Some Thoughts on Police Conduct

Police policy should be to retreat until more help arrives and/or family members of severely disturbed and uncooperative persons can be contacted and arrive. This should be the rule rather than the exception recognizing that circumstances may warrant an exception.   That possibility is one reason that the police department should openly document and publish such details and not leave it up to the news outlets to so report.  Each police department should have a website with plenty of storage space for open access in modern times where such details could be ascertained by the public.

This wait-based approach will allow officers to better assess the situation and contain the individual until more police and family member and/or social and mental health professional could be requested and arrive to better ascertain and control the situation especially when a person seems to be severely mentally and emotionally unstable.

This especially should be the policy when the individual is retreating or even trying to leave the scene in those cases where the person is not known or suspected to have engaged in physical violence or other violent crimes. One example is a person stopped for a traffic violation. In those cases, the police should simply capture the person’s license plate and other observable person and vehicle identification information and let the person “escape” and follow up at the address on file. If unable to find the individual, let it be as it was only a traffic violation and if it is a habit of the person there will be another time to stop him or her. A traffic violation should never create conditions where there is a loss of life. Absolutely Never! Let not the police action be worse than the traffic violation!

I know being a police officer is one of the most dangerous and mentally as well as physically taxing jobs around and like all people police make mistakes.  But when mistakes result in a death then there should be some accountability for that mistake, whether it is a mistake by a police officer or a regular citizen. 

At the very least the police authorities should publicly admit that the police person made a bad judgement when they do and more extensive training and examination of procedures would be undertaken.  But that seems to not be often done, if at all, for a number of reasons, none of which I believe are overridingly legitimate.  A major part of the problem is the Police Department desire to avoid putting itself and its officers in legal jeopardy.  Somehow we as a society should find a way for law enforcement to be open and honest without putting itself in unwarranted legal jeopardy but demand law enforcement put itself in warranted legal jeopardy so that truth and progress prevail. For as shown by the case of the repentant Roman Centurion law enforcement officer surrounding Jesus crucifixion (Luke 23:47; Matthew 27:54) people can have a change of mind, heart, behavior when presented with the undeniable truth.

I see it as similar to when I was in the military.  I had to decide if I was able to not only take a life but also give my life if the situation properly called for it.  So when one becomes a police officer he or she must be prepared to not only take a life when properly warranted but also risk giving his or her life in order to protect all citizens including the citizens he or she is confronting. Is that hard for the individual to do?  Yes, it is.  But that is one reason our nation is rooted in the Constitutional notion that community of citizens hold each other accountable no matter what position one holds in society. 

I am certain there are some racist cops of all races in America.  However, not every incident is strictly a case of racism.  This is evident by the fact that white cops kill white people and black cops kill black people. I know percentiles should be considered.  Yet, in considering percentiles we must not neglect to remember incidents like Connecticut’s Yale University case where community protests occurred claiming two responding black policemen behaved incorrectly which led to the shooting of a black female who thankfully did recover.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *