O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
It takes a certain person to dedicate one’s career to public safety. From police officers to firefighters to medical emergency responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic, our first responders share a common thread: their desire to care for others, while building relationships and trust within their communities. A life of service is not for everyone, but if you want to serve, including service in the highest office in our nation, you better be made of the right stuff.
For four years, Donald Trump has proven he isn’t.
As the Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Safety, the Director of the New Hampshire State Police, and a graduate of the FBI National Academy, I’ve spent my 43-year public safety career focused on protecting Granite Staters. And every step of the way, I’ve seen what makes a leader. I’ve also seen firsthand the sacrifices it takes to serve, and the fundamental human characteristics it takes to maintain a civil society.
But over the last four years, and particularly over the last six months, President Trump has proven beyond any shred of doubt that he is incapable of putting the safety of our citizens first. Everything he does, by word and by deed, represents exactly what I’ve committed my career to fight. His primary motivation has been to create disorder and political chaos for his own personal gain. We’re less safe today because of it.
His shortcomings go beyond policy. This is about a lack of concern to protect and unite Americans.
And as widespread civil unrest continues to consume communities in the wake of innocent lives lost, Donald Trump’s instinct is to divide and create conflict.
When our nation desperately needed a leader to have a conversation with all Americans to bring us together around real solutions, his impulse was to drive a wedge between communities, putting police officers and citizens’ lives at risk.
And against the backdrop of a global pandemic, his gut told him to undermine our health experts and downplay the seriousness of the virus, costing us months in our fight, nearly 200,000 American lives, and millions of American jobs.
Donald Trump has become a threat to our public safety. At a time when America is most in need of calming leadership, he has proven incapable of meeting this moment.
Today, Vice President Pence will touch down in New Hampshire and offer more of the same divisive rhetoric. But what we need to hear from this administration is real solutions to the multiple crises they continue to mismanage.
Every lesson learned in my four-decade career in public safety has informed my decision to speak up today. For the safety of the Granite Staters and the well-being of the first responders I’ve worked alongside, we need a president who puts public safety above politics. That leader is Joe Biden.
Joe Biden has the character and the experience to heal the wounds that President Trump has carelessly caused. Joe made this race about the “battle for the soul of the nation.” He’s right. And after four years of Donald Trump’s self-inflicted chaos, that resonates with public safety officials.
It means uniting our communities, not dividing them. It means hearing from both sides through any challenge that comes our way. It means putting out the flames, not fanning them. And it means calming tensions, not seeking conflict.
I know that as President of the United States, Joe Biden will wake up every day looking for ways to support first responders and keep all communities safe.
How do I know that? Because he’s done it. Joe Biden has dedicated his entire career to protecting public safety the best way he knows how: by providing public safety officials with the resources they need to succeed.
From the Senate to the White House, Joe has worked across the aisle for common sense, bipartisan solutions to improve public safety. Just look at his work leading the charge on the Community Oriented Policing Services program. He has consistently fought to provide resources for police departments to invest in community policing so that officers better connect with those whom they work so hard to protect.
And look at his work championing and authoring the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark piece of legislation to help reduce domestic violence and sexual assault and strengthen support for domestic violence survivors.
Joe has lived a life of service, and America is safer and stronger today because of it.
And while his record stands strong, ultimately what we need now from a president is more than policy. It starts with that fundamental empathy for Americans – the instinct to protect others before yourself. Joe has the empathy to understand our struggles, the experience to build us stronger, and the toughness to protect our country.
I support Joe Biden for President, because he’s got what it takes.
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John Barthelmes is former NH Department of Public Safety Commissioner.