- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2020

Former Philadelphia police officers have formed a new political advocacy group to stop “defund the police” efforts and elect pro-police candidates nationwide.

Buoyed by an investment from a Philadelphia police union, the Protect Our Police PAC is recruiting law enforcement veterans as candidates for mayors, governors, and state judges in races across the country.

“Cowardly elected officials across America have turned their backs on our police officers, but we need law and order now more than ever in our cities and towns,” Bob Walls, POP PAC co-chairman, said in a statement. “Right here in Philadelphia, we’ve seen record levels of crime run rampant. Criminals are emboldened. Even during a global pandemic, the murder rate climbs and they fraudulently blame our police officers as scapegoats, turning them into sacrificial lambs for the press.”

They have their eyes on municipal and state elections in Minnesota, Georgia, New York and California.

The group’s top target is Philadelphia District Attorney Lawrence Krasner, who called for “fewer officers and fewer dollars” in a radio interview this week.

Mr. Krasner is up for reelection next year and his campaign website lists endorsements from many liberal Pennsylvania groups and touts resisting the Trump administration as among his top priorities.”

Politicians like Larry Krasner care more about the rights of criminals than the rights of the victims and their families,” said Nick Gerace, POP PAC co-chairman. “His radical policies and refusal to prosecute criminals and repeat-offenders to the fullest extent jeopardizes the lives of our officers and the safety of our citizens.”

He added, “I don’t know anyone in Philadelphia who honestly feels safer with ‘Let ‘em go Larry’ as the DA.” Mr. Krasner’s campaign did not respond to request for comment.

The POP PAC’s leaders say their success or failure will hinge on engagement with former and retired officers. If successful, they envision becoming the largest coalition of pro-police groups in the country.

Active-duty police officers face many barriers to engaging in political activity, which is why the POP PAC leadership is stocked with retired officers.

Mr. Walls and Mr. Gerace, both retired Philadelphia police officers, attended Vice President Mike Pence’s stop at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 in Philadelphia on Thursday.

As the POP PAC looks to court allies nationwide, it will run headlong into opposition from efforts to defund the police that have gained momentum amid civil unrest nationwide. The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of Black organizations, has partnered with liberal Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to push a federal effort to divest federal resources from policing.

The Movement for Black Lives wants all police officers and armed security removed from schools and government offices that the coalition described as providing social services.

“History is clear that we cannot achieve genuine safety and liberation until we abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms,” the Movement for Black Lives said this week.

While the Movement for Black Lives is taking a top-down federal approach, the POP PAC thinks its chances of success are better from a bottom-up perspective that relies on placing allies in district attorney and state attorney general posts, city and state legislatures, and mayoral and governor’s offices.

In the coming weeks, POP PAC plans to open its candidate recruitment portal and is in the process of recruiting candidates now. The group received a five-figure investment from Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 and said it expects many other police unions to contribute to its cause too, as they carefully assess how they can be politically active.

“Our elected officials have failed us yet again with broken campaign promises,” Mr. Walls said. “We will not let them fail our loyal police officers.”

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