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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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Patrol

Law Enforcement's—and Society's—Only Hope

Our enemies are extremely vocal, so our supporters have to be even louder.

October 08, 2014  |  by Anonymous Cop

As the dust settles in Ferguson, there is no doubt that politicians and lawyers are scrambling to prevent any dust from being kicked up again. And who better to rely on than brave politicians and virtuous lawyers to do the right thing? Am I right?

Yeah, I'm being sarcastic.

Police officers across America have their ears to the ground right now, listening to hear if a train is going to come their way. I think there is no doubt that after years of obsessive, undefended scrutiny of the police, change is on the horizon.

It is my belief that the direction we ultimately take will not be determined by the media, politicians, courts, police administrators, or even by police officers themselves. Our course will ultimately be guided by the victors of the battle in the court of public opinion between the citizens that support law enforcement and the citizens that condemn law enforcement.

Right now, politicians and lawyers are not scrambling for a solution to the problems in Ferguson on the premise of truth or justice. They are scrambling out of fear—fear of the citizens that are making the most noise. The days of strong, virtuous leadership in public office that could stand up to some heat are gone and the same goes for many police administrators as well. A lack of true leadership and conviction has abandoned law enforcement to the whim of public opinion and left us subject to whomever can put the most pressure on our leaders who are completely addicted to comfort. 

Examine your police administrators for example. Are they cops who sought promotion to lead you into battle when that train comes? Or are they just risk management in a uniform? Will they defend the integrity of the current generation of policing before they retire, or will they sacrifice it to maintain smooth sailing toward their pensions amid a gentle sea, tranquilized by concessions and de-policing? Will they then reflect back on the good old days that they let slip away, pretending not to know what happened?

Do your city leaders value the law and order you keep? Do they assume that your sacrifice and dedication is immune to their cold shoulder whenever it shall turn?

I think we are seeing the answers to these questions play out more and more every year. So we have to ask ourselves:  Who has the power to influence our leaders? And the answer is: the citizens.

Citizens determine how hot the kitchen gets, and if we can’t expect leaders to stand up to the heat, then our citizen supporters need to cool down the temperature—or heat up a different kitchen. Our leaders either need to feel more comfortable supporting law enforcement or more risk in condemning it, and only the citizens can help achieve this.  

In a matter of days after the shooting of Michael Brown, protestors in Ferguson had a police captain apologize for wearing his uniform and a governor calling for the swift prosecution of a police officer without providing any evidence that he acted unlawfully. Today, in these days of soft leadership, the noise that citizens make is directly related to the decisions that our public leaders make.

Critics of law enforcement are very loud and can be violent, but our supporters still outnumber our critics. Not only that, the civic influence of our supporters greatly outweighs the anger and violence of our critics. Our supporters are law-abiding taxpayers and business owners, and our active critics are not for the most part.

Our supporters need to know that we are not afraid of the violence or the lies of our critics, but we are afraid of going to prison for doing our jobs. If Officer Darren Wilson is indicted for shooting Mike Brown without any facts that would prove his actions were not in accordance with the law or with his training, there is going to be a big shake up in American law enforcement. The public can expect to see the beginning of a sincere exodus of good cops from policing. The risk of injury or death to a police officer comes from defined, identified sources: the solid mass of a powerful fist, the velocity of a bullet, the metal edge of a blade, the speed of a car, etc.  But the risk of arrest and imprisonment is becoming less defined, almost abstract and apparently subject to the whim of pressure from special interest groups. This makes the job unacceptable, and it is why cops have a close eye on Ferguson.

We need our supporters to balance the scale of public pressure by making their own noise. We need unapologetic police leaders and politicians that won't cower to violence. But since we can’t rely on their courage, we must have supporters that will help control the climate to accommodate such sensitive leadership.    

We must also be careful not to estrange our supporters. Law enforcement is like an immune system tasked with fighting disease in the body of society like the white blood cells in the human body. However, our police white blood cells are sometimes attacking healthy cells, making enemies and weakening the system. We need to be fair and impartial, of course. But as cops we must also recognize who our citizen partners are when maintaining the way of life we enjoy while off duty and use discretion so as not to be an autoimmune disease with a badge.

Today, for the most part, the best and the brightest in law enforcement still run directly toward the violence and the trouble when it erupts. But if special interest groups continue to go unchallenged in setting the rules for how we work and how we defend ourselves, society will be left with mediocre and desperate officers shuffling toward the trouble and perhaps even running away. The best and the brightest will have moved on, shrugging off the weight of the world that they were not permitted to hold up with two hands.

Share this message with your families and friends. Let them know that supporting the police supports their way of life, and that they may have a duty to help control the climate in a nation of flammable leadership.

