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DOJ Directly Funding A Pro-Gun Control “Police” Think Tank

A Washington Think Tank is attacking your Second Amendment rights and seriously endangering the lives of police officers in your community at the same time.

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Your Tax Dollars Are Subsidizing Your Disarmament

By Brett MacDonald

Millions of American tax dollars are being funneled into an organization that’s pushing for more gun control in the United States—and has been for some decades. The organization, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), ostensibly supports a cause near and dear to the hearts of almost every conservative American: supporting law enforcement officers throughout the country.

But, while the organization does some admirable work assisting the families of slain officers who have fallen in the line of duty, or attempting to mitigate the rising suicide rate among officers, much of PERF’s real attention is focused on destroying the Second Amendment rights of private citizens. They’re also keenly interested neutering the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout the country to effectively police and protect the communities under their wing. And that’s something that constitutionally minded Americans should be paying attention to. In short, your hard earned dollars are being taxed by the government and then funneled into an organization that desperately wants to disarm you and render impotent the brave men and women who serve your community.

Between 2001 and 2017, PERF has received a combined $35.2 million in funding from federal, state, and local governments in the form of grants and contracts, according to 990 tax filings submitted by the DC based think tank. In addition to this funding, PERF receives millions more annually in the form of fees charged for training ($9,500 per officer for a three week course) and conference registrations ($3.3 million in 2018 alone). This funding often focuses on issues that may seem mundane—community policing, diversity initiatives, and de-escalation tactics, to name a few. Unfortunately, many of the policing policies that PERF puts forward have resulted in hundreds of injured officers and at times have provoked rather heated responses from members of the policing community. We’ll touch on that in detail below.

Endangering Police And Targeting Your Constitutional Rights

PERF has a long running history of despising the Second Amendment. The think tank’s gun control findings earn frequent praising from liberal members of Congress and excerpts from their releases often appear alongside the misleading description of the organization as a voice for the rank and file of law enforcement. A survey on President Obama’s gun control plan revealed that there was wide support for the plan among PERF members.[mfn]”Now Is The Time” (16 Jan. 2013)[/mfn]

In 2015, they reiterated their support for these policies. They again repeated the calls for gun control in 2018.[mfn]Police Executive Research Forum “Key Findings and An Action Plan to Reduce Gun Violence” (26 Aug. 2018)[/mfn] And just this year, PERF released a plan of action furthering these demands for an even greater restriction of private firearm ownership.

PERF represents the views of a very liberal cadre of police executives in big cities throughout America. In many cases, these law enforcement chiefs and commissioners have been placed in their leadership positions on the recommendation of PERF. Most major cities largely outsource their decision making to PERF, and when it comes time to pick a new ‘top cop’ in town, the Police Forum hands them a shortlist to choose from.

PERF Wants To Take Your Firearms

Among the proposals that PERF or its members have repeatedly advocated for include:

  • A ban of “high-capacity” magazines, limiting private ownership to just 10 round magazines
  • A reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban, at times they describe this simply as banning the sale or importation of “military-style weapons
  • The passing of Red Flag Laws, otherwise known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (and the creation and training of “specialize units” to carry out the retrieval of these firearms)
  • Implementing microstamping technology in all future firearms sold. California is the only state to pass a law attempting to mandate microstamping in all semi-automatic handguns. In practice, it results in a semi-automatic handgun ban as manufacturers have been unable to meet the technological production requirements. Manufacturers have instead chosen to cease the sale of such firearms in California.[mfn]For more on Microstamping[/mfn]
  • Pressuring gun manufacturers to cease the sale of firearms to businesses that have sold guns that were used in the commission of a crime[mfn]PERF Subject To Debate (Nov. 2009)[/mfn]
  • Universal Background Checks
  • Targeting state legislatures and local government to implement gun control measures in the absence of a willing United States Congress[mfn]This tactic was explicitly endorsed in their 2015 report on gun policies[/mfn]

It would take a feat of strength to list every member of congress who has pushed propaganda from PERF, but just to name a few:

Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Brad Schneider, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Ed Markey, Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. John Sarbanes, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Robert Menendez and numerous other liberal members of Congress have cited the Police Executive Research Forum in their press releases calling for further restrictive gun control measures.

