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|The Secret Is Out|
Dark suits, dark ties, dark sunglasses and hands crossed neatly in front with an expression nowhere to be found. A small and wiggly wire trickles from the ear down the back of a starched white collar seemingly not connected to anything. No, I’m not talking about MIB. I’m talking about the United States Secret Service. You’ve seen them. They are the guys who stand beside our President, looking straight ahead, even though you know that they see everything in their sphere. The Secret Service is trained to be professional, quiet, observant, and ready to jump into action at the blink of an eye if needed. They are considered the elite when it comes to professional protection. They are known as the ultimate, beyond reproach, and ready to lay their life down for their President.
At least that is how they have historically been known and it is how they should be known. But, due to a series of unexplainable and inexcusable acts it will now take them years to recover that reputation that is the envy of every similarly placed law enforcement agent throughout the world. They have not only smudged the badge that they wear, but they have smudged the reputation of the nation that they serve.
Law enforcement officials were involved with prostitutes is the entire story that needs to be told. It is a one line story that tells it all. There is no need for follow up about reasons, justifications, or the other sides of the story, etcetera. Once the first line is uttered, the story is over. Once the first line is uttered, the career of those officers is over. And, once that first line is uttered, the process of holding those officers involved criminally responsible should begin. It is an embarrassment to law enforcement, an embarrassment to the Secret Service, and an embarrassment to this country. And it seems that the recent story as to their missteps is not an anomaly.
One agent has gone on record as saying that they thought the behavior was okay because senior officers had allowed the activity in the past during recent trips to Colombia. I hope that this is not the case. I fear that it is.
Something is happening in law enforcement that should be alarming to all of us. The trend of officers, who commit crime, when they are supposed to be the epitome of those upholding the law, is growing. Some will say that police officers are human and as long as that is the case, they will make human mistakes. The badge will not be able to prevent them from those inherent human frailties. Perhaps this is true, but if it is, we must do all we can to put people in these positions who have historical perspective as it applies to their moral and ethical center. Even the best of them will be tested and surely those who have documented flaws will typically fail. In my opinion, therein lies the problem.
We continue to lower the bar, and to ignore “simple” infractions of one’s past, in the recruitment of our police officers. This process causes us to fill our ranks with some who are not fully committed to the prospect of what is required for law enforcement. There are some people who just are not meant for law enforcement. A nice starched uniform or a dark blue suit will not change that fact. Don’t be fooled. The issuance of a gun and badge to an individual is a very powerful action. The natural psyche of that man or woman who accepts those items eventually will surface. We are starting to see this more often than ever before when those people, who never should have been allowed to be in these positions in the first place, make decisions similar to those of the most recent Secret Service scandal. When we get to the point that it is difficult to identify the police officers from the criminals, we are heading up a street that is certain to be a dead end. This story has more to do with the identification, recruitment, training, and status of law enforcement officers as a whole, rather than a specific story involving the Secret Service. It’s just the most recent story. In this specific story, much has been said about the issue of the President’s immediate safety. I’m confident that this is true. But, the bigger story is the immediate safety of everyone else based on the law enforcement that is assigned to protect us.
Every time that I hear of a law enforcement officer who steps on the wrong side of the line, I must say that I take it very, very, personal. Not only because I spent 32 years of my life trying to do those things that law enforcement officers are sworn to do and are supposed to do, but more importantly, because of the fact that I have had close friends and many officers whom I never met who have literally given their life doing what they were sworn to do and were supposed to do. This year alone, we are approaching record numbers of officers killed in the line of duty. One wrong step by a law enforcement officer diminishes the many steps of those who have always strived to uphold the glimmer of what their badge stands for.
After a while, bad steps become bad strides and bad strides become bad jogs and bad jogs become bad runs. The epidemic, as it applies to bad cops, may not be into jogging yet, but you should have no doubt that the problem is undoubtedly in full stride. A running coach once told me that when one’s stride gets out of control, it may be time to tighten the laces a bit. I think he might be on to something.
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