The Washington Times:
America’s cops are the victims of “McCarthyism from the left,” says a growing chorus of police officers bucking the narrative that White supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement agencies.
While officers concede some White supremacists may have entered their ranks, they say civil rights groups insisting it’s a ticking time bomb have exaggerated those numbers.
How many White supremacists are out there or wearing a badge is impossible to say because we simply don’t have the data, according to analysts.
“The major problem in looking at this issue is that there isn’t a lot of information,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, an expert on domestic terrorism who has testified before Congress on the threat of White supremacists. “You would think this would be a well-researched area, but one has to rely on anecdotal evidence or a study here or there.
“We may never have a national picture of this issue.”
A major hurdle to addressing racial militants in law enforcement is that few people can agree on the definition of White supremacy. Officers who may have made racially inappropriate comments on social media or cracked offensive jokes aren’t necessarily White supremacists.
Police and civil rights groups are unsure where the line should be drawn.
Michael German, a former FBI agent who authored a report on White supremacy in law enforcement, said any effort to tackle the issue must avoid the appearance of unfairness. An individual exposed for telling off-color jokes on social media but who otherwise is a fine police officer could be fired because the racial climate has changed, he said.
“That’s not the guy I’m worried about,” he said. “I’m worried about the guys who are the focus of racial violence incidents over and over again. Typically, when these officers get identified, they are subject of many claims.”
The FBI is not bringing clarity to the debate.
A 2006 FBI report, which was made public last year, warned that White supremacists had penetrated the ranks of law enforcement to gather intelligence and disrupt investigations into activities of White supremacist groups.
The report, however, acknowledged that there is no credible evidence of a systemic effort by White supremacists to recruit law enforcement. It said claims about White supremacist infiltration were based on “sporadic reporting.”
Still, the FBI has instructed its domestic terrorism investigators to modify how they put information into its Terrorist Screening Center watch list so police officers searching for themselves or White supremacist associates could not learn whether they were under FBI scrutiny.
“It is a pretty significant clue that White supremacy is so prevalent in law enforcement that the FBI is actually changing the way it does things,” Mr. German said.
Police groups say there is so little information that it’s nearly impossible for the FBI and others to draw firm conclusions about officers’ ties to radical racist ideology.
“We don’t even know for sure how many law enforcement officers are out there, and that’s basic information,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police. “So anyone who asserts that he or she has evidence that there has been this kind of infiltration in law enforcement needs to put up or shut up.”