Recently the word “Warrior” has been used to accurately describe the officers near and far that have fallen in the line of of duty. There are those that still don’t understand why police are considered warriors. After talking to a friend about it, I decided to post something that I wrote up a couple of years ago with reference to Lt. Colonel Forrest Morgan and Lt. Colonel David Grossman. William Westfall touched on this during the service. This is the best way that I can tell people why police do what they do.
The Police Officer Warrior
Policing is a warrior profession. Along with other warrior professions of courage, it’s a call to valor. As radical as it sounds, it shouldn’t. True warriors have protected right from wrong and fought for justice all through history. Warriors have always lived by a code: an honor code. In saying this, one does not have to be a member of the military or a police officer to be a warrior. There are many people who train hard as in martial arts or some type of self defense and live life by a personal honor code. They may go through life never having to defend themselves or their honor; yet, they are prepared. Also some police officers don’t follow any honor code and don’t live life as a warrior even though they are in a warrior profession.
Professional athletes are called warriors by the media; however, most of them have no honor code and do not train for true combat. Firemen may be referred to as warriors since they do train for combat against fire. Many have battled people in the line of their work, and most of them live by an honor code. They are definitely heroes.
Police take an oath when they join the police department, but most don’t remember the oath even though it’s usually on a signed certificate that’s hung on a wall, filed away, or put in a scrap book. This is not a problem if the officer has a personal honor code. If a personal honor code is followed, the oath will be followed.
Police officers make mistakes since they are human. Nobody is perfect, and nobody is a saint. They are hard working humans doing a very challenging and rewarding job. If a police officer follows a personal honor code, he will likely make fewer mistakes since his intention will always be the correct or honorable one. When done properly there is no more honorable profession than police work. Not many other professions require a person to wear body armor, carry a gun, and solve other people’s problems on a daily basis.
Colonel Forrest E. Morgan (a retired Major in the United States Air Force and a martial artist) states that honor is made up of three basic tenets; Obligation, Justice, and Courage (Morgan, 142).
Obligation is answering the call to serve. As a police officer you have many obligations. First is an obligation to your self to do the right thing. Second is your obligation to make it home safe to your other obligation— your family. There’s an obligation to the community, department, and the country. Police are the first line soldiers in the war on domestic terrorism. It is that huge, very serious commitment that police make when they decide to go into the warrior profession. Officers should avoid being obligated to dishonorable people. These are people such as part-time employers that will pay an officer well; however, want the officer to look the other way for “minor things”.
Justice simply means to know the difference between right and wrong (Morgan, 144). This can include making the right decision over the popular one. Police have to make decisions in a split second or at least in a short amount of time. The responsibility of justice is an awesome one. Police fight for overall justice by enforcing the law fairly, equally, with impartiality. However, as humans, officers sometimes lose sight when it’s time to see justice done. This happens at the hands of a small number of corrupt officers that tarnish the profession and they ultimately get discovered. Most police officers do the right thing. You never hear about it because it’s the few that cover up wrong doings that make the news. They don’t stand for justice and obviously have no personal honor code.
Courage is being brave and facing the danger involved with the job. It does not mean there will be no fear. Moral courage is the fortitude to do what is right, no matter what the personal cost (Morgan, 148). This goes along with justice and doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Coming into the profession with a personal honor code is a great way mentally to start. It is never too late to start following a personal honor code. Hopefully, a personal honor code will be established and prevent something bad from happening via a bad choice. A personal honor code is stronger than any oath a police officer will take since it comes from the officer’s heart.
People in society can be broken into three separate groups; Sheep (people), Wolves (the criminals), and Sheep Dogs which are the protectors (Grossman, 2004). In this setting, the sheep dogs are the police officer warrior.
People do not always appreciate the police until they need them. A true warrior acknowledges this but will still do his job of protecting society from the deviants that prey on people. At times the police officer warrior’s job will necessitate violence. If a person has no capacity for violence, then he should not become a police officer; rather, they should stay in society and allow the police to do the job without casting judgment.
Even the most liberal of people that do not care for the police warriors will change their attitude should they become a victim of violence. They will want something done pronto. Ironically, even if their situation is resolved, they will go back to not accepting or respecting the police warrior. They live in denial and believe that as along as nothing is happening to them; criminals should be treated as misled individuals who are committing crimes for being “wronged” in life. They look at the police with more disdain than they do the criminals until they are the prey. These are the same type of people that know that a tragic event happened on September 11, 2001 but want to continue to live in a September 10, 2001 world.
As a police officer warrior, it is not easy to keep an open mind with people that think the way of the sheep, but the true warrior does not worry about negative perceptions against him and his fellow warriors, he does the job he was called to do. He protects the flock to the best of his ability even though he can not be everywhere at once. Crime will always exist, but the police officer warriors that work every hour, every day, and every night keep total anarchy from happening. No matter how technologically advanced society becomes, the human element will always be involved in the protection of citizens. There will always be a need for the police officer warrior, and he will always show up and take care of business even if that entails using violence against a violent predator. The attitude of the warrior with an honorable mission and the commitment to serve people is what separates his use of violence from unacceptable uses of violence from the criminal predator. The true police officer warrior uses violence as a tool to stop the predator. He never uses it to punish.
Morgan, F. E. Living the Martial Way. Fort Lee, New Jersey: Barricade Books Inc., 1992.