Advice For The Police

Dave Killion — November 28, 2010

Victoria Police Officer and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker David Bratzer is a regular contributor to the blog Cops Say Legalize.  In his latest post, Bratzer mentions the video “10 Rules For Dealing With the Police” (watch it here), and asks, “(Imagine) you were making a film for police officers: “10 Rules for Dealing with the Public.” What would your rules be?”

This is a real challenge.  The original list is meant to help civilians protect their rights when they deal with the police, but what’s the intention of the proposed list?  At first I thought to outline a sort of code of conduct for police, and judging by the comments in Bratzer’s original post, that’s what others thought as well. On reflection, this doesn’t seem the right way to go.  After all, police already have a code of conduct, plus they already have practices they are trained to follow to protect themselves physically from potentially dangerous citizens. Should the new list aim to help law enforcement officers protect their rights when they deal with civilians?  It never occurred  to me that might be a problem.  I know of many instances in which innocent citizens have had their rights trampled by police, but when has a taxpayer violated the rights of a police officer?

Ultimately I could only come up with one rule – always assume you are being recorded, and conduct yourself appropriately.  That means knowing the regulations you are sworn to enforce and the limits of your authority.  I know plenty of bad cops have violated this rule and suffered no consequences, but not everyone gets away.  As recording becomes cheaper and more widely available, more bad cops will be outed and there will be more public pressure for action to be taken.  Do not doubt that political pressure will cause some decent officers to be sacrificed out of expediency.  Do what you can to avoid becoming just such a target.

I hope to hear some other ideas, but like I said, this is a real challenge.

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