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Enforcing laws you personally disagree with.

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  • Enforcing laws you personally disagree with.

    Hello,

    I would like to know how those in LE feel about enforcing laws they disagree with. I am aware that the duties of an Officer are all about enforcing law, regardless of your feelings or opinions on the law being enforced.

    But we're not robots, so I know this is not so black and white.

    I myself am considering a career as a Deputy Sheriff or Correctional Deputy for Riverside County, CA. My biggest concern, as a potential Deputy Sheriff, is having to enforce some laws I feel are unjust.

    How much discretion are Deputy Sheriffs and/or Correctional Deputies given on the job?

    I would like to know how you guys honestly feel about this. What do you do in these situations? Do you look the other way? Do you swallow your ideals and feelings and carry out your job? How do you deal with the cognitive dissonance, if any? Perhaps you consider your role as an officer just a role you play in a society, and so have no personal feelings regarding what you are doing?

    I know these questions are somewhat personal, so I thank you very much in advance if you choose to answer them honestly.

  • #2
    I'm going to brief, and my reply will do doubt not satisfy you. My Oath of Office required me to enforce ALL the laws, not just the ones I liked.

    Your having personal reservations concerning this as indicated in your post, in no way makes you a bad person. It does suggest to me though, that perhaps you should consider entering another line of work.

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    • #3
      I enforce the law. It's not hard. I use discretion at my discretion and it never has anything to do with my beliefs.

      Comment


      • #4
        There are laws that I disagree with. I deal with that the same way I would expect and advise anyone too - I write my elected officials and I use my power of vote. When I put on a uniform, I am a part of a teamn and it's reputation is in my hands with how I carry myself. I am not above the law. I do not create the law. And I do not have the authority to circumvent the law. Plain and simple. That's how it has to be.

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        • #5
          I do my job the way I'm told to do it but I don't look particularly hard for people on pushbikes with no helmets, people speeding by less than 10kph or people with a bit of cannabis on them. We are given discretion and I use it to enforce laws the way I think is most effective.

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          • #6
            As well articulated already- if you enter this vocation you take an oath. Your duties are driven by the law and the law is what you enforce. If you have personal objections to a law, do your job and then your civic duty to lobby for change in the appropriate forum.
            Originally posted by SSD
            It has long been the tradition on this forum and as well as professionally not to second guess or Monday morning QB the officer's who were actually on-scene and had to make the decision. That being said, I don't think that your discussion will go very far on this board.
            Originally posted by Iowa #1603
            And now you are arguing about not arguing..................

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
              I'm going to brief, and my reply will do doubt not satisfy you. My Oath of Office required me to enforce ALL the laws, not just the ones I liked.

              Your having personal reservations concerning this as indicated in your post, in no way makes you a bad person. It does suggest to me though, that perhaps you should consider entering another line of work.
              If personal reservations concerning the job makes someone unfit for the work, then do you also think that those that are best fit (or at least better fit) for the job, are the ones without personal reservations?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RobHow View Post
                If personal reservations concerning the job makes someone unfit for the work, then do you also think that those that are best fit (or at least better fit) for the job, are the ones without personal reservations?
                The best fit are those who recognize that their personal beliefs stay home when they put on the uniform an walk out the door.

                Discretion is about what's a "worthwhile" use of your time, not about what you think should be legal or illegal.
                "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tanksoldier View Post
                  The best fit are those who recognize that their personal beliefs stay home when they put on the uniform an walk out the door.

                  Discretion is about what's a "worthwhile" use of your time, not about what you think should be legal or illegal.
                  Thank you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'll be odd man out. The executive branch is not the slave of the legislative branch, and as a police officer I work for the executive branch. Officer discretion is an important part of the citzenry's role in checks and balances, just as much as jury nullification is in the judicial branch.

                    I do not arrest everyone who commits a crime in my presence. It would be impossible to do so, and a burden on the system. My department specifically recognizes that, in the interests of justice, an arrest is not always the best course of action. Someone who just OD'd probably doesn't need to be arrested for possession. If the OD didn't teach them anything, jail time is unlikely to.

                    There are some laws that are simply not worth enforcing. Indiana still has an anti flag desecration law on the books. I would not enforce that, case law is pretty clear that it wouldn't fly. I would not enforce that law. The ban on throwing stars, when its perfectly legal to carry an AK-47 with no permit, is outdated and stupid. I will not enforce that law. If someone really wants to press it, I'll make a report and the prosecutor can decide if they want to do something with it, but I won't.
                    I miss you, Dave.
                    http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RobHow View Post
                      I would like to know how you guys honestly feel about this. What do you do in these situations?
                      I enforce the law as written and as my agency policy dictates.

                      ANYTHING less is being dishonest to my employer and my oath.


                      Yes I have personal feelings on some laws that are in force. I have personal feelings on people that I encounter-------------------

                      I often voice those feelings in private with my co-workers. Maybe even with my legislators-----but not in public and not in uniform. When I am in uniform I represent my agency and thus the code of laws I have sworn to uphold, enforce and protect.

                      Understand that ENFORCING the law does NOT mean you have to write every citation or arrest everyone that is breaking a law. Discretion has been mentioned many times in this thread already-----------------but COMMON SENSE is also needed.

                      Seeing a person "speeding" or dong a "California Stop" -----then looking at them an wagging a finger CAN be an enforcement action

                      It's really not that hard-------------------and if it IS---you need to re-think your career path
                      Last edited by Iowa #1603; 05-27-2014, 11:07 PM.
                      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RobHow View Post
                        If personal reservations concerning the job makes someone unfit for the work, then do you also think that those that are best fit (or at least better fit) for the job, are the ones without personal reservations?
                        Having personal (moral, ethical or some other) convictions is what makes us unique. Being able to put those aside to do our duty is what makes us who we are. There is a difference.

                        To assume that every cop is devoid of personal convictions or personal feelings about the myriad of laws we enforce is an absolutely silly notion. Just as we are living breathing creatures, so too is the law. It is in a constant state of flux, often because good citizens petition for changes to those laws. Some we agree with, while others we may not, but we do our duty none the less.

                        If you look at a particular vocation and see within it something that is at odds with your convictions you have a few choices: don't take the job, take the job and do it as you are expected to do, do either of the first 2 and lobby to foment change. Would a person who is an staunch vegan be well suited to working in a butcher shop? If they are able to do the job as expected I see no reason why they couldn't. However if they took the job knowing they could not butcher an animal, such an endeavor would be folly would it not?
                        Originally posted by SSD
                        It has long been the tradition on this forum and as well as professionally not to second guess or Monday morning QB the officer's who were actually on-scene and had to make the decision. That being said, I don't think that your discussion will go very far on this board.
                        Originally posted by Iowa #1603
                        And now you are arguing about not arguing..................

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michigan View Post
                          I enforce the law. It's not hard. I use discretion at my discretion and it never has anything to do with my beliefs.
                          This
                          MDRDEP:

                          There are no stupid questions, but there sure are a lot of inquisitive idiots.

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                          • #14
                            This thread has a homework/term paper feel to it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There are laws that I don't agree. Now it's up to me if I want to follow those laws.
                              NYPD
                              PBBS
                              5 Years

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