In the course of a police career you will receive countless orders to complete some task. The very large majority of those orders will be lawful and you'll get jammed up if you fail to obey them. BUT, some of them may be unlawful and if you do obey those then you can get jammed up even worse. The biggest questions you have to answer for yourserlf are these: 1) Is the order I'm being given lawful? In simplest terms, as stated above, most of them will be. Report to.... Nothing unclear about that. Complete that report and have it turned in by.... Good to go. Handcuff that suspect.... No problem. Where it can get a bit worrisome is if your lieutenant orders you to put a handcuffed suspect in a cruiser and "give him a face full of OC to remind him to be polite." Um, HUH? Do such things happen? I'm sure they do, somewhere, somehow, some time. And, as a veteran cop of over two and a half decades, I'm also convinced there are those perpetrators out there who certainly deserve that and more. However, it's not our job to punish the ner-do-wells. It's our job to arrest them; process them; charge them; and then testify against them in court. The court decides their innocence or guilt, determines their punishment, orders it and then our correctional system carries out that punishment. 2) If the order isn't lawful, what do I do? This can be the more difficult question to answer. Obviously the legal, ethical and moral thing to do is not obey that order. That's FAR easier said than done though, especially under circumstances where peer pressure is in line with the unlawful order and you may be facing a squad of angry fellow officers if you fail to obey that order. The good news is that, unless all those fellow officers are willing to lie in testimony against you, you can respectfully question and/or refuse that order and not face departmental charges for failing to obey a direct order. The officer who outranks you, who gave that order, if he KNOWS it's an unlawful order, won't be so eager to defend that order in an administrative or criminal proceeding. Ultimately the bottom line has to be YOU and YOUR sense of morality. YOU have to look at yourself in the mirror every morning. YOU have to be able to sleep fitfully in your bed at night. If YOU can't do both those things with a clear conscience then it would be advisable to seek out some counseling. Most agencies have chaplains available to discuss such things. If you're not a religious person, psychologists and psychiatrists are also often available. Sometimes of even greater value, your friends should be there willing to listen to your concerns, give you honest feedback and discuss various options for action with you. If, as you read this, the "friends" you think of aren't people you'd want to discuss such things with, then I submit to you that you probably need new (and real) friends. I discuss lawful versus unlawful orders today because our country is experiencing a period of unrest. Not since the late '60s and early '70s (which I barely remember) has our country seen such disagreement over what's right and wrong at the federal level, and what direction our American society should be growing in. Such disagreements often result in civil unrest and, if that occurs, you may be called upon in the performance of your professional duties to keep order. As you receive your orders as to how you should perform those duties, consider the orders and your actions. I'm not a constitutional scholar but I know enough to identify orders that may violate the constitutional rights of the citizens we're sworn to protect and serve. Remember: every famous and INfamous leader in our world's history has justified his actions by "maintaining the peace and safety of society". We condemn many of them now, with the hindsight benefit of history at our disposal. None of us want to be on the wrong side of that judgment... What do you think?