A Long History of PERF Targeting the Second Amendment

Since its founding, ironically in 1976 (the year of our bicentennial), the Police Executive Research Forum has been adamantly opposed to the private ownership of most firearms.

In 1986, the National Rifle Association butted heads with PERF for the first time. At the time, PERF had just received “thousands in donations” from an organization then known as Handgun Control, Inc., but readers will be more familiar with its current name: the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.[mfn]NRA-ILA, Not So Breaking News: Trio of Anti-Gun Orgs Rehash Worn-Out Gun Control Policies (15 Jun. 2018)[/mfn]

In 1989, PERF President Cornelius J. Behan appeared in newspaper ads advocating for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. In a press release accompanying the ad, Behan declared that these semi-automatic firearms “were designed and manufactured for one purpose only – to kill human beings…” 

In 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to withhold federal funds from police departments that refused to enforce immigration laws, it was Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, who pushed back against him. Wexler claimed that if police departments assisted in detaining illegal immigrants, they would inhibit their ability to gain information from the community about recent crimes.[mfn]From Democrat Adam Smith (WA-9)[/mfn]

An Obstacle To Police, A Disaster For Communities

PERF has used their members’ presence in most major cities as an opportunity to leverage their authority and access, gaining highly lucrative grants and contracts in the process.

Cities from coast to coast, both large and small, contract with PERF in order to outsource their decision making at every level. Many cities rely solely on PERF when it comes time to pick a new top cop in town. At times, this oblivious abdication has led to disastrous results.

Former Baltimore Commissioner Anthony Batts

PERF has spawned a number of travel-ready carpetbagging cops, who hop from city to city, never tied to the local populace. Perhaps the most infamous failure of this process came with the crowning of Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Batts was once the chief in Long Beach, California before leaving to become chief of police in Oakland. His tenure in Oakland was short lived, and if you ask the rank and file, his exit was more akin to an abandonment of the city. So, how did he wind up working for Baltimore just a few years later? Well, first he took cover at Harvard, where he spent a period of research in exile. But his wait on the sidelines was short-lived. PERF recommended him to Baltimore, promising that his poor reputation in Oakland was unearned.

The Marshall Project describes these PERF carpetbaggers as “an informal cadre of policing intellectuals, who moved from city to city, sometimes running departments and sometimes working as consultants.”

William Bratton, a highly respected PERF stooge and former bounce-around top brass in the cities of Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, bragged about Batts capabilities after Baltimore gave him the job. Bratton, then working as a consultant alongside partner Robert Wasserman, had much to be grateful for: he was tossed a $285,834 contract from the city shortly after Batt took the helm. Wasserman, for his part, was largely responsible for Batts being given a chance in Oakland. Everyone eats from the same PERF trough.

A Maryland Transit vehicle burns during the 2015 Baltimore Riots

Batts would later become a focal point of infamy as he ordered his men to stand down during the 2015 unrest in the city. He failed to properly equip his officers with riot gear and the result was a catastrophe: 200 injured officers, more than 300 businesses damaged, scores of vehicles torched, and dozens of incidents of looting.

Batts, just another textbook-dependent, PERF-backed executive, fell back on his safety net: the Police Forum. He asked the city to cut the Washington think tank a check for $23,500 in order to come up with a plan to prevent further acts of civil unrest. Batts was let go shortly thereafter, but the city, failing to learn its lesson, went ahead with his request to pay PERF to supply them with a diagnostic breakdown of everything that went wrong.

Recently, Philadelphia all but handed the reins to PERF when it came time to select a new commissioner. But these are not outliers, it’s a pattern taking place in almost every city throughout the country. If you look at the riots that took place in Ferguson, Cleveland, or anywhere else in recent years, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find some connection to the organization.

Officers throughout the country have not remained silent about PERF’s focus on de-escalation

In 2016, PERF released a report on what they believed should be the national standards for use of force.[mfn]PERF “Guiding Principles on Use of Force” (Mar. 2016)[/mfn]Highly critical of the decisions made by officers in the field, the policies suggested by white shirt cops at the Police Forum were not received warmly by officers, lawyers and government officials. Here’s just a few of the comments the report provoked:

“[PERF] failed their officers and the community”

  • There was a failure to even look at the research on how humans make decisions in high-stress, high-stakes, short-timeframe situations. The leaders who pushed this without evaluation of how we truly make decisions in “tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situations” failed their officers and the community.

