Not too long ago, I posted about public opinion. Seems that rant didn’t make it to enough ears.
Consequently, here we go again.
For you non-LEO readers, I will give you a brief explanation of the title of this post. It’s akin to the three strikes rule. It’s true in baseball. It’s true in parenting (if you’re doing it right). It’s true in law enforcement…or rather it used to be. See, when the guy/gal with the badge and gun asks you to do something and you don’t, they move on to telling you. If you don’t comply with their order (make no mistake, by the by, it’s an order), they take you to jail.
That’s it. There’s no “pretty please with sugar on top”.
Simple, right? It has to be. We’re cops, not brain surgeons.
At some point in the last fifteen years (the amount of time I’ve been a cop), we’ve seen the degradation of what used to be a respected career path. Be it the advent of the ever increasing breadth and depth of the internet, technology, social media, whatever…cops have been reduced to little better than maitre-d’s at some snobby upscale restaurant where the customers would just as soon shit on you as listen.
In my previous post, I talked about how LODD (line of duty death) and injuries are becoming more common place because we worry so much about what others will think instead of acting. I standby that post; however, this post isn’t about LODD or officer safety. Put simply, this is about one thing:
Doing your job.
Earlier this week, I saw a story on PoliceOne.com about a flight being delayed by 45 minutes because a woman refused to get off her cell phone. This resulted in the plane returning to the gate and police boarding. Here’s the video:
Now, I’m not saying the officers in this video didn’t do their job. They did and they were a hell of a lot more patient than I would have been. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not assigned to the airport. The point remains, though, that when one unruly, loud mouth can delay us at our jobs (in and of itself a crime) and we do nothing (or at least not quickly and decisively), haven’t we been rendered nearly ineffective?
When two cops walk onto a plane to remove a passenger, that passenger should have one opportunity to comply with the request to deplane. If they do not, they should be told to deplane. If compliance is not forthcoming, they should forcibly be removed. Now, I’m not talking about a full-on WWE smack down. I’m saying tell her she is under arrest and use the amount of force necessary to effect that arrest. Perhaps having passengers in the surrounding rows move away from the unruly passenger when the inevitable hands-on period arrives would be a good plan.
Our litigious and loud society would rather sue us or talk over us so later they can claim they didn’t hear the request and/or order. I’ve seen it time and again when people will just keep talking in order to either confuse, frustrate, or just generally piss you off in an attempt to get you to lose your cool. I’ve fallen victim to it, believe me. That doesn’t mean you have to stand there and take it. Especially if you’re recording it as well. If your voice can be heard on tape giving clear and concise instruction, it is arguable that you should have been heard.
Now I know some of you Admin-types will argue for patience and restraint. And you have a point up to a point. Ask yourself this question, though:
Would you have let this go on for so long back when you were
a cop working the beat?
The sad reality is we get little support from the arguably small portion of society that are the loudest and sometimes it feels like even less from those in leadership positions. Why, though? Is it because it would have been wrong for the cops to grab this idiot up after thirty seconds of trying to talk sense to her? Or is it because the paperwork, IA (Internal Affairs), explanations to the mayor and media are pain in the ass for the Powers That Be? I get it. It sucks to do all that crap. Two things though. One, you signed up for that job; therefore, you should do it because that’s what a good leader does and why your pay level is higher than mine. Second, it wasn’t fun for the cop to get an ear-full on the street, either. Remember from whence you came and it may go a long way to endear you to those you command.
Back to regular cops. There is one simple answer to all of this. One simple thing to do that will result in you getting the job done effectively and efficiently; thus, avoiding the appearance of ineffectiveness.
Know your policy and the law. That’s it. If you know those two vital things, it doesn’t matter who tapes you. It doesn’t matter what the public says. It doesn’t matter if the media tries to vilify you. It doesn’t matter if your captain has it in for you. You have policy and the law on your side.
That used to mean something. Don’t let it decay further.
Ask. Tell. Take.