An Open Letter From The Sheriff Of Lake County

The following is a statement from Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno, titled, "Police Officers Are Not the Enemy."

Recently I spoke out against the killing of Mr. George Floyd. An appalling criminal act by a man wearing the uniform of a police officer. His actions were criminal and not only ended a man’s life, they tore down trust in our justice system, and created dissension across the nation.

While I wholly support the right of people to peacefully protest such criminal actions, I am equally appalled by the senseless violence and hate rhetoric being levied against police officers across our nation. In the past few weeks three police officers have been shot and killed, one is on life support, and numerous others are recovering from gunshot wounds and injuries received defending the citizens of our nation against the lawless violence, looting and criminality that has spread across our cities.

What it so alarming is that while thousands take to the streets in protest to the murder of Mr. George Floyd, they remain silent at the senseless murder and assault on police officers. Pictured below are examples of graffiti sprawled across the streets of our cities calling for police officers to be killed, and graphic images of law-enforcement officers under attack. One photo shows police being ambushed by an angry mob.

Worse yet, our national media ignores their deaths and intentionally paints a narrative that police officers are in some way responsible for their own deaths and assaults. Just last week I watched an evening’s news cast as the media showed a police officer cornered and being beaten with pipes and a trash can alone on the street. They did not utter one word of how horrific such actions are and that they are a threat to our nation’s safety and security. The media made it clear that such acts are suddenly permissible in the United States, the acceptable outcome of people venting their frustrations.

Last year 89 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, 48 from criminal acts. The year before 56 officers were killed from criminal acts and their deaths were less then footnotes across our television screens and news print, neglected to be highlighted by our national media, as if their lives were inconsequential.

Let me make it clear, racism and violence are wrong, and those criminal offenders must be brought to justice, regardless of who they are. As well, any inequities in our law enforcement system must be addressed and concrete changes made to re-instill the trust of our citizens in our justice system. 

But I cannot stand by and remain silent that the killing and physical assault of my fellow law enforcement officers is acceptable nor the new norm of collateral damage of the anger of the masses. Just as much as the person who murdered George Floyd needs to be brought to justice, so to must those who have assaulted and killed police officers across our nation. Equally, there must be an outcry from our citizenry that our society will not tolerate such lawlessness.

Every day I tell those around me that we as law enforcement are so extremely fortunate to live here in Lake County because we have the overwhelming support of our citizens. And I think I speak for all criminal justice professionals that live here in our communities that we cannot thank you enough for your phenomenal support.

But what is happening in our cities, and unfortunately in the halls of our United States Congress, is an overwhelming call to demonize law enforcement and pass knee jerk legislation that further endangers the safety of police officers. It is unfathomable that our legislators are attempting to pass laws that reduce assaults against police officers to misdemeanors, removes legal protections from police that our legislators maintain for themselves, and cuts funding for police leaving them woefully understaffed and ill equipped to respond to the challenges of modern-day policing.

If you hear something loud enough and long enough, even if it is untrue, it becomes accepted fact. The absolute lie that police officers are the enemy in our nation cannot be condoned, and as citizens we cannot remain silent. I fear that if we continue to remain silent these sweeping changes will come to every community and we will be left wondering what happened. If you do not believe it is possible, ask yourself if you ever thought you would see our soldiers blocking the Lincoln Memorial to stop people from destroying it and everything it stands for.

I ask all of you to write your Congressmen and Senators and tell them you do not support the defunding of police, the passing of laws that lessen the penalties for criminal assaults against police officers, and tell them they need to begin publicly supporting the men and women of law enforcement across this nation in the face of those who want to tear them down.

This weekend we celebrate July 4th when our founders said they could no longer remain silent. Their outcry and personal resolve created our great Nation. Unless we as a nation cry for justice for all, injustice and anarchy will continue to rule our nation, threaten our families, and destroy any hope for a civil society.


Sheriff Frank Leonbruno

Lake County Sheriff's Office

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