Like so much of television this season, CBS’s S.W.A.T. jumped on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon for its season premiere two weeks ago. This week’s episode, “Memento Mori,” on November 25, featured another BLM storyline, with a discussion of the movement to defund the police.
In the episode, the S.W.A.T. team has to provide protection at a funeral for a popular singer with the stage name “Rhodium” who routinely attacked police brutality during her concerts.
Rhodium’s mother, Jillian, does not trust a S.W.A.T. team member, Deacon, because he was critical of Rhodium’s anti-police crusade. In a dialogue between Officers Hondo (Shemar Moore) and Deacon (Jay Harrington), Deacon criticizes the current defund the police movement while Hondo seems more open to it.
Hondo: Deacon, just try to look at it from Jillian’s perspective. Rhodium made a stand about police brutality, but not all police, Deac. In her mind, if you got a problem with that, then maybe you’re part of the problem.
Deacon: I’m part of the problem? (Sighs) It’s not just that. It’s this whole “Defund the police” nonsense. Not exactly the thanks we deserve for going out there and risking our lives every day. And to her, it might be just something that she’s chanting, but a thing like that changes the way people look at us. It makes our job harder.
Hondo: And I hear you, and that is one truth. There’s also another truth, man. We got guns on our hips. We got the power to end a life. Look, maybe it doesn’t hurt to have some people out there holding us all accountable.
Deacon: Are you trying to calm me down or-or make me angrier?
Hondo: Deacon, you and I both know that sometimes we get asked to take on problems where there’s no one right answer. What Rhodium was talking about is maybe some things can be solved without a gun.
Police know full well that “some things can be solved without a gun.” The vast majority of police interactions with civilians take place without a gun ever being drawn. But you never know when an emergency situation will spiral out of control and you’ll need a professional trained in lethal force to defend innocent life rather than an unarmed social worker.
We find out later Rhodium had been anti-police because her unarmed boyfriend was wrongly shot by police and left in a vegetative state at age 15. But spotlighting the (fictional) story of an innocent black boy whose life was ruined when shot by police without mentioning the real statistics on such shootings is irresponsible. It only fuels the dangerous police abolitionist mentality that is causing the greater loss of life in our country.
As Heather MacDonald has pointed out, “the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings showed 14 unarmed black victims and 25 unarmed white victims in 2019.” In a country of nearly 330 million people, that is not a sign of an epidemic of law enforcement shooting innocent black people.
In contrast, 2020 has seen a double-digit surge in homicide rates. The anti-police narrative has been far more dangerous to innocent people than supposedly trigger-happy cops.