Integrity

Integrity, I have often used this word and have taken the definition as simply doing what is right when there is no one looking. Although I believe I have this grasp on the word integrity I have never really looked it up in the dictionary, until today. Integrity defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

1.   firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility An analysis: Firm adherence- strong standing, never wavering; To a code of especially moral or artistic values-The right thing in that particular situation. The dictionary also pairs integrity with incorruptibility, being very honest unable to be corrupt.

2.   an unimpaired condition: soundness Analysis: Using a sound mind when making decisions

3.   the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness Analysis: having all the necessary tools to arrive at a thought provoked decision, prepared, having no limitations

The job of a law enforcement officer is a very fluid job. Although there is training, it is impossible to train for every situation. It is in those situations that each law enforcement officer reaches into their bag of tools and pull out INTEGRITY.

Times have changed in the world we live in. For those of us who have been on the job for 15 years or more, there have been many changes and we must adapt to those changes. Two very significant changes that we must adapt to are technological changes and open/concealed carry laws.

Technology has been a thorn in the sides of some law enforcement, whether it is a new reporting writing system or the camera phone. We have to adapt. That definition of integrity that I used in the past is no longer relevant because there is always someone watching. Even if you don’t believe there is you should always carry yourself and perform your duties as if there is someone watching. We live in a time now where there are cameras everywhere, people out making vacation videos, storefront surveillance cameras, even some cities have invested in surveillance cameras in public areas to deter crime. These cameras that had intentions other than to watch the actions of law enforcement have been the catalyst to bring the darkness of “policing” to the light. Those behaviors that were only shared between those within the “thin blue line” are now out for everyone to see.

Guns, guns, guns, guns, guns. I can remember watching western movies with my Father, everyone had a gun, even some of the ladies had guns. There would be gunfights in the bars, on the street. People were shot just for the way they looked at someone. Even though that was television, there is a direct correlation between the behavior then and the behavior now. The only thing different then compared to now is the size of the jails. The law enforcement branch, although led by a Sheriff or Marshall, had the authority to deputize a whole town if needed, so law enforcement always had the manpower. Today almost as many people have guns as they have home computers. Because of the change in laws to allow open carry or concealed carry, depending on your state law, law enforcement cannot continue to use the same standards to address people. It has become far more dangerous because you “really” should assume everyone has a gun and has the opportunity and ability to use it. BUT does that mean your life is in jeopardy? I know the old OAJ is not politically or judicially correct today but it is still a valid question. Communication is the key. We have to talk to people.

Now there is a decision to make do you continue to believe nobody is looking and act without integrity or do you do the right thing when you believe nobody is watching?

If you aren’t sure what OAJ is get the book.

 

integrity. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved August 23, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity

 

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