A Brief History
Today, despite all the police television shows and movies, there are many misconceptions about what police can and cannot do, and how they are supposed to do it. Hopefully this list will help enlighten people or stimulate them to discuss what should be as opposed to what is.
10. All Police Love Donuts.
This belief is ridiculous! No more than about 99% would fall into this category by my personal observations!.
9. Police Have Monthly Ticket Quotas.
Since this possibility is actually illegal, technically they do not have quotas. That being said, many police administrators or politicians insist on certain levels of “production” and create de facto quotas. How many tickets a cop writes can in some ways be an indication of his work ethic, but it is a dangerous criterion to rely on since so many other factors are more important. It is the lazy supervisor’s way to assess performance. Police should NOT be used to generate revenue!
8. 911 Is The Information Line.
911 is for emergencies ONLY! It is not to ask when trick or treat or the parade is scheduled or to complain about a ticket! Calling 911 for other than an emergency could and should result in a citation!
7. Police Must Let The Bad Guy Shoot First.
Not only no, but the bad guy does not necessarily have to have a weapon. When police order someone to “Freeze!” and the suspect makes a move that looks like they are reaching for a weapon, the prudent police officer may shoot before the bad guy draws and fires.
6. Police Should Not Chase Minor Traffic Violators.
This one is tricky because many important politicians agree with this statement. The problem is, when a chase starts, the police do not know why the person is fleeing. They may have just murdered someone or have a kidnapped person in the trunk. Maybe the car is stolen or they just committed a serious crimes. Many really bad felons have been caught because of traffic offenses. (Ted Bundy ring a bell?)
5. Police Cars Are Souped Up Super Cars.
Not only no, but in many jurisdictions the cars are so old or so worn out the idea is laughable!
4. Police Cannot Shoot A Fleeing Felon.
Police can shoot someone fleeing from a violent crime if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person’s escape will result in an innocent person being killed or seriously hurt. No, shoplifters cannot be shot in the back, but serial murderers that are getting away can!
3. Police Are Not Allowed to Lie to A Suspect.
Sure they can! This practice is an excellent technique to get suspects to turn on each other or tell police information the suspect thinks the police already know.
2. Police Must Fire a Warning Shot.
This myth of course is just stupid! For one thing, warning shots in a city can be dangerous!
1. Miranda Warning.
We close on the one that was today’s “this day in history” entry. For some reason many people seem to believe that if they are not “read their rights” when they are arrested they have somehow earned a free pass and must be let go! The fact is that all the Miranda Warning does is invalidate any statement made by the arrestee or evidence that comes from such a statement if the warning was not given and opportunity for counsel made. Plus, police do not have to provide a lawyer unless you are indigent!
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For more information, please see…
Braswell, Michael, Larry Miller, et al. Human Relations & Police Work. Waveland Pr Inc, 2010.