No One Is Above The Law

If you asked me when I was in high school, why some countries are poor and some are rich, I’d probably have mumbled something about natural resources.  If you asked the same question while I was in college, I would have replied, “A freedom-oriented economic system.”  Ask me now and I’d add the importance of the Rule of Law.

In a nutshell, Rule of Law ensures that those who happen to have money or political clout play by the same rules as everyone else.  Our economic system doesn’t really matter if corruption is rampant or certain classes of citizens are immune from the law (see post-soviet Russia).

Police are often seen as the first line of defense (and unfortunately offense) as it pertains to the Rule of Law.

A few years ago, while visiting another country, I struck up a conversation with an individual.  He had an easygoing smile and patiently helped me with my limited language skills.  As we exchanged backgrounds, with me explaining that I was a police officer, there was an instant change.  He became very deferential, but of more concern to me was the fear in his eyes.  I felt betrayed by those who should have been his protectors and I hated it.

We’re fortunate that police in the United States, Idaho in particular, are largely trusted.  Yet even though blatant corruption is rare, we occasionally face challenges from those wanting special consideration.

News flash – If you get stopped for speeding and want to guarantee getting a ticket, start the conversation with, “Do you know who I am?”  Police officers around here pride themselves on following the Rule of Law.  If they stop a politically connected person, they delight in treating them the same as anyone else.  I’m behind that 100% and won’t compromise on this principle even if it meant my career.  Fortunately, it won’t because the Mayor gets it.

Some people are a little more subtle.  I had a man of influence call me that wanted an airport parking ticket to go away.  He started by telling me how much he’d supported the police in the past and then started ticking off names of officers that were close personal friends.  I said I was confident that he wouldn’t want me to extend him any special consideration, right?  Much chagrinned, he agreed and paid the fine.

Occasionally, a police officer will be faced with protecting someone’s constitutional rights when he ardently disagrees with it.  With firm determination to do the right thing, he will do his duty knowing that he is protecting the Rule of Law.

Above all else (our intelligence, our competence, our charm, and even our rugged good looks) the public expects us to be fair and that strikes to the heart of our core value of integrity and how we defend the Rule of Law ensuring that no one is above the law.