Friday, March 22, 2019

Sir Robert Peel

Robert Peel is often considered to be the father of modern policing.  His principles are taught in academic circles and have great weight in the matter of the proper  use of police management.   Years ago, I taught Principles of Police Work a t the local college, in the Sociology department, before they had a criminal justice program, and Peel consumed the first chapter of the text I then used.

The reputation of the police agencies in this country have taken a beating over the past few years.  Most famously in the Obama era, but we continue to struggle with our general reputation, in some part because we tend to forget who we actually serve.   A review of Peel's work will help us to re-focus out efforts in a manner that serves the greater good.  One of my favorite of his principles is:
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. 
The police are the public and the public are the police.   This is the foundation of civil police work.  We are simply members of the citizenry who are paid full-time to focus on crime and disorder.    We are no better, or worse, in large part, than the citizens we serve.

5 comments:

Phil Kraemer said...

This quote always comes to my mind when I hear a police officer talk about "civilians". That always seems to set up the us vs. them paradigm.

Gary Slinger said...

^^^^ came here to say that. Any PO referring to the public as a civilian should be removed from his post forthwith.

Old 1811 said...

Then, should an educator or a medical professional be fired for referring to non-educators or non-medical types as "civilians"? They do it all the time.
"Civilian" has come to mean "someone who works in a different field than I do." It has no elitist or condescending connotations, unless you read some into it.
(And quite a few dictionaries define "civilian" as "A person who is not a member of the military, or the police or fire service.")
Bobby Peel had the concept right. So why work so hard to separate yourself from the people you pay to protect you? Don't you have bigger things to worry about? I know I do.

Jester said...

@Old 1811. There is a decided difference in how LEOs, Military or otherwise refer to the usage of Civilians. Sometimes, yes it is just to differentiate between someone that is a Civilian, a bad actor/antagonistic individual and someone that may be getting paid to wear a uniform. There is also a large swath of LEOs that look disdainfully upon anyone not wearing the badge (And to some extents there are those in the Military/Veteran community too but it's been far less in my personal experiences.) When I in my small town can watch the local LEOs flip lights to blow stop signs or stoplights while not rushing to a call and then pull over people for running the stop lights/signs it is troubling. When citizens go to the police for help on matters and *Personal experience here* get told it's not their problem or worth their effort to investigate property damage, theft it's a big problem. Mind you this area is not a murder capital of the world either. When the city council won't ask the police or the police don't put on a boots on ground general show of presence in an area that the city council says has problems, what are the police doing? The police in many instance have done just as much if not more to separate themselves from the people that pay for their services. And yes I'm well aware it's not every community or situation . There is a lot of individual police and departments themselves that are part of the community for more than a brief PR stunt. I also know there are a lot of communities that have actively rejected the police and their presence in all forms. I will make the observation though that when there is high amounts of community involvement from the LEO side of things and it's not about writing tickets and only writing tickets things really work well.

Rich Jordan said...

Long ago an uncle who was then on active duty in the US Army told me that a civilian was a person subject to civil law. Period. Soldiers were not civilians because they were subject to an alternative, the UCMJ.

He was not overly fond of police, firefighters, etc excluding themselves from the civilian monicker.