The Job of Police

The Job of Police
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

The horrific shooting spree in a Florida school has led to widespread discussion about what local police officers did and did not do to impede the killer. Much of the commentary about this incident has revolved around the notion that police officers have a duty to protect the citizens in their community from harm. In numerous cities and towns throughout the U.S., decals appear on the sides of police vehicles announcing that the police exist “To Protect and Serve” the local people. This is an erroneous concept.

Erroneous? Yes. Consider that no police force or any of its members are ever held responsible if someone is killed or harmed within their jurisdiction. You or I can’t sue the local police if some criminal attacks us and causes us harm. If I follow an attack that harmed me with a suit aimed at the police (and the jurisdiction that hires them), it would get me nowhere. Why? Because the job of police is not to protect me or anyone else. The police can’t be held accountable if harm comes to me or to you. Police are never sued for negligence if a criminal harms someone. That fact ought to be drummed into every American’s consciousness.

If the police aren’t responsible for protecting the people, who does bear that responsibility? The answer, very simply, is each person. And how do ordinary persons protect themselves from criminal activity? The quick answer is he or she has to be armed and must know how to use whatever weapon is chosen to fill that need. Another answer, though impractical for most, would have citizens hire bodyguards who would be armed.

John W. Whitehead of the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute has regularly pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has more than once ruled (such as in 2005 with the Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzalez decision) that police have no responsibility to protect members of the public from harm. The men and women who serve as police officers frequently do seek to stop an individual committing criminal activity but they are not required to do so. The responsibility to stop a criminal from attacking you lies with yourself.

Which brings us to the absolute right of a citizen to be armed. If it’s not the job of police officers to see to it that no criminal attacks you, that responsibility is yours. And any impediment to you having the means to protect yourself is absolutely wrong. The Founders of our nation knew this and their awareness that led them to add the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment, wrongly considered by many to apply only to citizens who serve in a militia, applies to virtually everyone.

Should the right to be armed be denied to someone who has already used a weapon for a criminal purpose? Yes. How about the mentally disturbed and those taking medication for suspected mental problems? Yes again. How about children who don’t know how to use a weapon or aren’t aware of the dangers posed by weapons? Parents should be held responsible for their children. And a suitable age must be established for youthful weapon possession.

In the wake of the Florida shooting, clamor for doing away with private ownership of weapons is again being raised. Such demands are incredibly wrong and will, if enacted, lead to more crime, even the governmental crime known as tyranny.

In no way is this author promoting any move toward abolishing local police forces. They have an important role to play in keeping society orderly. But, as must be made abundantly clear, it is not their job to “protect” citizenry from harm. If they do so without cancelling the rights of law-abiding citizens, fine. The most certain way to insure that police do not present a problem is keep jurisdiction over them and their activity in the hands of local authorities.

Should teachers be free to have a weapon while in a school? Of course. Should schools and other places be deemed “gun-free zones”? Absolutely not! Such a labeling of schools as gun-free will invite criminally minded and mentally deranged to go to schools where there are no guns to stop them from creating mayhem.

There should be no restrictions on the ordinary citizen who wishes to protect himself and his family from a criminal. And there should be a reversal of the attitude that has people relying on police for such protection.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Kaepernick Needs to Learn How to Support Local Police

Kaepernick Needs to Learn How to Support Local Police
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

NFL player Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers decided to draw attention to himself at a recent football game. He refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem, explaining that he wanted to draw attention to “the oppression of blacks and other minorities.” Hardly oppressed himself, he somehow thinks his big bucks contract to play football authorizes him to be a spokesman for others.

Photo by Mike Morbeck (Flickr: Colin Kaepernick) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s easy to see that Kaepernick was really calling attention to himself. He could have stayed in the locker room but he wanted personal attention. Many commentators haven’t mentioned the fact that his team seems to have given up on him.

As distasteful as the Kaepernick performance was, he managed to worsen it during another appearance on the field. He wore socks containing pictures of pigs wearing police hats. Was he disciplined for this huge insult? Not at all. In fact, many media commentators saluted him for courage. At least some police have protested. The police union in the Bay Area has threatened to boycott future games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he recognizes the quarterback’s right to protest but “doesn’t necessarily agree” with him. Earlier, when the Dallas Cowboys players wanted to put decals on their helmets to commemorate five recently slain Dallas police officers, Goodell’s office refused permission. Shame on Goodell and the NFL!

Refusing to stand for the national anthem is small potatoes next to disparaging the work of all police officers. Kaepernick’s ugly performance brought to mind something I wrote more than 40 years ago for The John Birch Society’s Support Your Local Police Committee program. Paying well-earned honor to the men and women in blue, the widely distributed small pamphlet stated:

A policeman is many things. He’s a son, a brother, a father, an uncle, a sister, and sometimes even a grandparent. He’s a protector in time of need and a comforter in time of sorrow. His job calls for him to be a diplomat, a psychologist, a lawyer, a friend, and an inspiration. He suffers from an overdose of publicity about brutality and dishonesty. He suffers far more from unfounded charges. Too often, his acts of heroism go unnoticed and truth is buried under all the criticism. The fact is that less than one-half of one percent of policemen ever discredit their uniform. That’s a better average than you’ll find among clergymen.

A policeman stands between the law abider and the law breaker. He’s the prime reason your home hasn’t been burned, your family abused, your business looted. Try to imagine what might happen if there were no policemen around. And then try to think of ways to make their job more rewarding.

We think policemen are great. We thank God for all the little boys and girls who said they wanted to be police officers, and who kept their promise.

Colin Kaepernick’s insult to police is a disgrace. Any others who follow his lead aren’t heroes; they’re misguided self-promoters. And the NFL officials that don’t discipline them are politically correct cowards.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.