I used the residency issue combined with
a police involved shooting to illustrate
just one of a myriad of problems which
can result from the social/professional
relationship with those who you police.  
Trust me on this; it’s a lot easier policing
people when they see you only as a
police officer possessing the authority
vested in you rather than the guy next
door.  While you may be able to maintain
a clear separation between your social
and professional contact with others, the
others won’t be able to maintain that
discipline.  The others rarely think
reasonably, and during periods of stress
or crisis they never think reasonably.  
Herein lays the stress for you.  I don’t
care how good you think you are – a  
social/professional relationship is the
ultimate oxymoron for a police officer.  
Your profession is unique; you have the
power and duty to physically deny others
of their liberty when warranted.  Not a
small thing – and a thing best kept away
from home.

While some thoughtful contemplation on
your part can keep you from forming
associations with the wrong people,
family members of questionable or
criminal character can be more
problematic.  However, as long as you
don’t withhold or conceal information,
evidence or abet the criminal conduct of a
family member in any way, it’s just a
form of unavoidable stress you have to

Personal associations with negative
impact aren’t limited to the public or
family members.  Unfortunately, there will
be police officers with whom you’ll want
to avoid close personal association.  But
– this isn’t nearly as difficult as you might
think.  As long as you continuously
perform with a high level of integrity,
police officers of questionable character
will avoid you.

As you contemplate a police career, you
must realize that the powers you’ll
possess as a police officer will place you
in a class where your behavior on all
levels will be under constant scrutiny.  
The establishment and maintenance of
personal associations is one area where
you can exercise total control and deny
those who would attack your integrity
through personal associations the ability
to do so.  
When I became a police officer, there was
a lot of emphasis placed on personal
associations.  If a pre-employment
background investigation revealed that
you voluntarily associated with a person
(s) of questionable character, that
association(s) could delay or even deny
your employment as a police officer.  
Once hired, your academy training
stressed the importance of maintaining
your integrity by avoiding any personal
associations that might simply cause an
appearance of impropriety.  

Police departments used to help its police
officers avoid compromising associations
by not allowing officers to patrol areas or
neighborhoods in which they reside.  
Things do change and today many police
departments not only allow their officers
to work in neighborhoods where they
live, but they even encourage that
compromising practice.  This is just one
of many paradigms pushed by the
politically correct social engineering
experts.  Their reasoning, or better said
lack of reasoning, is that you’ll care more
about the neighborhood you police if
you’re a resident of that neighborhood.  I
honestly don’t know what that means,
and I doubt that those espousing such
nonsense have any comprehension of the
problems that can, and probably will,
occur when the line between good
neighbor and law enforcer is blurred by
two opposing forms of familiarity.  

Now, if you’re policing “Mayberry, RFD,”
everybody is going to know everybody,
and the residency thing isn’t a big deal.  
However, if you’re policing neighborhoods
where crime is a real and daily problem,
your familiarity with residents should be
professional versus social/professional.  
When it comes to the caring part, if
you’re not up to the task of providing
police service to the best of your ability
regardless of where you’re policing, then;
you shouldn’t even become a police

In 2009, the Baltimore Police Department
announced a new policy; wherein, the
department would no longer publicly
identify police officers involved in “police
involved shootings.”  The term refers to
an incident wherein a police officer
discharges his or her firearm in the line of
duty.  Naturally, the most serious
incident of a police involved shooting
occurs when an officer wounds or kills a
suspect.  Needless to say, the new policy
created uproar from the media,
politicians, and community
organizations.  Baltimore’s Police
Commissioner explained that identifying
officers could place the safety of the
officer and the safety of the officer’s
family in jeopardy.  He went on to cite
other cities with similar policies.  
However, he failed to mention that
Baltimore is now one of those
progressive cities that allow and
encourage its officers to live in
neighborhoods where drug dealing and
violent crime is commonplace.  Baltimore
has nine police districts.  In the past
when more reasoned policies prevailed,
an officer whose safety was determined
to be in jeopardy for any reason could
simply be reassigned to another police
district.  You should know where I’m
going with this; a simple reassignment is
a lot easier and more practical than
moving the family and establishing a new
I say this frequently, and I’ll say it again.  
Your integrity will be the single most
important thing you’ll take into your
police career, and it will be the single
most important thing affecting you
throughout your career.

Your personal integrity whether you like it
or not is going to be affected by the
personal associations you keep.  While
you’re beginning your adult life and
career path in a popular culture where
every bad thing that happens to an
individual is the fault of somebody else,
this load of propaganda will be of little
comfort should you find yourself in a
predicament where your personal
association(s) with the wrong person or
people lands you in the midst of troubling
"...if you’re policing neighborhoods
where crime is a real and daily
problem, your familiarity with
residents should be professional
versus social/professional."
~ Barry M. Baker

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Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
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The good news is...the
odds of you having to  use
deadly force is low.  The
bad news is...you will be
faced with that decision.