A lot has been made lately over the image of law enforcement. Departments are spending more time and money ensuring that their police officers are approachable and friendly than they are on ensuring that they are well trained. If you are a citizen, legal or otherwise, anywhere in America, rest assured that your local police department is very concerned about your emotions. Police administration would love to hear all your feelings about their cops; wasting time that would be better spent worrying about the morale of the men/women that they are in charge of, but that’s a topic for another day. Hell, Laguna Beach (CA) Police Department had to entertain their residents who even felt that the incorporation of the American flag into the new design of their police vehicles was intentionally ‘aggressive’.
‘Tac Vests’ are aggressive. Leather jackets are aggressive. Black and white RMP’s are aggressive. Blue Line Flag patches are political symbols; and on and on and on. This softening of law enforcement has even bled down the ranks. Cops are taking part in lip sync challenges and posting cute pictures on social media, excusing the action as ‘humanizing the badge’.
If you are emotional or sensitive, you might want to stop reading now. Maybe I misunderstand the relationship between law enforcement and the people that they interact with, but aren’t the police SUPPOSED to be intimidating? The vast majority of the times police officers are called, something has gone severely wrong otherwise, let’s be honest, they wouldn’t have been called in the first place. So, when a police officer arrives to a scene, their immediate and most pressing goal should be to restore order. Taking a survey on your concerns about cops or gauging your approval on how they are dressed shouldn’t even make the list of things they need to worry about. I know this might bruise your feelings, but when a police officer is attempting to gain control of a scene, no matter what that scene involves, your compliance is not negotiable. A police officer’s command presence is everything.
Constructive authority involves a police officer using their command presence to gain control of a subject without using physical force. It can involve hand gestures, verbal commands, verbal warnings, unholstering a weapon and, yes, when appropriate, pointing a weapon at a subject. That’s the official way of breaking that down. Now let’s try some real speak. Let’s use a State Trooper as an example. Regardless of what state you choose, Troopers are often making stops and handling calls for service where their backup could be miles away or more. The only thing that keeps people with bad intentions from getting out of that car or attempting to impose their will is the fact that they KNOW that Trooper will immediately meet them with an equal and often greater level of force. The safety of the Trooper and everyone else on the scene depends on their willingness to do so. If you’ve ever been stopped by a Trooper and felt like you were greeted by a pit bull on a chain, that is not an accident. More importantly, it’s not inappropriate.
A police officer’s ability to master the use of constructive force and have an effective command presence is vital to everyone’s safety. If a police officer is perceived as weak or lacks control over their scene, there is a greater likelihood of a suspect taking liberties that could result in that police officer having to increase their level of force; and once you start going down that road, it’s likely going to be a bad day for everyone.
Let’s be very clear right now, no legitimate police officer comes to work with the intention of using force, let alone deadly force. However, no police officer comes to work with the intention to die. There is a job to do and police officers are paid to do it. You may not agree with their job. You may not like or respect police. However, it is important you bear in mind that, no matter where you live in the United States of America, you do not have a legal right to resist arrest. If you feel that the arrest is improper, there is a process in place to deal with that. Resisting arrest is NOT part of that process. Resisting arrest immediately ensures that you are wrong.
So, when you hear those words, “You are under arrest”, if you choose to ball up your fists and declare, “Not today”, YOU are picking the fight. If you were to pick a fight with a complete stranger, that could go wrong for you. Why would you think it would be any different if you picked a fight with a police officer? Why would you possibly think that, once you put hands on a police officer, he/she would ‘fight nice’ while you fight to win?
The bottom line is this: We, as a society, are putting way too much emphasis on what people think about police officers. A cordial relationship between law enforcement and the ones they serve is a luxury, not a requirement. Police officers are paid to serve and protect, not hold your hand and follow your Instagram story. A cordial relationship makes everyone safer, no doubt. Understanding between law enforcement and the community is ideal, but is only effective if that understanding goes both ways. The lack of the aforementioned is ok too. Either way, the job WILL get done.
Once the parents become the children’ friends, the loss of authority is gone forever. They will be walked on and taken advantage of at every turn. Who here WASN’T told at some point as a child: “You may not like me, but you WILL respect me.”? Police officers metaphorically are society’s parents; and whether you like them or not is of no consequence. That relationship is determined by YOU, and it’s high time you took some accountability.