What Happened To Serve And Protect Motto In Law Enforcement?

by frugalrvers

The to serve and protect motto to me is familiar - my father was a Chicago police officer. But today, I see too many laws in America, hidden cameras, silly traffic citations...

Let me start with this disclaimer - my father laid his life on the line as a Chicago cop and later, as a homicide detective. I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officers who are there "to serve and protect" - like the motto on my dad's police car used to proudly declare.

Decades ago, when I would see a police officer on duty, I felt safe knowing he or she was out there, with a family at home, to see to it that my family remained safe. Today, there are scores of law enforcement professionals out there, willing to put their lives on the line just like my dad did. To all of them, I can say nothing but "thank you" for your service to all of us. It is an incredibly dangerous job.

But something has changed over the years, and it leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. To protect and serve used to be about protecting me from others. Now, with what I consider to be some laws that infringe on my freedoms, in addition to fattening wallets of those pulling the strings, I see it as a business out to make a whole lot of money. Often when I see police today, even when doing nothing wrong, I worry about getting pulled over for things I need "protecting" from, like a light bulb burned out over my license plate? Something isn't right...........

Too Many Laws In America - The Hypocrisy

Rolling Stop At A Stop Sign...Money Or Safety

I understand that there are laws in place to avoid a society of chaos. But some of them, apologies in advance, have the scent of making money for failing budgets all over them. Serve and protect?

I have had the pleasure of living in two completely different "worlds." One was growing up in Chicago, and moving to the suburbs in high school. The other was rural, mountainous NW Montana, where we still RV half of a year.

Montana is big on "freedom" - police still doing their best to cling to the serve and protect motto. Illinois...umm...not so much. There are police parked on side streets in subdivisions, waiting to see someone not come to a complete stop. Now I'm not talking about someone blowing the stop sign off altogether...they are waiting for someone to just not apply that brake enough - then "cha-ching" - big ticket/traffic citation...and where does that money go exactly?

In Montana, you can be cited for not wearing your seat belt, but only if pulled over for a "real" traffic violation. In Illinois, they pull you over if they see you without it on. The joke here? With the traffic in Chicago and the suburbs, you are lucky to be going 15 mph. In Montana, you can drive 70 mph in most areas. Bloomberg's Soda Pop Ban in NYC would NOT have gone over well in Montana...guaranteed.

My daughter got a speeding ticket recently in Illinois - no surprise, the police are EVERYWHERE waiting for this moment. She sped, no argument there. However, the GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, when explaining the costs of everything, criticized their own government - two different ones said "it's all about the money."

So for wealthy people, it is a slap on the wrist. For struggling youth, $120 feels like millions. This is just? I don't think so........


Too Many Rules And Fear Of Authority Figures These Days

Law Enforcement Abuse Of Power...Or Politicians

Admittedly, there are many people in many different careers who just love the feeling of power. Heck, I had an experience recently as a customer in a Dollar General store with a woman who loved rules - too long to go into, but you get the idea, I'm sure. So yes, there are many people in many fields who get a rise out of controlling others, creating "fear" and the like. But this article actually isn't about them.

Many law enforcement officers do get the brunt of the frustration, when pulled over for ridiculous traffic violations that have nothing to do with serving or protecting. Rumors of "quotas" aren't hard to find these days - because tickets are absolutely, disgustingly expensive - and hard for many "common folk" to pay for, if pulled over. But is the frustration directed at the right person? After all, aren't the officers simply doing their jobs? SOMEONE is behind the curtain, pulling the strings.

But we've all been there, right? You want to VENT at how ludicrous some of these laws are - but fear of authority figures wins the battle. You get the checkbook out, say "yes sir/ma'am" and decide not to make things worse.

So what is wrong with THIS picture? You are afraid, so you go along with it. Back to "serve and protect" - why on earth should we feel this fear?

Traffic Intersection Cameras - Big Brother Is Watching You Meaning Loss Of Freedom

Is Big Brother Watching You? Yep...And Charging You For It

Ahhh...technology. It was bad enough when police would sit in subdivisions, waiting for that rolling stop. But now, they simply send you a ticket in the mail! This is big business, folks - think about it.

Intersection cameras at stoplights are a huge money maker these days...at least in urban areas. They are everywhere in the Chicago suburbs. Here is how it plays out. Those who make a bad decision to stop or go as the light turns yellow, or who turn left when they think there is time left, get a nice fat ticket in the mail.

Can you imagine how many times per day this happens and how much money is made? Haven't you hesitated, slammed on brakes or sped up, when the light turned yellow. That panic inside, where your timing just wasn't right and either decision felt uncomfortable.

Now do the math...at every intersection this happens to someone every few minutes. We aren't talking about people doing 90 mph through an intersection - one would hope there are still police available who aren't parked in subdivisions, waiting for that almighty rolling stop, who could actually go after someone. This is the era of the cell phone...certainly someone would call 911 immediately.

The thing is, in my book, hidden cameras have crossed the line. This shouldn't be a police state, but it is certainly feeling like one. Where is my right to privacy? Misjudging a yellow light is something needing invasion of freedom? Nope...don't think so.

