My favorite book is A Life God Rewards, by Bruce Wilkinson. In it the author highlights the fact that it isn’t about the money you make or the position you attain, but rather about the people you touch. It is all about service to others. There are many ways individuals can serve others. I served in the US Army for 35 years. Clergy, fire fighters, government officials are all other examples of careers of service, as is law enforcement.
Across our Nation there are over 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers, 12% of which are female. These are American heroes who have sworn to dedicate their lives to serve and protect others. We must appreciate them and never take them for granted.
Our police forces across the Nation put their lives on the line, everyday, to keep us safe. Without them, we would have a lawless society. We would be afraid for our lives, our Families, and our possessions everyday. Even with a dedicated police force, there is still an average of 1.2 million violent crimes per year. Can you imagine what it would be like without dedicated law enforcement personnel?
I am concerned the direction our nation is taking with respect to how we treat our police. How can it be that we are now persecuting those who have chosen to protect us? I am amazed with what I am seeing in the media these days. Protests in our Nation’s capital include a chant “Kill cops and kill them now”? What are we doing?
Can you imagine the courage it takes for our police officers to do their duty everyday? The daily news is full of examples of police being hurt or killed. Things as routine as traffic stops become hazardous duty. There have been over 20,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, an average of one every 58 hours. In addition, there have been almost 60,000 assaults against police officers.
We must turn this around as a Nation. We must teach our children and members of our community to respect law enforcement officers. Some pretty simple rules should apply. Treat police officers with the dignity and respect they deserve. When they tell you to do something, comply.
I am not naïve. Not every police officer across our Nation is properly trained and equipped. We must take action to fix this as well. This has to be done at the community level. There is no national panacea to this problem. Communities must dedicate the resources required to ensure their police have the state of the art equipment, not just to apply lethal force, but non-lethal force as well. They must be given detailed, recurring training that highlights not only how to use their equipment, but how to deal with those folks they have sworn to serve and protect.
We must also eliminate from our police those “bad actors” who have a reputation for being abusive, or who have a record of not doing the right things for the right reasons. Our US Military is values-based. The US Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage serve us well. The police forces across our Nation should have similar values. Those police officers who don’t live up to those values must be replaced.
It is interesting to review what many communities require police officers to swear to prior to performing their duties. Here is an example:
As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminal, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession…law enforcement.
Pretty clear cut requirements. Now that these standards have been established (and sworn to) the key is enforcement of those standards. We must demand that police officers across the Nation adhere to their oath of office, and if they don’t remove them from their position.
We cannot continue on this path. Threats to our national security are both external and internal. We must work hard to shore up our capability to respond to internal threats. Let’s work with our law enforcement personnel to make this happen.
image illustration via shutterstock / John Roman Images