Dear American Police Officers,
I would like to open this letter with an exhortation I made while giving my Police Academy graduation speech:
“When people see you, they do not see an individual. They do not see a department. They don’t even notice the color of your uniform. All they see is a badge.”
As the son of a son of a Police Officer, in a family of Police Officers, I learned long ago that the actions of one man can – and do – reflect upon every other person who wears a badge. When you take up the mantle of Law Enforcement, you are saying that you will conduct yourself with the highest standard of professionalism and integrity.
You are agreeing to put your life and reputation on the line, to maintain order and guarantee public safety. This job is not for the faint-of-heart. The streets will eat your lunch if you’re timid.
Often times, when people see you, they will dehumanize you, by virtue of their inability to see you as an individual. They only see the badge. Your actions, in their mind, are a reflection upon every other man and woman in uniform – and the actions of others will color their perception of any interaction with you.
Conduct yourself accordingly.
If any part of you takes pleasure in controlling other people or exercising authority, I urge you to find a different career path.
When you began on this path, you swore an oath to support & defend the Constitution and laws of your nation, your state, and your respective department.
Do you remember the first step in the use of force continuum? Officer Presence. The physical presence of the officer presents a significant enough image of authority, as to encourage compliance from most people. That is the power of the badge.
You have been trained to defend yourself, and to apply physical techniques to affect an arrest… to take away another person’s freedom. This responsibility should never be considered lightly. Never should it be taken for granted.
You have an immense responsibility to insure the protection of the rights of each and every man, woman, and child in your jurisdiction.
If you witness abuse, it is your duty, before God Almighty and your fellow man to prevent, stop, and/or report such abuse. You swore, on your sacred honor to protect the rights of your fellow man. It is imperative that you remain ever-mindful to do so.
For those countless millions of peaceful, professional interactions between the police and the public – each and every day – I say bravo. Thank you for your tireless service and dedication to the cause of public safety and law enforcement. For all the good that you do, and all of the lives you will touch, I offer a sincere and heartfelt thank you.
To those of you who use the authority and trust vested in you to abuse, control, neglect, or otherwise harm the rights of the average citizen, you are on notice.
Cell phone cameras are ubiquitous these days. Your actions do not occur in a vacuum. Your decisions do not go unnoticed. In case you’ve been in a cave somewhere, for the past 2 years, you’re not making a lot of friends.
To the honorable, professional practitioners of the trade – clean out your ranks. There is a concerted effort to undermine public confidence in our law enforcement.
Progressives are actively engaging in subterfuge to destroy your credibility with the public. They will lie and impugn your character for any chance to chip away at the system.
I am beginning to tire of defending good, honorable, justifiable actions – only to turn around and see yet another simple-minded punk set about abusing people, or make some stupid decision that causes someone to lose their life. The efforts to undermine your credibility are working. I notice the disdain building, even in quarters where you have traditionally received support.
We need a return to the days of Officer Friendly, where men engaged the public and worked together for the mutual benefit of everyone. If you want those days, and the respect they engendered back, you’ve got a long hill to climb. It begins with renewing your mind and heart each and every day to the protection and defense of liberty. To the protection and defense of the rights of your fellow man.
Conduct yourself with integrity and professionalism in all that you do, because people don’t see you. They don’t see a fallible man, subject to the same emotions and frailties as they.
They only see a badge.