Letter: Law Enforcement Officers


When did “Peace Officers” become “Law Enforcement Officers”? Is not the purpose of police to keep the peace? Are laws merely meant to be the tools to enforce the peace? Why not call police “Baton, Pepper Spray, Taser Enforcement Officers”? If I spent a little time at it, I could probably come up with a list of peace keeping tools that would make a snappy acronym to rival “LEO”. I encourage people, particularly police, to read the principles of policing developed by Sir Robert Peel:

Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”

Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”

Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”

Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”

Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”

Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”

Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

My point is that rather than enforcing the goals of maximal individual liberty throughout society by viewing themselves as Peace Officers, police may potentially become nothing more than tools of those in power who write the laws and those who influence (corrupt?) them. They will become instruments of tyranny rather than freedom. As citizens, we should pay particular attention to Principles 7 and 9 lest we enable tyranny through inattention to our duties as free citizens. – K.