Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Law Enforcement Must Be Held To A Higher Standard

(This image is from

There seems to be two camps in this country when it comes to discussing law enforcement officials. One side thinks law enforcement officials are engaged in racial and ethnic profiling, and don't treat all citizens with the same regard. The other side thinks law enforcement officials rarely do anything wrong, and tend to put them up on a pedestal (saying they should be given some slack because of the dangerous nature of their job). Both sides are wrong.

The sad fact is that there are law enforcement officers who are racists and bigots, and departments that fail to control those officers (or even encourage their actions). I wish it was not true, but it is. Law enforcement officials are human being, just like the people in other professions -- and there are those who do not uphold the ethical standards required. On the other hand, there are many law enforcement officials, and some departments, who do their best to do the job right, treat everyone equally and with respect, and uphold those high standards.

Is law enforcement a dangerous job? It can be, but there are many jobs in our society that are dangerous -- and holding a dangerous job is no excuse for poor performance or illegal behavior. Those who go into law enforcement as a profession know these dangers before they accept the job, and they have chosen to do it anyway -- and to do the job within the law and the rules. Danger should never be used as an excuse for poor behavior, and any officer who thinks it should be needs to find another profession.

Personally, I believe we should hold law enforcement officials, not to the same standard of ordinary citizens, but to a higher standard of conduct. WE need to do that because we give law enforcement officials an enormous amount of power over their fellow citizens, and it is very easy to misuse that power. That power can be misused to punish those the officer doesn't like -- causing monetary damage, causing a loss of freedom, or even causing physical abuse or death. This must not be tolerated -- either by an individual officer or a department.

It is said that power corrupts, and that is true of some people. There are those who start a law enforcement job with the best intentions, but begin to abuse their power after years of disrespect and verbal/physical abuse from the public. That should not be tolerated. That abuse is just part of the job, and those who can't handle it should find a different profession. Those entrusted with power over their fellow citizens must be capable of handling that power, and performing at the highest standard with no excuses.

There are officers and departments that don't perform well. We should recognize that and deal with it effectively. There are also officers and departments who do the job right, and we should recognize that (without putting them on any pedestal). We can solve our law enforcement problems, but we can only do that if we recognize those problems.

NOTE -- In the interest of full disclosure, I must inform my readers that I had a career in various aspects of law enforcement for nearly 28 years (corrections officer, patrol officer, and parole officer). I am proud of that service, and never thought I should be treated "special" because of my job.


  1. I'm pretty sure we need to drug test some of the police. While I understand more than one anecdote does not equal data - several of the police officers I've had contact with in Las Vegas appear to be using steroids. Some of the symptoms I've seen are breakouts of acne; oily skin; lots of muscle mass and irrational irritability while writing tickets or taking reports after robberies. One incident would not have tipped me (could be a bad day) but this is 4 policeman I've seen this in. I'm 68 years old and seen a lot of drug use in my day - but, hey, I could be wrong.

    I don't think all the police use drugs, but I do think enough of them do to create a problem that needs to be handled. Every time I see one of those videos where someone gets shot, the first thing I think of is 'roid' rage. Am I the only one?

    1. No. You are not the only one. And steroids are not the only drugs some police use. I have seen some that don't have friends (or a life) outside law enforcement -- and they tend to develop an attitude of "us against them". That attitude allows them to drink excessively and use drugs they would arrest others for, because they are the "good guys" and everyone else is not.

  2. Despite the few bad apples, I have respect for the police and the tough job they do, but I still have no use for them personally.

    1. It's more than just a few bad apples in some places. There are some departments where the leadership actually promotes an institutional racism.


ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. And neither will racist,homophobic, or misogynistic comments. I do not mind if you disagree, but make your case in a decent manner.