A Higher Standard – Or…The Peter Parker Realization…

2 03 2010

Now fair warning… I was a hell-raiser when I was younger. I was one of those folks that many would have loved to have seen locked away permanently for the “good of society” (thank god it didn’t happen…). I did some bad things, and I didn’t particularly care well for myself or anyone else for that matter which certainly didn’t help. But I was not really a “bad” person. In any case…I did love sports, and it was one of the few things I participated in that made me feel like I could affect the outcome of something in a positive way.

I remember one time when I had gotten into trouble for being tardy to a few classes my head coach called me into his office during athletics one day. He told me, “son, you’re not going to start the game this week.” I was shocked and devastated. “Why? I have worked my tail off in practice coach. I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to and more.” He then proceeded to tell me how my excessive tardies were unacceptable. I said, “I’ve done everything else right that you’ve asked me to. I’ve been a model athlete in every other way. No other students get treated in this manner and it’s not fair.” That’s when he took a deep breath and told me, “son, you are a member of a special group of students. This group you belong to receives special benefits that other students don’t receive such as early releases, special activities, and much more. Furthermore, you are role model to all of the younger students in the school. They look up to the members of this team and aim to join this team someday. Because of all of this, I expect you and the other members of this team to be held to a higher standard. It might not be fair or equitable, but mistakes that go unpunished in other students must be dealt with for those on this team. If you make it to class without being late this next week, I’ll restore your starting position. Until then though…you’re not starting and that’s it. You can leave now.”

I was livid. I couldn’t believe how I was being singled out for something that so many other people got away with every day. I had done so much that was so good…didn’t that make up for it?

The answer is no. It doesn’t make up for it. Coach was absolutely right…and you know what officers…the same goes for you. It might not be fair or fun…but when you are sworn in and given your badge and gun…along with the constant danger you face comes substantial privileges and power over ordinary citizens that provides you and yours with benefits and freedoms not otherwise obtainable by common citizens. It is for this, that an officer’s behavior must be above reproach. His or her honesty, integrity, and yes, moral compass must be always in tune and perfect. And if you say that this is not something that is possible…perhaps it’s time to hit the books and find another line of work because it certainly is possible…just maybe not for you. You might also ask why it is that a good officer could have their entire career ruined by one careless or mistaken act…and I’d rebut with the fact most people live with the possibility of losing their careers for things far less harmful than the mistakes that can be made by erroneous, ignorant, or egotistical officer. That’s just the way it is. Ask the nurse who accidentally kills someone’s little baby if it’s fair that her 25-year career in Nursing is over with after one incident…sorry folks…some jobs have responsibilities that rise to a level beyond that of others and being a peace officer is one of them. Nobody forced anyone into pursuing a career in law enforcement anyway. It is choice made by one’s own direct intention. It’s a tough career that is fraught with many emotional and physical challenges, but that’s no excuse for making mistakes or errors that lead to the deprivation of individuals’ basic liberties, rights, and freedoms and then failing to do everything to atone or repair such actions. Once again…I don’t actually condemn officers and agents for being human and making mistakes. I do condemn them for seeking to cover up, obfuscate, and otherwise hide such errors when they commit them…and sorry folks…you’re not going to shake my contention that most of the time when an officer makes such errors that they usually do their damned best to do just that. Furthermore…if you want to make the contention that they do receive reprimand or punishment but beyond the view of the public… Well…I contend that such a thing is no justice at all. An essential part of the relationship between officers and the public that they are supposedly serving is trust, openness, and honesty. If one hides something from another party…I propose that such an action is direct proof of no trust at all.

If you can’t handle the great responsibility that comes with the great power vested in you… Perhaps it’s time to take off the spidey suit…

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