Rights and Responsibilities of Police, Media, Citizens

Newsmax Article– May 28, 2020

Police, media and citizens all have rights, but almost as important, they also have responsibilities.

In recent years, there have been a few tragic incidents occurring between police or authorities, and citizens or suspects that have garnered national attention. Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Travon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge, Massachussetts. Eric Garner in New York. There have been many other instances, but these were the “headliners” of the incidents. Now, there has been another added to the list. George Floyd in Minneapolis.

I am not stating that any of these were justified or not, I am merely referencing these high profile cases as examples.

In each of these incidents, the victim was a black American. The media hype seemed to help fuel protests into riots. Many of the reporters espoused theories or hurled accusations without having seen any bit of evidence, many of the claims eventually being proven false. The irresponsibility of these sensationalists is hurting our delicate American fabric. Yes, reporting is an actual First Amendment right, but reporting fake news, hyperbole or outright lying is the equivalent of claiming Freedom of Speech to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. The media has a responsibility to be fair, report honestly and wait for the facts. Anything less is dangerous to the country. Literally.

This rest of this writing has absolutely nothing to do with race. I will reference only police officers and citizens/suspects. If you assume any situation mentioned in this article refers to a person of a specific ancestry, then you are exhibiting the behavior of a racist. Criminals, police and media are of all races, genders, religions and sexuality.

Police are a necessary entity in any society. They truly are the “thin blue line” between society and anarchy. To understand that quoted phrase, all you must do is look at any protest and counterprotest. Between the two masses of people, you will see the line manned by officers who are keeping the peace.

However, when “bad cops” act, good ones use that “thin blue line” term to keep from reporting their bad counterparts. It creates an “us vs. them” mentality.

The same holds true for American citizens. Some are honest and law-abiding. Then there are those who are neither.

Citizens have many rights, but they should also understand that they have basic responsibilities as humans interacting with another human, even if they have a badge.

First off, you do not have to answer questions and can refuse consent to be searched. That refusal does not, however, mean that you will not be searched.

Should you ever be placed under arrest, you also have the often referenced “Miranda rights.” As most of us know from TV shows and movies, this states that “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

Citizens also have a right to be treated professionally, but their responsibility should be to return that professionalism. Cursing, threatening or any other disrespect shown to law enforcement invites it right back. Threats of physicality or actual aggressive contact ensures that the police will use force to protect themselves. Should any injury or medical need arise, you also have the right to prompt and proper medical care.

Police have many responsibilities to citizens, as mentioned above, but we must understand that they also have rights. They are still American citizens and are entitled to due process. If they are involved in causing injury or death, they should be investigated. If the killing was unjustified, they should be fired and convicted. As representatives of government, police should be held to a much higher standard. Any crimes committed by them should be treated more harshly than if they were civilians. They have had massive amounts of training and have an obligation to the public trust.

However, investigations do take time. Any citizen who expects a fair system for themselves must also understand that all Americans are entitled to it, even police. Mob mentality will not hasten justice. If anything, it will take law enforcement resources away from an investigation.

Americans have every right to protest, but there is no legal protection for you in a riot. Those taking part in looting are not doing anything to help their cause. They are merely taking advantage of the situation and making the concerned protestors look bad.

Death caused by police is sometimes required to save lives. However, in instances where it is not justified, the justice system must be allowed to work properly.

Civilians must be patient.

Police must be transparent.

Media must be honest and measured.

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