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The Police-To Protect and Serve: The Oath Keepers

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The Oath

Although the phrase "protect and serve" is not the official logo for the police in this country, I think that most people have that basic expectation for any police force to provide some version of that for the public. I am confident that many, if not most, of the police officers in the US are good people who are diligent about doing their duty.

There is also a generally applicable police officers' oath:

On my honor, I will never betray my integrity, my character, or the public trust.

I will treat all individuals with dignity and respect and ensure that my actions are dedicated to ensuring the safety of my community and the preservation of human life.

I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.

I will always maintain the highest ethical standards and uphold the values of my community, and the agency I serve.

The concepts contained within this oath, provide criteria by which police behavior can be measured in any particular situation: Have the police followed these criteria and, if not, where have they fallen short?

Authority and Responsibility

Perhaps the issues that arise within the society are about the responsibilities that go with the authority connected with the position of being a police officer. That authority comes with the assumption of leadership in situations of conflict, allowing them to take charge with the expectation that their directives are followed. This is a powerful authority that allows the use of force, when necessary, in tense situations. And then there is the powerful authority to carry and use weapons in the prosecution of their duties.

The responsibilities to the community and to the individuals who come in contact with police are where the conflict can occur. Most interactions between the police and the public are relatively normal, although that often may not be the case for the less affluent, racial or ethnic groups and even some religious groups. This is part of the problem since those guides for police-actions are not applied equally.

When it comes to the other part of authority; the processes of taking charge; giving orders and, at times, using force to detain, or in extreme cases, using deadly force, sometimes results in real issues. This is where the adherence to the precepts of policing are crucial. This is where the utmost professionalism is required to override personal emotions and remember that, although some governmental agency has conferred authority upon them, that oath provides the only sustainable reason they have their authority and must be most scrupulously followed. Only within this framework can that kind of authority make any real sense for all elements of the community.


There are, of course, limitations to policing, especially in regard to expertise in a range of social and personal issues. Police are not trained or equipped to deal effectively with issues of mental health or an entire range of social issues and therefore should welcome the help that professionals in those areas can provide in accompaniment with police-officers.

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I have a deep belief in participatory democracy, the value of ordinary people and finding a path to a sustainable future. I also understand the immediacy or the need for significant action to save democracy and our sustainable future on this (more...)

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