Many things have changed in our world. Common sense now seems impossible to find. Many folks are doing things that just seem plain crazy. Values are twisted. The line between right and wrong has become horribly blurred for some. For others, there is no longer good and bad, but now they are ever-changing and determined relative to the situation.
I say, Horse feathers!
Right will always be right and wrong will always be wrong.
Law Enforcement Confusion of the Day
I am a member of a couple of law enforcement only discussion groups on the internet. Occasionally, someone will post on the topic of professional courtesy, going on to describe an incident where they were issued a ticket, etc. What a hot-button subject! It kicks up more dust than a sandstorm in Baghdad.
Yes, I was taught very early in my academy experience, NEVER BURN A COP, OR A COP'S FAMILY. Generally speaking, that is true. Our minds conjure up thoughts of the Thin Blue Line and the loyalty due every member of The Brotherhood. We often hear phrases about taking care of each other - because no one else will. That is very true, indeed.
Yet, there are situations where we cannot and should not attempt to take care of for a fellow officer. Those go beyond giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
- I have a close friend who is a sheriff's deputy. Some years ago, after allowing himself to become too entangled with the bottle, he was the at-fault driver in a crash where occupants of the other vehicle were injured. He paid the price for that error for a very long time.
- Then, there is the incident where the aspiring cop was involved in an accidental discharge of a weapon. Another person is dead as a result. The aspiring cop agreed to a ten-year prison term rather than risking a guilty verdict at trial with an even longer sentence. His dreams of wearing the uniform have been vaporized.
- I suspect that most of us have worked with someone who overuses alcohol and has been given a get-out-of-jail-free card more than once.
The kind of behavior that is unreasonable and repetitively over-the-line needs to be corrected, and each of us has a stake in it. Correction is probably the best hope of salvaging the life of a wayward cop; it is also important for the good of the order. We want the respect of those we police. We must therefore consistently act respectably.
So, What is this Loyalty Stuff?
We can choose to be loyal to a person, a cause, or a group of people. I am loyal to my wife. I am loyal to the Constitution. I am also loyal to my fellow law enforcement officers who, as shown by their behavior, are loyal to The Brotherhood.
Loyalty is a promise. Loyalty is a pledge of support. Loyalty is an articulation of one's sense of duty.
Cops are loyal to the notion of fighting for right. We are loyal to honesty and to upholding the law. We play by the rules.
In the Police Officer's Oath, we express our loyalty to our fellow man. We pledge that we are ready to put ourselves in harm's way in order to protect the weak. On a lesser scale, this pledge implies that we are willing to inconvenience ourselves to help our fellow man as well.
So how does loyalty play out when dealing with a fellow officer?
Our pledge of loyalty to The Brotherhood embodies a commitment to protect one another with all of our vigor, to the bitter end. It implies that we will trust one another, absent an overriding reason to do otherwise. It compels us to try to understand and help a fellow officer deal with tough situations. It most certainly includes our commitment to never leave a fallen officer behind.
Being loyal is an attitude. Loyalty is a mindset. Being loyal is a philosophical way of life.
When faced with day-to-day situations, like a traffic stop, it may mean a warning rather than a ticket. Such actions must be weighed in comparison to how each of us would handle a similar situation with a civilian. If a warning could be issued to a civilian, a warning will likely be the result if a cop is involved. Our actions must pass the reasonable man test.