I once received a call for a disorderly man at 3:00
am on a very cold winter morning.  I arrived to see
the man pounding on the front door of a row
home.  When I approached the man, a woman
inside the house opened her second floor front
window and stuck her head out.

The woman explained to me that the man was her
brother who did not reside in her home.  I
immediately realized the man was intoxicated, but
he did know where he was and what he was doing.  
He was upset that his sister would not admit him to
her home.  The woman pleaded with her brother to
go to his own home, and I even offered him
transportation to his home.

When it became clear that the man had no intention
of leaving, I ordered him to leave.  Of course, my
command had no effect.  As the conversation
between the sister and brother continued along
with my commands to leave, I finally told the sister
that the only way I could resolve the situation was
to arrest her brother.  The woman simply closed her
eyes and nodded.  While the brother, now suspect,
did not forcefully resist my arrest, his resistance did
require some pushing, pulling, and arm twisting.

At the time, simple disorderly arrests were heard by
a district court judge the following morning.  While
the defendant had the counsel of a public defender,
the police officer would simply testify for the state
without the presence of a state's attorney.  The
defendant's sister was in the court room that
morning which was not something that would be
unusual.  However, when the case was called, the
sister walked to the front of the courtroom and
stood beside me.

The judge ask the sister why she had come
forward.  The woman answered that she was the
defendant's sister.  The judge then told the woman
that she should be seated until called to testify by
the defendant's lawyer.  The judge's mouth
dropped open when the woman answered, "I'm not
here for that, your honor.  I'm here to explain why
this officer had no other choice than to arrest my

After a brief pause, the judge told the woman to
continue.  She went on to explain how polite and
patient I'd been toward her brother.  She described
her brother's conduct and how I had repeatedly
urged her brother to leave -- and even how
sparingly I used physical force to get my handcuffs
on her brother.

After she'd finished her statements, the judge
extended his arm, and, with his index finger,
pointed straight at the defendant.  Turning his head
toward the woman, he ask, "You're
his sister...
right?"  The courtroom erupted in laughter.  The
question was meant to convey humor since the
racial difference between the siblings and I was

You're going to make arrests for things a lot more
serious than disorderly conduct, and to say that
some of those arrests will be difficult would be an
understatement.  However, the one thing that all
arrests have in common is the deprivation of one's
freedom.  That result, in and of itself, is of no small

There will be instances when arrest is not an
obvious resolution or when arrest would not be
your proper course of action.  Your rapid acquisition
of knowledge regarding your state's criminal code,
and the elements of probable cause, will be of the
immediate and utmost importance.  As you gain
experience, and avoid developing bad habits, you'll
exercise your power of arrest with confidence and
Remember, any person who is intent on performing
will rarely follow your first command to cease the
disruptive behavior.  You carry plenty of rope with
you, so use it.  Here's the irony.  Your politely
repeated orders to the suspect, without emotion,
may well embolden the suspect to increase his or
her verbal abuse.  What the spectators will realize,
well before the suspect, is the increasing certainty
of the suspect's arrest.  The only uncertainty
among those watching will be on the number of
chances you will give the suspect to comply.

It all comes down to exercising your power of arrest
reasonably and with emotional detachment.  People
of all types and views are potential critics of how
you use your power of arrest.  People like to see
police officers dispense fair treatment even when
the police officer is enduring insulting language.  
Sometimes, they even show their appreciation.
"People like to see police officers dispense fair
treatment even when the police officer is
enduring insulting language." ~ Barry M. Baker
As an American police officer, you're going to have a
power of arrest which is far more expansive than
you probably realize at this point in your pre-career
planning.  There's a lot of people who believe police
officers have too much power, and you'll meet many
of them when you begin your police career.

While some people just simply dislike police officers
for a variety of reasons, others will display their
irrational hatred of your power by verbally spewing
some really loud and insulting speech your way.  
The very first thing that you should know, and
never forget, is that your peace and tranquillity
cannot be disturbed, and the words
insult and
assault have two entirely different meanings.  In
other words, as long as Mr. or Ms. Loudmouth
doesn't put his or her hands on you, or attempt to
physically assault you in some manner, they can call
you any vile name you can imagine -- it's called
freedom of speech.

However...yes, there's always a however.  Anywhere
you work as a police officer, there will be a law
against disorderly and disruptive public behavior.  
When a person disturbs the peace and tranquilly of
others, excluding you, that person is exposing him
or herself to your power of arrest.  You'll meet quite
a few of these types, and you'll arrest many of
them.  While this is a very simple application of your
power of arrest, it can be one of the most

When a person is disturbing the peace of others,
the only verbal statement required from you is your
order to the person to cease his or her disorderly
behavior.  If the person does not obey that lawful
order, that person is subject to arrest.  Nine out of
ten times when you're subjected to verbal abuse,
there's going to be an audience.  The presence of
spectators is usually the main reason for a person
to act out on you; there wouldn't be any point in it

You should always remember two things:  First -- If
the person is not an obvious physical threat to you
or others, don't act too hastily.  Second -- never,
never let anyone trick you into a verbal argument.  
There is nothing more demeaning to you, and the
power you represent, than for you to argue with a

You must remember that such behavior is a minor
crime.  Too often, minor things can escalate into
something more serious.  You need to realize that
people are watching and evaluating your response.  
More importantly, the people watching could be
potentially hostile toward you either as a physical
danger, or they could voice criticism of your actions
in the form of complaints to your department.
Power of
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker