Here are six things you can do as a police officer to show that your primary concern is for the members of your community – and how that will probably damage your career.
This list is only as long as my imagination has allowed, not yours, so if you can find more ways as a police employee to be an asset to your community without doing any harm to it or its members, more power to you, my friend.
- Choose not to participate in the actions, identity and ideology of thin blue line culture. Maintain your own identity and keep your values applied consistently to colleagues and non-colleagues alike. Create a narrative in which you are a caregiver to your community and not an opposing force.
- Reject the march towards para-militarism in both training and equipment. These ‘advancements’ are all too often sold to officers using an appeal to your personal safety; yet might very well increase personal risks by presenting yourself as a threat to your community and escalating hostilities.
Police the Police
- Nudge a colleague away from committing unscrupulous or criminal acts, especially against members of your community, and help redirect them towards more humane, productive actions.
- Report misbehaving and dishonorable employees to your superiors. If a proper response is not immediately evident, report it to an outside agency who will take it more seriously.
- Be a whistle-blower by directly or indirectly sharing pertinent information about police misconduct or malfeasance to the public via the media.
- Refuse to take part in conspired dishonesty, such as testilying, both in official reports and in court.
- Refuse to make arrests for victimless crimes.
- Provide or plan for assistance of community members who might usually be arrested, such as giving a drunk person a ride home or calling the family/friends of an individual who is under the influence of some substance and needs supervision and comfort.
- Maintain the spirit of the law, not the letter. If you are there to keep people safe and provide assistance, only use laws against individuals to remove a direct undeniable threat against others, rather than compulsively enforcing laws when only damage will be done by doing so.
Educate Your Community
- Inform your community directly, via personal interactions, of their rights; both in terms of the law and its enforcement.
- Become an advocate for jury nullification, so as to give your community a powerful resource for dis-empowering law enforcement practices of colleagues and court officials who are not as benevolent as yourself.
- In order to make more of these kind of educational outreach interactions possible, patrol by foot, rather than by car. Walking around your community and talking to people isn’t just a great way to educate its members, it also gives you a rapport that will sometimes alert you of problems or plans before they escalate into crimes against individuals.
- Don’t stop there – be a teacher to your colleagues as well, and try to win them over to your way of serving the community without damaging it.
Be An Ally
- Provide support to community members in need – either directly or by using your influence to get them the help they need by other community service providers.
- Testify on behalf of citizens in both your reports and in courts so that the narrative given by apathetic or corrupt officers does not become the entire official story.
- Provide ongoing interactions with victims of crimes so that they can feel safe and assured while they rebuild their lives after traumatic events.
Dismantle & Rebuild
- Imagine a future in which your community can provide all of the services it requires without badges, an ever-present threat of potential violence and predatory practices that put police before the citizenry.
- Work from within to deconstruct and minimize the current system while advocating for alternatives that better serve the people.
- Volunteer to devise, supervise and implement the alternatives yourself so that you can lead by example.
In engaging the actions above you may find yourself susceptible to some, all or none of the consequences below; or even to personal blowback not accounted for in this list.
- It will be tough to build relationships with your colleagues if you choose to remain a free agent rather than a team player, which will not just make your job less socially rewarding, but likely far more difficult.
- You may have been told that there are no quotas, but if you fail to meet the standard local benchmark for arrests-per-officer you will probably find your performance reviews severely lacking.
- If you aren’t ‘keeping up’ you might be relegated to a desk job, or some other task which separates you from directly serving the community; while also preventing you from policing your fellow officers so that their corruption might continue unaffected by your countermeasures.
- Passed over for raises, promotions or other advancements and benefits.
- Pressured to resign via other hardships and punitive measures.
- Fired for ‘not fitting in’ – or even framed for a violation or crime that allows for your dismissal.
- You may be increasing personal risk as a result of fellow officers refusing to assist and/or protect you.
- Police employees who did not ‘play the game’ have often found themselves becoming the target of police violence, and some have even lost their lives in order that the thin blue line might serve and protect itself.
I am not personally aware of any police employee in America who has managed to take even half of this list on successfully without losing their jobs or worse. If you know such an officer, please put them in contact with us, as we would love to hear their story; as well as if you are one yourself. If you decide to put these ideas into practice as a result of reading this article, please let us know how it turned out. You can CONTACT US HERE.