PROFESSIONAL COURTESY begins with YOU!!! Not the Officer who stopped you!!
Extending Professional Courtesy: AKA: LEO Ethics
Since the days of Wyatt Earp there has been an unwritten but
etched-in-stone doctrine which we call professional courtesy.
Under this doctrine law enforcement officers are suppose to take care
of each other. It’s not just about traffic tickets either. It is much
more than that.
Throughout this article, the words “cop” and “officer” are used
frequently. They refer to all law enforcement officers including
R.C.M.P., OPP, Newfoundland Constabulary, Municipal, State Troopers,
Sheriffs and Corrections officers, Federal officers, retired officers,
etc. Basically, THE THIN BLUE LINE!!
None of us on the job today created professional courtesy. We
inherited it from those who came before us, and we’ll hand it down to
those who come after us. Law enforcement is a culture and is no
different from other cultures. We have certain rules, certain
language, certain music, certain days and periods of remembrance and
celebration, and, for the most part, we enjoy being around each other.
Professional courtesy is just part of our culture.
The bottom line is that we go the extra mile for each other and extend
courtesies that we couldn’t normally do for the public. I may have
never met you, but you know if you need a favor, just ask.
I know the same.
This is not to say that we don’t go above and beyond for the public,
because we do. It’s just that most of us understand that as part of an
often alienated group, it is important that we stick by each other.
Taking care of other cops doesn’t stop at borders either. If you’re
not familiar with Montreal and you flag down a radio car for
directions, tell them who you are, and where you’re going. If it’s in
their sector and they're not busy, I’ll bet that 9 out of 10 times
they’ll throw you in the back seat and shuttle you to the front door.
Professional courtesy, however, is not diplomatic immunity. In the old
days there were no limits to what cops were suppose to do for each
other. Those guys though didn’t make the salaries we do today. There
aren’t many readily available jobs with the money, benefits, and
pensions we have, so risking your job to fix a traffic ticket is no
longer part of the equation.
If after returning to your car you find a parking ticket, pay the
friggin thing. Don’t risk your job and the job of the officer who gave
it to you.
All tickets are numbered and tracked, and if a summons is not turned
in, you’ll receive a letter from the court asking you to document it’s
disposition. Behind-the-scenes chicanery takes down peoples careers
and lives and, often, when you see some officer’s career self
destruct, it is for some stupid, minor violation. It’s just not worth
Also, if you’re drunk and end up causing a three-car accident with
injuries, you can’t expect to be whisked out the back door of the
scene. Doing 75 MPH in a 25 MPH school zone is nothing less than
abuse. When a spouse signs a domestic criminal complaint, hands are
tied. An arrest has to be made.
There is a very important element of this doctrine too which is too
Professional courtesy begins with the officer being stopped, not with
the officer making the stop.
Most road officers have a story of a fellow officer they stopped who
immediately caught an attitude. There is no reason for this.
By far, the majority of us subscribe to the "doctrine" of professional
courtesy, and most of us would agree that committing crimes or
severely abusing your privileges is out of bounds.It's important to
remember too that there are always two sides to every story.
If your relative or courtesy card gets written, give the issuer the
benefit of the doubt before declaring war. Sometimes people don’t
produce the card or identify who they are. Other times their conduct
was absolutely deserving of the citation, and they're only telling you
half of the story. Then, there are those situations that don’t fall
into either of these categories. These are the instances where the
issuer just doesn’t care. The really disturbing part is that these
same officers wouldn't hesitate to call you at your job asking for a
favor. That is complete hypocrisy. Fortunately, this group is by far
Oh, one final note.
There is one last group whom should not go without mention. While they
may not fall under the doctrine of professional courtesy, they are
somewhat relevant to this topic in general. In twenty-seven years as a
police officer, I have never, and absent extraordinary circumstances,
would never give a minor summons to a veteran. These older guys from
WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and even the more recent conflicts have been to
places geographically and mentally that most of us couldn’t even
imagine. In a way, they’re even above professional courtesy. Most of
us have never served a day in a military uniform, but that doesn’t
mean we can’t try and understand and appreciate these very special
And please, "Professional courtesy begins with the officer being
stopped, not with the officer making the stop." So guys when you're
stopped be polite, courteous, and mention that you are LEO at the
appropriate time. I know I hate having ' tin' shoved in my face!!
BE SAFE OUT THERE!!!!!!
As police officers, we are faced with life threatening situations on a daily basis. We go to domestic violence calls, man with a gun calls, fight calls, etc., etc. and it never ends. And over time we tend to get relaxed in how we deal with people (which is a whole different topic). But the point is, we're in a dangerous job.
But what happens to us when things go wrong? When "we" take the shot, or are cut by the bad guy? What happens when we're in a car accident and things seem to be going very wrong very quick?
Having taken several Critical Survival type classes, one of the most important things you should be telling yourself is that you WILL survive this, and that you will NOT GIVE UP. We want to literally talk to ourselves and tell ourselves we will survive and not just give up.
But where should it start?
Right now, today, as you're reading this. As a police officer, tell yourself now and then "I will survive any situation I get into because I am trained for it," "I will never give up, I am prepared for any situation I fall into because I train for it as an police officer," "I will never give up."
Now I'm not saying go get pyscho on us, but the point is we as officers need to keep positive attitudes especially when it comes to our survival. We don't want to give up in situations and think "It looks pretty bad, I'm not gonna make it," we want to say and think "I will survive this, doctors can patch me up and I will be back to catch this guy." We don't use words like: try, and think, i.e. "I will try to survive this", or "I think I will survive." These are negative words and trick our minds into thinking we really won't survive. We WILL survive.
Hell no! Screw this guy; he's trying to kill me, trying to take away everything I've worked for, trying to take me away from my kids? Giving up is never an option no matter how wore out or tired you are. Are you going to just lay there and die? Are you going to just give up? You're in the fight of your life, the fight for your life. Don't give up no matter what.
That is what the sons of bitches are waiting for!! For us to give up and just lay down and die!! HELL NO!!! Just like with police diving in emergency situations, having practiced scenarios over and over again, when your adrenaline goes into high gear everything you have been taught will kick in!! YOU NEVER SAY QUIT!!!
It is impossible to train officers to deal with every different situation they will face in the field. Situations change from moment to moment and each incident is unique. When faced with an unusual use of force situation, consider some outside the box thoughts. You agency probably has the Taser, bean bag shotguns, batons, long riot batons, OC spray, ballistic shields. Consider if any of these may be useful. Some agencies have other resources like police dogs, Pepper Balls, rubber bullets and other devices. Perhaps a call for mutual aid could be in order.
I have seen officers use equipment from the fire department to subdue a suspect. Officers had a suspect standing near a building wall with a knife in his hand. They took a twelve foot long ladder and two officers pinned the suspect to the wall with the ends of the ladder. Other officers could then move in and subdue him. I have also known of officers using a fire hose to blast a suspect off his feet. A fire hose can be very dangerous and so needs to be used with caution.
In any of these types of situations it is important to do several things. First, devise a plan of action and brief your people on what to do to implement the plan. Next, don’t be in a hurry unless there is immediate threat to human life. Don’t be afraid to back off or revise the plan if it is not working. Try and have plenty of help available so you can implement the plan. Make certain that one person is in charge so everyone does not give commands to the officers and the suspect. Unique situations often require a unique solution.
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