No disrespect to the office is intended, but when police officers enter highly volatile situations they are not the least bit concerned about how the President of the United States will judge their actions. They will, however, have that nagging fear in the back of their minds about how their police administration will respond when there is an internal affairs investigation.
We signed up to do this job partly because we have a deep and abiding commitment to professionalism and integrity. We understand that with great power comes great responsibility and accept that strong police oversight is important in our society. Because of how we value integrity and as a result of our police experience, we often go to great lengths to get the facts when we investigate our own. Frankly, we can be tougher on ourselves than the public would be in some situations.
Not unlike our country’s forefathers, we also value fairness. Based on many years of reviewing cases, I can tell you that things are not always what they seem. Cops are required to make split second decisions when chaos is occurring all around them. On the other hand, after months of wrangling and reviewing lower court decisions, the United States Supreme Court will routinely split their vote 5 to 4 when deciding whether the actions of an officer were appropriate in a given case.
People are going to screw up, both cops and civilians. There is a good reason why we take our time and why you will often hear that “we cannot comment on this matter at this time.” In police leadership, we have an obligation to treat the public and the officer fairly, looking at all of the evidence before arriving at a conclusion.