Fear is a beneficial tool when used judiciously and wisely by experienced police officers.
When fear is introduced in police work it often allows the officer to bypass threats and physical force. Fear is not to be mislabeled as aggression nor violence. It is simply conveying a thought that a person needs to comply with a police officer’s order or there will be consequences. Those consequences range from warnings to arrests. They further range from the use of words to physical actions taken by the officer.
The misconception of fear is that it is somehow a negative or detrimental emotion. On the contrary, fear is good. Fear is what allows society to run as smoothly as it does. Take the family for example: children obey their mothers and fathers not out of love or respect, but out of fear of punishment. When mom says to go to bed, little Johnny trots off to bed fearing the repercussions if he refuses. Love and respect play a major role in family unity, but fear makes it run smoothly.
In our criminal justice system, fear is the fuel that motivates people to obey our laws. People drive the speed limit to avoid the punishment of receiving a citation… not out of respect for other drivers. People don’t shoplift because they are fearful of being humiliated by being arrested. People avoid the often desired physical confrontation with others, who may or may not deserve it, because they are fearful of the negative penalties attached.
The backbone of the criminal justice system is fear. Fear of punishment. This fear is an integral part of our society as a control for those individuals with any modicum of personal responsibility. The current problem law enforcement is having is that more and more people are entering society without the correct moral base and as such, they are devoid of the values taught by previous generations. Fear was once introduced by parents. With the loss of the two-parent home, that is no longer the case. Fear was initiated by school personnel; that is no longer allowed. Fear then, was distributed by law enforcement; that is no longer permitted.
The loss of fear in society is the reason for the lack of civility. This is easily seen in the home where discipline is replaced with victimhood and blaming others for the child’s misbehaver. This is obvious in the public-school system where discipline is now being labeled as racism. Politicians have forced the teachers and administrators to ignore students’ lack of self-discipline and willpower and avoid discipline at all costs. Street criminals and other associated usual people are now being protected from the police and court system. The street thugs and gangbangers are given more credibility than a police officer. In general, society is going to hell in a hand basket.
Back in the day, things ran more smoothly. Parents taught their children morals and principles. Those lessons were supported with fear. Schools disciplined the rowdy while maintaining a dignified classroom for those who wished to learn. Detention and suspension were doled out thoughtfully, as well as the paddle in extreme cases. A police officer would order you off the corner one time. If that order wasn’t enough motivation, you either got brought home to your father, got kicked in the ass, or went to jail for the night. That was the installation of fear that many individuals needed to adapt to society’s rules.
As we all know, fear of consequences has been removed from society, and more generally from the tool bag of law enforcement. Without that abstract emotional tool, police officers have no leeway in enforcing humanity’s rules. It’s either arrest or walk away. Nothing in between exists anymore. Warnings, threats, or any form of physical discipline are met with civil contempt and more than likely, chastisement of the officer.
Fear is a wondrous thing; it can control so much with so little effort.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
View Larry Casey’s website here and review his book by the same name.