Josh Shapiro wants you to think that he cares about law enforcement. He wants you to believe that policing is one of his priorities, which makes sense because he is the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. It’s also a bit rich, at this late stage in the game. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Shapiro is running for governor of this great commonwealth, which is actually something he’s been doing since he put his pencil protector in his pocket, pulled up his socks, tied his shoelaces (by himself), and trotted off to kindergarten. Shapiro is one of those people who’s been campaigning since he knew how to spell the word “win.”
And there’s nothing wrong with that because most of us have ambition and some of us aren’t afraid to put it on display. Shapiro is one of those people, which means he’s followed his dream through jobs as Montgomery County commissioner, his current position as AG, and now, of course, his claim on the governorship of Pennsylvania.
And because he’s quite intelligent and understands that an AG running for higher office needs to at least pretend to care about law enforcement, he’s sent a letter to the Pennsylvania legislature urging it to hire more police. Shapiro reminds us that he is the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Commonwealth” and writes: “I am once again calling for you to step up so our communities can provide essential public safety services. While you must prioritize between a variety of worthy causes, and current workforce shortages impact many professions, I believe we must hire hundreds of new officers to fill these vacancies. Filling these open positions will make our neighborhoods safer and allow departments to restart foot patrols and outreach efforts that build and repair relationships between the police and the communities they serve.”
If you take the letter at face value, you have to applaud the AG for stepping up and stating the obvious: we are dealing with a severe and significant policing shortage. The number of early retirements has increased, the number of new applicants has decreased, and the number of lateral moves into other areas of law enforcement has also increased. The volume of officers who are either walking a beat or dealing directly with the communities they live in is shrinking. It’s true, it’s troubling, and it needs to be addressed.
So again, at face value, Josh Shapiro is both stating the obvious and doing his job: trying to keep the commonwealth safe for We, the People.
But if you dig deeper, this letter has the scent of chutzpah and the taste of irony. Democrats like Josh have spent the last two and a half years telling us that police are bad, that they are racist, that they are incompetent, that they regularly kill people based on the color of their skin, and that they need to be “retrained.” These Stepford Cops will be programmed to make sure that they don’t offend the sort of people who value pronouns over character. They will not put their own safety first but, rather, treat a gun-wielding stranger as someone who needs therapy and understanding.
In tweet after tweet, posting after posting, commercial after commercial, and press conference after press conference, Democrats have continued to remind us how broken the police force is, and how much havoc it has caused in vulnerable communities (and the term “vulnerable” has a very broad and ever-shifting definition). Even Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, who was a recent victim of crime, could not bring herself to disavow earlier comments about the need to combat racist policing.
So it seems to me that Josh Shapiro has what my Italian grandmother would have called “corraggio” or nerve to only now come to the realization that we need more police. Perhaps he and his colleagues on the left should acknowledge the fact that one of the reasons, perhaps a central reason that there is a police shortage, is because these men and women in blue do not want to risk their lives for folks who consider them racist, who second guess their actions, who constantly question their character and who want to put the figurative handcuffs on them, instead of on the criminals where they belong.
Shapiro has long had the ability to do something to protect the vulnerable communities he’s worried about. Rep. Martina White shepherded a bill through the legislature which gave the AG’s office the ability to wrest jurisdiction from Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner. That was a direct response to Krasner’s failure to keep Philadelphians safe as he presides over a historic increase in homicides, one not seen in decades.
And Shapiro hasn’t used the weapon, because he’s a political animal and his Democrat benefactors wouldn’t like it. Even in the face of dead children, Democrats are loathe to criticize other Democrats.
So, this letter from Josh Shapiro is good as far as it goes. We need more police officers, and we need to treat them equitably, provide them with salaries that recognize their sacrifice, and restore respect to a profession unfairly stripped of it by demagogues. But it’s also a reminder of just how tone-deaf politicians can be, even those who’ve been campaigning from the crib.