You are trained right from your first day in the academy to obey orders from your supervisors. Before that in the private sector and in your life, you’ve learned that you must follow the directions of those who are in charge. While you might question the order you’ve been given, you followed it knowing that failing to obey would have repercussions.
I’m not talking blind obedience. Clearly, you can’t violate the law because your supervisor told you to do so, but a lawful order needs to be obeyed. Sure, you can complain afterward or even discuss it beforehand should time allow. Failure to do so can result in disciplinary action and possible loss of employment.
If you work at a grocery store and you are told to put up a display of whole-wheat bread at the end of an aisle, you do it. You do it even if you think there are other things better suited for that high-profile position. You can explain to your boss your reasoning but if he still wants you to put up the bread you better do it.
In other words, you signed on to do a job – and each job has rules. And jobs where you swear an oath have even stricter rules and repercussions. No matter where you are on the command chain you have a boss. In the private sector, it is to shareholders. In the public sector, it is to those in rank position above you or to the voters who put you in office. In the public sector, most of the rules you are required to follow are based on laws enacted by the legislatures of your cities, states, or the federal government. Not following those laws is not without consequences.
The officer on the street knows all too well that failing to obey the rules will result in a suspension or loss of employment. However, as you go up in rank that consequence vanishes. At levels of a mayor or governor, it seems to completely disappear.
For example, if an officer has a responsibility to offer assistance to a federal agency and he refuses on his own he is in trouble. If his mayor or governor determines that their city or state will not assist, then it is okay to not follow the rules.
Every police officer and most town, city, or state offices require an oath. They are pretty similar and follow this pattern “I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of (state title) to the best of my ability.” There may be more or less but the part about supporting the constitutions is usually there.
- READ: ICE TO SANCTUARY STATES: IF YOU DON’T TELL CITIZENS ABOUT THE CRIMINALS YOU’RE HIDING, WE WILL
So how come our mayors and governors are breaking their oath regularly? Just recently Chicago’s new mayor announced she’s ordered the Chicago Police to refuse assistance to federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who will be executing judicial arrest warrants in the city.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) June 21, 2019
Whether you are for or against the execution of these warrants by ICE doesn’t matter. It is our responsibility to enforce the laws and judicial orders. I was raised thinking that if you don’t like the law you work to change it in the courts or legislature. You do not have the option of ignoring it. It’s this case that looks to be a flagrant deviation and violation of their oath of office.
I am seeing this happen in cities all over the country. Elected officials are choosing to disregard their oath of office for their own political beliefs.
The fact that I believe they should be held accountable seems foolish here in Illinois were our governors usually serve at least one term in a prison and our local aldermen need to have a regular court date for their personal criminal acts. These same people turn arounds and accuse the police of being the root of all evils in our society.
It seems to me the only people who take an oath seriously are police officers and members of the military. To our elected officials the oath is that long boring part before they start the party. Perhaps they need to be reminded to lead by example, not an edict. Mayor, you are setting a shining example for your police officers to follow.
Oh well, that is this week’s rant by an old retired copper.
Stay safe and zigzag.
Robert Weisskopf (ret Lt. CPD)
P.S. You can find all my articles published in Law Enforcement Today by following the links at https://bobweisskopf.com/l-e-t-articles/