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Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.

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Just What the Hell Are We Protecting?

It is increasingly apparent that amorphous promises of "hope and change" can have serious implications for each.

April 14, 2014  |  by - Also by this author

Sometimes it'd happen while I was inventorying some inner arm scars and looking for fresh puncture wounds under a hype light.  Or maybe in the middle of exhorting some DUI detainee to "BLOW, BLOW, BLOW!" into a breathalyzer. Such were the moments when I'd find myself entertaining the same kind of thought I'd have while chasing some burglary suspect down a dark alley in a closed business district: Just what the hell am I doing?
Often borne of officer safety concerns, the question was at least as frequently provoked by a niggling need to clarify my role and its import in the grand scheme of things.
Lately, I find myself posing the question at a macroscopic scale: Just what the hell are we doing? And on this front, both prompts apply.
Ubiquitous concerns such as attenuating financial support, vacillating agendas, and impossible missions have plagued our profession for decades. Probably always will. More worrisome are recent *changes*, things being done within the system in apparent *hopes* to subvert it.
Discussing the problem lends itself to more than just plays on political slogans, including all manner of apt metaphors and analogies...the three legged stool (i.e., judicial, executive, and legislative) that collapses under a weakened leg...the divided house that won't stand. The latter works for my purposes as its four walls allow wiggle room for the kind of things that just might flatten the stool. And no elephant in the room is more conspicuous than the Department of Justice.
When the man at its top, Eric Holder, is held in criminal contempt by Congress - an eventuality that, given their bar, is no small feat--you know something's wrong. Oh, the DOJ is pretty good about initiating actions against beleaguered Joe Arpaio or sacrificing one of its own (, and can always be counted on to elevated some lessor concern (suspected suppressive voter practices) while exhibiting a curious blindness to actual problems (outright voter intimidation). And like some third strike offender, the Department has never seen an opportunity for a gun-grab it hasn't liked. Looking somewhere between Salt Lake and Sacramento one finds land grabs on the menu, too.
Could it be that the DOJ has done an an admirable job in screening out the Oath Keepers?
Whatever the degree to which its many employees are complicit in the worrisome precedents coming down the pike, the growing ascendence of politics over anything resembling justice in this country is inarguable. It is part of an escalating series of encroachments taking place on multiple fronts and from which not even our news media is immune as evinced by recent revelations of the Obama administration's desire to insinuate monitors into our country's press rooms (considering how instrumental they were in both of our Commander-in-Chief's elections and in running interference on his behalf since, I can't help but wonder if the Chris Matthews of the world regard their creation with the kind of reflective apprehension that Frankenstein did his). 
Smart money would lay the odds against most law enforcement officers having voted the Democratic ticket in 2008; certainly fewer did this last go-round (cops tend to learn from their mistakes). But given their role in protecting the electorate's choices and their appointees as well as enforcing the laws and agendas that ensue, I do wonder to what extent the federal employees among our ranks ask themselves whether these people are worth protecting and their laws worth enforcing? Just where are the conscientious objectors within the federal fold? Are its ranks really filled with men who are content to be given their marching orders and sent out to wreck havoc? And do they really think that all this won't some day come back to bite them in the ass?

Such men and women would be wise to remember that popular parable of a failure to act, the one that goes along the lines of "first they took Joe and nobody said anything; then they took Bob and the same thing occurred; then they took me."
In the meantime, those of us who exhibit a child-like proclivity for calling out the emperor's wardrobe run the risk of being suspected of having Asperger's or Tourette's; at the very least, having our sanity and tax returns called into question. My only hope is that I can stand up to such scrutiny, or at least have the IRS hit list bearing my name assigned to the same brand of federal employee that was given a head's up by the Russians re: the Boston bombers and then dropped the ball.  
Not that there aren't those who refuse to sell-out. Aside from the aforementioned Oath Keepers, you still have a cadre of sheriff's and police chiefs willing to proclaim their fidelity the sanctity of the North American gunowner's rights and make clear their refusal to enforce actions that violate our otherwise inalienable freedoms. 
Such proclamations would be redundant in any other era as a fundamental aspect of law enforcement has always been to help preserve the rights and freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. But at a time where so many of our rights are being challenged--indeed, violated--such courage needs to be heard. And listened to. After all, isn't it wise to ask just what the hell are are we trying to protect? Have we traded the wrongs of the past for a new breed of cancer, one that's determined to maintain the homeostasis of an increasingly corrupt government at all costs? 
The other night I dreamed that I lived in a country where everyone was afraid to offend anyone. A country where their every action and inaction was being recorded 24/7. A country very much like the one we live in today. 
A throng of people milled about and stared at one another evaluatively, with some being auctioned off to others as "proven excellent benefactors." I found myself addressing some of member of the prevailing authorities.
"And all these people that are currently being sold they walk about their daily lives," I asked. "What are they?"
The man in the pristine uniform smiled.
"They're survivors"
"Of what?"
The man gave me his best Bolshevik chortle.
"Why, their government, of course!"
Upon awaking, I told myself that it was only a dream, and not a premonition.
But in an era of hope and change, one never knows.

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