Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Policing: Staying Focused on the Big Picture

Interesting Times
You may have heard the phrase "May you live in interesting times."

For the modern-day law enforcement officer, these times could certainly be called "interesting." If one searched the word “police” online, you would likely find dozens of articles about police shootings or police misconduct. 

There will be stories about how the police have become too militarized, or in light of the renewed terrorism threat, not militarized enough. 

There are stories that all police should have body cameras and contrasting stories about how government is invading our privacy by recording the public's interactions. 

It seems, no matter what side of the fence you are on, you likely have some kind of beef with the police. After all, law enforcement is one the most visible symbols of government and government is not very popular these days.

 Depending on how your personal politics align or your own experiences with cops, you will be glad to see that police car next you at the traffic light or have disgust for the person inside it.

Rookie Reality Check
It is a surreal feeling as a rookie when you arrive at a scene in your fully marked cruiser, in full police uniform, there to help people sort out their problems. 

Next thing you know, you are being sucker-punched by one half of the domestic disturbance (the individual that called you there to begin with) as you try to arrest their partner for beating them. 

Yes, people hate the cops. Not all people, but enough that good cops can feel isolated from the rest of the community and the country they try to protect.

 Sometimes, especially these days, the good people involved in law enforcement need to take a step back and not get caught up in the politics or the "noise" from incidents we had nothing to do with.

 True, we are all “the police" even if we are on a five-man sheriff's department in a small town in Arkansas or on the NYPD.

Yet, "the police" are individual human beings. They will make mistakes. There may be issues across the country or within their own agencies that seem to paint all officers in a negative light, but the vast majority of officers are in law enforcement to do the right thing.

Tough Times But Still Have Support 
San Bernardino Police Lieutenant Mike Madden -the first officer on scene of the San Bernardino Shooting- summed it up for most cops out there when he recently said these words: "You know, we’ve (cops) taken a lot of hits lately, some justified, much of it not justified, and it takes a toll. I guarantee you that no cop comes into this job with the mind-set that, ‘Great, now I have the power to be corrupt and violate people’s rights.’ ” 

Lt. Madden is correct. This is a difficult time to be in law enforcement.  For those woman and men who put on the uniform and pin the badge over their heart, keep your head high and keep doing the good things you do.  Remember why you chose the profession in the first place and seek comfort in the fact you chose a noble profession and have the support of the vast majority of those you chose to serve and protect.

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