Police Administrative Policies and the Glass Shield

Author: James E. Buchanan, III
CEO/Information Architect
truthislight.com


American citizens are constantly prodded and inundated with story after sordid story; and incident after horrific incident of the gross improprieties of a small percentage of law enforcement officials. It is ashamed before the Good Lord to have to turn on the television set, only to see a prominent Assistant District Attorney arrested by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation; 
in an airport parking lot for soliciting a minor 'on-line' to commit a lewd act in-transit. Or, seeing a small, tightly knit group of police officers from a medium sized precinct on the evening news; beating an alleged car thief beyond human comprehension. Even furthermore, trying their best to wave news helicopter news crews away so that they could possibly finish what they had started. How about a few police officers, on the cusp of retirement, looking to, "cash-in", on their many, many years of dedicated service to the department; by setting up their own, personal brothel and drug cartel.


The Written and Unwritten Codes of Policing

It is stories such as these, which should make the average American citizen cringe to even think that these types of things do, in fact, go on in police departments, precincts, wards, Burroughs, counties and cities all across this nation. What the average American citizen must realize is this: Law enforcement personnel are also part of the human experience as much as every other American is. Understanding this resolute fact, we must also take into full context the harsh truth; that we live in a Western culture that still feeds on, "old-school", rules and jaded ideologies. But even having stated these precise points, we must never, ever roguishly undermine the Constitution; which is the foundational bedrock that sets the rules that make up our unique system of American justice. The relationship between law enforcement administrators and the valiant patrolmen and patrolwomen, who don the professional uniform everyday, is a complicated marriage, to say the very least. This relationship is multi-faceted… Law enforcement administrators have their own set of rules; and the, "Brotherhood", of law enforcement officers have their own set of rules as well.

The types of seemingly conflicting, established rules, codes and unwritten, rules and codes that we are going to focus on are: 

  • The comparisons and contrasts between the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics that each and every law officer swears to uphold with their very lives; when they take their oaths as law enforcement officials and the, 'glass-shield', that the same rookie is given on their very first day on the force.
  • The stark differences between the Law Enforcement Moral Code of Ethics and 'Street-Justice.'
  • The gross failure, of the majority, of law enforcement administrators to properly ensure that every single police officer is given the proper care, coaching and superior emotional support that they so vitally need; after a traumatic incident that involves the use of lethal force ending in the death of a subject or fellow law enforcement officer.
We, as American citizens, must not only focus on the short-term causes of crime and how it affects our several communities, we must also take into extremely careful consideration the fact that law enforcement personnel are people too; and must deal with more stressors everyday than the average American will ever be able to fathom.

According to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, (the Honor Code in which every law enforcement officer is sworn to uphold.)



  • Code (3) clearly states: "To protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression, or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder.” 
  • Code (4) emphatically states: "To respect the constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality and justice.”

A total of three high ranking police officers within the Gary, IN police department completely overstepped their bounds; in the violations of the aforementioned Codes of Police Conduct. This particular crime(s) emanated from an incident involving the break in of the Gary, IN Police Chiefs' place of residence. Chief Houston, his Deputy Chief, Thomas Branson and Sergeant Thomas Decanter were each indicted by a federal grand jury for multiple, egregious civil rights violations; involving a total of four different people. Chief Houston cited these civil rights abuses as a clearly, direct result of his home being burglarized in June of ‘2007. The alleged civil rights abuses by the trio of officers occurred on, June, 4, 2007. The trio was indicted for assault, false imprisonment and violating the civil rights of a citizen under the color of law, among other various federal charges. Chief Houston was also charged with one count of making a false statement during an active investigation to federal officials. These incidents further overshadow the emphatic public distrust of law enforcement officials; needless to say, the extremely high percentage of Negro citizens that live in Gary, IN only adds more fuel to a civil-rights forest fire; that has already burned out of control all across America.

A story that strikes me close to home concerning the difference between the Moral Code that exists within the context of the Law Enforcement and Moral Ethics and the application of, 'Street-Justice', begins with an associate of mine who I have known since high school. He was a couple of classes below me and a close friend of one of my younger brothers. I had a firsthand chance to watch the process that this young man went through from high school, wanting to become a Metropolitan Police officer, through college, receiving his degree in Criminal Justice and finally taking his oath to become a law enforcement officer. His story is kind of bittersweet, though; he was always a jovial joker and sheer, "life of the party"; but almost immediately after he took the oath of office to become a law enforcement officer, I could see a marked change in virtually every single area of his life. Eighteen weeks of intensive training and indoctrination into the world of policing would have a lifelong impact upon him forever.

I can remember like it was yesterday; the movie-script like story he told me about his involvement in the apprehension of some suspected Neo-Nazi skinheads in a large urban community in the Midwest. His A-Z depiction of the whole chain of events and how it all went down was one of the scariest and morbidly funny, true-to-life police stories that I had ever heard. I wound up finding about it by default though. I saw his huge mug on the 5a.m. Fox Morning News moving massive amounts of hate-based propaganda and weapons from a four family flat.

This story was just one more personal, sobering reminder of the true nature of the law enforcement profession. It can probably be said, with a certain amount of jurisprudence, that my associate was never taught about this particular type of altercation in the academy. He took his training from senior officers with years of training in tow. In certain situations, the rules of street justice will prevail; but in other circumstances, the letter of the law must be understood as having the ultimate precedence.

The insidious failure of law enforcement administration officials across the United States to take the on-the-job, emotional issues of law enforcement personnel seriously is becoming an increasingly daunting problem. Take for instance, a case involving two officers from the Anderson, South Carolina Police Department. Veteran patrol officers, Dusty Ashley and Susanne Mullis were involved in a stand-off incident involving a 16-year old suspect; at or around a popular outdoors store in Anderson. As the incident continued to escalate, the tensions of the young man reached the boiling point. Officers Ashley and Mullis both discharged their firearms; which in turned, killed the 16-year old suspect. At first, both of these veteran law enforcement officers were hailed as county-wide heroes; but after the two officers were placed on administrative leave following the shooting (which also included intense counseling sessions) the department seemingly turned a deaf ear on both of these fine officers; because they had to go through an extended period of counseling sessions following the shooting. They went from heroes of the force to virtual outcasts.
Officer Ashley's wife of ten years stated this, "At first, he couldn’t get enough praise… everybody kept saying, I don't know how you could have made that shot. I don't see how you did it. You did what was right.”

 The pain was equally as traumatic for Officer Mullins as well. Officer Mullins stated that, "It was almost as if the officers wanted to shun you because you were not able to handle it in the way they thought you should handle it. They had aloofness about them. The whole time we were out nobody called. Our chief never called. No one ever called to say, “Hey are you OK?"
If the Anderson Police Department would have taken the emotional well-being of these two exceptional law enforcement officers seriously, then it is possible that Officer Mullis would yet be alive today. Officer Mullis was found dead under suspicious circumstances at her Greenville, South Carolina home.

In closing, as concerned American citizens, we can never afford to allow the totally self-serving actions of a few, "bad apple", law enforcement officials to spoil our full-spectrum view of the entire American justice system. Our multi-faceted system of laws, codes, ethics and morals are only effective if the law enforcement personnel that are enforcing the laws are abiding by them as well.


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