What Does it Really Mean to Respect Law Enforcement?by Stephen Littau
I know some who read my posts regarding police misconduct might not believe me when I say respect the police and the dangerous job they do. I believe that the police misconduct I write about generally are exceptions to the rule that most individuals in law enforcement do their jobs with the highest degree of integrity.
I respect those who are entrusted to “serve and protect” our communities from violent criminals but I also realize that they too are human which means they are capable of making bad choices or being corrupted as anyone else. At a minimum, the police should be held to the same standard as anyone else; I would argue that they should be held to an even higher standard than anyone else.*
What does it say about a respectful attitude toward law enforcement when seemingly a majority of people say that due to the “danger” surrounding such a hazardous occupation, that it’s okay to beat a surrendered, unarmed, or even unconscious person (see video below) senseless because of the “adrenaline” or “emotion” that comes with a dangerous pursuit? Does this show greater or lesser respect for the police?
I believe we should expect more not less than “how the average person would react under similar circumstances” from the police.
If I had a badge and gun, how would I have reacted if one of my friends was almost run over by a fleeing suspect?
The truth of the matter is I don’t know. I don’t know because I have never been confronted with a similar situation. I have not been trained on how to handle the kinds of situations police officers sometimes encounter.
The police, however, do not have this excuse. The officers who beat the unconscious person in Alabama were all veterans. Based on their training and experience, they should have known better.
The general consensus I’ve found on the message boards around the internet on this police chase is that because of the suspect’s actions, he “got what he deserved” and that these officers should not have lost their jobs, let alone be charged criminally.
Most seem to mistake criticism for the police as support for the suspect so let me say this one time: What the suspect did was stupid and put many lives in danger. The suspect should be charged for any and all crimes he committed and should be forced to pay restitution to anyone who was injured or damaged property as a result of his actions.**
The alleged crimes of the suspect and the police are two entirely separate matters which should be treated as two separate trials.
If the police are charged with the responsibility to enforce the law than it stands to reason that they cannot simultaneously violate the law and enforce the law with their actions. If ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to use unnecessary force to the point of brutality, we would call these people vigilantes or criminals. Why then do we make an exception when individuals who happen to wear uniforms do the same thing? We should not be defending these actions we should be condemning them as it is these individuals who disrespect the dignity, the professionalism, and honor of law enforcement as a whole!
*If I had my way, a police officer who broke the very laws s/he is charged to enforce would receive twice the penalty as the average person.
**Just a quick piece of advice to anyone who thinks they can run away from the police: Don’t do it. You will get caught and you will put yourself and others in grave danger. Surrender peacefully, reserve your right to remain silent (meaning keep your mouth shut when the police ask questions), and get a lawyer (and actually follow his or her advice).