CONTENTS:

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT Parts I - V

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT Part VI

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT Part VII

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT Part VIII

 

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE
TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, Part VI

Chuck Klein © 2022


Published in the Winter 2022, THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.



God Bless America
And our troops, law officers
and all of Her guardians.

Land that I love
Those who know this love
are truly the Blessed People.

Stand Beside Her, And Guide Her,
As God stands to safeguard us,
we stand to protect the Blessed People
while bowing our heads in thanks
for His protection and guidance.

Thru The Night With A Light From Above.
Day shift to mid-watch to night shift,
we are humbled by His radiant
supremacy and power.

From The Mountains, To The Prairies,
Forging straight up from the
great prairies of gilded grain,
like a church spire paying homage
to the heavens, to symbolize our faith in Him.

To The Oceans, White With Foam
Seas of Blessed People of all colors,
each seeking the purity only He can bestow.

God Bless America, My Home Sweet Home.
May God continue to bless
the Blessed People
and their protectors as this
is our homeland forevermore. (1)

PREFACE
After a search of Google and multiple dictionaries, this writer was unable to come up with a concise and definitive definition of the phrase Law Enforcement Officer or Police Officer. Sources for these terms extensively defined what LEOs did/do or what was expected of them, but no actual meaning of the combined words. This might be part of today’s problem facing communities and their LEOs. Perhaps, a public relations campaign might aid in understanding police related issues. Therefore, for the purposes of this treatise, let this be the definition:

The American Law Enforcement Officer is a man or woman epitomizing theologically inspired (2) moral and ethical values including the inherent traits of bravery and common sense; entrusted by a physical-boundary-set political division of society with the authority, duty, obligation and power to maintain tranquility, protect property and persons and investigate and arrest anyone violating the codified laws of this physical-boundary-set political division.

American Police Officers are NOT the enemy; nor are they hand-holders, social workers, jack-booted-thugs or heroes. However, evil-doers may deem them the enemy; they may become hand-holders when comfort is needed or social workers when helping the indigent and even jack-booted-thugs when breaking down doors to protect the protetees from evil doers … and when heroic acts are required, they’ll be there.

Whether peaceable or confrontational the
American Police Officer
does not adjudicate interactions
based on race, color, creed, beliefs,
sexual orientation or national origin.

Are we community operatives, security agents or American Police Officers? There is a difference in who and how we are perceived not only by our own consortium, but by everyone else. It seems clear that politicians, many police chiefs and the public, per se, have assorted opinions and views on the definition. A look back at unique, historical campaigns that could be adopted to police work along with some new concepts might be a solution to answering the question and surviving the attacks by well-intentioned, but possibly misguided, powers. "Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics." (3) A unified front in any battle is generally more successful than splintered factions.

American Police Officers are facing unprecedented challenges to their image that might best be alleviated by a public relation campaign. This acerbated perception (4) has been propelled by a small contingency of malcontents spread out over the entire nation. It appears this venom has been perpetuated via social media that was picked up by and given legitimacy by the general media and some politicians. This un-American venting includes: , Political Correctness, Cancel Culture and Critical Race Theory. (5) Whether these concepts and statements are true is not the point of this dissertation; only to recognize them as a force that has allowed a hurtful and negative belief in the image (and in turn the effectiveness) of the nations’ keepers of the peace – and for the purpose of fostering countermeasures.

GOALS & ASPIRATIONS
Responsibilities of an American Police Officer are varied, and may differ greatly from within one political subdivision to another. Typical duties relate to keeping the peace, law enforcement, protection of people and property and the investigation of crimes. In addition, officers are expected to respond to a variety of situations that may arise while they are on duty. Rules and guidelines dictate how an officer should behave within the community, and in many contexts, restrictions are placed on what the uniformed officer wears. In some countries, rules and procedures dictate that a police officer is obliged to intervene in a criminal incident, even if they are not on-duty. Police officers in nearly all countries retain their lawful powers while off duty.

