Opinion: We have lost our way
I met Andrew Hong when he was assigned to my platoon in about 2000, fresh out of the Ontario Police College. My first interaction with him came by a phone call. Andrew took the time to schedule a meeting to introduce himself a week prior to starting his first shift. So before I even met this gentle giant of a man, I already had a great first impression of him. He was kind and smart with a good sense of humour. He was executed yesterday in cold blood while eating his lunch.
My heart breaks for his family and friends and for his brothers and sisters in blue. This should not have happened to Andrew or any other police officer, but it did. I am pissed that we have been forced to watch while politicians have sided with special interest groups and banned essential police functions like street checks and carding designed to gather intelligence, TAVIS gang enforcement initiatives, and school police (loved by most teachers and students) who were successful in building relationships with youth, cancelled because a few felt intimidated.
Today, the gangs run wild in the streets carrying firearms with impunity as a result. The police are not allowed to keep crime statistics based on race, but are expected to apologize for statistics that contain no context or reality in terms of what is happening on our streets and in our communities. I never met a police officer who targeted or went after people based on their race, but I have met thousands who would risk their lives daily to help people in the most violent gang territory in the country.
Gangs are ruining our communities and have become the number 1 public safety threat to the police and the communities they serve. We need strong political leadership with a plan that includes supporting law enforcement. Andrew Hong was a great man, a fine police officer, and we should not be planning his funeral this week. His murderer should have been in jail, and like all gang members, he should not be walking the streets with a loaded illegal gun knowing that he can’t be stopped and investigated.
We have lost our way and we have lost control of our streets. Andrew deserved better than that and his tragic murder has to be a launch point for immediate, honest conversation and action. Quite simply, support the police and give them back the tools to combat gang violence. Not everybody will be happy about that, but I truly believe most people will.