We have seen the recent trouble in Ferguson, Missouri watching the live news feed of the violence being played out in the suburbs. We have become almost immune to scenes of armored vehicles manned by uniformed personnel with automatic weapons.
This time though, it is different. Those aren’t US Armed Forces and the people gathered in the streets aren’t Iraqis. Those people in the street are citizens and the armed men are local and state police officers.
Those citizens have civil liberties and are protected by a Bill of Rights which includes the ever-precious First Amendment. The very same First Amendment that those police officers are sworn to uphold. The plot twist is that while the assembly is protected, the damage and destruction caused is not.
The protesters argue that the damage is in retaliation at the police, the very same people who are charged with protecting the peace from a state of unrest. As a police officer in that situation, you have to make sure that the people are allowed to peacefully assemble as well as ensure that \no damage or harm comes to any other citizens who also enjoy their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Whose rights are more important? How can you be on both sides at once? If you’re not on both sides, which side are you on? Our brothers and sisters in blue face some difficult decisions in the next few days while trying to restore peace to the community.
Remember that the people they are dealing with deserve the same amount of respect that one would have to give the violator on a traffic stop until you are forced to escalate up the continuum.
It is a tragic situation, regardless of the known or unknown facts of the police-involved shooting that is the center of debate. I certainly don’t have the answers that the people there are looking for, but I do have a bit of advice for those trying to maintain order. Be true to yourself and carry out your duties virtuously, you don’t have much control over the rest.
Josh Crosby has been in law enforcement for the past 15 years, serving as a patrol officer, narcotics investigator, and criminal detective as well as a defensive tactics instructor, in criminal interdiction and personal protection detail. Josh has trained police officers in four countries and maintains that well trained officers are safe officers.