As crime surges across America and police shortages grip many departments, painful realities are flying in the faces of “defund the police” enthusiasts.
It’s no secret the traumatic killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, ushered in anger and horror as police forces across the U.S. were immediately catapulted into defensive postures.
Two years later, it’s painfully evident that some of the language and proposals following Floyd’s death have had a dire impact on many communities. Add in the complexities and pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s no surprise many cities and towns have faced increases in crime.
The reality is quite jolting. Overall, there was a 29% rise in homicides in 2020, with nearly 5,000 more people killed than in the previous year. Police, too, saw an uptick in attacks, with a 59% increase in cop killings reported in 2021, Axios reported.
And the staggering crime statistics don’t end there. In cities such as New Orleans, homicides have skyrocketed 46% since 2021 and 128% since 2019, with shootings (138%), carjackings (240%) and armed robberies (26%) also growing since 2019.
Lost in so much of the anti-police rhetoric over the past 24 months has been an important reality: While police abuse and malfeasance must be uncovered and stopped, most officers are diligent men and women willing to risk and sacrifice their lives for the job.
Over the past month, I have covered numerous stories showing the full manifestation of this bravery and heroism. And I have no doubt there are hundreds of reports each day across the U.S. showcasing in stunning form the true grit and allegiance cops have to their communities.
Take, for instance, Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy William Puzynski, who heroically climbed an apartment building this month to rescue a 1-year-old baby. Deputy Puzynski told media outlets the building was engulfed in flames when he arrived and that it was “chaos everywhere.”
But that didn’t stop him from jumping into action.
“I saw on the third balcony there’s a 1-year-old baby that the mom was trying to get over. At that moment, I knew I had to save the baby,” Deputy Puzynski said. “And then I just climbed up to the third, grabbed the baby, and then again I handed the baby down to my partners, and they helped me down.”
Deputy Puzynski, whose story you can read more about here, isn’t alone. During a similar rescue at an Indiana apartment complex this month, police officers caught two toddlers trapped in a burning building.
Not long after, as officers comforted the family, one of the cops told the kids they looked like superheroes when they bravely exited their apartment window to jump into the officers’ hands.
“You did so good. You guys are so brave,” the cop said. “One day, you are going to get to tell a story about how you jumped out of a two-story window … you looked like Spiderman.”
In another example, courageous Florida cops ignored “unbearable” flames a few weeks ago to free a man trapped inside his burning vehicle. Deputies Garrett Parrish and Bryant Ovalles Vasquez with the Charlotte County Police Department risked their lives to free the victim.
“The job of a deputy is to act bravely in the face of danger, regardless of what lies ahead,” Sheriff Bill Prummell said of the rescue. “These young men did just that. I couldn’t be prouder.”
But perhaps the most pertinent example comes from Colorado, where an officer with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office fearlessly positioned his vehicle — while he was still inside — in front of a speeding, out-of-control car to save other motorists in its path.
Fortunately, the 26-year-old deputy survived the ordeal unscathed. The sheriff’s office praised him for his bravery and his willingness to “allow himself to be struck so the other vehicles would not be hit.”
See, these aren’t exceptions; they’re the rule. These acts of courage and compassion unfold every day, with the public rarely getting a glimpse into what policing demands of its men and women.
It’s time we rethink the narratives that have become all too pervasive in recent years. When it comes to policing, we must hold the bad apples accountable without tossing out the bunch. And we should, at the least, all be eternally grateful for the men and women willing to risk their lives so we can freely live ours.
• Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of faith and culture stories. He is the director of content and communications at Pure Flix, and previously served as the senior editor at Faithwire and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze.