The Cycle of Police Criticism
By Chris D. Lewis
The never-ending criticism by anti-police factions and some so-called community leaders continues to paint a picture of mass discontent with police services across the USA. This of course has cascaded across the border into Canada. The rhetoric, some deserved - most not, can't help but drag down the spirit of a number of police officers and their families across the continent. It seems law enforcement can no longer do anything right in the minds of the vocal detractors.
As a long-serving officer and police leader that never hesitates to defend the good or conversely castigate police personnel that don't play by the book, I feel compelled to offer my perspective.
Police officers are entrusted with tremendous powers, including the authority to use deadly force and to restrict the freedom of others. They must be held fully accountable when they don't use those powers fairly and judiciously.
I believe that the vast, VAST majority of police officers are honest, committed and brave people that truly do the right thing for those they serve 24/7. Then there are a few others that never should have been hired. They violate people's rights and use their authority wrongly – sometimes criminally. Although they are but a very small minority, they continue to drag down the profession, as lay people often assume that these idiots represent the entire police culture. That's so sad in my view.
Please know that the men and women of your local police, sheriff, state/provincial and federal law enforcement agencies are out there right now doing what they do so well. You deserve nothing less. However, they need your trust and support.
On occasion honest officers will make honest mistakes. When they do, they need to accept responsibility for their actions and move on to serve communities as per their sworn oath to lawfully protect life and property, fairly, impartially and without bias.
Others – that tiny minority of men and women in blue, purposely violate policy, laws and the rights of others, with intent. Then they will do all they can to avoid detection, sullying the image of a wonderful profession along their distasteful journey. Police Chiefs and Commissioners will do all they can to prevent that; will investigate it thoroughly when it does occur; and then must let due process run its course.
Maliciously done or not, all police wrongdoings must be dealt with through effective and transparent processes, with the eventual punishment properly fitting the transgression.
Accordingly, police officers, civilian personnel and police associations must step forward and do all they can to help rid their organizations of those that wrong others, hurt the profession and break down community trust. Then governing officials and the media need to fairly address and report on all the good and the bad that does occur in policing day after day, so that the public knows the truth – rather than some inflated and biased version of the events.
The police cannot survive without the sacred trust of those they serve, and will continue to do their best to deserve your confidence. Please do your best to help them succeed, so that everyone can be safe. We are all in this together.