Throughout America, law enforcement agencies have a slogan that defines the primary function the agency. The slogan, which has been used for decades, yet which has been removed from the door of many police agency patrol vehicles, is To Protect and Serve.
We need to take a long hard look at the meaning of this slogan, and make sure that our individual and collective philosophy as well as our individual attitude and behavior reflects this worthy objective. Peace officers have a tougher job today than 20 years ago. Society seems to be polarized into two camps. One loves the police, and the other hates us. It may be partially due to the fact that some peace officers, and some training modules seem to foster the belief that we are somehow “better” than the people we serve. This can lead to a “badge heavy” attitude, and sometimes to the excessive use of force.
This must not continue. We must eliminate any training or behavior that tarnishes the badge, including the “code of silence”.
REEVE OF THE SHIRE
Early America was not forged by appealing to a centralized power figure, but by an idea, local in nature, which set a brush fire of freedom in the minds of men. The Founders had a vast comprehension as to the governments of old. Recognizing the strengths and pitfalls of those systems, and relying on the ever-present hand of Divine Providence, they structured one which would succeed the then-current forms of government to which many were accustomed around the world.
In the many stages of British law that governed the early colonies, one thing that “stuck” was the Reeve of the Shire or the Shire Reeve, known today as the Sheriff. The Sheriff has a pedigree so long it is debatable as to the exact date the office was founded in 9th century England. Making its way to America, the Sheriff held his office as the highest law enforcement officer within that county jurisdiction. This is very important, considering that most all peace officers are “sworn officers”, who take oaths to support the state and U.S. Constitutions. The same oath being sworn by the sheriff when constitutionally elected to office is significant in the fact that he or she is the first line of defense in preserving the Constitutional rights of a citizen.
When we look at the Office of the Sheriff, combined with the historical powers held by that office, he stands as the upholder, defender, protector and servant to the liberties of the people within the county.
In addition to upholding the law, the sheriff is also charged with upholding the supreme law, the Constitution. The law enforcement powers held by the sheriff supersede those of any agent, officer, elected official or employee from any level of government when in the jurisdiction of the county. The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the President. Furthermore, it is this responsibility that grants a Sheriff the Constitutional authority to check and balance all levels of government within the jurisdiction of the County.
And other peace officers, including police officers and others with arrest powers, join with the Sheriff and deputies, as Constitutional Guards, with one and the same mission: to protect life, liberty and property.
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association brings together the people with their peace officers, educating all in an effort to restore America peacefully for our posterity.