Chris Christie has consistently since his election sent a new and rather surprising message to the public: it’s OK to bash the police.
In his latest crusade, which has reached a crescendo today, he has singled out what he considers inappropriate pay in police departments throughout the state. A Christie tweet todaycriticizes the Elmwood Park police department, which just saw massive retirements by officers sick of Christie trying to cut their pay and benefits. Heading to the other end of the state, his cuts led to mass layoffs of police and firefighters in Camden, leading to a year of terrifying murders.
This is not politics as usual in New Jersey. We’re more used to candidates of both parties who respect the police as in this endorsement of Rep. Frelinghuysen, where he says “These brave men and women put on a uniform every day knowing the dangers their occupation holds. Someone must defend their interests, just as they defend our communities and neighborhood.” For all of the sentimental politics in those kinds of statements from politicians of both parties, they contain a very real kernel of truth.
Those are not the sentiments that we hear from Gov. Christie. Policemen and women are seen instead as easily dispensible leeches who are appropriate targets of rants and attacks. Can we really expect to recruit and retain people to take on a very tough job that is very necessary to all of New Jersey’s communities with this kind of message from the top?
Lest we forget, those police are good for something though: providing helicopter rides to the Governor.