Society’s goals, objectives and even morals and ethics change with the political winds of the time. Though police functions and duties have tended to resist these changes, who and what a police officer is has not. Until more recently, policing has been the granite boulder, the wall, the standard to which society, per se, has relied upon to keep check on its (society’s) directions if by no other reason than reflection, e.g., seeing themselves as they should be and how they should conduct themselves. During the past decade an escalating push by significant portions of the populace have been working to bring policing in line with the social makeup of local, as well as national structure and character. In other words, elected officials, reacting to society’s pressures, have come to believe that if police agencies are representative (proportionally by race, creed, religion….) of the community they regulate, all of society’s problems (crime, discrimination, racism….) will disappear. That’s a great goal and wish, but it’s only Pollyannaism.

LEOs goals and aspirations are based on arresting criminals and keeping the peace – words or wording to that effect are in most state’s bylaws. As non-related law enforcement issues such as homeless, illegal immigrants, drug over-dosing, suicides, juvenile concerns; the political arms of society have more and more tried to make these matters a problem that should the responsibility of the police. The result has been to over-train LEOs – trying to mold them to become social workers, drug interdictions saviors – everything providers - all of which tends to reduce their effectiveness (time available) to enforcing the law.

HISTORY
Back in the 1950s, fledgling hot rod clubs were branded as dangerous, reckless and criminal. Such Hollywood productions as The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, Hot Rod Gang, et al., depicted guys (there weren't many female protagonists) flaunting the rules of the road as they raced and crashed on the public asphalt. There were, however, a significant number of hot-rodders who just wanted to legally race their souped-up cars on dedicated dragstrips. The problem was convincing local governments and financial backers that the building of a dragstrip would allow these hot-rodders a place to race other than on the street. One method these operators and builders of tire-smoking machines used was to improve their image by having members of the clubs drive the roads looking for motorists who had run out of gas, broken-down or had a flat tire (cars and tires were far less reliable back then). The member would aid in any way possible and then issue a courtesy card with wording to the effect: "You have been assisted by a member of the _______ Hot Rod Club, a car club dedicated to safety". Soon the word spread, with the help of favorable media coverage, that these speed enthusiasts might not be so dangerous after all. Some clubs had rules that if a member was ticketed for speeding or racing on the streets they would be tossed out of the club. As to the impact of the courtesy cards, that is subjective, but drag strips did proliferate. The writer was a member of the Knights of the 20th Century hot-rod club, and in conjunction with The Southern Ohio Timing Association, used these cards to help convince the Cincinnati City Council to allow construction of a drag strip in 1957.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s police, per se, were being subjected to attacks on multiple levels including radical anti-police groups such as the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society (today’s Wokeness) and The Weathermen. (6) Anytime police were observed interacting with civilians, it was often assumed the cop was either harassing someone or fulfilling proverbial and non-existent quotas This perception has carried over to today. Negativism toward American police officers has been exacerbated by the ubiquitous cell phone videos of a few violent acts of cops misusing their powers resulting in LEOs taking a hammering not only in the main-stream press, but by legislative operatives who are responding to public (social media) pressure yielding public relations that has not been favorable. Traditionally, during non-criminal encounters police issue verbal warnings, formal written warnings or just say words to the effect, “have a nice day”. Some officers hand out conventional business cards that displayed the agency’s contact and the officer’s name – the viewing public almost never knows of these informal and user-friendly contacts.

SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
1) Courtesy Cards: Taking a page from the hot-rodders playbook, police departments could issue Courtesy Cards (2”x3” +/-) to each officer that includes on its face a place for department’s ID, the officer’s name and contact info. The reverse would have boxes to be checked with wording to the effect:

You You have been assisted by a member of the ______ Police Department. Any comments or suggestions you might have will always be welcome.

Your motor vehicle is parked in a dangerous position and as such is a violation of local laws. Please park in a safer location in the future. Thank you.

You have been detained for a violation of a local law causing your safety as well as others to be in jeopardy; please be more careful in the future.

You have assisted the ________ Police Department. Thank you.

Rather than issuing verbal or formal warnings and thank-yous, this informal “courtesy card” will not only show the observing (videoing) public that some form or written action is taking place, but the person receiving this casual note will be more appreciative – all good for public relations as well as getting a positive message across. The courtesy card gives the LEO a non-confrontational option that leaves the civilian with evidence that he or she was not cited while at the same time demonstrates to observers that a written record was being made. In other words, witnesses will assume the person detained was not getting away with something. To the recipient of such a “courtesy card” it will serve the purpose of showing a softer side of policing. As word spreads by various media, a police officer might be able to say – to quell a confrontation – “Do you want me to issue a Courtesy Card or shall I proceed with a ticket/arrest?”

