My name is Tommy Lefever. I’m a father, a son, a husband, and a police officer, as well as a regular contributor to OpsLens. My dad was a cop before me, and following in his footsteps is something I’ve always wanted to do. I knew it would never make me rich or famous, but there are more important benefits this job provides. Any public servant can point them out.
Changing lives for the better is what it’s all about, and I don’t want to punch the clock to work a job that doesn’t give me the chance to save lives and risk my own in the process. Call me a Boy Scout if you want. It’s how I was raised.
Yesterday, I challenged East Atlanta Village Barbell Club owner Jim Chambers to a fight. The support has been overwhelming, and the criticism has been received and considered.
If you’ve seen the five-minute news segment, know that the conversation went on for about 15-20 minutes. I’m not criticizing 11Alive reporter Chris Hopper by any means. He was professional, fair, and I think he did a great job from the questions asked to the way he wielded that camera around in my garage.
He did a much better job than David Boroff, who penned a New York Daily News article — completely leaving out that the challenge was for charity. Chris Hopper has integrity, but I don’t know about DB up there in Manhattan.
If I’m explicitly saying the fight is for charity and you leave that very key point out of the article entirely, some people might refer to that as “fake news,” Mr. Boroff. This kind of dishonest reporting about my profession lies at the heart of the issue for me. Deceptive journalism like this allows Chambers-esque ideas to flourish.
As I read the initial story about Chambers denying police and military access to his gym, I was not angered, nor was I upset (a reasonable question asked by Hopper in the interview). I wasn’t even disappointed. To be honest, it made me feel kind of hopeless. It’s an ugly reminder that there are people out there like Chambers, who view us as an “occupying force” or a “modern-day slave patrol.”
They’ll never be open to a reasonable discussion about what we do. It was then that I came up with the idea to challenge him to some fisticuffs at the 2017 Guns N Hoses Boxing Championship, put on by the Atlanta Police Athletic League.
Think about it. In a worst-case scenario, we set a record for fundraising at an event that allows PAL to help make the lives of inner-city Atlanta kids better. We buy baseball uniforms, sneakers, and trips to the Atlanta Zoo and the Georgia Aquarium for them with that money. We give them experiences they otherwise would never get to have.
We forge bonds with them they’ll take with them as they move through adolescence and onto adulthood. PAL helps make productive members of society. We all win.
In a best-case scenario, we accomplish all of that — and then Jim Chambers and I punch each other in the face for three rounds. Where no respect is given on the street or in his gym, respect in the ring is mandatory. When all is said and done, we admire each other for getting in there and manning up for something greater than ourselves.
Afterwards, we have a beer and then go our separate ways — except the next time Chambers gets the idea in his head to jump on a soapbox and bash cops, he remembers the one that bashed him and gave him a hug afterwards. And he remembers how many kids benefited from the sacrifices made by political activists such as himself and police officers like me.
For the record, I believe Jim Chambers should be free to open or close his doors to anyone he wants. This is obviously a bad business practice in the same way it is to deny someone a cake from a purely economic standpoint, but it’s a free country.
There’s a great gym just down the road for APD officers to get their swell on. No one should lose any sleep over the legality of the “no f***ing cops” policy in my opinion. Trust me, most of us aren’t.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: I’ll take a punch or 10 to raise money for Atlanta’s underprivileged kids. I’d even take a bullet for one of them if I had to. It’s my job.
Jim Chambers — a guy who fancies himself as a community activist — is indicating that he won’t take a single one in the ring with 10-ounce gloves. I do hope he changes his mind. Let’s do it for the kids, Jim. You might even get in a few lucky punches.
T.B. Lefever is a police officer in the Atlanta, Georgia, area and an OpsLens contributor. Throughout his career, he has served as a SWAT hostage negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a school resource officer, and a uniformed patrol officer. He has a BA in criminal justice and sociology from Rutgers University in New Jersey. This article is from OpsLens and is used by permission.