Op-Ed: Support Your Local Law Enforcement Officer


My experience as a Federal law enforcement officer was limited to a few years, long ago, but my experience included dozens of arrests for violations of Federal laws.  I can report without hesitation that every single arrest I and my fellow officers made was different, and for every one I was trained to be alert to the possibilities that the person being arrested would most likely not want to be arrested, might resist, and might resist with deadly force.
Which leads me to my opinion that nobody has the right to verbally or physically abuse a police officer; certainly not reach for the officer’s weapon.  My definition of nobody includes males and females of all races, colors, creeds, national origin, and religion.
Police officers are not trained to fire warning shots or attempt to wound.  Warning shots can go through walls and kill innocent people.  Police officers are not trained to wound; that sort of thing only happens in movies and television shows.
One thing the movies and television shows do get right most of the time: the police officer’s job is extremely difficult and extremely dangerous.  Everyone who has ever served knows of a relative, friend or acquaintance killed in the line of duty.   My Grandmother’s cousin, a Chicago police officer, was killed attempting to break up a robbery many years ago.  Two friends I served with (one was a training school classmate) were killed trying to arrest a bank robber in Washington, D.C., in the late 1960’s.
I’d wager there are very few American law enforcement organizations that do not have an honor roll of members killed in the line of duty.
When a police officer is properly exercising his or her authority, an American citizen should follow that officer’s directions.  Any question about whether the officer is properly exercising his or her authority is not to be raised at the moment of confrontation, but rather after the heat of the moment has passed.
A decent human being understands that civilized people suppress disagreement with a police officer’s directions until the situation has cooled down and can be handled without verbal or physical abuse on the part of either the police officer or the other party.  A good cop understands the need to treat people with respect.
Respect is needed on both sides of encounters with police.
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