Law enforcement continues to face unprecedented attacks as police forces are being defunded or are otherwise under intense scrutiny.
What are some of the biggest challenges law enforcement is currently facing?
Brenda Tillett, the president and founder of Bolster the Blue, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to talk about what her organization is doing to support the men and women of law enforcement.
We also cover these stories:
- Third-quarter numbers are in, and America’s economy grew at an annualized rate of more than 33%, according to a Department of Commerce report released Thursday.
- The president of France says the country is “under attack” after a pair of beheadings committed by Islamic radicals in the past two weeks.
- On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter temporarily suspended Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan’s account over a tweet touting the success of the southern border wall in keeping out “murderers” and “sexual predators.”
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Enjoy the show!
Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Brenda Tillett, who’s the president and founder of Bolster the Blue. Brenda, it’s great to have you with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Brenda Tillett: Thank you so much for having me today, Rachel.
Del Guidice: Well, it’s great to have you with us. Can you just start off by telling us about your organization, Bolster the Blue?
Tillett: Absolutely. Bolster the Blue is an organization whose aim is to increase community awareness about legislation that could potentially hurt our law enforcement officers or even decrease the safety in our communities and in our homes and in our families.
And so our goal is to increase community awareness and then also engage the community in our efforts and then hopefully to have more successes and wins, not only in terms of on a local level in local legislation, but also on a state level.
Del Guidice: On your website you talk about how the opportunity for the organization arose one afternoon as you and your son saw police officers sitting in his patrol car in a parking lot. Can you tell us a little bit more about what happened there?
Tillett: Yes. So, as I’ve watched over the past several months, as so many Americans have, we’ve seen our officers being assaulted and being attacked and even assassinated in some cases. And we’ve just watched with horror. My heart has gone out to all of these officers and also to their families.
So, my son and I were in a parking lot and we saw a law enforcement officer sitting in his car and we approached him and just asked if there was anything we could do to help, any way we could show our appreciation and kindness toward them.
From that conversation, we decided the next day that we would take catered lunch to our local police station. And as we were talking with some of the officers there, one of the officers asked if I would be willing to speak at a board of supervisors meeting on behalf of some of the issues in legislation that were being discussed.
And I said, “Absolutely.” And so from that idea, and from that small act of kindness, we then found out, on a much broader scale, what we could do to impact the lives of law enforcement officers and even our community.
What’s so interesting, Rachel, is that I thought as just an ordinary mother, a mom of a 9-year-old living in Fairfax County, I thought that most of the legislation was decided at the state level. And so my focus had been on Senate bills that were being proposed that was potentially in defelonization of assaults on police officers or end qualified immunity or defund police officers.
But what I found was a lot of that power and a lot of that legislation is passed and lies in the hands of the board of supervisors. So it really is a local battle that has to be fought in tandem with the state-level battle.
And so that’s what Bolster the Blue’s focus is. We get people engaged in board of supervisors meetings. We call our board of supervisors. We email them. We do protests and we also engage with our senators and our delegate members as well.
Del Guidice: Well, Brenda, you did mention all the hostility and violence that we’ve seen toward law enforcement in the past months. And I wanted to ask you, given your work with law enforcement, one-on-one on a very regular basis, what is your perspective on the opposition to law enforcement and all the police forces that we’ve seen either be defunded or under scrutiny right now?
Tillett: There’s this movement across the United States with attorneys who are being placed in counties by George Soros, as I’m sure you’re aware, for progressive reform in counties throughout the country.
And Fairfax County was actually targeted by George Soros. And our current commonwealth attorney was funded by him with $1.1 million last year for his campaign.
What I’m finding is this small group of people who believe that they potentially support progressive reform, and not fully understanding what that means, do not represent the majority of families. They do not speak for us.
I think what’s even more alarming, Rachel, is that people don’t understand, specifically here in Fairfax County, our Fairfax County Police Department has been rated the top in the nation from 1996 forward.
Every four years, they’ve received statewide accreditation for adhering to numerous policies and procedures, undergoing scrutiny every year, having to submit annual reports, and they’ve even been given accolades in terms of their eliteness.
So Fairfax County has been a shining star and an example to not only the state, but the country. So to suggest that reform is needed on such a broad scale or that there are these overwhelming problems within our county and within our state, it doesn’t exist.
It’s a narrative that’s being propagated for a specific political purpose at the expense of our police officers. And that’s how most of them feel also.
They feel a real loss of pride in what they do due to the scrutiny and the attacks that they’re receiving. And the morale is really low. And that’s an even sadder aspect of this.
And one of the huge problems we have here in Fairfax County is our chief of police, Chief [Edwin] Roessler, who has lost all of the trust and all of the respect of 99% of the police officers in this county.
There was a survey done by our Fraternal Order of Police and a similar survey was done by the Police Benevolent Association in June of this year. And 99% of our officers said that they have no respect for our chief of police, Chief Roessler. That they believe that he should resign and that he does not have their back.
And yet our board of supervisors has done absolutely nothing about that. And this man is still in command of the most elite police department we have in our entire state.
Del Guidice: Well, on that note, I was just looking at the wider situation of law enforcement across Virginia. I believe your organization is based out of Virginia. And are there ways other than the struggles you mentioned with the police chief in which you witnessed oppression to law enforcement in your community?
Tillett: So, over the past nine weeks, Bolster the Blue has held protests at all nine of our police stations, including Fairfax City, which is within the county, but not under the same jurisdiction as the county.
We did those every Friday night at 6 o’clock. We protested in supportive law enforcement. We just ended this past Friday night in McLean.
For three or four of those weeks, we had counter-protesters show up. And what’s so sad about this is the majority of this twelvefold to fifteenfold group were 17-year-olds, 16-year-olds. Their parents dropped them off and their parents pick them up.
And the profanity and the vulgarity that they were yelling and screaming regarding us, regarding false claims about what our organization stands for, and also about law enforcement really shined a bright light on what’s happening, I believe, in our school systems.
And it has to start in the schools. It has to start in the homes and families and in churches. That’s where respect for law and order, respect for law enforcement has to begin. And I see a real deterioration of that. And we witnessed that firsthand with these counter-protesters at our protests that we had in support of our police.
Del Guidice: Well, I did want to ask you about these flash mobs that you mentioned just now. Can you tell us a little bit more about them and what their purpose has been and what you all have been doing at these events?
Tillett: Our flash mob Friday events started really as a focus on trying to increase the morale and improve the morale among our law enforcement officers and let them know we do support them and that we are going to continue speaking out against Chief Roessler and other injustices toward our police officers.
As we went from station to station, our crowd grew, our influence grew. The board of supervisors has started to respect us as an organization. They listen to us because we comport ourselves in a peaceful manner.
And at every event, I was able to host a keynote speaker who would shine a light on different issues regarding law enforcement. And then I would update our attendees and all those viewing on Facebook Live about what wins we had had the week prior, about what new challenges were facing us on the horizon in reference to things that, for instance, Commonwealth Attorney [Steve] Descano was proposing to our board or what we knew what’s happening on the state level and what wars we needed them to engage in that following week.
We also were able to increase our army twofold, threefold, fourfold, every single flash mob Friday event we held. We would sign up new people at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By signing up there, then people are able to receive our newsletter. And in our newsletter, we let them know what we’re doing in the future, where we need them to fight, what the battles are. And then also, we encourage our army by updating them on what our wins are. And we’ve had many wins over the past nine weeks.
Del Guidice: Given your work on behalf of law enforcement, what do you believe are some of the biggest challenges they’re facing right now?
Tillett: So if we look on a micro level, we’ve already talked about the fact that Chief Roessler needs to be replaced and removed with an external candidate. I mean, that is just an absolute necessity and something that the board should do in order to do what is right. It’s right and it’s just. It’s the correct thing to do.
But if we look on a broader level, we know that in January, our Senate and our House of Delegates are going to reconvene for their general session and they’re going to look once again at reviving these bills that were killed in the fall, which will include defelonization of assaults on police officers.
And as you know, Rachel, if you defelonize assaults on police officers, you’re basically brandishing a welcome home flag on the border of Virginia, hoping that people just come into the state and assault our police officers.
If there are no repercussions for that type of behavior, it’s only going to continue and exacerbate. And we also know that the bill to end qualified immunity is going to be revived, which strips our law enforcement officers of that legal protection they need to safeguard themselves, their family, their American dream, their savings, their homes from being sued civilly by individuals they may arrest or interact with.
And there are already criminal laws in place that protect citizens from behavior of law enforcement officers that may be considered criminal. So there’s no justification for ending qualified immunity.
We know that the onslaught of people who are proposing defunding or reallocating funds for our police stations to other departments and other activities, that’s going to be brought up again in the Senate in January. And we’re already preparing for that. And we’re building our army right now to fight those battles.
Del Guidice: One final thing, Brenda. How would you encourage people across the country to support law enforcement in their own communities?
Tillett: That’s an excellent question. And what I’ve learned from all of this, Rachel, over the past several months has been, when you take one small step of courage and someone else sees you do that, it encourages them to be bold, to be brave, and to also stand up for what they know is right.
So as individuals who support law enforcement, we can no longer be home on our couches applauding when other people fight our battles, or when other people are standing shoulder to shoulder with law enforcement. We have to be the ones who will call our senators, email our senators, show up at board of supervisors meetings.
And not only grand gestures like that, if you see a law enforcement officer, walk over to his police car and tell him thank you. If in line in a drive-thru, pay for his meal if he’s behind you or she’s behind you. Pray for them at night. Let them know how much you love and support them when you see them.
And most of all, get involved in organizations like ours, like Bolster the Blue, which individuals can very easily do by going to bolstertheblue.com.
And if you’re not someone who wants to outwardly support or can’t outwardly support, you can always make a donation to our organization at bolstertheblue.com or by being on our newsletter. You can then forward that newsletter to other people and increase community awareness for other individuals who may be able to actually outwardly fight.
So any small gesture you can make to engage in this war is greatly appreciated by law enforcement officers.
I just want to leave you with a quote that I thought was just so disheartening—a couple of different quotes that I received this week from some law enforcement officers. And one officer sadly said, “I just want my pride back.” And that just wrenched my soul so badly.
And the president of the Fairfax County Police Association sent me a note. His name is Jeremy Hoffman. And he said:
Thank you so much for your kind words, support, prayers, and appreciation. They are needed now more than ever and any time in our history. We are truly experiencing unprecedented times in the Fairfax County Police Department. The pain and suffering inflicted on us by a self-serving, self-righteous, dishonest, and ethically compromised chief is palpable at every police facility.
And that is why we continue to fight at Bolster the Blue and we will never stop fighting.
Del Guidice: Well, Brenda, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast and sharing about Bolster the Blue. It’s been great having you with us.
Tillett: Thank you so much, Rachel. I appreciate the time.