“I went to the woods because I wish to live deliberately…..” Henry D. Thoreau
This quote, by Henry Thoreau is important because it discusses doing something with intention. Thoreau consciously made a decision to separate himself from society so he might better understand himself.
But this quote has a scary side because the woods can also be seen as a place to hide out, to hunker down to escape from reality. While I think that Thoreau was looking at personal reflection, I see overwhelming majority of police leaders heading to the woods to hide, to hunker down and bury their proverbial head in the sand.
We as profession can’t stand for this, however we are sitting by watching the profession hijacked by media pundits, social justice warriors and liberal politicians who only want to destroy and eradicate our noble vocation. They attempt to do this by underscoring policies while implementing procedures and tactics that they know nothing about.
They play lip service to the vocal minority who are working towards a “complete” lawless society.
As a rule, Law enforcement leadership appears to be rolling over and taking it from these vocal groups. To that end police leadership needs to stand in the gap and protect the officers that have entrusted them to do just that. But when they are more concerned with their pay check, not rocking the boat, and throwing others under a giant bus to save their careers what can we do?
How can the rest of the law enforcement profession protect our noble vocation? Is there any way to protect this warrior clan and before you try to “cancel” me over the use of the word “warrior,” you may want to look up the actual definition of the word.
Without a doubt, police leadership is directly responsible for much of the lawlessness we are currently seeing in our society.
I have heard and seen large quantities of Minneapolis Police Officers and other officer retire or leave the profession over the Floyd arrest related death. I have watched as parts of the state I live in burn to the ground over a false or misinterpreted narrative. I have seen how good hard working cops have been vilified over a decision they were forced to make in a split second or in the confines of an active killer situation. We have top level celebrities and companies bowing to the pressure to be on what they believe is the “right” side of history.
History is clear. The right side of history resides with law and order, procedural due process, and following rule of law. This means that wheels of justice take time and grind slowly to protect society and people.
There are three things that I think can protect our noble profession.
- We must stand in the gap. There vast majority of citizens support law enforcement but they are not taking a stand. They are trusting in the government and the nobility of humanity to shine through and win the day. Sadly I think this tactic is coming to an end. But law enforcement officers should do their jobs with professionalism, integrity and most of all honor.
- Law enforcement needs to do their job. They must go out and interact with the community, engage bad guys, and take people to jail. They should be the beckons of light in their communities, enforce the law, and provide service to those stakeholders in your community. They must also not turn a blind eye to any transgressions that they see. A violation of the law is just that and it is the job of law enforcement to act.
- Law enforcement must be about self-promotion, marketing and personal community engagement. The media will do law enforcement a favor and they definitely aren’t going to do their jobs correctly so law enforcement must do it for them. We as a family and as a lawful society need to start providing and showing positive interactions with law enforcement. We must not hide our profession from those that are close to us and we must talk about what is going on. Whether it is about the realities of use of force, citizen encounters or perceived racial or implicit biases, we must tell the story that the media refuses to do.
What does the future have for law enforcement? I’d like to think that our future is so bright we have to wear shades but I am naive, we need to correct some things, work harder to engage our communities and ferret out the “bad apples”. But the future is not so bleak that we should not encourage those wishing to enter the profession and provide them a realistic view of what policing is, will be and can be.
Every day that I work, I am glad that I am police officer and I wear my shield with pride. I protect society, and individuals from harm. I stand in the gap, and I hope that you do to.
Law enforcement is not dead it is just morphing for the next evolution.
Dr. Matthew J. Stiehm has received an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University, where the focus of his research was campus safety and security. He has a Master’s Degree of Criminal Justice from Central Missouri State University, with his final paper which focused on the investigation of child abuse and finally a Bachelors of Science from Wayne State College, Nebraska. He has served as a police officer in three states (CA, MN and NE), he keeps current on law enforcement trends most recently he conducted an 8 month study with Columbia Heights Police Department (MN) on Community Policing. He currently is a member of ILEETA, an Associate Member of the IACP, Support, and Police Executive Research Forum Subscribing Member.