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Thread: What hapened to "Peace Officer"?

  1. #1
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    What hapened to "Peace Officer"?

    I was a KSP Trooper/Detective from 1975 to 1998 when I retired.

    I read these forums almost every day, if not every other day. I know there are differences in big city/rural police work, but when did some police start becoming almost hostile to the citizens that they are sworn to serve?

    I always considered myself a Peace Officer, not a Law Enforcement Officer. If I could solve a problem, I solved it. Sometimes that meant sending the parties to different areas with the promise of a swift trip to the county jail if I had to return. Most of the time it worked out. I know there are some areas that almost mandate an arrest (Domestic Violence) if a bare minimum of facts are present, but not all complaints require an arrest.

    I think the militarization of police forces is a big mistake, and the "us and them mentality" can only lead to disaster.

    I can't tell you how many warrants I have served by simply knocking on the door and telling "Bily Bob" he needed to come with me. I've even called some up on the phone and had them meet me at the courthouse.

    I have racked my brain trying to pin point where Peace Officer changed to LEO and I can't pin point it.

    What the heck happened, and when did it start?

    Gary
    Last edited by MrOverlay; 07-07-2011 at 09:48 PM.

  2. #2
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    Common Sense

    It all started when common sense went out the window and all the young bucks think that their badge is a crown. I know a few KSP troopers that are like that but I know a lot of good ones also. I know a bunch of good cops and ones that need to take it down a thousand notches. Common sense goes a long way. I do respect all that serve our country though foreign and domestic.

  3. #3
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    I'm betting it wasn't a single point. More like a trend that was already underway probably even before your time.

    The militarization business started in LA with the first SWAT team under Chief Darryl Whatshisname, then got a big kick upwards when the fedgov started providing military surplus to police departments.

    I've got $5 says the LEO vs peace officer business has a lot to do with where cops are getting their training--police unions, lawyers, tactical trainers, that sort of thing. As in a top-down flow.

    The War on Drugs, begun under Nixon, has had a huge influence, I believe. According to some reports I've read, the US houses the most prisoners on earth. Something like 6% of the 5% of the planet's population with 25% of the prisoners or something similarly astounding. Last year we hit the point where there were more non-violent "offenders" in prison than violent ones. It is my current understanding that most of our non-violent prisoners are there for drug possession.

  4. #4
    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    The 'criminal element' has gotten more pervasive and more extreme, and since almost every human finds a need to alter their consciousness with licit and illicit substances, it must seem to the cops that everyone's a criminal. Some nearly rightly presume that anyone they stop on the road and on foot has something to hide, from a child-support warrant to a DUI, to not having current inspection sticker.

    BUT it's a big difference between a citizen who might run afoul of a rule and a predator who is a danger to the LEO and themselves. IMO, they no longer seem to make a distinction and will do things like break into a home to serve a warrant and end up shooting someone. Recently, even victimless crimes like prescription drug selling end up with a dead 'victim' (or perp, depending on your PoV).

    Cops need better training, the guys at the top should support them and be above reproach, not power-hungry or with undue political aspirations, and the 'right stuff' would trickle down. It's not happening. The beat cop is only part of the problem.

    $.02
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  5. #5
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    It may be simplistic of me but I look at the old tv series featuring a country sheriff and a deputy that carried his one round in his shirt pocket....

    Personally, I would prefer the Sheriff Andy character(Peace Officer) instead of Barney Fife (Law Enforcement or Opinion Enforcement Officer!

  6. #6
    Regular Member M-Taliesin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrOverlay View Post
    I was a KSP Trooper/Detective from 1975 to 1998 when I retired.

    I read these forums almost every day, if not every other day. I know there are differences in big city/rural police work, but when did some police start becoming almost hostile to the citizens that they are sworn to serve?

    I always considered myself a Peace Officer, not a Law Enforcement Officer.
    <snip>
    I think the militarization of police forces is a big mistake, and the "us and them mentality" can only lead to disaster.
    <Snip>
    I have racked my brain trying to pin point where Peace Officer changed to LEO and I can't pin point it.
    Gary
    Howdy Gary!
    First, I want to thank you for your service to your state. It is great to hear from a retired trooper who has an open mind. Good on ya, sir!!!

    But I think you answered your own question. The militarization of police departments has altered that "Serve and Protect" role among law enforcement agencies all across America today.

    There have been a lot of cops who have given their lives in service to their community, but also an alarming number of officers who have wrongly taken the lives of citizens they are sworn to protect. Some guys go on a power trip when they get that badge, while others recognize the citizen as their primary concern. I've seen examples of police brutality in Denver against citizens who had broken no law. Meanwhile, I've also seen police officers who went out of their way to help a citizen in need.

    Television gives us a warped idea of what the relationship should be between citizen and police officer. Remember the TV series SWAT? It glorified the paramilitary approach to law enforcement. Gung ho has replaced reasonable contact. Officers sometimes develop an attitude that every citizen is an inherent threat. Some may even have a quota for arrests in their jurisdiction, which would be wrong on so many levels.

    Political influence is also a factor that should not be integrated into law enforcement agencies, but it exists. Wrong thinking, but ambition tends to lead to catastrophic results.

    But more than anything, I believe the whole paramilitary idea eliminated the peace officer and replaced him with Dirty Harry! You can see glimmers of that sort of attitude at a police forum "officer.com". You'll also see some who believe they should accord the citizen due respect. This is especially true when they discuss open carriers, and they know about this forum and some drop by to see what's going on over here. Some say they'd take a hard line approach to open carriers, while others wonder why their fellows won't respect the rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. It is interesting to see them struggle with many of the same issues we talk about over here.

    Unless we address the need for peace officers in our society, and get rid of the notion that citizens are a lower caste of humanity when compared to the police department, we will continue to see such troubles as have manifested in recent years.

    Given my d'ruthers, I wish for the peace officer to be restored to the place of honor and dump the "Us against them" attitude that seems almost viral among LEOs when dealing with their employer... the taxpaying citizen. Don't know how we can make that happen, but would love to see a movement to demand this in every jurisdiction across America.

    Blessings,
    M-Taliesin
    Last edited by M-Taliesin; 07-08-2011 at 01:20 AM.

  7. #7
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    Unfortunately I think that many of you may be correct. It will take a different teaching method and a different approach. I know that I learned more in the 8 weeks with senior Troopers that were assigned to break the "rookies" in than I did in the 16 weeks of the training academy.

    The problem with that I think training academys begin the process of "Us verus Them" mentality. Then if you are assigned to a training officer who has that same mentality, the rookie may be lost.

    I always tried to treat people like I would lke to be treated, up to the point that they wouldn't let me. Not trying to toot my own horn, but I have sent people to prison who shook my hand on the way out of court because I treated them fairly.

    If you live in Kentucky guns are a way of life. At one time the Brady bunch rated us a F-. I couldn't have been prouder. Police need to see past the gun and look at the individual. What are the circumstances, open your eyes, and use common sense.

    This is all very strange.

    Gary

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