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Why we don’t care about police telling hard truths

Dallas Police Officer and 35 Year Law Enforcement Veteran Nick Novello
Dallas Police Officer and 35 Year Law Enforcement Veteran Nick Novello

As a society, we generally don’t care to hear the truth from police officers on a range of issues, and it’s to our own detriment.

Take for example the case of officer Nick Novello, a 35-year-veteran of law enforcement who was set to retire from the Dallas Police Department in September. He won’t be retiring at this point because he is under investigation for telling hard truths.

According to Nick, his department says that his public stance on marijuana policy is the reason for the investigation, citing a conflict of interest, but otherwise being vague on any specifics. The investigation didn’t really happen though until Nick started talking about issues which hit a little closer to home however.

Earlier in August he released video which he says is proof that the Dallas Police Department is so woefully understaffed that it cannot respond to emergency calls in a timely manner. He then went in front of the Dallas City Council and told council members that the city is quickly moving towards not having a viable policing function. During that speech he accused the department of misleading council members concerning the effectiveness of the department, and expressed concern for the safety of residents and officers alike. Nick later accused Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings of abandoning police by not adequately addressing the severe shortage of officers.

Nick also sat for interviews with a number of local news organizations in Dallas, where his concerns were aired to a much larger audience.

These are strong accusations, however no one seems to be denying them, and many residents have found themselves in agreement with Nick’s assessment.

Instead of facing the issue of not having enough officers, which has led to increased waits for those dialing 911, all of which puts everyone is Dallas at greater risk, the department has decided to focus on Nick’s First Amendment guaranteed rights to advocate that laws in Texas be changed for the better.

An article was published recently which went into great detail of everything Nick is currently facing, however the response to a public official being investigated for speaking freely on a subject in which the majority of people agree, has been tepid at best. Few seem to care that a government entity is trying to silence a veteran of law enforcement in good standing with his community for speaking his conscience and warning the community that action must be taken to rectify the situation.

Nick professes himself to be a Godly man, he speaks with passion in the name of Jesus and often quotes verses of the bible as he advocates for the betterment of society. He even spends time preaching to inmates in hopes of changing their lives for the better. This is a man we should hold highly, proudly, and dearly, yet the silence concerning his situation is disheartening.

Straight from Nick himself, “I can say that I speak with no expectations. I do as I believe God would have me do.”

As I mourn the lack of concern, a colleague made the observation that there are likely two prevailing reasons for why a man such as Nick and his situation seem to be falling on deaf ears.

For those who have been active in supporting marijuana law reform in Texas, these people have often been skeptical of police officers, and without knowing Nick, seemingly fail to understand why he would fall on his sword for such an issue. Ultimately they are suspicious or worse, indifferent, so we are to assume.

On the other hand, a great many people find themselves supportive of police officers, however in Nick’s case, they seem to see him as being disloyal to his team. Why would an officer criticize his own when he should have the backs of his fellow officers and department? Nick would argue that by speaking out, he is protecting his fellow officers. Quite the moral dilemma.

Many people believe that he should keep his mouth shut and his concerns internal. Otherwise, is he merely seeking attention, or worse, abandoning his own people? Either way, it seems many wonder how they can trust such a person.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be an increasing number of people who simply have too much going on in life to devote any energy to caring about a situation which they don’t believe they can have an effect on.

Ultimately, from multiple sides, it a is disheartening yet simple explanation for why we as a society are not interested in hearing police officers speak the truth about non-standard issues facing law enforcement officials, and this boils down to distrust, even if it goes against our own interests.

One thing that should be noted and pondered however is that while the city and department are unwilling to spend the money to hire more officers, they are willing to prevent an officer such as Nick from retiring, and instead opt to continue keeping him on the payroll so that they can launch an investigation which has no real specifics of wrongdoing.

Either way, many are leaving Nick largely to weather the storm on his own, and as a society, we should be more supportive of people like him.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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