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Your sense of fairness, as defined above, should
extend to every person with whom you come in
contact.  There are no exceptions.  You'll never lose
anything by being fair, and you'll gain enormous self
respect and self satisfaction.

Now... don't expect any fairness in return.  You
certainly aren't going to get it from the criminals
you apprehend and prosecute.  You'll experience
very little from the citizens you serve, and as far as
your department is concerned... well, let's just say
that the Blue Wall so many people whine about is
fast going the way of Hadrian's Wall.  You will,
indeed, work with fellow police officers and
supervisors who share your sense of fairness.
However, police departments have people whose
only real sense of fairness extends to themselves.  
It's just a reality of life.

If you're lucky, in the beginning, you'll have some
good sergeants who will protect you; until, you
learn the ropes, and you learn how to identify those
who are dangerous to your career.  You're probably
thinking, "That's sounds awfully paranoid."  Not
really.  Every occupation or profession has people
who will do you in a heartbeat, and police
departments are no different.  They're more
dangerous to you in a police department, because,
as a police officer, you immediately assume far more
responsibilities than you would in another line of
work.

I made some enemies, but they were enemies I'd
gladly make all over again.  Remember, as long as
you're fair, no one will ever be able to get anything
to hold over you.  To a lot of people, if they don't
have any dirt on you, it's very disconcerting to
them, and they will take every opportunity to
impede and obstruct you.  As aggravating as these
people can be, in the end, you'll be the one holding
the shovel, and you'll get where you're going.

Once you establish a reputation for fairness, those
in your department whose definition of fairness
operates on a sliding scale will go to great lengths
to avoid involving you in any potentially
compromising situations that can range from minor
to extreme.  As a new police officer, you want to,
early on, identify those to avoid as much as
possible.  Fairness is the keystone of your integrity,
and you must protect your integrity at all costs.
What is the one thing that governments;
politicians; judges; prosecutors and police officers
have in common with… terrorists?  While you’re
thinking about that one, ask yourself this, what is
the main difference between the two groups?  While
the lawyers, psychologists and sociologists could go
on for hours proffering and debating dozens of
answers, one word can answer both questions
accurately and definitively.  The answer to both
questions is… power.

The dirty secret, which is actually no secret at all, is
that the acquisition and exercise of power dictates
the direction and quality of life for every living being
on the planet.  The laws of nature are harsh and
unforgiving, but the laws of nature are applied
universally without prejudice for anything or
anyone.  Of course, nature does not recognize any
inalienable right; thus, the oft spoken phrase,
“survival of the fittest.”  Human beings, on the
other hand, have the unique ability to create and
maintain civilizations under man made rules of law
where objective reasoning can ensure that every
person is treated equally under those laws.

Enter:  Empathy  [Identification with and
understanding of another's situation, feelings, and
motives.]

First of all, there is no such thing as equal
treatment under the law.  When you become a
police officer and you begin spending a lot of time in
court rooms, you’re going to be struck at just how
unequal people are treated.  I’m not talking about
how a first time offender may be treated versus a
three time loser; although, you’ll see a lot of repeat
offenders treated as though they’re entering the
criminal justice system for the first time.  Why do
you think legislatures enact laws requiring
mandatory prison sentences under particular
circumstances?

You’ll be entering your police career when empathy
is all the rage, and a President of the United States
even believes that judges should include empathy
into their judicial decision making processes.  Let
me put it to you this way.  When you become a
police officer, let empathy influence how you enforce
laws.  Now, if the prosecutors and judges who get
your cases share your empathy, you might get by.  
However, if you have prosecutors and judges who
know what they’re doing, you’ll be slapped down
and embarrassed; until, you get the message.

Here are some facts.  Police officers; prosecutors
and judges have enormous power over people.  
While you, as a police officer may share the power,
you don’t even come close to sharing the level of
immunity which is extended to prosecutors and
judges when that power is misused.  

Objective reasoning and empathy are
incompatible.
 

Since you’re a human being, you will possess
empathy – hopefully on a high level of morality.  
There will be many times when empathy will
influence how you treat people.  As long as the
empathy you show toward one person does not
negatively impact another, the empathy you extend
can be positive.  However, when your empathy
affects your decision making where objective
reasoning is required, someone, in all likelihood, will
not be getting equal treatment under the law.

As a police officer, your ability to reason objectively
should be right at the top of your list of things to
master.  Unlike the prosecutors and the judges,
you’ll be the first line defender of life, liberty and the
Constitution.  The prosecutors and judges can
gush with all the empathy they want since their
involvement comes well after the flashpoint of
perceived or real crisis.  When things go badly, your
sound objective reasoning will save you.  If you rely
on empathy being shown toward you for your
empathy based decision, you’re going to be sorely
disappointed.

Getting back to the terrorists… While it’s obvious
that the acquisition and use of power to kill and
maim are the top priorities for terrorists, what is
the single biggest factor affecting their desire to
pursue a path of death and destruction?  If you
don’t figure this out in the next three seconds, go
back and reread the definition of empathy.
Equal Treatment Under the Law
You'll learn very quickly that the word "fair" has
different meanings to different people.  Maybe
that's why so many people have such a hard time
finding the definition that uses the words "open;
frank; honest; equal; just; equitable; impartial;
unprejudiced."
"When things go badly, your sound objective
reasoning will save you.  If you rely on
empathy being shown toward you for your
empathy based decision, you’re going to be
sorely disappointed." ~ Barry M. Baker
Police and
Fairness
Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
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