2) Weekly Newspaper-style Column/social media Posting: There are many aspiring writers and illustrators available due to the downsizing of print newspapers creating a significant number of qualified but untapped talent available. A police agency might open its blotter/cold cases to a select few unpaid volunteers to produce a regular “This is Your Local Police Department” newsletter. Possible columns could include cold-case info that might trigger someone’s memory or conscience to come forward. Other options might include:

* Illustrated, police-intensive short fiction stories that paint LEOs in a favorable light;

* Interesting closed cases;

* Verbatim selections of the criminal and traffic laws;

* A portion of each column could contain a list of legal terms, police jargon, radio codes;

* Something well done by a local LEO that is not normally reported in the main-stream media.

In addition, the column could be a format for requesting their readers and editorial boards – periodically - to ask for response to the question: “What would you do if you were the police chief of _____ (the world)?” “What changes, regulations, qualifications of recruits would you like to see implemented?” Getting the public involved by soliciting citizen input might be a big assist, but only with the caveat: No whining, complaining, fault finding, name-calling – only suggestions on how to improve the workings of law enforcement. A picture (illustration), as the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. Graphics, created by local artists depicting positive images of LEOs would be an added benefit not only to LE, but to the public as well as the illustrator.

In conjunction with or separate from this column, an up-and-coming lawyer might be encouraged to pen general legalities on various police issues for this column. On a local level it might work well to have the legal column co-written by a municipal or sheriff’s PR officer. For the national stage (USA Today, NYT, WSJ), writings by a representative of interchanging federal LEOs (FBI, ATF, DHS, etc.) might be most beneficial. The editors of the major publications surely know the importance of LE – they just might need a little prodding to convince them that it’s their personal and family’s safety that is at stake, also. A letter on NACOP stationery seeking their help could be a game-changer for all.

3) Marketing: “Advertising has the power to create awareness, the power to set the agenda, the power to suggest and influence, the power to convey new information, and the power to persuade.” (7) I might add … and the capability to change attitudes, images and beliefs. The 1st Amendment to our Constitution clearly states: “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech....” (8) Though not an absolute, every citizen (includes members of NACOP) is allowed to speak and write his or her thoughts freely without fear of government reprisals or restrictions. Therefore, nothing precludes police chiefs from requesting others to devote time, space and money benefiting the images of LE.

Of course, commercial advertising is expensive and not in the budget of even the big-dollar departments, but that doesn’t mean police agencies couldn’t utilize this power of marketing by soliciting funding, artwork and editorial messages from private and publicly owned corporations. Suppose, for example, a major advertiser (GM, P&G, Anthem, Google….) could be encouraged to purchase space on Facebook, Netflix, etc., or even outdoor billboards with creative graphics and simple wording to the effect: “Thank you, American police officers” or “American Cops – are the world’s best” (with or without a credit line to the buyer of the ad). Advertising agencies and greeting card companies would be excellent sources for the text of these unpretentious, entertaining and non-threatening communications – say an ad showing the Ghostbusters being subjected to criminal aggression – with the subtitle: “Who ya gonna call”. Ad copy is the key to any successful campaign.

The most effective ads are simple, to wit: The Volkswagen was the “People’s Car” of Nazi Germany and this image limited export sales well into the 1960s compelling an ad campaign to change their image. Ads began appearing in magazines and billboards such as the ones showing the regular “Beatle” accompanied by just two words: “Gas Pains?” Or the VW Mini-bus filled with nuns in full habits with the caption: “Mass Transit”. Honda faced the same obstacles when trying to promote their motorcycles to the non-Hells Angels types. Their ads in similar distribution displayed a brightly painted motorcycle with whitewall tires being ridden by preppy-types and even Santa. The copy read: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” There is no question these campaigns changed images and gained support that resulted in a reversal of public perception of once questionable product images leading to economic success of the corporations. (9)

Consider ads developed to redefine Woke (call it Wake) to mean: To be aware of and resist/protest injustice instigated by a small minority of misinformed citizens. Reclassify Cancel Culture (call it American Culture) as: Engaging in praising/supporting police officers. Political Correctness redefined….

