Somewhere at this very moment there is a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine who, at the tender age of 18, is being taught the finer principles of true leadership by a hardened veteran, probably 25 years of age. Leadership and Public Trust to them is the “real friggin deal”, not just some cool phrase used by elected officials at a 4th of July celebratory speech. Within a few short months these kids will be putting those principles into place as they lead a combat patrol, on foot, through some hellhole on Earth. Or how about that beat cop (the same one the politicians are trying to take their pensions from) who on a 90 degree night this Summer will stand outside of a home hearing people scream for help inside and have to make the decision whether to force entry into the unknown and possibly never make it home to see their spouse and children or take the risk and rescue strangers? Public Trust is horrifically real to them and the iron and salt they taste is from the blood, sweat and tears they shed in defense of it.
The electoral rules need to change. A minimum requirement for entrance into Congress or The Presidency should be completion of military service. Until they’ve paid their pound of flesh, or got blisters wearing those boots, they “Need Not Apply”. When you see a trigger pulled, you are less likely to talk about it in glorifying terms. If our government officials had to send their kids onto the battlefield you better believe they would be less likely to give the order.
Honest Abe and Crazy Nixon
Historians tell us that there are two periods in U.S. History where the question of whether the federal government really controlled the nation was unknown. President Lincoln asked that very question of his General Staff during the darkest moments of the Civil War. Reportedly he was told that the soldiers will follow orders, but not without some hesitation. The second period was during the Nixon Administration. Again, the answer was the same, but with concern. In both cases history played itself out and we know the ending.
I fear we may be entering a third questionable time frame. The reason why we haven’t had massive civil disturbance is because most Americans, although upset over what they see, are still the significant majority as compared to those who suffered directly. I didn’t lose anyone I loved by the 9/11 attacks. My kids didn’t go to Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t live in Louisiana and I still have my house and job (Thank God). However, with each huge failure of government leadership the discontent of permissible governance is growing. Let gasoline go to some ridiculous dollar amount per gallon and that will affect the average person in food, energy, job loss, amounting to real, tangible, pain. Then there will be real problems. For the moment though, public anger is idling, but I believe we can see the storm clouds on the horizon.
Complicity by Extension
So why are cops violently dying at higher rates today than what we have seen in recent history? I think our elected officials contribute to the stressors that more and more people are suffering from and when tempers flare, and the tragic elements are right, something happens that places a policeman or woman at the scene. Your badge becomes a representative target symbolizing the idiots who occupy the “Peoples House”. The perpetrator didn’t shoot John or Jane Smith, they killed the Officer who represents everything wrong about government. For the criminals who would use violence anyway, but seem to shoot quicker without regard for the police (or what will happen in response) I think they see the legitimacy of the governing institution as being a joke. If you don’t respect the notion of an institution of government, or fear it, then those on the other end have a problem.
I hope I’m wrong with everything I’ve said and I would like to hear from you. If any elected officials should read this, please stop Tweeting and for God sake keep your clothes on.
About The Author:
Keith R. Lavery, M.A., CMAS, is a full-time criminal justice educator teaching at a public Career Center, University System of Ohio. He has facilitated and designed criminal justice, security, and law enforcement courses of instruction at the post-secondary level. Keith had a very diverse police career spanning nearly 20 years, working in urban and rural law enforcement settings with assignments ranging from patrol to specialized functions, to include HIDTA Drug Unit, CLANLAB Enforcement Team, SRT and Supervision. In 2008, Keith was awarded the Certified Master Anti-Terrorism designation from the Anti-Terrorism Accreditation Board. Academically, he has completed post-graduate course work dedicated toward a Doctorate in Education. Keith is currently the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Cleveland, Ohio, Chapter of ASIS International.