“I, (name), do swear, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of (State) and support the Constitution and laws thereof, and that I will, to the best of my skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice, execute the Office of (Police, Sheriff, Etc.), in and for (County), according to the Constitution of this State.”
Brothers and Sisters in Blue, that is called the Oath of Office that every one of you in the United States must swear or affirm prior to being sworn in to do the job. The next one is called the “Law Enforcement Code of Ethics” adopted by the International Associations of Chiefs of Police and is considered the “standard” adopted by nearly all agencies in the country. You also take oath to these ethics.
“As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind, to safeguard lives and property, and to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder, and to respect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice “
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all, maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule, develop self-restraint, and be constantly mindful for the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity, will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself to my chosen profession – law enforcement.”
Over the last couple of years, you have been subjected unwarranted scrutiny about your health, forced to take experimental vaccine, ridiculed, trampled on, spit on, had water thrown on you, assaulted, called racists, and every other name in the book. You have risen above it every time. I retired three years ago after 20 years on the job. I know what it is like. I know the restraint and patience that is required to do the job. I also know when it is time to stand by the oaths and ethics we swore upon when the upper brass and leaders do things that we believe are wrong.
I watched troubling video this morning of patrons in a restaurant being arrested for not having proof of a vaccine. I thought at first this was Germany or Australia where this had been going on for months now. Then I see it is on American soil. In the most iconic city in the world. New York City. I was astonished, dismayed and extremely disappointed. How can officers do this to the people we are sworn to protect? “Just doing my job” is not an excuse. “I got bills to pay” is not an excuse. I get it though. Easier said than done.
Your oath and pledge are not only for you to abide by. They are also for you to ENFORCE. You are to hold each other accountable, equal rank as well as above and below. This whole pandemic has brought out the absolute worst in people and our country has not been this divided since the Civil War. As cops, merely taking orders is not the job. You are human beings first and foremost, created in God’s image. You are also given the ability and power to use your judgment based on facts presented to you at the time. In the Oath, it is written, “and that I will, to the best of my skill and judgment,” which gives you the authority to use your own judgment. In the Code of Ethics, you swore to “to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation… and to respect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice.“ You should know when citizens are being preyed upon and you are bound by oath to protect them. In Proverbs 31:8-9 (King James Version)”8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. 9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” As humans on God’s earth are we not commanded to stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves?
We have had huge disagreements on who is right or wrong when it comes to the handling of this pandemic. It is fair to say however, the vaccines have now indisputably been shown not to prevent the spread of the virus. Anyone, vaccinated or not can and does spread it. It may reduce severity of infection or length of hospital stay, but they are not stopping the virus as we were informed a year ago. Despite all of that, enforcing a “mandate” that has been specifically targeting citizens of a certain population, the unvaccinated, is not only unethical, it is illegal. It is discrimination plain and simple. We can discuss mandates versus laws as the general population sees it, but the fact of the matter is mandates are not laws. Laws are decided among a legislative body and are permanent until amended or stricken by that body. Mandates are directives issued by an executive branch that are temporary in nature and scope and are done in the instance of an emergency. A mask mandate is a temporary reaction to a temporary problem. The vaccine is a permanent reaction to a temporary problem. In fact, many would argue the vaccine is merely a therapeutic and those cannot be forced or mandated. Arrest is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Opinions about these topics will never be agreed upon, but should you arrest someone when the data and facts are so confusing, Einstein himself would not be able to dissect it.
Yes, business do have the right to trespass individuals from their premises, however it is not ok to discriminate, nor is it ok to demand proof of a medical document when there are laws regulating the privacy of medical records. They don’t require a flu vaccine every year, and they don’t require you to show your vaccinations from when you were a baby. Businesses are scared they will be fined for not enforcing the “mandate” and you enforcing it only strengthens their resolve. Your job is to explain to the businesses that it is their property and you won’t enforce any fines. If they still want someone denied entry that is their right provided it isn’t discriminatory. It is also the right of the citizen to sue the establishment for discrimination and you should make sure they are aware of that and how to do it if they ask. Passive resistance is not something to be arrested for if they agree to leave. If they remain there after being told to leave, then yes, they are trespassing. But you should not be in that position in the first place. You should not be enforcing anything that pits citizens against each other or separates citizens into certain classes or groups. Last I checked, that is discrimination. You are bringing dishonor to the badge that I wore proudly for 20 years.
What about those people that have already recovered from the virus and have the antibodies? What about those that have religious reasons to decline the vaccine? What about those who’s doctors told them not to due to a medical condition or potential allergic reaction? You going to need to see a note from my pastor or my doctor? That can be forged easily. What about those that just want the freedom to decide what does or does not go into their bodies? Singling them out of society is discrimination. As of January 10, 2022, CDC reported that nationally 74.4% of the population has been vaccinated. According to their data there is a disproportionate margin of the vaccine acceptance rate by individual races/ethnicities, and that leads you to believe minorities are less likely to receive the vaccine. The numbers are still rising, but this could easily be perceived as a racial issue when vaccines requirements are issued and enforced. We can dissect the reasons for vaccine hesitancy in a different argument, but as it stands now, people are being singled out by their vaccination status and that status is vastly different by race. Not only are citizens being treated differently because of a medical decision they choose, that decision may also be attributed to the race of the citizen deciding it. Whatever the reason for someone to decide whether or not to be vaccinated against a virus is no one’s business but theirs and their doctor’s. “But they made people get small pox or polio vaccines” is not an argument either. Those were extremely deadly infections and most people who were exposed either died or had a severe disability for life. This is nowhere near that catastrophic. The science is evolving constantly and the health officials are making new recommendations or changes almost weekly. It is a very confusing time for everyone.
Law enforcement officers do not make or interpret laws. They enforce them. However, their job is much deeper than merely enforcing a law or following an order given out by superiors. You are to know what orders are fair, just and true. I know firsthand how hard it is to go against the grain of the status quo. I also know that God gave you and me the ability to see and do what is right and just. If the Governor, Mayor, Chief/Sheriff, or anyone else in your command says that the unvaccinated are to be located in your jurisdiction and shot on the spot with your department issued firearm, are you going to do it? Why not? You’re just doing your job and following orders right?
Brad Kirby is a retired Sergeant, Instructor and K-9 Handler of 20 years with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office in Durham, North Carolina. He is married to his wife of 17 years and has 2 sons that he now homeschools. These beliefs are my own and in no way related to anyone or organization.