Formats of these local and or national ads could be published in any and all types of media including, but not limited to: social media, radio, TV as well as display ads in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, People Magazine, Mother Earth News…. The goal being to reach a large and diverse audience. Inasmuch as this advertising space is tax deductible, the buyer of the ads will be making for a safer community; safer for them as a corporation as well as safer for their employees and customers. These subtle, image generating messages should, of course, be in conjunction with NACOP’s blessings.

Marketing doesn’t have to be exclusively to the civilian world … an ad campaign in police journals such as Police Magazine, American Police Beat, FOP Journal, et al., with positive and encouraging messages/images (not long-winded editorials, but short, concise targeted ads) could be most beneficial in keeping the proud, proud. After all, we’re not perfect and reminding ourselves of this shows we know and are addressing our short-comings, serving the dual purpose of letting our detractors know we know.

4) Religion: Inasmuch as the First Amendment, in addition to freedom of speech, also guarantees freedom of religion, (10) perhaps NACOP could generate an on-going letter writing campaign to religious organizations encouraging them, as they preach adherence to the laws of G-d, to also include pontificating the importance of complying with the laws of man and those who are responsible for applying these edicts to maintain peace and protect us. There are many on-going faith-based programs between cops and pastors aimed at acclimating and educating LEOs to understand religious groups. (11) The suggested program would be different inasmuch as the religious leaders would be requested to merely tender to their parishioners the importance of supporting LE, obeying the laws of man and accepting that even police are not perfect. The power of the pulpit cannot be denied especially when multiple faiths, races, and political powers are captive audiences. The anti-police crowd would be hard pressed to come out against their pastor.

5) Applications: Police scanners are mostly utilized by the media and require hardware usually in the form of a handheld special radio. Cell phone companies might be encouraged to create software Apps for smart phones to grant citizens the ability to listen to police calls (local, state, federal) allowing greater transparency. This ability to hear direct communications from police dispatchers (not necessarily officer’s individual channels) could greatly enhance faith in official police parlance and acts. Building in a time delay to preclude townsfolk from responding to details before police have secured/cleared the scene could be a requirement.

SUMMARY
Applying a definition to the term Police Officer/Law Enforcement Officer is a step in identifying the problem. Portraying this definition to the public is the next step in re-establishing the image of our most sacred defenders. Suggestions on how to accomplish this include: encouraging/partnering with electronic means to develop smart phone apps; Seeking educational direction from clergy; Marketing via many sources and methods and utilization of a “courtesy card” to be issued by LEOs when appropriate.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is a former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), former Level 6 firearms instructor for Tactical Defense Institute (www.tdiohio.com), author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site: www.ChuckKleinAuthor.com

 

NOTES
(1) Lyrics by Irving Berlin, Annotation by Chuck Klein. Return

(2) This is no more a government endorsement of religion than acknowledging G-d on the face of our currency, as part of our Pledge of Allegiance and is always an option in oaths of office or court testimony. Return

(3) Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984). Return

(4) A belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things seem: a thought, belief, or opinion, often held by many people and based on appearances: Cambridge.org/us/dictionary Return

(5) Woke: To be aware of and resist/protest injustice in a nation/system one believes to be unjust. Political Correctness: Verbally bashing others for holding opposing views. Those who don’t join in are also targets regardless of truth, fairness or objectivity. Cancel Culture: (Political Correctness on steroids). Engaging in abandoning/trashing physical, written or verbal historical content such as libelous postings to social media, destroying statues and/or anything deemed to be not acceptable by Political Persecutionists. Critical Race Theory: A concept that promoters believe K-12 students should be taught that America has been and still is inherently racist. Return

(6) This period of nation-wide racial tension gave impetus to the rise of the Black Panthers a nation-wide racially divisive and gang of angry, violent, black men who vowed to kill LEOs (black or white) - and did. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Black-Panther-Party. The SDS (least violent of the anti-authority groups), held a passionate, if somewhat naive, belief that a nonviolent youth movement could transform U.S. society into a model political system in which the people, rather than just the political elite, would control social policy. The Weathermen were an off-shoot of the SDS bent on violence to change America. https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1201/students-for-a-democratic-society Return

