“Character is not only doing the right thing when no one is looking, it’s doing the right thing when everyone is looking. It’s being willing to do the right thing even when it costs more than you want to pay.” – Michael Josephson
In 1974, when we were sworn in as police officers we took the following oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.” Most states have a similar oath that police officer take upon completion of training, before they hit the streets to “serve and protect”.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police oath is: “On my honor, I will never Betray my integrity, my character Or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always maintain the highest ethical standards and uphold the values of my community, and the agency I serve.”
These oaths are important because those that enforce the law are the first line of protection for our Constitutional, God given rights. Those that take on the duty to enforce our laws should have integrity and the “highest ethical standards”. Since those who choose this profession must be recruited from the less than perfect human race, not all of those in law enforcement live up to those requirements. Nonetheless, that should be our goal. It is not just a job, it’s a calling.
That calling is becoming more difficult with each passing year. After having gone through the riots, cop hating demonstrations and defunding in 2020, the attacks, ambushes, killing and injuring of cops since then, there is another hidden danger lurking for those who don the uniform and carry badges. That danger is the following of orders from higher ranking officers or politicians to make arrests that are unconstitutional, possibly illegal and overtly unethical. The COVID pandemic was used by politicians and the media to scar people and to grant themselves power to curb our freedoms and rights.
As a result, law enforcement officers were ordered to do things that made them look very bad in the eyes of the public.
Early on in the pandemic panic, California law enforcement officers were seen on national television arresting and handcuffing a lone surfer as he came ashore. He violated no law passed by a legislature and signed by an executive into law. It was an edict brought on by a health scare. What possible danger was this surfer to himself or others riding the waves by himself? Officers in Australia are arresting people who are out in public against health restrictions or not wearing masks. Citizens here in the US are being contacted at home for mask or distancing “violations”.
I’m pretty sure the vast majority of those in law enforcement would much rather arrest crooks and keep the peace rather than being tasked to harass people for violating fear prompted health decrees. The far left wants mental health experts sent to family disturbances and other incidents involving disputes, so why not sent health officials to enforce their questionable and probable unconstitutional orders?
Now in Ottawa, Canada, police officers have been ordered to arrest truckers and their supporters for exercising their right to peacefully protest. Videos show officers roughly arresting an elderly man for honking his horn in support of the truckers. In another video an apparent compliant trucker comes out of his truck, kneels down and then it looks like three or four officers knock him face first to the ground and then knee him several times. The trucker may have resisted, and videos don’t show everything, but the end result is that these officers look like they were given a green light to brutalize otherwise peaceful protesters. These videos erode the massive public support that law officers currently have.
What can officers do when ordered to make arrests that they feel are illegal, immoral and/or a violation of our Constitution? Almost every local, county, state and federal law enforcement agency has a union or association that represents officers in contracting with their government for wages and benefits. Also, these organizations will represent officers when they are accused of wrongdoing and in some instances alleged criminal behavior. Many of these organizations are affiliated with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The FOP and most of the other organizations representing those with badges have attorneys that represent members in conflicts. Officers should consult with their organizations for advice with what to do.
There is also strength in numbers. Cops need to talk among themselves and let each other know that it is wrong to violate one’s oath of office by following illegal and/or unconstitutional orders. If officers of all ranks, stay true to their integrity and the public trust, they will gain more support from the populace. It is true that doing the right thing can be hazardous to one’s career. In the worst case scenario, officers will resign or lose their jobs for insubordination for refusing to follow unlawful orders. (How likely that is with the continued shortage of law enforcers and the lack of qualified applicants, is questionable.)
In any case, those who remain true to their oath, moral tenets and integrity, will be able to look themselves in the mirror and know they did the right thing, when the personal costs were high, and everyone was watching. For a view from Canada, check out this video.