Violence biggest threat, Honore says
Escalating incidents of violence across the U.S. pose the biggest threats to the nation, according to retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré.
The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, police violence and the negative perception of law enforcement should spark concern of all Americans, the Lakeland native said during a luncheon Monday at the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Honoré was commissioned earlier this year to investigate the insurrection on Capitol Hill.
He has recommended the use of advanced engineering and architecture to safeguard the area, while also keeping it accessible to the public.
He also suggested the use of embedded fencing in and around the Capitol in strategic places.
“Guess what they said? They said it was going to be expensive,” Honoré said. “We give the Pentagon $800 billion a year, and they say that when they can’t account for half of that money.”
He also recommended a domestic terrorism law, which also has drawn resistance on Capitol Hill.
Honoré said he asked one senior staffer why the U.S. has a foreign terrorism law, but not a domestic version of that legislation.
“It’s because our domestic terrorists vote, as someone told me,” he said. “I thought it was a wisecrack, but when you think about it, that might explain it.”
In his comments on law enforcement, Honoré said it is complex issue that involves an increase in police violence at the same time the homicide count continues to spike in Baton Rouge and other cities nationwide.
The dilemma is particularly tough for law enforcement.
“Police have a legacy tagline ‘to serve and protect,’ and they have a difficult job,” he said. “We don’t see all the good calls they make, but we sure see the bad ones.”
Honoré said he supports police reform, and he says it’s on the way with 21st century policing.
But he said he also believes history will show that the anger against police brought about what he called “the worst tagline ever” – “Defund the Police.”
“It will go on record as one of the worst taglines ever because you have to explain it, and when people oppose it, they stop listening when you use that tagline,” Honroé said.
“Right now, we have a challenge because all police departments are struggling to hire policemen.”
Law enforcement officers also need better pay, he said.
“They’re surviving on overtime.” Honroé said. “They don’t get enough time to do physical training.”
He also suggested they learn martial arts, which is now incorporated into the training of soldiers.
Honoré has two nephews who recently retired from the Los Angeles Police Department – one who served 40 years and the other had 38 years.
He called upon parents to teach children about respect for police officers.
“Children learn from their parents, and we have to watch what the hell we say at the dinner table,” Honoré said.
“They don’t just grow up reading books at school about the attitude of the police. The children are learning from us.”
The bigger issue is the violence on the street, which needs more discussion, he said.
“Very few people are talking about that, but it’s on everybody’s mind,” Honoré said. “The rising number of homicides needs to be addressed.
“The number of people we’re killing in urban areas is crazy,” he said. “It has to be dealt with, and we can do better.”