 

Anonymous Cop is a veteran police officer in a big city police department within America's Midwest.

 


Comments (25)

Displaying 1 - 25 of 25

JJ MacNab @ 10/8/2014 9:36 AM

I think the media's recent attack on police (fed by Ferguson, the ACLU, the Washington Post, and groups like Cop Block and Cop Watch) could have a significant long term effect if it continues - it will gradually erode public support.

Blackburn @ 10/9/2014 11:16 AM

I couldn't have said it better.

James Soukup @ 10/9/2014 11:28 AM

Great article about sad but real possibilities. I think it's time for the vocal minority to be put in their places, once and for all!

Nickelodeon @ 10/9/2014 11:44 AM

Great article. Truth is simple. The problem is, do they care?

Who's they? We're all they.

If they care, they will take control of the narrative. If not, we've already lost and terrible times are coming.

tony @ 10/9/2014 12:10 PM

Brilliant insight

TimW @ 10/9/2014 1:24 PM

Public opinion can be a monster at times, breathing fire upon politicians and media outlets in order to convince them or persuade them into subscribing to their point of view. I think this article did an excellent job in pointing out that when public opinion lashes out without supporting evidence, it simply becomes a bully on the playground, wanting you to play "their game" by "their rules" that are subject to change at any time to suit the bully's agenda, when they have never before played "the game" in the first place!

We can not let public supporters of law and order be bullied any longer. Our supporters have to know we are not afraid to stand up for truth and justice, and will not back down because people are complaining. Police Admins, leaders, and officers need to remember their Oath of Office and stand up for truth and justice...remember, you must stand up for something, or you will fall for anything!

Shaps @ 10/9/2014 2:11 PM

Much of this is relevant in Australia too. Keep up the good work.

Matt @ 10/9/2014 5:31 PM

Excellent article, and could not agree more. Keep up the great work sir.

John smith @ 10/10/2014 3:41 PM

good article!

ET @ 10/11/2014 8:19 AM

Well said! If only it was just as easily done. Our public leaders need to stand up for truth and justice instead of playing politics.

Jack Betz @ 10/11/2014 9:11 AM

A society that makes it's police an enemy had best become friends with it's crimminals.

SGT JJ @ 10/11/2014 9:48 AM

Most of us in the old days were trained in accepting the belief that all was not equal, with many not as fortunate as we. The phrase “BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, THERE GO I” was planted in our minds in the Academy training period. Most strived hard to live up to our oath of office with integrity in the face of many challenges. I believe today’s law enforcement ideals are no different, but society has dropped two or three levels in morality and has eroded our way of life. Even though the majority are good, law abiding citizens who personally support the police, they are the silent ones! The old saying, “THE SQUEAKING WHEEL” get the most attention plays out in places like we have witnessed in Ferguson.

Marcus @ 10/11/2014 9:59 AM

D*** Skippy!

Lou niles @ 10/11/2014 10:50 AM

The lead comment is insightful. "OUR EMENIES ARE VERY VOCAL". Therein squats the toad. Police officers are employees of the public, the citizen. And the membership of a community gets the final say on how they want their police employees to behave, operate, and be armed. Times are changing. The public and media are not the enemy. To use that phrase confirms the chief complaint from the employers-citizens--police officers have become infested with the consciousness of "Them against us." And the authors commentary merely confirms it. You dont like the work environment, new policies, a afraid of every traffic stop, afraid of the minority members of your town, think the public is the enemy? It's time to change jobs. You are no longer a good cop. You are a bully.

DEADMAN @ 10/11/2014 4:06 PM

Unfortunately,many police chiefs and brass owe their job to the mayor,city manager or city council and their whims and the number is growing.Believe it or not there are actually police chiefs out there that would like to disarm their own departments,they are messed up and terminally beholding to their city officials.

Mo Lassis @ 10/11/2014 7:47 PM

Policing has become a revenue generator, that's it. We need less police, and put the money somewhere else. Cops can't and don't save us from crime. They come afterwards. Now municipalities are dependent on the revenue from petty law enforcement to provide for bloated agency budgets. Cops harass far more than they "protect and serve". The SC has said cops have no obligation to protect society. So when I hear cops say they like to protect society, I know it's the sociopath in him speaking. Cops are sociopaths by a large majority. And they never admit to making a mistake. The only profession, and I use that word loosely, that is never held accountable for bad decisions. Sure a monetary payout, but bad cops need to go to jail for double time since they claim to be so full of integrity and do good service. When 20-25% of cops are crooked you draw the wrong kind of people into your gang. Citizens arm yourself and be ready to act when cops are nearby. The hiring standards are so low, that most cops would qualify as well below average intelligence. Then they fall back on policy when they try to explain why they became the criminal element themselves. Notice how they always blame everyone one else. Integrity and accountability is never involved when it comes to cops. It's always low funding to blame.

