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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - Civilian? Part Two
  • Civilian? Part Two

    September 27 : 2011
    Editor's Notebook: Blowback from "Civics"
    by Rich Grassi

    "Sworn citizens" are a little different from the rest of us, but mostly different due to our expectations and bias.

    On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, the distinction between "civilian" and "citizen," along with implications, was discussed in this space. There was considerable response, all favorable. Apparently, a nerve was struck. I've not responded to all the emails, but I appreciate the feedback.

    One missive demonstrated that we're yet to be on the same page. The comment was made, "Too bad it (the understanding of peace officers as civilians) had to come after retirement."

    Casual reading is a threat to communication. A re-reading of the column shows that our correspondent missed the following:

    "It was the source of amusement to hear fellow law enforcement officers talk about civilians as if they were any different from us." (Emphasis added.)

    In the early 1990s through 2002, I regularly taught as an adjunct instructor in undergraduate Criminal Justice classes at a nearby university. Students who endured my instruction would be the first to tell you they'd heard the "sworn citizen" rap early and often in my classes. It often went like this:

    There's no percentage in thinking you're special. You're not. You selected a job with lousy pay, bad working conditions, in an environment where failure is an orphan in search of a parent (which they're happy to hang on you) while success has many parents - none of whom are you!

    But you knew they wouldn't love you when you took this job. People tend to avoid cops, particularly in social situations. Everyone has been treated unfairly by a cop, most of whom are badge-heavy thugs who like writing tickets and eating doughnuts. That thing about running toward the sound of gunfire is no big deal, no more than going into a burning building. Happens all the time in the movies and no one gets really hurt.

    That's the common picture.

    Cops don't have special privileges. They have increased responsibilities. Sometimes it seems the weight of the world is upon you. Carrying a gun is not a treat. It's not fun. It's not an "I'm more important than you." It's a load, heavy and single purposed. It's the last thing you go for in what could be the waning moments of your life.

    In a free society, power and responsibility is commensurate; there is a balance. In the power to seize someone's liberty there's the risk that doing so improperly leads to civil and criminal penalties. That's the way it should be. That's the way it is.

    If you don't believe me, sign up for that citizen's academy at the local cop shop. They'll be up front with you. Ask about the number of times a cop can pulled into court facing justice for one single incident.

    If they bring up "double jeopardy," that's a fairy tale. Get with me, I'll show you how you can stand before four separate and different judges for one action. That's the kind of stuff they don't tell you on "CSI."

    That's not the half of it. Sometimes taking someone's freedom isn't looked upon kindly. Sometimes there's resistance, hence the gun, the sap, the aerosol restraint, handcuffs and other nonsense. Understand that trying to take someone without killing them isn't the easiest thing in the world to do. You can get hurt doing that; you can get dead.

    It's a calling. Something's wrong with our wiring. There's no other explanation for why someone would join the cops.

    I'm not deifying the cops; they're human with all the failings that attach thereto. Some are great, some are okay, some are marking time and some have no business on the job at all. That said, the really great cops are really great.

    Look at those youngsters in the attached photos. They're on their own time - so much for police unions. They are in a SWAT competition in Texas. All of them are volunteers; no one forced any of them to join the response team.

    Look at them sweat. While you're at it, you might be thankful for them. They're sworn citizens. Our neighbors. Not a lot different from us, cops differ in our expectations of them, their expectations of themselves and, being as they work for us, they're judged by us.

    They need our understanding, our consideration and our help.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Civilian? Part Two started by Decline View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. SkivMarine's Avatar
      SkivMarine -
      One of the more difficult things I have faced in my time working in law enforcement and security is the almost unavoidable view of self importance, and the image as a lawman being somehow superior to a civilian. The badge is a symbol of a shield. It's there to let people know that you have responsibility to their safety, and can take their freedom from them. It's symbolic of the Knight in Blue. But that little piece of tin should never become a license to abuse the public, or as a wall to keep away from those we protect. It's far too easy to forget the fact that coppers are civies in blue suits.

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