The current state of disrespect that the community displays towards police is repugnant, but a recent discovery may bring this into context. Don’t take the vehement disrespect that the public displays towards you personally.
After much reflection it has occurred to me that every time a police officer is swung on, cursed out, disrespected and disobeyed it is less about hatred and more about human nature. People have the inherent tendency of not listening to those that they think they don’t have to. Nobody likes being told what to do.
For example, many don’t believe and comply with the commands of a deity out of genuine respect but instead out of fear of eternal punishment. Many children conversely only listen to the commands of their parents because they fear the repercussions of grounding or loss of privileges.
How are judges and police similar?
Police officers through their decision (post interpretation) of what was witnessed and reported send people to jail ridding them of their freedom. Judges (post interpretation) of what the recanted facts of the case are send people to jail ridding them of their freedom.
Yet a judge will get less disrespect and public displays of hostility and aggression than a police officer will. Why is that? It is safe to hypothesize that it is because respect is demanded out of people in the courtroom but not on the streets.
Maybe if we show how similar and influential both police and judges are in the criminal justice system, people will respect them more. This will alleviate much of the tension between police and the community during the citizen/police encounter. When the subject is respectful and cooperative nobody ever gets hurt.
Though the sworn law enforcement professional is never referred to or even thought of as a judge, this article will help us understand their similarities and points of intersect with those clothed in black robes with solemn faces and a gavel.
It is the intent of this article that by its conclusion those that read it begin to understand the level of respect that police officers deserve. Just like in the court of law the tenor and attitude of the accused will ordain their fate, during the citizen police encounter the tenor and attitude of the suspect will have a big part in the outcome of what they are charged with and to what extent.
Both the judge and the sworn law enforcement professional use their legally sanctioned authorities to determine the most fitting consequence for legal disobedience. Most illegal acts have a vast array of possible repercussions. Meaning, many acts represent a simultaneous breach of multiple laws of different authority (ie federal, state, county).
Just as the police officer relies on discretion to recognize the rules of engagement that dictate the kind of citizen/police encounter known as: consensual, RAS and probable cause, the officer of the court known as a judge relies on discretion to determine what rule or rules of law to apply when deciding on the court’s jurisdiction and if there is enough probable cause to merit sustaining the charges and proceeding to a court date and potentially a trial.
Then just as the police officer uses discretion (prejudicial judgement) to determine what charges to bring on the suspect and from what authority (federal, state, county) so does the judge use their discretion (judicial judgement) to decide how compelling the evidence is against the accused to determine what sentence to dictate.
An accused in contempt of the court will always get the least favorable sentence as the most cooperative and remorseful will gain public sympathy and the court’s most benign judgement called a sentence. Therefore it behooves the accused to be as mindful and remorseful as possible during the accused/judge encounter, because how they act will determine whether or not they get the minimum or maximum penalty for the illegal actions.
The police are the executive branches prejudicial task force and deserve as much respect and compliance as a judge?
Their training, knowledge and experience coupled with their role in the prejudicial system as prescribed and inferred at the Constitutional, State, County and City levels not only merits the respect of those they serve but demands it.
According to the United States Constitution, the police power is founded in the tenth amendment where it gives States the right and power (not delegated in the US Constitution). States are thus granted the power to establish and enforce laws protecting the welfare, safety and health of the public (this paragraph an extrapolation in paraphrase from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary).
First we will discuss what laws are, what it means to break them and what leads up to being charged with a delinquent act. Then we will do an analysis of what the police do and how their role as members of the prejudicial task force (term coined in this article) as compared to the role of a judge in the court.
A law is a normative that regulates human behavior and should be a reflection of social reality and address social need. Laws have elements that describe the act typified in the code of law. In order for a person to be charged with a crime they must meet the requirements of the code section, meaning that the action in question must match the description of the criminal act in the code section as described to be charged.
In context if the illegal act described in the code of law has three elements the sworn law enforcement professional must quickly determine if the suspected person meets the aforementioned elements that would justify approaching them. Imagine having sometimes less than a second to decide if somebody meets the elements of a crime.
In context we will define probable cause. Probable cause (paraphrase) is that set of facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonable and prudent person to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed and the person in question was involved in a significant manor.
Judges and police are really not that different as far as their role in the pursuit of justice. They both use judgement to decide how to proceed. The police use their judgement called discretion to see if the criminal conduct of the subject matches any of the classifications of the criminal code. If meeting that requirement, that subject will become a suspect and will be put through the criminal justice process.
If it goes to trial the judge, jury, defense and DA will all reconstruct the event and put it into context and discover things such as intent, motive, reason and in so doing the judge will determine the caliber and extent of punishment allowable by law if the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt are met.
To the extent the accused shows remorse for having done wrong or constructs a logical respectful defense for their actions or accused actions the judge will be as lenient as the court, law, ethics and morale allows. But if the accused shows no remorse, acts with a sense of entitlement treating the court and its officials as subservient to them, do you think that the courts mercy will be given?
The people have been trained by the youtube court of law that they are entitled to treat the public safety force (police) with total disregard because they are mere servants. These graduates believe that their right to be obnoxious, loud and disorderly supersedes the rights of others to quiet and tranquility. The aforementioned school of law fails to make clear that the rights of every person end where the rights of another begin.
Police are servants but not to anybody in particular, they are officers, sanctioned and commissioned by law and assignment to uphold the law of the land as police officers and peace as Peace officers.
Their responsibility is to the community not to any one individual (public duty doctrine, Warren v District of Columbia).
The police do their best to serve the community justly and will normally bend over backwards and go above and beyond for the public. Police and judges have a tremendous responsibility. The police enforce law (justice) by bringing people to it that fall short and judges after due process apply the principles of justice (law, morale, customs) to hold the person accountable through the sanctions prescribed by law through sentencing.
Only the ignorant will mock the court, insult the judge, threaten the judge’s family and in the same breath demand the courts mercy.
Officer Eric Aguiar, LLB has a passion for fairness and seeks to assist in the personal, professional, and spiritual growth for LEOs and to better the community/police relationship.
Eric believes that leaders must foster and motivate the growth, fulfillment and development of law enforcement subordinates and co-workers. Everyone in the profession deserves the opportunity to grow into the role they wish to fulfill. Eric taught legal courses at a North-Atlanta technical college for 7 years before starting his law enforcement career. He currently serves as a police officer, positively influencing coworkers and community. Eric was recently credentialed in negation by Notre Dame University. He believes that negotiation skill is an important leadership asset. His ultimate career goal is to serve as a police chief who focuses on professional growth and team development by cultivating a department culture supporting good morale and uniformity of leadership at all command levels.