This piece was authored by a police officer at a major metropolitan police department.
1. We do not wake up in the morning hoping that when we get to work we will get into a fight or a shooting. Anytime we use any type of force, there is an investigation. The higher the level of the force, the more intense the investigation. We do not want to go through that process, so we would rather go through our shift without using force. We would rather talk people into handcuffs.
2. Just because we are putting handcuffs on someone doesn’t mean they are being arrested. Many times we put handcuffs on people for our protection as well as theirs. It eliminates the possibility of them making a quick move and diminishes the possibility of us mistaking those movements as aggressive. Many times we will put handcuffs on, complete our investigation, and then remove the handcuffs, as long as there is no crime.
3. We are our own biggest critics. People think bad officers aren’t disciplined, but they most certainly are. If any good cop sees another cop doing something that is questionable, the good cop will take action. In addition, our disciplinary system is second to none. Internal Affairs takes things very seriously and will perform a complete and thorough investigation on any problem officers.
4. Most of our encounters come from a radio call (someone calling the police). We don’t stop or detain people just to mess with them. Someone calls the police and gives a possible suspect description. We then arrive at the scene and if the possible suspect is still there, they will be detained until we determine if a crime has been committed. We are not detaining you just for the hell of it.
5. Go with the program and everything will be okay. When we give commands such as, “put your hands up”, “don’t move”, or “get on the ground” we are not doing it because we are on some kind of power trip. We are doing it to keep everyone safe. Everyone will get to tell their side of the story once we have everything under control.
6. We signed up for the job to help people, not hurt them. We will put ourselves in harm’s way to protect the public regardless if we disagree with them or them wanting our heads. Even though the public usually sees us on their worst day, they should remember that we are there to help.
7. Give respect and receive respect. If we walk up and begin speaking calmly and then we hear “F*** YOU, I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!!” it makes things much harder than they need to be. Most officers will treat people with respect as long as they are getting it.
8. We only enforce laws. We do not create them. We may even disagree with some of the laws, but we have a duty to enforce them.
9. Our job is easier and the community is safer when we work with the people in the community. They should let us know of any problems in the community. So if people see police officers in their communities, talk to them (as long as they’re not rushing to an emergency)
10. Contrary to what people may think, we do not flip our sirens on just to go through red lights. The law allows us to go through red lights when responding to high priority calls. We do not abuse that power.
11. We do not stop people because of their race. We stop people if we believe they are committing or have committed a crime.
12. Everyone likes donuts.