Bill Perhala @ 10/12/2014 11:41 PM

If you didn't break the law, Mr. Mo Lassis, you would not have to hide behind an alias and could openly use your real name. But, until then, please keep your opinions to you and your other imaginary friends who still believe you are a good, upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Oh, I have no doubt you believe you are a good person, but that is because your integrity is so low, that you've even begin to lie to yourself.

TheRookie @ 10/13/2014 1:08 AM

With a society that's sitting at home collecting welfare, food stamps, Obamacare, playing X-Box, watching TV, drinking booze, & smoking free Quest Card purchased Marijuana things won't change. It'll get worse. With the Mo Lassiss' of this society it's going further down before up.

Ordinary Joe @ 10/13/2014 7:36 AM

Mr Bill,

Your commentary is the exact reason why the civilian population is becoming more concerned with us every day. Mr. Mo Lassis is entitled to his opinion. Saying he is not only strengthens civilians perceptions that police do not enforce the laws equally and do not follow the Constitution. As the author puts it, "We must also be careful not to estrange our supporters." Problem is that we also need to not estrange the public at large and understand that our actions directly impact citizens perceptions of us. If you act like a dick, then we all are perceived as dicks. Recent examples abound around the internet. From DUI and immigration check points to cash seizures from people who have not been charged with a crime.

Bill Perhala @ 10/22/2014 10:37 PM

Mr. Joe,

If you'll look back, I think you'll see that I did not begin the name calling and mud-slinging. Also, how do you estrange someone who is already obviously biased against law enforcement. He obviously had already formed an opinion of us, and placating him only reinforces what this article was speaking about.

EndTyrranyBe Real Cops @ 11/10/2014 5:42 PM

Name calling and mud slinging? He gave well documented fact of police brutality and corruption - like in New Mexico they shot the homeless man in the park after they planned it. Premeditated murder with assault rifles. Doesn't get any more simple. Cops are being used as pawns to destroy the country and it's long loved freedoms. You are working for the crown. I believe there are cops who wish to do good" - but that's impossible. You work in a corrupt system that's geared to make money and ruin lives or kill. It's made to fail. That's why the elite think its funny. You good guys make yourself horrible bad guys just showing up at work. True courage would be to fight this system and be real cops like in the Wild West days. Free lancers who owe no duty to the state. You track down real criminals and stay out of petty " trespassing " claims or people walking around drunk. Waste of time. People can deal with trespassers and petty low life criminals with 2nd amendment. Too much "policing " will have your kids living in communist slavery North Korea. Think about what sever policing is doing. While letting felony murder Mexicans run across the border "oooh save the poor mexi kids who ruined their country with drug culture. " you "enforcers" only enforce what you're told to- not what should be like the government run pedophiles. Regular citizens can't trust "cops" up the the DOJ bc you're all run by crooks looking out for special interests. You can't protect the most evil people and arrest petty offenders. Everyone's waking up

Dean Kuzminski @ 12/5/2014 9:05 PM

little back round I'm white 46 years old, I have a degree in Machine technology and make a six figure salary I have served 6 years in the army ,been married 20 years and have 4 daughters. I have never been arrested for anything, I don't drink,pay my taxes and go to church on sunday now that being said I think you guys are missing something here, I read your comments and see nothing but arrogance and when some body like me starts to question things, their is a problem...32 officers in Cleveland arrested for illegal behavior and so on listen guys it's getting too the point when we the public don't trust you anymore, in fact police scare the hell out of me any more , I feel less safe being pulled over for traffic violation then walking home at 3 am with a 100 dollar bill taped to my head now you can simply blow this off and say i'm another radical but guys I have always respected the Police and honor them but when I see that choke video, you guys need to rethink and change.

PH @ 12/15/2014 6:23 PM

Good officers would condemn the constant unlawful behaviour of bad officers. Silent officers are chumps.

PH @ 12/15/2014 6:28 PM

These officers where not cautious and safe. They immediately rushed right up to this 12 year old kid and shot him. If officers are that afraid for their safety that they have to shoot first ask questions later... they dont deserve a badge. You get paid very well... we expect you to risk your lives and put them before the possibility of killing innocent people. You alleged 'good cops' are cowards for not speaking out about the bullshit you know you see your officers doing every day. Illegal stops, unlawful searches, excessive force, manipulating reports, planting evidence, by pass due process and rail roading cases. How about the disqusting locker room humor ? Please... You guys are being so dishonest.

PH @ 12/15/2014 6:29 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeoZkgjCHJ4

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