Have you noticed how certain terms change once you become a peace officer? The “us against them”’ mentality or format begins to invade our perception and personality. Individuals go from being close friends to forgotten contacts. Strangers become suspect, motives become second guessed, and a questioning mood seems to infiltrate every conversation. Suspicion begins to clouds our everyday lives, people seem to be avoiding us and curtailing conversation, and we follow suit by isolating ourselves away from our community.
If in doubt, ask someone close to you, your spouse, a family member, your best friend. See if they have sensed a change in the “old you” and the way you are today.
As the title implies, perhaps one of the most telltale transformations is expressed in our terminology, lending itself as a further insight into our temperament, vision, concern, and even treatment of others.
By dictionary definition, a citizen is “a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection, rights, and privileges of a given state”. However, referring to the same reference resource, a civilian is one “outside the realm of military life”.
Did I miss something? Are we under wartime conditions? Is this re- labeling of those we have sworn to serve somehow beginning to impede our dialog and increase our distancing?
One might think so when we read and hear peace officers and their leaders describing how “civilians” don’t seem to understand us, especially when we utilize force or initiate control.
As peace officers we must hold strongly to the credo that our efforts are part of a privilege granted by the society we serve and protect. We are in fact society’s army of assistance not occupation. We are not soldiers selected by one entity to rule over another or bring it to ruin.
Citizens deserve and desire the service that we swore to provide. Not as a domineering foe on a battlefield, but rather a compassionate and caring friend in the community.