Food For Thought: Message To Police and Sheriff's Deputies

evought's picture

I was recently sent a link to you-tube video, "Message To Police and Sheriff's Deputies,"  which is an eloquent and provocative commentary on some of the issues which we wrestle with in Our Constitution, Law, and the Auxiliary courses. When is it valid to use force in defense of self, in defense of others, and in defense of law, of property, or public order? Where is the line drawn?
The commentator does not definitively answer these questions, but she points out that the considerations are not and should not be that different for those in uniform and those without.  They are questions worth asking, discussing with others, and wrestling with before being faced with the decision. As Auxiliary volunteers, we don't deal with many of the issues she cites directly. We do deal with disasters, however, where normal rules may not apply, where the temptation to cross lines and void moral distinctions is always there. We also support and work with law enforcement, may have to accept orders from them in difficult circumstances, and we have the possibility of being temporarily deputized ourselves if circumstances are sufficiently dire.
There is an old naval adage about always having an extra compass (preferably two). As individuals, sometimes our own moral compass becomes faulty or confused. The right path is often unclear. This is one of the reasons we must directly engage others, seek counsel, and discuss these issues openly within our community, with our clergy or chaplains, within our chain of command.
One of the issues the speaker approaches is the right to protest: We are in the middle of a turbulent era. Political views are fractured, the basic principles of our society are being questioned, and the reach of law (right or wrong) has greatly expanded into parts of our lives it has not before touched. Law enforcement is frequently brought up against citizens who are dissenting and protesting, perhaps peacably, perhaps not. Perhaps they are disrupting commerce or 'public order', or causing safety issues. Perhaps they are just inconveniencing or embarassing powerful people. As the speaker says:

Whether you agree with them doesn't particularly matter. What does matter is whether in the end, you are willing, if and when you are ordered to do so, to violently assault the dissenters for their disobedience.

Something which we often seem to lose sight of in our country is that the purpose of law enforcement is not to punish. The purpose of a Peace Officer, and by extension those who serve them, is to preserve the public peace. Who is right and who is wrong, what, if anything, should be done about it,  is for the courts and for the people to decide. Our only purpose as the Auxiliary is to help keep things together long enough for those other civil mechanisms to do their work. Vindictiveness has no part in any of that.
Again, I am not suggesting an answer, but the question is well worth considering: What's in your conscience?


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