Where Have All the Warriors Gone?

(iStock Photo)

Last month I wrote about how all too common, profane, vile, bigoted comments posted anonymously by cops on the Internet violate the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and are firing offenses. 

More compelling, these commenters and those who consider themselves brothers and sisters of a noble profession but sit silently by should be ashamed. Where are all those who claim to live by a Warrior Code of Ethics? Where is their righteous indignation at this sullying of the shield and the profession?  

There’s a Whole Lot of Warrior-ing Going On
Law enforcement these days pays a lot of homage to warrior-ing. There is sanctioned training on warrior mindsets, warrior readiness, warrior emotions, warrior mentoring, warrior leadership, even how-to-age-like-a-warrior.

Here’s a sample of training sessions from the 2012 ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) Conference:

  • Becoming Knights: Training Warrior Mindset to the Non-Warrior
  • The Path of the Warrior Mentor
  • Filling the Tank – Warriors and Leaders
  • Always the Warrior at Every Age
  • Emotional Warrior Training: Combating Stress

Then there are the books:

  • Warrior Mindset: Mental Toughness Skills for a Nation’s Peacekeepers
  • Defensive Tactics: Modern Arrest & Control Techniques for Today's Police Warrior
  • Society’s Warrior Class: Inside a Policeman’s Mind
  • Elite Warriors – Special Response Units of the World
  • If I Knew Then 2: Warrior Reflections (from seasoned police officers)
  • W.I.N.: Critical Issues in Training and Leading Warriors

As a non-elite citizen, all this elite warrior class mindset stuff in a civilian police force might give me pause. But I’ve been honored to walk amongst this nation’s law enforcement officers for more than a quarter of a century, and I’ve always been humbled and reassured by the belief that with this elite, tactical, warrior mindset goes a warrior’s code of ethics.

I’m no longer reassured. Not when comments like the following are commonly, albeit anonymously, posted by police “warriors” on public Internet forums:

“we should blow up the whole city and start over. they bystanders are not even people, lups of s@#t.” [The commenter cared enough to come back and correct his spelling to “lumps of s@#t.”]

And -- instead of there being an outcry of righteous indignation from other “warriors” -- these kinds of comments are embraced, lauded and reiterated in similarly profane, cop-sung choruses.

Warrior Code of Ethics
Here’s what many of you have taught me about your warrior code. It’s extremely demanding -- not just of tactical skills, preparedness and vigilance, but of character. You are champions of restraint. Faced with a deadly threat, you may fire your weapon. But you will fire two shots to the center of mass and one to the head and then you will stop and assess the threat, and, if the threat has been stopped, you will, if you can do so safely, try to keep the former threat alive until an ambulance arrives.

You tolerate insults and slurs that would incite those of us with less discipline and you do so with a strength that comes from a deep sense of who you are and what you stand for.

Where do profane, debasing public comments by cops that instantly cover the nation and globe on the Wide World Web fit into such a code? They don’t.

Don’t listen to me. I’m just a citizen. So I contacted Dave Smith, aka Buck Savage, co-creator of Winning Mind Seminars and an internationally recognized gold standard for the warrior character and conduct that America wants keeping the peace.

I shared with Dave the comments I discussed in last month’s article and asked him whether they could be reconciled with the law enforcement warrior archetype. Here’s what Dave said,

“[Such comments] are contrary to our warrior ethos and must be stopped! Instead of being "selfless" such activities are "selfish" and often hurt others, not to say what it does to the collective value of honor which is earned or harmed collectively.  Being in the fraternity of law enforcement means each man and woman must care for the honor of their brothers and sisters. Such honor is made greater and preserved by courage and duty and damaged when we selfishly or foolishly comment or post other things that not only make us seem immature or insensitive, but also stains the profession.”

Brian Willis, 2011 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year and President of Winning Mind Training also weighed in. Brian replied,

“The following is a quote I use in my presentation Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit:

‘The Warrior fights because he believes that he is fighting for something good, something positive, something that will improve the quality of the world around him. The warrior never forgets that he is an example and so will always act accordingly. He is a leader, and when there is no one else to lead, the warrior must lead himself forward to a different, higher standard.’  -- Richard J. Machowicz, Unleashing the Warrior Within

"I believe the bolded line speaks directly to [your question]. Warriors are professionals. Being a professional warrior comes with responsibility and accountability. As professionals it is incumbent on warriors to remember they are always an example and conduct themselves in a professional manner. This includes dealing with members of the public, dealing with subjects, dealing with fellow warriors and whenever making online comments concerning videos and news stories. Unprofessional comments in online forums fly in the face of a warrior's code of ethics, negatively influence public opinion of the law enforcement profession, create dissension in the profession and make it harder for law enforcement professionals to do their jobs.”

They don’t just make the job harder. They make it more dangerous. When public trust in police is eroded, the community is less safe for cops. One more thing, these kinds of comments that hide behind avatars and pseudo-anonymity are cowardice run amok.

Where Have All the Warriors Gone?
I am as strong a supporter, admirer and advocate that law enforcement could hope for. And I want to know where have all the warriors gone?

Dave Smith is right. Law enforcement honor is earned or harmed collectively and each of you bears some responsibility for that honor. Yet public forums on law enforcement Internet sites are rife with profane, sullied comments posted by those claiming to be warriors. In my forays thus far I found one officer comment that asked for more professionalism.

Have the warriors I’ve so long looked up to become the silent majority, or worse – a silent minority? Pray it isn’t so. Let those who tarnish the badge and your honor know it isn’t so. And let the citizens who are reading and commenting on the same forums know it isn’t so. We dearly need to be reassured.


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