(7) https://www.decisionanalyst.com/services/powerofadvertising/  Return

(8) The 1st Amendment: https://www.chuckkleinauthor.com/Page.aspx/380/america-s-framework-for-freedom.html#12 Return

(9) Volkswagen Ads Honda Ads Return

(10) ibid The 1st Amendment Return

(11) Few police officers are religion experts. Desert News, 31 Jul 2019 https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2019/8/1/20755777/few-police-officers-are-religion-experts-that-can-create-big-problems#pope-francis-is-greeted-by-philadelphia-police-commissioner-charles-ramsey-as-he-arrives-at-philadelphia-international-airport-in-philadelphia-saturday-sept-26-2015 Return

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PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE
TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, Part VII

 Chuck Klein © 2022
Published Spring 2022 The Chief of Police Magazine
Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.



Oh, say can you see
American police officers standing tall

What so proudly we hail'd
Saving those from oppression, violence and crime

through the perilous fight … so gallantly
Forsaking their own safety to bravely protect Americans

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
Our valiant police officers keeping our homeland safe and free.

PREFACE
Though we can’t predict the future, we can prepare for eventualities. This article addresses some LE problems, but not solutions for all as many issues are tendered by presenting the problem as questions because answers depend on individual agency concepts.

For generations, statements to the effect that police, firefighters and military personnel, whether active, part-time, or retired, are heroes to whom all thanks and gratitude is due for honoring us with their service. Truth is: cops run to gunfire, firefighters enter burning buildings and soldiers face the enemy not out of duty, but because they believe their personal safety is secondary to those they are charged with safeguarding. Reality is: they would rather be a dead hero than a live coward; to their compatriots, cowardice is a fate worse than death.

As a former law enforcement officer and firefighter, I’ve always found those who volunteer for LE, firefighting and military positions do so more for the comradery, excitement and prestige. To them, knowing that the person you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with knows you’ve got their back regardless of the danger is the ultimate level of trust – being part of an ethical, honorable and exclusive segment of society is the driving force. Lofty aspirations of service to the community are way down the list (at least when you’re young), regardless of official and public sound-bites.

HISTORY
Danger and hazardous duty have always been related to police work, but it wasn’t until Columbine that it became apparent that concerns for officer safety were over-prioritized. The Jefferson County (CO) Sheriff, on national TV stated he didn’t send his officers into the school building because he didn’t want any of his officers hurt. (1) This was followed by another police chief writing: "Most officers have families, just like everyone else. Their main goal is to get home safely at the end of each shift, and I agree with that philosophy 100 percent" (2). Soon thereafter, the police community took a close look at themselves and, thankfully, realized the “main goal” is to see that those they have sworn to protect got home safely. We’ve moved on from Columbine, now it’s time to move to the next level(s).

A cop’s job has inherent dangers, but according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the top ten fatal work injury rates per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (2019) (3) doesn’t include police officers. However, it stands to reason that if there was a list of civilian workers intentionally injured or killed, cops would not only top the list, they’d be the only ones on the list.

In the Fall 2019 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE (Police Ethics and Lethal Force in the 21st Century), I wrote about overcoming fear by referencing the 1950s movie, High Noon. The message this Hollywood production sent was the epitomizing of the basic concept of American LEOs: The duty, obligation and personal creed that separates us from everyone else – making safe those we are sworn to protect. The story line (below) is worth repeating inasmuch as it also portrays the very essence of what being a cop is all about – the safety of others and not about personally staying safe.

No one is saying or expecting LEOs to sacrifice their life, but each officer has the duty to protect the public during lethal force encounters. The very nature of the police occupation is centered around perilous activity. If the work involved only taking reports, directing traffic and calling in a SWAT team when danger appears, the job could be done by social workers or clerks.

In the High Noon movie and on his wedding day, the Town Marshall (played by Gary Cooper) learns a man he sent to prison is returning on the noon train – the ex-con and his three fellow thugs are bent on revenge. The Town Marshall is torn between leaving on his honeymoon, as planned, or staying to face the perps – to honor the ethics of his position. The town selectmen tell him, in so many words, “stay safe” go on with your travel plans. The Marshall plans to swear-in some deputies and this show of force should be enough to quell the worries of the townsfolk. Things don’t work out quite as planned and this lone cop ends up facing the four violent criminals alone. The “safe” path surely would have been to continue on with his honeymoon and let the incoming Marshall handle the situation. But there would be a period of a day before the new badge would be arriving and the people should be “Safe” during this short interval. His concerns for his own personal safety, his marriage and townsfolks is over-ridden by his ingrained fear of being a coward.

