Name That Cop

Most of us are too young to remember the end of the Vietnam War, but at one time or another we have all seen the photos and heard the reports of protesters lining the street as service members returned home. The protesters were not there to thank the veterans for their service, or help them transition to being stateside, they were there to call them horrible names and hold them personally responsible for a system they did not believe in nor support.  Very few of those returning soldiers, sailors, marines or airmen were guilty of anything other than fighting for their very survival, but were held accountable for the actions of a few, even the imagined, because, as far as the protesters were concerned, they were “the government.” That is the same situation that today’s law enforcement officers find themselves in, especially if they are involved in an on duty use of force.

Examine any of the recent use of force situations, even those when there was little doubt concerning whether the officers involved acted properly. The first thing protesters have done is lash out at the local department, then in nearby neighborhoods and soon in towns and cities all across the nation. Within hours, officers who had never met the suspect in question, never known the officers involved and who have probably never set foot in the city where the incident took place are somehow the ones to blame, according to “protestors.” By the next day at roll call briefings nationwide, officers are being warned to watch their backs.

Media FrenzyWhether this is the result of a society at war with the police, a nation in a state of distrust or simply a mob mentality fueled by social media, the result is the same – officers are placed at risk simply for doing their job. Now, imagine if you were an officer involved in a use of force situation and the media was demanding to know everything about you including your name and even your address. Would you feel that your safety, or that of your family, was being compromised? I understand the media’s argument that the public needs to know and that failing to do so makes it easier for the department to cover up inappropriate actions. But what does having a name accomplish? Does having a name really put the citizens at rest or does it simply provide a name to which the protesters can attach their anger?

Okay, I know there are those of you who believe that it is a citizen’s right to know and that officers should not be given “special” treatment. If this is what you think, than please explain how not releasing the officer’s name is special treatment? Departments do not release the identity of any victim, officer or average citizen, and rarely release the identity of suspects prior to charges being filled or an arrest being made. Shouldn’t cops be provided the same consideration? If an officer is cleared, there is not further need for review and the use of force is deemed appropriate, shouldn’t the officer involved be treated in the same manner as any citizen forced to protect themselves during an attack?

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

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