Accountability and Recognition
It matters not that an officer adheres to his/her training and is doing what he/she believes to be the RIGHT thing. There is a trend in the media to spin and demonize all that our public safety professionals across this country do. There is also a trend to ignore common sense when it comes to objectively criticizing the acts of our community guardians. No police officer that I have ever known puts on that uniform on ANY given day and makes a decision to do anything other than what they have been taught. Should society, as a whole, determine that what law enforcement is doing is not exactly what is desired, then we need to change what they are being trained to do, and not condemn the individual. Do officers sometimes make mistakes? Are they subject to human error? Will they learn by trial and error as to what works and what does not when dealing with individuals from differing backgrounds? Yes. Are officers experiencing that stress that comes with knowing that each and every call they address may become fodder for public scrutiny? Again, yes. I agree that it is necessary for the public to know what it is that our law enforcement community is doing out there. I agree that when that human error takes place, and an officer does something that is outside the parameters of our laws, their training or their departmental rules and regulations, those officers must face that which is under analysis, and they must be held accountable. As your Sheriff, I can assure you that they WILL be held accountable. The Oxford dictionary tells us "Accountability is essential for an organization and for society." I wholeheartedly agree. Oxford also tells us that "Recognition.... is acknowledgment of something's existence, validity, or legality." It is just as important for our men and women in the profession to know that they have the backing of their community, their peers, their supervisors and their department heads when they are doing the right thing and when they go above and beyond that call of duty. They should not be encouraged to shy away from or turn a blind eye to that which should be handled by public safety professionals because of the threat of being chastised for doing what is necessary for a safe and secure community. Public safety professionals are what stands between civilized culture and a lawless society. They need our support. I will see that they have that support from their Sheriff, and when they commit acts which exemplify heroism, positive mentoring in our community, and other acts that remind us of why we need them, I will be sure to make those acts known. You will know your Deputies, and you will know that they are there to serve and protect you with reminders through social and traditional media. You deserve that, and so do they.