As a former local elected official, I did everything I could to go out of my way to thank the members of the Allentown Police Department (APD). I did this for numerous reasons, not the least of which being that members of APD put themselves in situations in which, every day, they could be killed in the name of protecting us all. Did I have disagreements with APD policy at points? Of course, and I did whatever I could to resolve those agreements in a calm, respectful manner. What I certainly never did was refer to members of the police as bullies, thugs or pigs, and I would never post something so insulting like a cartoon character urinating on this symbol, which is meant to salute officers killed in the line of duty:
In Franklin, New Jersey, Borough Councilman David Finale did all of those things and more, including posting pictures like the one above. He added that police officers “are not held accountable for anything” and that, “The truth is; (sic) the only difference between the punks in blue and the bad guys they lock up are the uniforms which there are forced to wear; (sic) blue or prison orange…if you’re an honest American, and honest with yourself, perhaps it’s time you don’t remain silent and begin to speak out against that evil which oppresses each and every resident of this state … law enforcement”
In the initial article that covered this story, Finale said that he had made the post but refused to comment, based on advice from is lawyer. Finale did say that the posts were based on a traffic stop from December 2013. However, in a subsequent article, Finale did expand on his explanation: he thought that the blue line photo was for police as a whole, not for officers killed in the line of duty. Surely, then, he apologized for his insensitive post, right? Yeah, nope. He did not apologize for the post.
Naturally (and understandably!), police officers were very upset by Finale’s posts:
It seems that this councilman is suggesting that it is okay to urinate on graves of the 58 police officers in the United States killed in the line of duty in 2014 …” Detective Nevin Mattssich of Franklin wrote on behalf of the lodge, which represents 25 officers from Franklin, Ogdensburg and Hamburg.
Officers said they would attend the next Franklin Borough Council meeting, where they would call for Finale’s resignation. A Facebook Group calling for Finale’s resignation has over 680 people, while a Causes.org petition calling the same gathered almost 4,000 signatures as of July 10.
And, at the next Franklin Borough meeting, like a true coward, Finale did not show up, instead attending a meeting in nearby Roxbury, where Finale had his initial encounter with the police that inspired his tirade. Meanwhile, despite not attending Borough Council (which, you know, was what Finale was elected to do), he managed to find the time to post another anti -police cartoon. Over 200 protesters did attend that Franklin Borough meeting.
Fortunately for the residents of Franklin, this story did end well. Finale resigned this week, citing the stress that he and his family had gone through as a result of his Facebook postings.
This story angers me for multiple reasons, but that aside, a few points. First, there is nothing wrong with calm, constructive disagreement, but Councilman Finale was so out of line its ridiculous. You never treat public officials like that, particularly if you are a public official. We are held to (appropriately) higher standards, and Finale’s actions were wrong. I honestly feel bad for Franklin, which has made national news for all the wrong reasons and for reasons that were completely beyond their control.