The tragic murder of police officers in Dallas recently gave the nation pause as they watched a coward take target practice on police officers who were doing nothing more than protecting the Constitutional rights of those who were protesting against the actions of other police officers.
Law enforcement officers are tasked with making split-second decisions on life and death matters, typically in the worst of environmental conditions. It is safe to say that every law enforcement officer would be happy to never be put in the situation where they are faced with taking another human life — right or wrong, their life changes, and not for the better, from that day forward.
With that being said, the overwhelming majority of our duties revolve around crime prevention, maintaining order and community relations. In reflecting back on past educational opportunities I located Peel’s Principles of Policing and feel these principles address the very issues we have across our nation today. The thing that amazes me the most is that Sir Robert Peel established these fundamental principles in 1832, that are still followed to this day.
Peel’s Principles of Policing are:
1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6. Police, at all times, must maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
7. Police should always direct their action strictly toward their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
8. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
Pretty insightful considering it was authored 184 years ago.
The reason for sharing these guiding principals has to do with the make-up of our community. We all know we have a great community and that is a testament to you the citizens.
That make-up was never more evident than Saturday night at the Clinton County Fair. People by the dozens over the course of the night either offered a handshake, a “Thanks for all you do” or both to all of our officers working at the fair.
It is reassuring after an event like in Dallas, to know that the public is supportive of law enforcement, but let’s not forget our EMS and firefighters, because in every serious situation they are there providing their support as well.
Thank you to everyone in our community; it is you and your values that make Clinton County great.
Brian L. Prickett is Chief Deputy, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.