The LEO Bill of Rights


There has been a lot of talk about rights lately.  Too often, people with little or no true understanding of what their rights entail accuse law enforcement of violating those rights.  But, what about LEOs?  Do they not have rights, too?  I think they do.  I’ve written down a few of them in what I’ll call the LEO Bill of Rights:

-LEOs have the inalienable right to go home to their families at the end of the shift by any means necessary.

-LEOs have the right to tell you when you are being stupid. You did something that got us called there, so expect us to tell you when you are wrong. Our job is not to protect your ego or feelings. Generally, your level of stupid has a direct correlation to our level of asshole. I am aware that some officers can be dickish in any situation, but most of us will be as polite as you allow.

-LEOs have the right to not only keep and bear arms, but to use those arms to defend themselves and others against attack. If an officer believes themselves or someone else to be at imminent risk of death or serious injury, you will get shot. Not getting shot is really easy. Just show your empty hands and do what you’re told. If you don’t agree, fight it in the courtroom.

-LEOs have the right to mess up. We are human. We make mistakes. We don’t have the right to be criminals, but come on. No one is perfect.

-LEOs have the right to have fun. We can laugh. We can play. We can at times avoid taking the job too seriously.

-LEOs have the right to cry, too. We see horrible things on a regular basis that most “normal” people couldn’t begin to fathom. It is okay for us to acknowledge just how messed up this world has become.

-LEOs have the right to take a break. We know you pay our salary. Hell, we pay our own salary, too. We can grab a bite to eat, sit and talk for a few minutes, and pop into a gas station for a cup o’ joe. We won’t complain about you standing around your water cooler at work. Don’t complain about us doing the same.

-LEOs have the right to expect the community to do its part. We can’t be everywhere all the time; we are not omnipotent. If you see something, say something. True change in a community will never come until the community starts to help itself.

-LEOs have a right to be angry. With the current climate of anti-LEO sentiment at a seemingly all-time high, we can get pissed off about the things people are saying or doing. We can be vocal. We can speak out.

-LEOs have a right to be compassionate. We have been given discretion and we can use it. Just because you think we should arrest or cite someone, doesn’t mean we will. Just because we don’t, doesn’t mean we are lazy or incompetent. Sometimes people just need a break or an opportunity to turn things around. It’s okay for a cop to give it to them.

What say you?  What did I miss?

STS Admin Forced to Kill

cropped-1496255_10151900324488553_1249778608_o.jpgWithin the first month or two after creating STS, I brought on a young cop from the Southeast to help out.  He was pretty green, about a year on the road if I remember correctly, but he came from a LEO family.  A couple of really solid people vouched for him, so I gave him administrator privileges. Mostly, he worked on the threads banning trolls and commenting back to keep the conversation going.  He did a really good job for us for a long time.  He’s no longer an admin, but I still consider him a friend and a large part of why the page is so successful.  A few months ago, he was forced to kill a man. 

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French Policeman Ahmed Merabet moments before he was murdered by terrorists on January 7, 2015 in Paris.

Today, I am furious.  I am furious, because I just watched a brother die.  He was a man I’ve never met, living in a country I’ve never seen, speaking a language I have never spoken, but he was a brother none the less.  He stood on the front line, the one cloaked in blue, and gave his life in defense of others. 

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What Happened to the News?

Once upon a time, the news was the news. There was no slant. No political agenda. No garbage to sell advertising. It was fair, impartial, balanced, and trusted. Journalistic integrity was paramount, and if a story ran, you could damn near take it to the bank. Today, there are things like this photo taken by one of the administrators at Survive the Streets: A Page for Cops:


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Sienna Smith Reacts to Going Viral


Sienna Smith is a fifteen-year-old girl living in North Dakota.  Yesterday, STS posted an image of her standing on a snowy road holding a simple sign that read “Honk if you support cops.”  As I watched the “likes,” comments, and shares roll in, I couldn’t help but wonder who this young girl is and why she wanted to do something for cops.  So, I did what any nosey cop would do, I asked her a bunch of questions that were none of my business just to see what would happen.  

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My Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams

Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms as they walk onto the field during introductions before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (Image source: AP/L.G. Patterson)
Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms as they walk onto the field during introductions before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis. (Image source: AP/L.G. Patterson)

Many people have asked my opinion on the decision of a few players on the St. Louis Rams to raise their hands as they took the field Sunday in a show of solidarity with Ferguson protesters, so here it goes.  Bear with me.

It really isn’t that big of a deal.

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The TRUTH About “Unarmed” Suspects

The mainstream media makes a point to highlight every instance in which a police officer shoots and kills an “unarmed” suspect.  It’s a good story for them. A few tweaks, an omission of fact here and there, and BOOM! a journalist has the story of the year.  Soon every news network is carrying it live on a twenty-four hour cycle, every Tom, Dick, and Harriet are tossing their two cents on how the shooting was wrong all over social media, sharing those news articles in the process.  It is big business, likely resulting in millions of dollars of advertising revenue for the network.   Before long, as in the case of Ferguson, people are rioting in the streets without having all, or even any, of the facts.  Now the networks have something juicy to sate the insatiable appetite of the twenty-four hour news cycle for a little while longer.  The more the news media can whip the populace into a frenzy, the more money they make.  It is no longer about reading the news.  It has become an entertainment business, a reality show played out under the guise of unadulterated real-life,

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What is a Wolfhunter?