Ofcr. Lon Bartel, Rangemaster
Peoria (AZ) PD

“PERF’s recommendations will be the direct cause of officers being seriously injured or killed.”

  • As a former LAPD officer and now a primary attorney for the LA Police Protective League, I have responded to over 1,000 major uses of force, many of them OISs. I am seriously concerned that any practical implementation of PERF’s recommendations will be the direct cause of officers being seriously injured or killed.

Atty. Gary Fullerton
Fullerton & Hanna, LLP
Van Nuys, CA

“Chiefs giving in to interest groups”

  • The report reflects the opinions and ideas of chiefs who are giving in to interest groups and politicians who have no idea how quickly an incident can escalate or the factors that come into play regarding an officer’s decision-making process. Reading these recommendations it’s not difficult to see why many of our rank-and-file officers feel that nobody–not even their own leaders–have their back. Have these chiefs forgotten that many of the use-of-force cases that have been in the media were found to be justified by local prosecutors and the DOJ?

Dale Gustafson
Chief of Police
Suburban Cook County, IL

No need for “academics and ‘politician police chiefs'”

  • What is needed is for real, working police chiefs and law enforcement professionals to look at the issues, not academics and “politician police chiefs.”

Chief Carl Merino
Roy City (UT) PD

PERF hasn’t just set their eyes on local and city police departments.

In 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum was awarded a contract to audit the US Customs and Border Protection’s use of lethal force. PERF recommended that border patrol agents be prohibited from using lethal force when rocks, sometimes as large as grapefruits, were thrown by migrants or traffickers crossing the border illegally.

2010: An unnamed border patrol agent receives treatment from a serious blow to the face from a stone thrown by a migrant.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 1,713 recorded incidents of rock throwers, which were responded to with the use of deadly force on just 43 occasions resulting in 10 deaths. Upon submission of PERF’s final report, CBP chose to keep it private but it was eventually leaked to the public. Whether that leak came from inside CBP or from PERF remains a mystery, what is known is how the latter’s executive director responded when CBP officially published the report:

“It’s a turning point in that it is getting the report out and seeing a sense of transparency and accountability. I think this is all very positive.”

In the end, CBP chose to disagree with PERF’s judgement on that one critical matter. The use of deadly force could still be employed to handle rock throwers when agents felt their lives were threatened.

Unfortunately, many other recommendations from PERF were accepted. Border patrol agents were ordered to avoid confrontation with violent migrants and “to even retreat if it means avoiding a situation where they have to draw their weapon.”

From Baltimore to the border, PERF has a disastrous habit of pushing for ludicrous positions of de-escalation to the point that one must question their stature as an authority in the realm of effective policing.

The Police Forum’s push for a soft nationalization of police forces

In our next release later this week, we’ll discuss what is perhaps the most pernicious streak in PERF’s agenda, we’ll name names, and we’ll follow the money.

This organization is dedicated to standardizing the behavioral response of police officers throughout the country despite the working conditions varying greatly between departments.

Steeped in theory and philosophy rather than practical, reality-based judgement, these chiefs and commissioners are perhaps too veteran and a little too far removed from the field. As one officer told The Review, “these men have sat behind a desk for 15, some 20 years. They go from city to city. They have no idea what it is like on the streets. They weren’t out there with us.”

PERF works closely with the Major City Chiefs Association, but neither organization represents more than 1% of law enforcement officers. Despite this, they’re often cited as the authoritative voice with a finger on the pulse of what the average cop wants and needs.

Members of the Police Forum frequently alternate between spreading their gospel (read: lucrative contract consulting work) and running police departments. It’s not uncommon to find a member working in a certain city on the east coast one year, and the west coast a decade later—with a few stints in the private sector to fatten their pockets in between.

There’s more to this story, and we intend to bring it to you. But with all this in mind, we at the Nationalist Review have to ask:

If the Police Executive Research Forum isn’t representative of what our men in blue want, has a nasty track record for failed criminal justice experimentation, and wants to significantly disarm the population, wouldn’t our tax dollars be better served elsewhere?

If you have been informed by our work….

Brett MacDonald

Brett MacDonald

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