We Are Our Brothers’ and Sisters’ Keeper
We love the thin blue line family. In our humble opinion, the two most honorable professions are the military and law enforcement. Both fields represent courage, sacrifice, and a desire to serve others. The people who dedicate themselves to public service truly are heroes.
Yet, even heroes sometimes stumble. Sometimes it is because someone not worthy of the profession somehow made it through the hiring process. But, sadly, most times it is because the hero chose a path that led to bad and, sometimes, even illegal behavior.
We highly recommend that you head over to the Department of Justice website (https://www.justice.gov/news) and sign up for their press release email updates. After doing so, you will probably be amazed (disturbed?) by the number of tax preparers going to prison. Even more distressing than that, though, is the number of folks from the criminal justice community who have been convicted of violating the civil rights of citizens and are also headed to prison.
We often forget that officers are humans, too. Humans are emotional beings and can, if not managed properly, let their emotions get the best of them in highly-charged environments. Understanding what sets us off, our hot buttons if you will, allows us to take steps to control our response. Equally important, though, is understanding what sets our sisters and our brothers off. This, coupled with a willingness to intervene on behalf of our partners, is how we become keepers of those we say we love.
If you take the time to read the stories you begin to see some similarities. An officer, deputy, correctional officer, or agent reacts to some “provocation” by an arrested person, inmate, or detainee by administering personal “justice.” While many believe that this response is a one time, out-of-character act, deep down we know that probably is not the case.
Most of the time these single acts were preceded by a string of smaller, less-egregious acts. An extra punch to a resisting person here, an elbow pressed between the shoulder blades after gaining compliance, the list can go on and on. Very rarely do these events happen in a vacuum – there is almost always another officer or officers there. Too many times these actions are seen by others but are not addressed. We allow our sisters and our brothers continue down the path to their own demise without any intervention.
We need to address this behavior for a variety of reasons. It is the right thing to do. From a selfish perspective it also protects the person who observes the activity. It engenders public trust when we act the right way – all the time. And, it keeps our family out of trouble.
Recognizing when our brothers and sisters are crossing the line and having the courageous conversation with them in no way relieves them of the responsibility for their responses. We are each responsible for the way that we conduct our various duties. But truth be told, we are all susceptible to responding inappropriately (aka doing something stupid). Watching out for each other, being their keeper, significantly reduces the chance that they will step over the line.
We need each other. We need to care for each other. We need to act like a family should and take care of our brothers and sisters.