Monday, November 7, 2016

The Police

Have you ever thought about the purpose of police officers? Politicians tell us all the time that the police are there to keep us safe. I assume us is the public. But is that true? Private security guards usually have a specific assignment, whether it being to protect a person or protect someone’s property. What are their priorities? One of my favorite police slogans is: To Protect and Serve.” Protect what? Serve what?

I think if we talk about security guards, city police, country sheriffs, city sheriffs, highway patrol or state police, Texas Rangers or the FBI they almost always have the same priorities. Secret Service officers may be the exception. I understand their priority is always the person they are charged to protect. I hope that is true.

Dick Tracy

Fearless Fosdick

In practice, the first duty of most law enforcement officers is to themselves. They protect their person and other law enforcement with them. If you question them in groups they protect each other. When they fight, they fight together, I am not saying this is bad, just a recognition that if they do not stay safe themselves, their second priority is in jeopardy.

Their second priority and loyalty is to the people that hires them or pays them. For city police this is normally the mayor and city council. For counties, it is often a county judge or judges and their administrations. State police and rangers probably have the governor and the governor’s staff as a second priority. For the FBI, their second priority is the Justice Department and the administration that appoints the Attorney General.

Their third priority is often public safety or just the public, as long as that does not conflict with priorities one and two. I would put protecting the innocent into this category. That is why sometimes crimes are committed in front of law enforcement and they stand by and watch. They do this mainly for two reasons. Either they do not have the manpower to prevail or action on their part could be a political liability to the people that hired them.

The third priority might include stopping altercations. Now we are in the public safety realm. This does not mean solving the problem, as that is often left to the courts. The police priority is to stop the violence, assure cool down time and often to walk away. The more the community supports law enforcement, the easier it is for them to do their job properly.

When arrests are made, the next priority comes into play. I think their fourth priority is to protect people they have in custody. The next lower priority is probably evidence gathering, often gained by talking to witnesses or potential witnesses. Then comes the paperwork – meticulous records are usually required.

I may be wrong about all of this, but this is kind of what I see in practice. The idea that the public safety and the truth are the most important things sounds like a myth, but at least they are on the list.

It should be no surprise the FBI works for the President. Protecting the government obviously has priority over the truth.

1 comment:

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