The bride (played by Grace Kelly) begs her groom to give it up. Boarding the same train the ex-cons exit, she leaves. Key the theme song … Tex Ritter wails the watchwords of police officers of all time:

"I do not know what fate awaits me,
I only know I must be brave,
for I must face the man who hates me,
or lie a coward, a craven coward,
or lie a coward in my grave" (4)

The bride returns just in time to blow one of the gang members away to save her man, who then out-draws the ex-con. In real life sometimes the perp wins and sometimes the spouse doesn't come back, but to a sworn, duty-bound, honorable and ethical American police officer either one of those situations is preferable than being labeled a craven coward for the sake of their personal safety.

THE SUBTLE MESSAGE
At least a decade ago, LEOs of all ranks ended conversations or written messages with the term (some might call it a prayer) “Stay Safe,” “Be Safe” or “Keep Safe”. These terms as a closing comment or sign-off, has become ubiquitous. Officers use it among themselves, trainers finalize sessions with it and police columnists end their writings with this same line. Not that this is wrong or not good. To the contrary, looking out for the well-being of fellow officers is one of the requisites of being a police officer. The original implication might have been well-intended, but the message, especially since Columbine, could be an insult. Today, such a statement/plea/order says the speaker/writer is implying they believe the persons being told to “Stay Safe” are so stupid that they would take unnecessary risks. Or that they should place their safety above those who they are obligated to protect.

Wishing one to be safe can also apply to other professions as well. We surely hope all construction workers, truck drivers and pilots conduct their details in a safe manner. There are very few livelihoods where "safe" is secondary to the profession. Law enforcement is a career where ethical-being trumps safety. Police officers, by their very nature, are charged with not only putting themselves in harm’s way for the physical protection of society, but must be the stalwart, the guiding beacon of honesty and integrity - the last line of defense against violence as well and moral decay. Should American LEOs lose their moral compass, we will witness the breakdown of society. The story has often been told of the Jewish boy who is punished for using the dairy towel to dry the non-dairy dishes. When he questions his father about such an archaic law, the elder explains that the dietary laws have always been in effect and if you break one law and allow it to go unpunished, all of society begins to break down. It is difficult to argue with this reasoning as the Jews have been around for almost 6000 years.

We have often heard the declaration, when relating to American police officers, as "our country's last line of defense." This has usually been in reference to physically standing guard against enemies' intent on committing violence. A truer meaning has not been tendered. But seldom espoused is the underlying definition of the American police officer - he and she stand for the epitome of civilized society. America's very existence depends upon the rigid blue line never wavering in the face of outrageous criminal conduct, civil riots, moral decay or political trickery run amok.

Perhaps, it would generate better faith in subordinates as well as fellow officers to end communications with “Stay Ethical” or “Stay Honest”. These terms represent a belief that the communicator believes the recipient already is (remains) ethical and honest and is wishing them to keep that in the forefront of their mind.

The American Police Officer is a balance of
benevolence to the community with enforcement of the law,
in concert to the Constitution, all the while
adhering to highest moral and ethical ideals.

American police officers are the envy of the world and it's not because they are safe. It is due to their professionalism, a qualification that generates, exudes and is based on a high ethical and honorable standard. Ethics - ethical behavior - is defined as a set, or system of, moral values and principles that are based on honesty and integrity and have been accepted as professional standards.

Police officers are in the business of ethical behavior. This is their stock-in-trade, forte', signature, persona, identification and what differentiates them from other professions. When one police officer violates this trust, this code of honesty, all are tarnished. Adherence to, or practice of, any voids-of-integrity is counter to the code of ethics that is part of each officer's sworn duty - his existence for being. It is surely every LEO's daily practice to live safely, to protect and serve, to stand beside and back-up fellow officers and . . . to always do the right thing. Safety is mostly a matter of practicing rules of common sense. There is little temptation to violate safety procedures. Not so, ethical matters.

Temptations abound to subvert those of power
to commit lapses in discretion for the gains of favor.

