Not that I’d want to be a law enforcement officer. I wouldn’t, and for many reasons that I won’t go into here, but if I was, I would like to be a sheriff And not a deputy. No, I’d want to be the boss man. I would choose that position over any other law enforcement because in general, sheriffs are beholden to none other than the people who elected them. As a sheriff, I’d be able to set my own rules. They have no bosses. Below would be my platform and guiding principles for the deputies and all others who would work for me. I’ve written it in the form of a proclamation statement to those who would be working for me, particularly the existing deputies and any who would want to apply for that position.
First, keep in mind that nearly all law enforcement officers exercise discretion when doing their daily work. That’s an important detail to consider if you’re inclined to suggest my principles are off kilter with your own. If we disagree on which “crimes” I would choose to ignore or enforce, then it’s just a matter of degree, not the principle. If you’re the type who would insist an officer issue you a citation for speeding even if he was offering to give you a warning, then I suppose you would be justified in criticizing my choices on principle. Otherwise, you’d be criticizing my choices only on which of the laws I’d be inclined to ignore. Like most, I would be happy to accept a warning instead of a speeding citation. I would feel justified in doing so because I wouldn’t have been driving unsafely and therefore would not feel good about being punished for it in any way, including the payment of a fine.
Having set that up, let me share my position statement for my imagined position as a sheriff. My position paper would be as follows, directed in most part to my deputies.
THE SHERIFF’S RULES
If you want to work as a deputy here, you will comply with the following statements in all their parts, which will remain in effect as long as I am the elected sheriff of this county. If you are unwilling to do this and you are an existing deputy, I’ll ask you to resign your position. If you fail to resign, I will fire you. If you want to work for me as a deputy, you must agree to it all or you will not be hired. I will ask all current and prospective deputies to swear an oath to that effect. Any act outside the bounds of this position in all its parts will result in your termination. Keep in mind, our job is public safety–not enforcing arbitrary rules or laws which are contrary to liberty.
- You will enforce laws with regard to violent crimes. Violent crimes are those that do or could lead directly to assaults or harm to another person. The threat of violence must be imminent to permit apprehending a suspect.
- You will enforce laws with regard to theft of property.
- You will treat all encounters with the public with the same respect you expect of them. If they fail to respect you, it does not give you license to react in similar fashion. You will assume others are innocent unless you witness a violent crime or have strong evidence to suggest guilt.
- You will be required to demonstrate proficiency in understanding the meaning of the U.S. Bill of Rights and the corresponding state counterparts. You will demonstrate a full understanding in particular to the following Amendments: 1, 2, 4, and 10.
- When questioning a suspect, you will assume their innocence and treat the suspects with dignity and respect.
- You will not execute warrants of search or arrest except when the suspected crime can identify harm to a specific person. You may not assume harm due to drugs or alcohol or other substances deemed illegal by the state of the federal government.
- You will wear an active body camera at all times when you are on duty.
YOU WILL NOT:
- Arrest, harass, or otherwise impede anyone for peacefully protesting, speaking, or demonstrating opposition to any government action.
- You will not act on executive orders issued by any government official, including but not limited to the president of the United States, governor, or any municipal leader.
- You will not ask someone to identify themselves unless you are reasonably certain they have committed a violent crime for which there is a known, specific victim or victims.
- You will not lie to a suspect.
- You will not issue a traffic citation to anyone who is not driving erratically or otherwise in a manner that presents immediate danger to others. You may however notify a driver of unsafe practices or vehicle discrepancies (broken headlights, tail lights, etc.).
- You will not investigate, harass, arrest, or seize the property of someone for possession of any substance that does not create an immediate danger to others and those others can be specifically identified. Harm does not include danger to one’s self.
- You will not seize any property of any person unless you arrest them for a violent crime, a reasonable suspicion of endangering others, or crime of theft or trespass on private property for which there is a known, specific victim or victims.
- You will not seize weapons of any kind from any person unless you arrest them for a violent crime, a reasonable suspicion of endangering others, or a crime of theft or trespass on private property for which there is a known, specific victim or victims.
- You will maintain your composure and not allow your anger to persuade you to act.