U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is coming under blistering attack from local police for calling the justice system “racist … front to back” — including from Yarmouth’s top cop, who said her recent condolences for two slain Bay State officers is a slap in the face.
“I now cannot trust her words are real,” Yarmouth police Chief Frank G. Frederickson told the Herald last night. “It appears she is telling the audience in front of her what she thinks they want to hear.”
In a speech at Dillard University in New Orleans last Friday, Warren said “the hard truth about our criminal justice system: It’s racist. … I mean front to back.”
Frederickson, whose officer Sgt. Sean Gannon was killed while delivering an arrest warrant on a career criminal in April in Barnstable, said Warren has “diminished the sincerity of her condolence efforts” and “slapped in the face” all the hardworking local, state and federal officers.
The chief also noted Warren spoke out after Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesna was struck in the head with a rock and shot several times with his own gun on the morning of July 15, also by a repeat offender. Both officers died in the hospital and were posthumously promoted.
Late last night Warren responded, saying in a statement to the Herald: “I appreciate Chief Frederickson’s thoughtful comments. The men and women in law enforcement work in incredibly dangerous situations. We honor those in uniform who put their lives on the line every day and those who have been killed in the line of duty to keep the rest of us safe. I spoke about an entire system — not individuals — and will continue to work on reforms to make the criminal justice system fairer.”
In a post on the department’s Facebook page yesterday, Frederickson said “Warren’s recent statement tarnished us all” and was demeaning.
Warren, who has been named as a possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is running for re-election in the fall.
She is scheduled to be in Eastham today at 3:30 p.m. at Nauset Regional High School for a town hall meeting.
Dudley police Chief Steven J. Wojnar, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, also sent a letter to Warren this week slamming her choice of words.
“As a police chief in your home state of Massachusetts, as well as the statewide association representative, I am extremely troubled by this statement,” he wrote. “Labeling the entire criminal justice profession as ‘racist’ spreads false and damaging information about our members.”
Wojnar said cops are already “highly scrutinized” and harsh comments from political leaders don’t help.
“In recent months, we have seen the murder of two officers in Yarmouth and Weymouth. In only the last two weeks, two officers were shot in Falmouth,” he added.
“All of these officers were simply doing their jobs when they encountered dangerous individuals,” he wrote. “The outpouring of community support for these officers and their departments would appear to be contrary to your position.”
Wojnar added that, “at bare minimum,” police in Massachusetts deserve an explanation.
“As law enforcement professionals, as well as your constituents, that is deserved,” he added. “I gladly offer you the opportunity to discuss anything with us that you feel appropriate.”
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