Law enforcement trainers find it most difficult to teach common sense, likewise ethical behavior. LE instructors might best encourage their students to Stay Ethical as they personally set a moral example while always being on the lookout for those badge-wearers who might be subject to temptations.

WHO'S IN CHARGE?
America is made up of city, village, township, county - “local” - cops in addition to state troopers and investigators. Added to this protective guard is a growing mix of federal alphabet soupers, e.g., FBI, ATF, IRS, DHS, TSA, DEA, et al. Federal LE agencies have immense investigative abilities including, but not limited to: sophisticated forensic laboratories, deep data bases and vast under-cover operatives. Recently the Department of Homeland Security has been encroaching (is there a better word?) into local police jurisdictions. For example: “The Department of Homeland Security is advancing its plan to use surveillance drones for ‘public safety’ applications….” (5). What they seem to be saying is they (DHS) plans to use their camera equipped drones for state-side activities beyond terrorism to something it calls public safety.

Prior to the proliferation of civilian concealed carry, it used to be “us versus them” meant carriers of the shield against all civilians and armed citizens would be a danger to LEOs. Obviously, the shoot-a-cop-at-every-stop never happened. Now, it might not be as clear exactly who “them” is. A significant number of these decent, law-abiding citizens have become “preppers” - not so much because they fear the end-of-times, but more that they fear their own government. In other words, if chaos reigns, they are not sure who they can trust – the military, federal agents or the cop on the beat. In the event of a real (or rogue government-generated) catastrophic terrorist attack and/or a communications gridlock (no internet/cell phones), where will you be standing? Will (can) you continue to serve and protect the citizens regardless of political, federal LE or military pressure?

Regardless of sworn duty, ethically the local law enforcement community is devoted to never surrender the intrinsic duty to protect our fellow Americans from all enemies – foreign and domestic. We owe an obligation to our neighbors (the parents of the kids your kids go to school with) to reassure them of our commitment to serve and protect them from each and every adversary.

If total widespread chaos transpires and the military moves in, the commander won’t be asking: “Chief/Sheriff where do you want my troops?” He/she will mandate, “Turn in your firearms and go home, we’re in charge.” Here’s a new twist on an old line: Two, fully decked-out SWAT members - a local police officer and a federal agent - are standing guard at a terrorist bombing site. As blue strobes probe, sirens yelp and armored vehicles rumble, one LEO says to the other, “Everyone in the world is the enemy, except you and me . . . and sometimes I’m not so sure about you.” On the backside, we need the feds as much as they need us – even under martial law - and competing for bragging rights is not conducive to protecting society. Are we, the city kitties, smokies and county mounties, to forsake our sworn, moral and ethical duties and become subservient? In other words, should federal agencies be taking a greater or lesser role in local or state LE?

PREEMPTIVE PLANS
1) Health: What plans does your agency – independent of your funding source - have in-place to protect its officers from future health (pandemic) issues? Though the function of the government is to protect the citizenry, the police have to protect themselves to be able to carry out that function. Should masks and gloves be mandatory for every contact with members of the public and/or other officers? Should sanitizing crews be employed to clean the inside of patrol cars (offices) between each shift? (This might seem to contradict the Stay Ethical ethos, but this is department wide not concerning individual officer conduct).

2) Qualified Immunity: Probably the most pressing issue today and in the long-term is QI. A number of locales have already scaled back this civil protection while federal law-makers consider eliminating (or restricting) it. “If qualified immunity were successfully removed there would be effects on multiple levels. There would be a mass exodus of good, moral police officers due to the fear of excessive claims against them that could not only take away their jobs but also the possibility of their freedom and personal assets. An enormous vacuum would be created as officers left the profession and others were hesitant to step up to a life of service. Those officers that stayed in the profession would be reluctant to take action when called for service due to the fear of repercussion. The level of service to the public would suffer and crime would increase.” (6) Suppose QI is declared unconstitutional? Could LE agencies, or LEOs individually, become LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations), or some other form of insulation from private law suits?

3) Private Security: As gated communities proliferate and retail stores add additional layers of private protection, should this trend be encouraged or discouraged? Perhaps, legislation can be introduced to require non-public entities to contract with traditional police agencies if they wish to have special patrols or coverage. Though this seems like a slippery slope, poor incorporated communities have long utilized this practice.

