Law enforcement officials play a critical role in maintaining the rule of law, a bedrock principle underpinning our republic. We honor their bravery, service and dedication while recognizing the many difficult and dangerous situations they encounter.
Officers are themselves not above the law. They must respect the rights of citizens: to peacefully assemble, to free speech, to petition for redress, to due process, to safety from illegal search and seizure, and more.
A recent letter to The Bellingham Herald stated “when you are approached by our law enforcement community you listen and obey their orders, no exception.” If our compatriots had listened and obeyed, there would be no protection for workers. Women would not have the right to vote. Segregation would still exist. The Vietnam War would have lasted years longer. Abolitionists, the Bonus Army, the suffragettes, the workers’ unions, civil rights activists, war protesters, and many others chose to listen and disobey to serve a higher purpose. This is patriotism at its finest.
Police safety is paramount. “To protect and serve” the populace and defend the Constitution are equally important. Citizens should comply with reasonable, legal orders from the police. Law enforcement should ensure that orders are appropriate, and react to disobedience with minimal possible force. De-escalation is preferable to gunfire.