interview with “Fox & Friends” Tuesday, O’Meara said police in New York are already subject to internal investigations within police departments, as well as by local district attorneys, the New York State Attorney General and federal investigators.
“The notion that police are not investigated and we’re some wild organization out there, you know, doing what we wish is just a falsehood,” O’Meara said. “And, that’s why I think it’s important … because we need people to understand that we are under scrutiny and 99.999 of our members act honorably every day and we take what we do seriously and what happened to Mr. Floyd, we don’t want that to ever happen again. I agree with the protesters. I don’t ever want that to happen again, that was horrific.”