I used the residency issue combined with a police
involved shooting to illustrate just one of a myriad
of problems which can result from the
social/professional relationship with those who you
police.  Trust me on this; it’s a lot easier policing
people when they see you only as a police officer
possessing the authority vested in you rather than
the guy next door.  While you may be able to
maintain a clear separation between your social and
professional contact with others, the others won’t
be able to maintain that discipline.  The others
rarely think reasonably, and during periods of
stress or crisis they never think reasonably.  Herein
lays the stress for you.  I don’t care how good you
think you are – a  social/professional relationship is
the ultimate oxymoron for a police officer.  Your
profession is unique; you have the power and duty
to physically deny others of their liberty when
warranted.  Not a small thing – and a thing best
kept away from home.

While some thoughtful contemplation on your part
can keep you from forming associations with the
wrong people, family members of questionable or
criminal character can be more problematic.  
However, as long as you don’t withhold or conceal
information, evidence or abet the criminal conduct
of a family member in any way, it’s just a form of
unavoidable stress you have to bear.

Personal associations with negative impact aren’t
limited to the public or family members.  
Unfortunately, there will be police officers with
whom you’ll want to avoid close personal
association.  But – this isn’t nearly as difficult as
you might think.  As long as you continuously
perform with a high level of integrity, police officers
of questionable character will avoid you.

As you contemplate a police career, you must
realize that the powers you’ll possess as a police
officer will place you in a class where your behavior
on all levels will be under constant scrutiny.  The
establishment and maintenance of personal
associations is one area where you can exercise
total control and deny those who would attack your
integrity through personal associations the ability to
do so.  
When I became a police officer, there was a lot of
emphasis placed on personal associations.  If a pre-
employment background investigation revealed that
you voluntarily associated with a person(s) of
questionable character, that association(s) could
delay or even deny your employment as a police
officer.  Once hired, your academy training stressed
the importance of maintaining your integrity by
avoiding any personal associations that might
simply cause an appearance of impropriety.  

Police departments used to help its police officers
avoid compromising associations by not allowing
officers to patrol areas or neighborhoods in which
they reside.  Things do change and today many
police departments not only allow their officers to
work in neighborhoods where they live, but they
even encourage that compromising practice.  This is
just one of many paradigms pushed by the
politically correct social engineering experts.  Their
reasoning, or better said lack of reasoning, is that
you’ll care more about the neighborhood you police
if you’re a resident of that neighborhood.  I
honestly don’t know what that means, and I doubt
that those espousing such nonsense have any
comprehension of the problems that can, and
probably will, occur when the line between good
neighbor and law enforcer is blurred by two
opposing forms of familiarity.  

Now, if you’re policing “Mayberry, RFD,” everybody
is going to know everybody, and the residency
thing isn’t a big deal.  However, if you’re policing
neighborhoods where crime is a real and daily
problem, your familiarity with residents should be
professional versus social/professional.  When it
comes to the caring part, if you’re not up to the
task of providing police service to the best of your
ability regardless of where you’re policing, then; you
shouldn’t even become a police officer.

In 2009, the Baltimore Police Department
announced a new policy; wherein, the department
would no longer publicly identify police officers
involved in “police involved shootings.”  The term
refers to an incident wherein a police officer
discharges his or her firearm in the line of duty.  
Naturally, the most serious incident of a police
involved shooting occurs when an officer wounds or
kills a suspect.  Needless to say, the new policy
created uproar from the media, politicians, and
community organizations.  Baltimore’s Police
Commissioner explained that identifying officers
could place the safety of the officer and the safety
of the officer’s family in jeopardy.  He went on to
cite other cities with similar policies.  However, he
failed to mention that Baltimore is now one of those
progressive cities that allow and encourage its
officers to live in neighborhoods where drug dealing
and violent crime is commonplace.  Baltimore has
nine police districts.  In the past when more
reasoned policies prevailed, an officer whose safety
was determined to be in jeopardy for any reason
could simply be reassigned to another police
district.  You should know where I’m going with
this; a simple reassignment is a lot easier and more
practical than moving the family and establishing a
new residence.
I say this frequently, and I’ll say it again.  Your
integrity will be the single most important thing
you’ll take into your police career, and it will be the
single most important thing affecting you
throughout your career.

Your personal integrity whether you like it or not is
going to be affected by the personal associations
you keep.  While you’re beginning your adult life
and career path in a popular culture where every
bad thing that happens to an individual is the fault
of somebody else, this load of propaganda will be of
little comfort should you find yourself in a
predicament where your personal association(s)
with the wrong person or people lands you in the
midst of troubling circumstances.
"...if you’re policing neighborhoods where
crime is a real and daily problem, your
familiarity with residents should be
professional versus social/professional."
~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker