Police Chief: Our mission has never changed (despite what the media tells you)

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“Our mission has never changed.”

If you have been a police officer for any amount of time, you have no doubt had your life interrupted countless times by a dispatcher who seems to have some sort of clairvoyant skill, to be able to know exactly when you are sitting down to eat a meal, walking into a rest room after several back to back calls or traffic accidents, or even getting ready to pull of your duty rig in the last moments of a seemingly never ending shift.

And even in the frustration of walking away from your fast food meal, or strapping your vest back up because you are not going to pawn your call onto someone else just coming on duty, I am willing to bet that you never stopped, grabbed your radio and asked “Before I head that way, what color are the people in that wrecked car?” or “I will be in route, but what is the ethnic background of that store owner getting robbed?”

It doesn’t work that way.  That’s not how we are wired.  When the call comes out, we drop what we are doing and go.   

To those of us that took an oath…it doesn’t matter who they are.  Their lives matter.

Everyday hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters (of all colors) don a badge and a gun and run toward danger, often times with no regard for their own safety and certainly without any regard for the skin color of the person they are rushing to help.

Despite the picture that the media, and those wishing to stir the pot of discontent, may paint for the world, my friends and colleagues, and your fellow officers, deputies and troopers work hard… every minute of every hour of everyday, to save anyone who needs saving. 

To help anyone, of any race, color or creed, who pushes those three buttons on their phone’s dial pad.  You know that and so do I.  Isn’t that what is important?

So when you hit the streets tomorrow,  walk away from that burger you have waited all day to try and choke down between calls, or realize for the 8th time this month that you aren’t going to go home on time, keep in mind that answer you gave in your first interview for a police job: “I want to make a difference, I want to help people”.

I will wager that somewhere in your core that motive is still there, and regardless of what the politics of your agency or your city/county/state are putting you through, and in spite of the endless number of citizens with a cell phone camera salivating at a chance to catch you raising your voice to someone, I know just like you know… When the call for help goes out regardless of who they are…

Their lives matter.  Our mission has never changed.

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Last week, Chief Kaiser pondered: 

“What happened to America? We started rewarding bad behavior, that’s what.”

Here are his thoughts.

If you have ever taken a psychology class you have probably been exposed to the notion of reward versus punishment.  The basis being that you get more of that which you reward and less of that which you punish for.

Generally speaking it’s an accurate synopsis of how human nature works.  When someone does that which society appreciates, something positive follows. When they perpetrate acts that we wish to discourage, some type of negative reaction transpires.

Yet in cities across the nation leaders are trying to convince the governed that they can rewrite the laws of human nature. These often times elected (but sometimes appointed) decision makers are in a frenzied race to prove that we can fix the ills of society by rewarding them.

While cities like San Antonio, Texas have worked on ways to eliminate the citywide epidemic of homeless panhandling by passing city ordinances to discourage this activity, just up the road in Austin they encourage the homeless to set up camp in any public space. 

San Francisco is so consumed by the homeless crisis that they actually have city workers dedicated to picking up human waste from the street every single day.  The tens of thousands of reports of locations where people decided to defecate on the street or sidewalk have been recorded, and when mapped these reports show a solid blanket of brown spots from one side of the city to the other. 

In Seattle, transients have set up makeshift camps on nearly every empty piece of space they can find throughout the city. Why?  Because there is no reason not to.  Citizens there recently rose up against local elected officials demanding action as their neighborhoods become 3rdworld-like.  

Meanwhile, back here in the Lone Star State, the City of Abilene has made aggressive efforts to end veteran homelessness…and succeeded.  Lowering their veteran homeless rate to 0%.  And they didn’t do it with an “anything goes”, zero enforcement of decency standards approach, they partnered with advocacy groups, law enforcement and others to find real solutions.

If you stopped reading right here you would think that I have some animosity or issue with the homeless, but that is far from true. In fact, I believe that the vast majority of these issues are driven by the two main factors: Drug addiction and mental health. 

Address those in a meaningful way via public programs, private non-profits and faith based organizations, and not with insignificant gestures designed to elicit applause at a political speech, and you will absolutely see the homeless crisis improve.

These examples show the stark contrast in methodology and how rewarding bad behavior versus addressing it head on provides polar opposite outcomes.  So why do we continue to see, from coast to coast, politicians whose answer to a problem is to just ignore it? 

Too many vagrants camping on your sidewalk? Just legalize public camping.  Too many people illegally crossing our border? Just deny funding to I.C.E.  Too many drug addicts in your state?  Just legalize drugs.  Too much violence at a protest?  Just tell the police to pull back and disregard it.

The attitude that we should cave in to any problem and either ignore or legitimize it is like a caustic acid that slowly erodes widely accepted societal norms.

As a parent is it easier to let your kids run wild and do whatever they want instead of laying down some rules and consequences and adhering to them?  Sure it is. But the product of that approach is an un-teachable, un-coachable, un-disciplined adult that will struggle to succeed.  Society is no different.

The old saying, “You can pay me now or pay me later” has never been more applicable.  Our goal as leaders should be to leave our world better than we found it for the next generation, not leave them with a mess to clean up.

Whether we are talking about the city, state or federal level we should be rewarding leaders who step up and successfully address the issues at hand.  In every other facet of life we hire people based on their ability to complete the task. Your plumber, carpenter, auto mechanic or accountant may not have the most glowing personality but if they are good at their craft we compensate for that skill. 

Yet when it comes to those who lead us, we all too often pick the guy with the best hair, smile or slogan even though they have repeatedly shown us that they excel at accomplishing nothing.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. 

In layman’s terms…leaders are there because we allow them to be.

I have known, and still know, honorable and competent Mayors, State Senators and Congressmen, but at last check there were plenty who fit into neither of those categories. 

It’s our job to fix that. 

-Chief Eric Kaiser

Eric Kaiser is the Chief of Police for the Jourdanton (TX) Police Department and a Master Texas Peace Officer.  He is also a member of Generation X.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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