March 12, 2019

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Our Own Worst Enemy

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement.

We should consider how our actions will “look,” and what “they” will say about them. “Appearances are reality.”

Today’s tip deals with one way we can help improve the public perception of law enforcement. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy.   

As I travel around the country, I hear complaints that the public doesn’t like or appreciate the police anymore. I listen to cops talk about how they feel like the media in painting us as a bunch of trigger-happy, racist thugs. With social media, videos, 24-hour news, a lack of understanding, and the political agendas out there, I understand why people feel this way.  

But here’s a thought for you. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Here’s a headline much like one I read recently. “Officer punches disabled 81-year-old man.” I won’t go into all of the details, and they really don’t matter here. But here are a few take-aways that we can apply to everything we do.  

Have you heard the phrase “Appearances are reality?” Just think about it for a minute. How will it appear to the public if a video of one of us punching an old, decrepit, 81-year-old man goes viral? How will it appear if the story goes that we hit a man who claims to have balance issues due to a recent stroke? How will it look to the public when they watch us hitting a man who has his arms folded across his chest on YouTube? When the arrest was for a non-violent misdemeanor? But he didn’t place his hands behind his back when we told him to. I’ll tell you how it looks. It looks bad. Very bad. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.  

Should we compromise safety in the name of appearances or political correctness? Absolutely not.  

But, can we do a better job of considering what it will look like before we act? Absolutely. 

When time and circumstances allow. And that’s important so I’ll repeat it. When time and circumstances allow. We should consider how our actions will “look,” and what “they” will say about it. Our actions must be more than a PR afterthought. We already know how some people will use these videos to paint the brave men and women of law enforcement in a bad light 

The court of public opinion stretches far and wide. When you have the luxury of time, consider how it will look to the masses and consider if there is a better way.  

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham, signing off. 

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