Navigating the negativity: What officers can do
You cannot control the rhetoric, but you can control the kind of police officer you choose to be
Throughout the ages, the noble profession of law enforcement has endured many forms of backlash, but never like we are experiencing today.
How can you survive the wave of negativity toward police flowing through the nation? Control what you can control.
You cannot control the rhetoric, the false and selective reporting by the news media, the viewpoints of others, the knee-jerk legislation being enacted, or the political b$%^s*&% that is rampant today.
You cannot change the bonehead actions of other officers who have tarnished the badge.
What you can control is what kind of police officer you choose to be and how you carry out your duties, your oath and your career.
Choose to be the best police officer you can be
Train hard. Review and study your agency’s General Orders and Standard Operating Procedures. Reread your state’s penal code, traffic laws and code of criminal procedures. Memorize the Constitution and case law.
Know your business. Hone and sharpen your skills and tactics. Seek out training beyond what your agency offers.
Be the best trained and educated police officer who has ever hit the streets, because you are expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound while dodging flying bullets and being recorded on video for others to assess and judge from the comfort and safety of their living rooms and jury boxes.
Protect your family and your reputation
Stay off social media. Anything you post can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Instruct your family to ignore the news and to not reveal that a family member is an officer online or in public.
Wear the uniform proudly
Respect that others have died for it. The climate that exists today surrounding law enforcement hasn’t diminished what the uniform represents and stands for: law and order, protecting and serving, duty and honor, sacrifice and dedication, ethics and character, courage and heroism.
Police in a manner that honors all who have worn the sacred uniform.
Pledge to be the best crimefighter, peacekeeper, protector and sheepdog you can be
Make each citizen encounter an opportunity to touch another person’s life positively. You can change the lives of the people you serve and protect and influence them for the better.
During a time when police are under scrutiny like never before, your actions can create a law enforcement friend or foe.
Remain the dedicated, proactive crimefighter and regulator of human behavior that you have always been. Don’t allow the naysayers to change the way you protect and serve. If you do, they have won.
As society’s protector, be ready to take a life to save a life and to live with it for the rest of your life.
In this climate, every use of force will have dire consequences to your career and personal welfare.
You need to be on top of your game.
Being your brothers’ and sisters’ keeper has new meaning
You are ready to lay down your life for another officer.
Let officers know you will be there for them through your actions. Be the one who rushes to a call for backup. We have to watch each other’s “six” like never before.
Today, having your partners’ back means displaying the courage to get in another officer’s face before they screw up and take you and the entire profession down with them.
Be that officer.
Take care of yourself – emotionally, mentally and physically
Arrive at work in the best shape and condition you can to carry out your duties because in an instant you may have to fight for your life.
Eat to fuel what is asked of you at work. Get adequate rest to keep your mind and instincts sharp and ready.
Use your off time to recharge and reenergize because the streets will task you to the hilt.
There are no harsher working conditions than policing the streets of this nation. Prepare your mind and body for that reality.
Cherish time with your family. Turn off the video games, computer, phone and television to spend quality time with your loved ones in case you don’t come home at the end of watch.
Talk to a trusted friend or your spouse. Write in a journal. Seek out peer support. Exercise.
Don’t keep the anger, fury and despair you witness and experience at work inside you. Purge it.
If you don’t, rage can spill out on duty when you least expect it and create the next use of force incident that will sully your career and tarnish the profession.
Be the officer who lives this code
You control the kind of police officer you choose to be and whether you will live up to the honor of wearing the uniform.
To maintain the nobility of the law enforcement profession in today’s climate of social unrest and hatred of police officers, every officer must abide by the standard and true Law Enforcement Code of Ethics that has guided officers for decades. Be the officer who lives this code:
As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality, and justice.
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice, or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession – law enforcement.
Copyright © 2020 Barbara A. Schwartz All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any manner without the expressed written consent of the author.