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman often claims that society can be divided into three groups: Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves. When he uses the term sheep, he does not mean it in a negative way, just that most people are kind, caring people with no capacity for violence toward their fellow man. Wolves are the bad element of society, those that prey on the innocent, the weak, and those who cannot, will not, or do not know how to defend themselves. In Lt. Col. Grossman’s model, the Sheepdogs are the element of society that are those special people with both a capacity for violence, and a deep level of love and care for those they protect. Sheepdogs are not limited to police. They are also military personnel, and even citizens willing to intercede in a crisis.

A wolfhunter, though, is specific element of the sheepdog world. They don’t just react to crises, they hunt down those that create them. They keep their nose high to the breeze, their eyes shifting and scanning, and their ears pricked, always searching. A wolfhunter yearns for the day when his (or her) skill can be summoned to protect the flock. That is not to say that they wish to kill. They are not wolves. They do not enjoy killing, but rather view it as a possible necessity in their ultimate goal of protecting their flock. There is no requirement to kill to be considered a wolfhunter, just an understanding that you may be called to do risk your life or take another’s in defense of the innocent. As a wolfhunter, you must always be ready if the wolf appears at the door. There is a high level of commitment, determination, and willingness to place yourself in harm’s way to protect the flock that makes you a wolfhunter. Simply pinning a badge on your chest will not suffice. It is a title that is earned in the deepest parts of your soul through sweat and blood, one that you must decide for yourself if you are worthy to carry.  Protect the flock. Hunt the wolf.

Some Thoughts on Hemingway and Hunters

This article originally appeared on Leadership Voices when I wrote it to answer a question posed to me by some of the great men that founded and work on that blog.  I highly recommend checking it out.

Recently, there has been somewhat of an uproar over police officers embracing a quote from an essay written by Ernest Hemingway. The quote reads, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.” Many people seem to be frightened by an us versus them mentality that, without explanation, the quote seems to highlight. It has been said that it gives the appearance that police enjoy killing to those that do not truly understand the sheepdog mentality. Please allow me a few moments to explain it through the eyes of a veteran police officer/sheepdog/wolf hunter.


Although Hemingway was an avid hunter, you’ll note that at no point in the quote does Hemingway use the word killing. In fact, at no point in the essay does Hemingway mention killing a man. The majority of the essay is about fishing, hence the title “On the Blue Water.” The key point that people seem to take issue with is the word “hunt.” Merriam-Webster lists several definitions for the word. Here are a few:

  • to pursue with intent to capture
  • to search out
  • to attempt to find something

In fact, Merriam-Webster uses the following as an example of the proper use of the word, “Police hunted the escaped prisoners through several states.” There are instances that the term is synonymous with killing, but when in modern times has that been the case in law enforcement? Even the media, which is so quick to attack our use of the quote, often reports that law enforcement officers are “hunting” for a suspect? Why then is it so shocking when we acknowledge that we are, in fact, hunting?

I suppose that it is because sometimes we are forced to kill. I say forced because the actions of others dictate whether or not we kill. As detestable as it may be, killing is sometimes necessary to protect innocent life. It is a hard concept to explain to someone who doesn’t feel the way we do. Killing is a huge burden on the soul, but one society’s protectors are willing to carry if that is what it takes to protect ourselves or the people we proudly serve. The unspoken truth about an officer taking a life is that many struggle with the aftermath of it for many years. There is a huge emotional toll taken on the officer, even when they were completely in the right and had no choice. What separates our police officers from the wolves is the compassion that makes killing unpleasant.

101109-G-1103J-420 - Buffalo Law Enforcement TrainingIn the five paragraphs that encompass all of the talk of hunting, Hemingway explains the thrill of the hunt, and how those who have experienced it on such an intense level find themselves lost without it. I will admit that Hemingway was not speaking of law enforcement officers when he wrote the piece, but I will firmly say that he very well could have been. Ask any of the retired sheepdogs out there if they ever found anything to compare. I certainly know that I will never do anything else. I have been offered more money, better benefits, and holidays at home with my family, but I cannot walk away. It has been said that police work gets in your blood, and I agree. Read the rest of the paragraph that contains the quote and see if you could understand where it would apply:

“Certainly, there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue. Wine, when your tongue has been burned clean with lye and water, feels like puddle water in your mouth, while mustard feels like axle-grease, and you can smell crisp, fried bacon, but when you taste it, there is only a feeling of crinkly lard.”

What is more thrilling than hunting killers, rapists, robbers, terrorists? In short, nothing. Clearly, that is not all we do. It’s not even a fraction of what we do in most cases. We have been tasked with protecting the flock from themselves as well, and we do that task with resolve. We write our tickets, run our calls, check our businesses, but we remain ready. When the wolf appears at the door, we will be there standing in the way. We will charge forward to the sound of gunfire while the lambs take cover behind us. We will drive them away from our flock. And then, when the wolves turn and flee like cowards, we will hunt.