Policing is not a government program; it is a moral covenant. It is keeping people safe. It is the essential element of our democracy, but we can never forget that the consent of the governed is earned, not owed. The police profession has the opportunity to shape its future. It has the opportunity to confound expectations, to move past demagoguery, and to save even more lives. It is the opportunity to make our country safe and fair everywhere for everyone. And it is the actions of every individual cop who make up our police agencies that will bring this to fruition.
Cops Count - Police Matter
My personal hero in the profession of policing is Sir Robert Peel, who, in 1829, was charged with the mission of creating for London the first metropolitan police department of any significance in any major city, the British Metropolitan Police. The term “Bobby” was a term of affection for Bobby Peel’s police officers, and they were called “Peelers” or “Bobbies.” Peelers, because they used to carry around a little clatter that they would—many of you remember as kids you had that little thing you twirled around and made that funny clattering noise—well the police officers of those days, to notify each other of troubles, used those and they used whistles. Peel’s most significant contribution, apart from creating that still extraordinary police department, were nine principles of policing. And they have been my bible, going back to the 1970s, when I was first exposed as a young sergeant attending a meeting at which the then police commissioner of the Metropolitan Police was visiting the Boston Police Department. I was invited to a reception at which he was speaking, and he talked about Sir Robert Peel’s nine principles. These principles continue to ring true today.
PRINCIPLE 1 “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
PRINCIPLE 2 “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
PRINCIPLE 3 “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”
PRINCIPLE 4 “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
PRINCIPLE 5 “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
PRINCIPLE 6 “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
PRINCIPLE 7 “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
PRINCIPLE 8 “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
PRINCIPLE 9 “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”