Protection From OTHERS, Not Protect Me From Myself

Corruption, Constitutional Rights, Civil Rights

For me, when the serve and protect motto used to mean defending/protecting from harm, I felt safe. But today, there are laws in place to save me from myself, and that isn't ok in my book. Tack on the silly laws that have nothing to do with protection and everything to do with money...and you can see (maybe) where I'm losing faith in America's law enforcement.

For most officers, they have to follow orders. Yes, some get excited with power and authority, which is their own psychological burden to bear, but for many they are just doing their jobs. Someone has tarnished the original intent of "to serve and protect" - and in many cases, they aren't the ones pulling you over...they are sitting behind their desks in a really nice suit.

I have a problem with the excessive rules/laws in place in America today. I'm not Republican or Democrat - I'm behind anyone who believes in my personal freedom...even if I don't have a chance of my candidate winning...it just helps me sleep better at night.

I don't sleep easier knowing those who gently roll through a stop sign will pay dearly for their crime. I don't want someone telling me I must pay a fine for not wearing a seat belt, even if it is "safer" - while scores of "safe/legal" pharmaceuticals (prescribed or over-the-counter) in our country, which make tons of money, kill Americans each day. The hypocrisy tells me something isn't right. Unfortunately, in my country, the trail scent usually leads to one thing...PROFIT.

Closing Thoughts On To Serve And Protect

In closing, as if I haven't said enough already...I will add this. Stories of government watch lists and other such tales spring to mind, for speaking one's mind. Fear of authority figures, in my opinion, is what keeps us accepting the rules/laws that chip away at our personal freedoms each day.

Fortunately, I absolutely hate flying in airplanes...but if I do someday, will I be on a "watch list" for simply expressing my opinion? Makes you think about freedom, doesn't it?

Updated: 04/18/2018, frugalrvers
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frugalrvers on 02/28/2013

Wow, Georgette - we have had similar experiences and thoughts in so many ways. First, that this article provoked such thought and emotion is such a compliment....thank you for saying this, it means a lot. I, too, am so proud of my dad - was hard as a little girl to go to sleep at night knowing "daddy was in danger keeping people safe." There are good cops still out there, but unfortunately I see so much of the bullying and money making variety - I don't think I'll ever feel the same about the profession that I once did. It just seems like there are more than a few bad apples these days. Again, thanks for commenting!

georgettejohn on 02/27/2013

I read this weeks ago and it sparked so many personal thoughts, I overwhelmed myself with the many things I wanted to comment so I walked away for a bit. Let's just say this is an EXCELLENT article and you touch upon so many good points that I've thought about so many times. Growing up the child of NYS police officer (and being proud of it) I was raised to honor and respect all law enforcement but times have changed and over the years things have happened/ I've witnessed that have spurred intense conflict with the idealogies of what law enforcement (protect and serve) I was raised having a belief in. Respect is diminishing, on both sides of the coin and this is sad because I know there are still many, many officers that entered their profession for all the right reasons but those that entered to be "glorified bully's" cast a negative image that ultimately adds to the many ills in society. On another note, like your daughter, my son was pulled over. He received a ticket for not having a light bulb over his license plate!!! 68 Mustangs didn't come equipped with such, neither did my 2004 but it cost a couple hundred to get one there! I used to walk home from school and breathe a sigh of relief at the intersection when I saw a police car approaching because I knew it would stop to let me cross the street. I would faint if that happened now. Now the norm is they appear to speed through town oblivious to anyone trying to cross the street or pull out into traffic and I am not naive enough to believe they are always on the way to a pertinent call. Whether It's a lack of courtesy or a show of "power" it is saddening.

katiem2 on 08/11/2012

Very true people don't want to get involved or stand up to obvious offenses that should create an general public outrage. Maybe people don't want to take the time. BUT I think you're on to something maybe there is a lack of confidence and an overage of low self esteem. Hmmm

frugalrvers on 08/11/2012

That's a great point, Katie - You know, it seems many in our society need to be in "authority" these days, even if working at a restaurant. Police have more authority, so to speak, but maybe we are a society of low self esteem individuals, who need to tell others what to do to feel important? Just my theory......

katiem2 on 08/11/2012

It's a shame this is our reality, it should certainly be all about serving and protecting not being above beyond the rules applying to society as a whole. Some officials have clearly gotten into this line of work for all the wrong reasons.

frugalrvers on 08/11/2012

Brenda, Thanks so much for your comments. I was tempted to bring more into those police in power who enjoy the feel of controlling others (as if anyone on this planet is more important than anyone else? Society assigns titles...it isn't a measure of someone's worth or value on this earth, now is it?). But I thought it would go on too long. I'm sorry you dealt with an abusive relationship so long - and I certainly am noticing more of the power hungry varieties these days...who actually get off on "catching" good civilians? Crazy, sad world...

BrendaReeves on 08/11/2012

Unfortunately, government departments everywhere are desperate for money. I could pull a lot of issues out of this wonderful article and discuss them for hours. I was married to a man in law enforcement for 26 years. He was insecure, on a power trip and abusive. It's a shame that people like that give the really honest professionals a bad name.

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