Friday, June 22, 2007

serve the public trust.

In a recent incident at a local grocery store, young ColtCCO got himself roughed up a bit by a local civil servant with a badge.

To clarify: Tennessee's carry permit is not a Concealed Carry Permit. Open carry with a permit is not against the law, although most authorities on the subject strongly advise that you carry your gun concealed...lest you get hassled by overzealous law enforcers for "breaching the peace", "creating a public nuisance", or some other handy and conveniently nebulous excuse for letting a peon get a taste of concrete.

Now, I know a few police officers. I count several of them among my friends, and I am quite convinced that none of them would even dream about acting like the officer in this scenario. The police officers I know and respect are "peace officers". The yutz with a badge in this story is a "law enforcement officer". There's a profound difference in those job titles, both in the way they carry themselves, and in the way they deal with the citizen on the street. The root of the term "law enforcement" is the word "force", and some people just cannot handle the official power to visit that force upon others. Ideally, those people are weeded out by the recruitment process, but all too often they make it through and get a badge and a gun.

It's one thing to take dangerous criminals off the street, but quite another to come down on a clean-cut young guy who's pushing a grocery cart with his girlfriend, and who is not visibly engaged in any sort of nefarious activity. Is this the kind of police officer produced by an education in a "zero tolerance" environment? Is this perhaps the New Breed of police officer, the ones who tell their subjects that "you better not tell me what the law is, or I'll find me some probable cause"?

Good job, Officer. You turned a polite and intelligent (and moreover, law-abiding) citizen into someone who's going to view you and all your colleagues with fear and distrust in the future.

Keep that in mind next time a local ballot item comes up that asks for taxpayer-funded law enforcement perks, like the retirement fund proposition on the last county ballot. That clean-cut young fellow you body-checked? He votes, too.

Better yet, keep that in mind when one of your future traffic stops goes sour, and you may need the help of a citizen. That citizen may just be the guy you slammed into the wall the other day.

Do you think he's going to stop and render aid, or do you think he might just decide not to bother?

Wouldn't want to give you a reason to find you some Probable Cause, you know.

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