4) The Vote: The top LEO of any jurisdiction should be an elected official so as to report directly to the people – not be subservient to a non-police official with the power to issue “stand-down” orders. Police, per se., are a quasi-de facto fourth branch of our constitutional republic. Perhaps, it’s time they become autonomous - a de jure branch much like a sheriff.

5) Testing: If the following defines the American LEO; how do we test for these attributes? Should discretionary power (the Chief’s “6th sense”) be greater or equal to machine, written and oral testing?

The American Law Enforcement Officer is a physically fit, man or woman epitomizing theologically inspired (7) moral and ethical values including the inherent traits of bravery and common sense; entrusted by a physical-boundary-set political division of society with the authority, duty, obligation and power to maintain tranquility, protect property and persons and investigate and arrest anyone violating the codified laws of this physical-boundary-set political division.

The trend has been to create a composite of society within a police department - to have the makeup of LE members represent the variety of citizens. Perhaps, it should be the other way around … the community's primary goal should be to emulate the American LEO.

6) Saving Lives: Though this is not exactly a police prerogative, it might be in the best interest of LE and the community, per se., to campaign for EMT/Life Squads to be on patrol 24/7. Always ready to respond to drug ODs and other medical issues including shots fired dispatches (after the area is made safe by LEOs) would be a significant advantage for the safety of the general populace as well as LEOs. In addition, it would help relieve pressure on responding officers by requiring the EMT/Squads to become first responders to medical, suicide, drug dispatches. If a police officer is injured, EMTs would be available earlier.

7) The Taser: The fall-out from the tragic Kim Potter case has created the question, wouldn’t it be best to fit tasers with a pulsating strobe light and siren/bell/whistle that are activated when removed from the holster? Not only would it warn the officer that he/she is holding a taser, but the sound and blinking light could distract the perp while at the same time letting him/her know what’s coming next … if compliance is not instantaneous. (8)

SUMMARY
Staying ahead of the coming curves of life for LEOs might best be addressed by simple matters such as utilizing the term Stay Ethical when signing off with fellow officers and sanitizing officer environments to more complex issue including equipment modifications to campaigning for major changes that embrace full-time EMTs on patrol, elected chiefs of police and qualified immunity protection.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is a former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), former Level 6 firearms instructor for Tactical Defense Institute (www.tdiohio.com), author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site: www.ChuckKleinAuthor.com

NOTES
(1) There were many investigations (available via a Google search) into the tragic mass shootings by two students at Columbine High School in Columbine, CO on 20 Apr 1999. The first responding LEOs did not enter the building, even while hearing the sound of gun fire from within the school. Just like everyone tuned to network television that day, I saw and heard The Jefferson County Sheriff, in no uncertain words, admit he did not order his men in because he “didn't want them to get hurt.” Return

(2) From a personal email to the author in response to my published questioning of the actions of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s comments following the Columbine tragedy. Identifying the Chief who wrote the email would serve no purpose. Return

(3) U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Return

(4) The movie version had slightly different wording that included the character’s name, Frank Miller. Not to offend persons of that name, the wording was changed for the highly-successful recorded version made popular by singer Frankie Lane. The revised wording used in this article is quoted here: Lyrics Return

(5) DHS Advances Plan For Public Safety Drones Return

(6) Chief Deputy Christopher Hodges, Brown County Ohio Sheriff’s Office, 5 Jan 2022.  Return

(7) American Police Officers are NOT the enemy; nor are they hand-holders, social workers, jack-booted-thugs or heroes. However, evil-doers may deem them the enemy; they may become hand-holders when comfort is needed or social workers when helping the indigent and even jack-booted-thugs when breaking down doors to protect us from evil doers … and when heroic acts are required, they’ll be there. As to the reference to G-d; He is on the face of our currency, part of our Pledge of Allegiance and is always an option in oaths of office or court testimony. Return

(8) The recent criminal conviction of a LEO ( Kim Potter Trial) for mistakenly – in the heat of the moment - using her firearm when she meant to deploy her taser might have resulted in a not-guilty verdict had her attorney stressed her action was no different than a LEO deploying stop sticks or the Precision Immobilization Technique that unintentionally causes death to a criminal suspect or other innocents. Return

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Coming Soon

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE
TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, Part VIII

 THE BADGE