on Loyalty

In my “real” job I work with law enforcement agencies virtually every day. I have enormous respect for the vast majority of them, not because they “lay their lives on the line every day“, which in my opinion is the sort of hyped up nonsense used to justify unjustifiable acts, but because they work at a largely thankless job in which they genuinely try to ensure the safety of the citizenry they serve.

Unfortunately, law enforcement has a truly terrible systemic problem which their culture routinely promotes as a positive attribute, namely “Loyalty“. How can I possibly consider loyalty to be such a negative attribute that I deem it to be a “truly terrible systemic problem”?

I don’t.  Loyalty is an important character trait – when it is both earned and deserved.  When loyalty is neither earned or deserved, or is earned but not deserved, it becomes misplaced.  Which is precisely where law enforcement agencies make a fatal error – they consistently fail to make the distinction between earned and deserved loyalty and misplaced loyalty.  When a law enforcement agency closes ranks around an officer who has grossly abused the public trust the entire agency is tainted by the wrongdoing of the officer to whom they are displaying misplaced loyalty.  That is the terrible and systemic problem to which I alluded earlier.

If law enforcement truly wants to regain the public trust then they must stop abusing it by protecting people who should be punished.  No, I’m not talking about wayward members of the public – I’m talking about officers who abuse their power and authority.  Such officers do not deserve the loyalty of their departments – they deserve to be held accountable and to face the same legal consequences any member of the public would for acting in a similar fashion.

{P.S. “This is Awful – It Cannot be Lawful!” inspired this post, thank you.}

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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