American cops ensure 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness'
On a daily and nightly basis, American LEOs risk life and limb for the preservation of our citizenry’s unalienable rights
“When in the course of human events...”
So begins the Declaration of Independence, the document we recognize as the birth certificate of the United States of America. In famously-flowery language, 56 brave American heroes declared “that all men are created equal” and that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Wonderful stuff. However, it could also be rightly said that “When in the course of human events, someone does something stupid or dangerous (or both), the police will invariably be called upon to sort out the mess, determine who did what to whom, and decide what charges should be filed.”
10 Basic Reminders
1.) Fireworks can be weapons. Don’t disregard that fact if you’re making contact with partiers.
2.) Drunk drivers can hit you, too — both while on patrol and when you’re off duty. Watch the road.
3.) The 4th can be hot. If you’re working, stay hydrated.
4.) Do the math: Lots of people + 4th of July consumption + heat = recipe for disaster. Stay sharp. Remember that drinking and a charged up crowd can inspire some people to be more confrontational with police than they would normally be. Be ready for that.
5.) Crowds can quickly get unruly during mass celebrations. Be smart and wait for back-up if you predict you might need it.
6.) Repeating #3, the 4th of July can be hot. Wear your vest anyway!
7.) Bone up on your holiday-specific first aid. Are you ready for first responder treatment of missing fingers, a variety of burns, a bottle rocket to the eye, alcohol poisoning, dehydration, etc.?
8.) Don’t forget your own kids. You likely caution others about the dangers of screwing around with fireworks (and other explosives), drunk driving, drinking too much, etc. Make sure your own kids are included in that discussion.
9.) Refresh yourself on water rescue protocol and procedures. Lots of people are in the water during the 4th weekend. Be ready if you’re called to a water-related incident.
10.) Make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher in your car. With fireworks being lit, the potential for a fire is definitely there. If you’re prepared to act early, you can help avoid a bigger problem.
PoliceOne Members Speak Out
PoliceOne Columnists Speak Out
I asked Tim Dees to step outside his typical coverage area of police products and share with us some memories of his time as a patrol officer in Reno, Nevada, which you’ll find in the sidebar of this article. And naturally, I’ll close this thing out with some final comments of my own.
The greatest threat to liberty would not be the terrorists dismantling the national government, it would be the loss of local police agencies.
We can talk about national health care but it starts with the paramedic. We can talk about education reform, but it starts with the kindergarten teacher. We can talk about liberty and justice, but it starts with the patrol officer. The Constitution has no sword of its own, it is ours to bear.
During the 1976 bicentennial year, the Springfield (Missouri) police department marked their cars with the words ‘Liberty Enforcers.’ I’ve pondered that oxymoron. As physicians cut in order to heal, and firefighters use controlled burn to prevent smaller fired from becoming a bigger fires, police officers often must do things that look, at first glance, to be the very opposite of their purpose. We restrain the liberty of some for the liberty of all.
Not long ago, one of the hard-edged officers I know responded to a lost child call. Without a thought to the creased perfection of his navy blue uniform, he scooped up a muddy two year old and slowly sifted through the baby talk to navigate back to the toddler's home two blocks away.
I wish every police critic in the country could have seen that. Selfless service, compassion, and the business of restoration — making wrong things right and chaos into peace. If that’s not a picture of the American lawman, I don’t know what is.
Dan Marcou, PoliceOne Columnist
During that salute I would always mentally pledge to police in a manner that ensured that the buddies of those old warriors, who went to war and stayed forever young, did not give their all in vain.
Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
What I find interesting about the Declaration of Independence, at least within the context of law enforcement, is that police officers have a sworn responsibility to take from a person any/all of those unalienable rights.
Cops may affect an arrest, therefore denying “liberty” and may — when the circumstances require it — use deadly force, thereby denying “life.”
Cops may also conduct a prostitution sting, consequently denying “the pursuit of happiness.” Of course, I’m joking on that last one ...but only half joking!
In all seriousness, what I love about all of this is that the police officer’s sworn authority is purposefully for the preservation of some innocent victim’s unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That dualism, that dichotomy, is delicious stuff for a “words guy” like me. But far more importantly, that delicate balance is held every day by more than 800,000 sworn officers, working around the clock at some 18,000 police agencies across the country.
On a daily and nightly basis, American LEOs risk life and limb for the preservation of our citizenry’s unalienable rights — and do so with honor and valor.
The Independence Day holiday can increase exponentially the number of intoxicated knuckleheads you’re likely to encounter on your shift. Some morons even use firearms as noise makers to “celebrate” the occasion.
Stay safe out there my brothers and sisters. Thank you for everything you do for our great country.
|Back to previous page|