From Consortium News
In an essay penned for the online magazine LawOfficer.com (a self-described "industry leader in law enforcement news, original content and training...a true advocate for the profession"), Major Travis Yates, a 27-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, put the nation on notice: "America, we are leaving."
Major Yates' essay pulls at every heart string imaginable in building the case that the crucifixion of his fellow men and women in blue "these super heroes" at the hands of "cowards" (i.e., police chiefs, sheriffs and politicians) who no longer have "our back" when the going gets tough.
Yates invokes an evangelical air in couching his argument (indeed, as he told Fox News' Tucker Carlson, "it was almost like God was with me when I wrote it"), painting a disturbing picture of an "us versus them" confrontation where the "good guys" (the police) are being wrongfully cast as the "bad guys" by a society increasingly indifferent to the harsh reality of life as an American police officer.
- "Kids used to be taught respect and now it's cool to be disrespectful."
- "Supervisors used to back you when you were right but now they accuse you of being wrong in order to appease crazy people."
- "Parents used to get mad at their kids for getting arrested and now they get mad at us."
- "The media used to highlight the positive contribution our profession gave to society and now they either ignore it or twist the truth for controversy to line their own pockets."
- "We used to be able to testify in court and we were believed. Now, unless there is video from three different angles, no one cares what you have to say."
"I would never send anyone I cared about into the hell that this profession has become...I used to talk cops out of leaving the job. Now I'm encouraging them. It's over, America. You finally did it. You aren't going to have to abolish the police, we won't be around for it."
I read Major Yates' essay. I then took a pause to reflect on what he wrote, before reading it again. And again. Then I did some research on Major Yates and the Tulsa Police Department.
Resume of Consummate Professional
At first blush, this is a harsh indictment of a man who has spent nearly three decades serving and protecting his community. Major Yates' resume paints a picture of the consummate professional the ideal, even, of what America should want a police officer to be.
He is highly educated, beginning his law enforcement career only after completing a four-year degree (the Tulsa Police Department is one of but a handful in the United States that require a bachelor's degree for all potential recruits; most police departments require only a high school diploma or GED certificate). Yates went on to get his master's degree in criminal justice and is currently completing his PhD in military and strategic leadership. Yates is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Yates spent the first 18 years of his career either in a patrol function or assigned to specialty units such as gangs, media relations, training and planning. In 2014 he was promoted to the rank of major, and placed in the elite Special Operations Division of the Tulsa Police Department, with responsibilities over SWAT, K-9, motorcycles, bomb squad, helicopter unit, reserve program, dive team and disaster response unit. Major Yates currently oversees the records division.
Yates has been a crusader of sorts for the cause of police officer safety, especially when it comes to the operation of emergency vehicles. In 2004, Yates who at the time was a sergeant with the Tulsa Police Department and a supervisor within the Tulsa Police Precision Driving Unit began writing articles to address the issue of emergency vehicle safety for the online magazine PoliceOne.com (described as an "online environment for the exchange of information between officers and departments across the United States and from around the world.")
Yates eventually went on to write a monthly column for PoliceOne.com on driver safety, and his opinions became sought after by his fellow officers, for whom he provided tailored training, and the media, for whom he provided sound bites. By 2007, Yates began writing for LawOfficer.com, focused on "tactical driving tips."
In 2010, at a conference for law-enforcement instructors, Yates observed to his colleagues "If we would just slow down, wear our seat-belts and clear intersections, we could get our line of duty deaths to below 100 a year." Thus began Below 100, a program designed to reduce traffic-related police officer deaths by changing the culture of policing.
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