About two hundred years ago, Robert Peel said “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
How many times have you spoken to officers who speak of the general public as a group that is separate, distinct and beneath the police? Those officers refer to the pubic as “Idiots” or speak of the public in “us” versus “them” terms. Officers are “on the job” and the rest are simply “sheeple.” While certainly our training and our experiences differentiate police officers from those in other professions, we must be careful not to let our pride in our jobs become arrogance.
The interests of the community and the interests of the police should be the same. We need to insure that we don’t violate the rights of the public. We need to make sure the public is kept safe from the few who are inclined to criminal acts. We also need to be sure that we don’t hold the public in contempt, they are our customers and they pay our salaries. We are there to serve their needs, by doing so we are granted extraordinary powers and authority. It is a great trust that we must hold high; that’s what the SGT Says.