Heaven help you ladies and gentlemen if you get [stopped, approached, questioned, your door knocked on] by Officer Jones, who subscribes to
What do you think Mr. Funny Officer is doing out on the street where he's the law?
- TACTICS ARE NICE... BUT VIOLENCE RULES THE DAY.
- HAPPINESS IS... A GREEN LIGHT.
- BADGES? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' BADGES.
It's Not Funny When It Becomes an Attitude
Dan Carlson also writes about the dangers of such sentiments becoming part of an officer's attitude. I've previously written about how officers take their "attitude" on the stand as nonverbal communication when they testify and how it can impact their credibility. [See, web link below.] The attitudes above do NOT enhance an officer's credibility on the stand.
Nor do they enhance the credibility of a department or the profession. How'd you like one of your department's brass on the stand being asked if they knew about the SWAT team's "funny" t-shirt? If they did, that's bad. If they didn't, that's bad - it makes the SWAT team look like rogues.
Interestingly, dictionary.com provides as one of the meanings of rogue:
No longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade: a rogue cop; a rogue union local.
Officer Safety is Serious Business
Here's something else to think about. In his thoughtful and provocative book, Dan Carlson quoted a police department's "Statement on Racial Profiling" (1999),
One of the strongest guarantees of officer safety is community support and acceptance.
Do the sentiments above enhance or undermine citizens' trust, support and acceptance? What about at the hands of an experienced defense attorney where the officer is constrained by leading questions?
I don't have the answer. Mark that on your calendar - a lawyer who admits she doesn't know everything. I'm not suggesting officers abandon their humor. Given the job police do, if they didn't have a sense of humor they'd probably eat their gun.
And I'm not suggesting we all join the Society of the Perpetually Offended, or let them rule the world. But we have to think about this stuff and how we might be put on the defensive.
What kind of people act defensive? Guilty people. And that's what the jury sees. That's why the defense attorney tries to put every one else on trial but the defendant. It can be very effective when it's a cop on trial.
And on top of everything else they're tasked with, officers need to do an attitude check - every day, every shift, sometimes every hour and moment. Their lives may depend on it.
"I Don't Care Who You Are, That's Funny Right There." (Larry the Cable Guy)
A mother and son were walking through a cemetery, and passed by a headstone inscribed "Here lies a good lawyer and an honest man." The little boy read the headstone, looked up at his mother, and asked "Mommy, why did they bury two men there?"