Jackson: in response to Mr. Hill’s open letter to the NFL

In what seemed like a feigned effort at a conciliatory tone, Mr. Hill 1) mischaracterized a political protest, and 2) argued that unless NFL players offered solutions, their protests were unfounded and were simply “complaining.”

Steven Jackson

I wish Mr. Hill was more concerned with the issues that are manifesting themselves in protests now when he was an officer and head of the Scottsdale organization bargaining for “fair pay, benefits, and working conditions” for officers, as he put it.

It was previously reported that over a seven-year period during his leadership of the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA), over $4.5 million was raised for programs meant to help underprivileged kids.

Over that same period, however, KJZZ reported that much of the money went to POSA operations and expenses, including to the salary of Hill’s wife. In some of those years less than 10 percent of the money collected went to kids’ charities.

Public trust in the police force is something to strive for, but the numbers in Scottsdale and around the metro-Phoenix area back then and today indicate a problem Mr. Hill still fails to address. While Mr. Hill was head of POSA, Officer James Peters was involved in his sixth justifiable homicide. Although deemed justifiable, the city of Scottsdale was sued and paid $4.5 million to a family affected by the police shooting.

Officer Peters was able to retire with salary. Where was the personal accountability Mr. Hill spoke of when an officer with an alleged “long history of excessive use of force against civilians,” including “dozens of incidents involving tasers” and four citizen complaints cost citizens their lives, remained on the force, cost taxpayer dollars, and ultimately retired?

Mr. Hill, a former officer in a position to assist in preventing abuse of authority, argues now that we should place the onus on those protesting abuse of that authority as opposed to expecting law enforcement to take the lead. The public’s safety should be the paramount concern. The resultant protests after years of public safety issues with officers should be something he as a leader should take the “personal accountability” to address.

A protest simply isn’t invalid because those protesting don’t have all of the solutions, although I’d argue that players are doing a lot more to bridge the gap than Mr. Hill gives them credit for. Despite that, I agree wholeheartedly that players and community members should work to bridge the gap. I also agree that officers risk everything and should be celebrated as underpaid servants who deserve the resources to succeed.

However, I disagree with the assumptions hidden in his proposed solutions. Instead of bridges, his proposals are accusations as he asks players to stop protesting and to “rid communities of the ‘no snitching’ rule,” and to “stop vilifying the profession.” Nowhere does he suggest any reform or effort at accountability, instead he only laments that a few bad officers give everyone else a bad name. Whether on purpose or in error, he mischaracterizes the issues and furthers the gap he thinks protesters are exacerbating.

More examples of issues with police authority abound in Phoenix, where police recently tied the record for shootings in an entire year. In July. I’d hope with his experience and leadership role Mr. Hill would be as angry and frustrated at those numbers, but I guess protests are really what we should be worried about.

After all, players who kneel are simply protesting the police, and we just can’t have that.

Mr. Hill captures the misguided notion among many that those players protesting the NFL are there to “protest the police.” He flippantly demands that players come to the table on his terms, or be deemed by he and others in power as not worthy of being listened to.

I’d have a different message for the players of the NFL — protests are still necessary.

Editor’s note: Mr. Jackson is a Scottsdale resident and founder of the Steven M. Jackson Law Group

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