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Friday, August 29, 2008

Blue Must Be True

"If self-policing worked, then society would not need the police would we? Law enforcement agencies (as miniature societies) are no different - they cannot police themselves." -Karl Mansoor

Who is Karl Mansoor?

Mr. Mansoor is an ex-police officer and a current law enforcement instructor in Virginia... He is also the author of "Blue Must Be True", a blog about law enforcement leadership, ethics, and misconduct. He is also one of the examples of law enforcement professionals that prove not all police officers are bad.

Here is a portion of the latest post at Blue Must be True, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:
"Certainly society wants to think the best of its heroes; in this case law enforcement officers...

I have worked with law enforcement officers who are worthy of emulation. They were and are true professionals dedicated to serving with integrity. Regrettably, I am also personally aware of, and have worked with, law enforcement officers who are just the opposite.

While I have only worked in two police departments and trained with perhaps several hundred officers from various agencies (only a fraction of officers in the U.S.), I get the strong sense that police culture is consistent throughout the United States. A negative aspect of that culture is the “Code of Silence.” It may be true that many officers do not personally engage in excessive force or other aspects of misconduct, it is also likely true that many law enforcement officers will not speak up about issues that need to see the light of day.

Citizens are wrong if they think this problem will self correct. They are even more wrong if they think the problem is sparse and of little consequence. Be wary of police administrators who tell you they can fix it - some are part of the problem. If self-policing worked, then society would not need the police would we? Law enforcement agencies (as miniature societies) are no different - they cannot police themselves.
The post in question is filled with very informative figures, statistics, and other facts that are both incredibly interesting and important for people to understand. But that's not necessarily what should draw someone to this site. The interesting story here is the perspective of the person who is presenting these facts and what that represents, because the person discussing these issues was a police officer himself and is currently a licensed law enforcement instructor.

The site, and the person who writes it, also represents the hope that not all police officers are bad or willing to look the other way when police abuses occur. I say this is a hope we need because it's true, we cannot have trust in our society if we cannot trust those who are entrusted to enforce society's laws and without that trust then such a society will certainly fail.

This is not to say that Mr. Mansoor is the only good officer out there, by far I know that's not the case. But, he is one of the few who have taken the brave step to bring an honest perspective to the issues surrounding misconduct and the need to find that delicate balance of authority and accountability. While the author of Blue Must Be True says that he will not be writing often since he is also working on a book, it's still a site I'll be following with interest...

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