By Mike Levine
The chief of police in a small Ohio town is taking a big swipe at Kanye West, warning the megastar to, “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself.”
This comes just days after West compared the danger of his work to that of police officers and soldiers in war, telling a radio host he puts his life “literally” on the line each day.
After all, the rapper noted, he could slip on stage.
“I think about my family and I’m like, wow, this is like being a police officer or something, or like war or something,” he said in an interview over the weekend with the radio show Saturday Night Online. “You’re literally going out to do your job every day, knowing that something could happen to you.”
Those remarks sparked outrage from some in the media and entertainment worlds, and now police and veterans’ advocates are weighing in on the controversy.
Brimfield police chief David Oliver calls West ignorant and “as misguided as they come,” saying “entertainers thinking they are something more than just entertainers” is “part of the problem in the world today.”
“I know it is supply and demand and the demand for your services is high,” Oliver wrote to West in an open letter posted Thursday morning on his department’s Facebook page. “I get economics. What I do not get is you EVER comparing what you do for a living to our heroic military members, who are always in harm’s way… and my brother and sister police officers who have to go to work carrying weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect themselves.”
In the open letter, rife with sarcasm in many parts, Oliver suggested West “abandon [his] career as a super star and join the military.”
“Since you are accustomed to danger … I would like you to volunteer to be deployed in Afghanistan or one of the numerous other forward locations where our men an[d] women are currently serving.” Oliver wrote. “When the Taliban starts shooting at you, perhaps you could stand up and let the words flow. It could be something like ‘I’m Kanye West, wearing a flak vest.’ I’m sure they would just drop weapons and surrender. You could quite possibly end all wars, just from the enemy being star-struck.”
In his online interview, West also cited “press bashing” and “people not liking you any more cause of your records” as avenues to potential threats.
“It’s like we’re walking this tightrope, and fighting for creativity, and fighting for ideas, and fighting for thought,” he said.
Like Oliver, some veterans’ advocacy groups have also expressed outrage online over West’s comments, one calling them “absolutely disgusting.”
In jest, Oliver thanked West for putting his life on the line.
“[Y]our job is just some very dangerous work,” Oliver wrote. “Most people don’t consider [that] if you rap really fast, without a chance to inhale, you could pass out and hit your head.”
Oliver is becoming somewhat of a media and law enforcement sensation himself, thanks to his personality-driven musings about the criminal “mopes” his 14 officers face each day.
Brimfield has about 10,000 residents, but its police department’s Facebook page has accumulated more than 70,000 followers and has hit 1.5 million visits in a single week, according to a website for the Police Innovation Conference in Cambridge, Mass., where Oliver was a featured speaker and the author of this article moderated a panel in September.
As of noon Thursday, just hours after posting it, Oliver’s message to West had received more than 1,500 comments.