WASHINGTON: During my 36-year police career I was forced to protect reprehensible people and groups on many occasions. At least four of those times our department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, was tasked with protecting American Nazi’s rights of free speech.
The last time was in the mostly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie, where Nazi scum paraded in uniform, swastika armbands and all, to denounce blacks, Jews and Mexicans. Our blue lines stood between hate-spewing nazis and the justifiably outraged blacks, Jews and Mexicans. (‘Swastika war’: When the neo-Nazis fought in court to march in Skokie)
Caught in the middle, police stood fast to protect our Constitution.
For our efforts, we were pelted with bricks, stones, and bags full of humans feces. I had a brick bounce off of my riot helmet while the officer in line next to me was splattered in fecal matter. Standing in those lines were black, Mexican, and Jewish officers whom their fellow citizens didn’t try to spare.
Police must stand up for the laws of this land, no matter what we personally believe.
We took an oath to do so. It is the conundrum officers face today when ordered to enforce local authority’s decrees on staying at home, social distancing, and business closures.
However, there is a huge difference between enforcing the Constitution and an official’s decree. A decree is not a law. In fact, most of those decrees now in place due to the Chinese flu pandemic, are unconstitutional and violate the laws of the jurisdictions that are having police enforce them.
First, let’s get the language straight.
A law becomes one through a legally elected body who votes it into existence. Once the legal body votes for the law, it is signed into law by a legally elected head of government, like a mayor, county board president, or governor.
These are the laws that police officers take an oath to protect, defend, and enforce.
A decree, on the other hand, is the words of one person who thinks they know better than anyone else. A person who feels he/she and can proclaim edicts at their whim. This is also a dictator. Todays’ dictators are decreeing churches, businesses, and industries closed that they which to punish, based on their politics, while allowing their chosen ones open.
That is tyranny.
Michigan’s dictator, Governor Gretchen Whitmer
As an example, in Michigan, little dictator Gretchen Whitmer, orders Christian churches and Jewish synagogues closed while allowing Muslim mosques to social distance during services. She allows marijuana dispensaries and abortion clinics to remain open while prohibiting elective surgeries and closing retail shops.
Stuck in the middle, as always, are police who must enforce these unlawful orders.
One might wonder why police do so. Why they might ask themselves, don’t they simply refuse to enforce these regulations. The answer is a mixture of honor, sense of duty, and family.
Police officers take an oath to uphold the laws of their jurisdiction and are honor-bound to do so.
While mayoral and governable proclamations are not laws, enforcement is demanded and police are expected to be the ones who do so. The upper levels of law enforcement are politicians, and disobeying orders will lead to dismissal.
Most police officers have families whom they support through departmental wages. They reluctantly enforce these unlawful acts to protect their income. And, the big thing with police officers, like the military, they are those who do not generally oppose orders.
When top departmental leaders, like the sheriff of Orange County, California, who stated he will not enforce Governor Newsom’s order to close all state beaches, refuse unlawful orders, members cheerfully follow.
Yet most jurisdictions top cops are aligned with the top political leaders and force officers to enforce unlawful edicts. Under those circumstances, we see some times see a lack of enforcement, as happened this past weekend when Chicagoans tore down barriers to Lake Michigan beaches as CPD stood by and watched without taking action.
Those officers were torn between duty and lawful authority.
If the reader thinks they would simply refuse to obey an unlawful order, think twice. At the outset of the pandemic most willingly traded their freedom for safety. Police officers enforced those same stay-at-home, social distancing and business closing orders, and were cheered along with all first responders, nurses, and doctors.
Now we see those same orders as excessive and condemn those same officers for continuing to enforce them.
Yes, the situation has changed dramatically since the first measures were placed in effect, and local dictators are going too far. That is the conundrum police are now dealing with.
The question is when is enough, enough?
Every officer will have to deal with that question on their own. Until then officers will enforce all the laws while deciding whether to do the same with unlawful and unconstitutional orders.
Our nation is torn more today than almost at any other time in our history, and stuck directly in between all the opposing sides are the police trying to do the right thing every day. It is not an easy job, that is why we expect so much from them; maybe too much.