I’m going to open this entry with two unequivocal statements:
We, as police officers, cannot legally, morally or ethically arrest someone in an effort to enforce an unconstitutional law.
We have a moral, ethical and professional responsibility to respectfully refuse to obey orders to enforce unconstitutional laws.
Now, there is a lot of conversation that will come out of those two statements. Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement administrative executives will, some of them, absolutely tell me I’m wrong; that their officers have to obey the orders they’re given or risk losing their job. The implied threat is there and many officers fold to it without question. It might even be understandable to some extent. I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather, a provider. If a police officer loses his job, his entire family may suffer and asking him to refuse immoral or unconstitutional orders at risk of making his family suffer is a hard thing to do.
I have multiple blessings as I sit to type this entry. My Chief of Police (Yes, I’m still a police officer), my major, my captain and my lieutenant will all agree with my statements. I am blessed to work for such men. My local Sheriffs – the one for my own county and the next county over where I spend a lot of time – are both men who take their oath to protect and uphold the Constitution very seriously. I’ve spoken with both of them about current circumstance and was delighted to hear from both of them their outlook on enforcing some of the current executive orders being issued by the governor.
Around our nation, in response to many of the executive orders issued by governors, Sheriffs have publicly stated that they will not enforce some orders. Some Sheriffs have publicly stated that they believe the executive orders are unconstitutional and would not enforce them. In some states, legal proceedings (lawsuits) have been brought against the governor or his administration and the high courts in those states have ruled some executive orders unconstitutional and voided them. It’s interesting that some Sheriffs have stood up against what they thought was unconstitutional and that in some cases the state’s highest courts have sided with the Sheriffs – if you view it that way. The Sheriffs – the men and women elected by their citizens (as opposed to being Chiefs who are appointed by politicians) – saw their duty to the people who had elected them.
Most people don’t know this but Sheriffs are elected and police chiefs are appointed. Sheriffs, in every state I’m aware of, are mandated in the State Constitution as officers of the court and they have very carefully delineated responsibilities and duties. Police Chiefs are appointed and serve at the will of (usually) the executive officer for whatever governmental entity is being discussed – a town, city, county or state. The only protection the Police Chief has from having their employment terminated is whatever contract exists in most cases. For that reason, most Chiefs, to preserve their employment, are impacted by the political convictions and drives of their supervisor – the Mayor, County Executive, Governor, what have you. Most Sheriffs are able to tell those same folks, “No,” and get away with it because the only negative impact they can suffer is budgetary battles.
Most Sheriffs are more respected and better liked than the very politicians they serve beside, or who approve their budgets. Think about it and it’s quite obvious why: when you elect county councilmembers, you’re picking people who have demonstrated sufficient judgment to run the county government; to set policy; to manage the budget. (or sometimes it’s just the only name you recognize) When you elect a Sheriff you’re electing the person who you trust to insure your family’s safety and well-being; to enforce laws in a fair and judicious manner and to protect the peace of your county.
All of the foregoing was spurred by this video:
I don’t know Greg Anderson. All I know about him is that he is an honorably discharged veteran and a fellow police officer. Well, let me correct that: he was a fellow police officer. Ultimately, because he stood by his convictions, as voiced in that video, he is on leave and under threat of termination. It’s interesting that his administration first patted him on the back and agreed with his statements, but as time went on and someone up his chain of command took umbrage with his statements, he was pressured to take the video down under threat of termination. Ultimately, he accepted the risk. Here is a man who stood with the courage of convictions and refused to retract his statement that it is wrong for officers to enforce unconstitutional orders.
Ponder that for a moment. Here is a man who has honorably served and who felt the courage of his convictions so greatly that he refused to retract his statement that it is wrong to enforce unconstitutional orders and had to put his family’s financial stability at risk to stand by his admirable beliefs.
I tip my hat to Greg Anderson. He is exactly the kind of officer I am proud to call brother and would happily go through any door with – in front of or behind. It makes no difference to me. I can trust him to do what’s right because he has proven he will under any pressure. If you feel it appropriate, donate to his GoFundMe to support his legal battle and his family as he fights for his beliefs.
My email address is [email protected] . Please, Greg, reach out to me. I back you 100%.