By Dayton Police Chief Rob Vine
The “Thin Blue Line” is thinner this week because a few individuals who once wore the badge and took an oath to protect and serve their communities have committed an unforgivable offense that resulted in the tragic and terribly unnecessary loss of life of George Floyd.
For whatever reason, the individuals wearing the uniform of a profession whose fundamental duty is to serve the community, to safeguard lives and property, to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice did the very opposite and engaged in behavior that can only be described as criminal.
As a police officer, I take great exception to their behavior, their actions, and their indifference. I must stand against it.
The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics says, “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.” The individuals who were on the scene when Mr. Floyd died, obviously forgot this.
The Code of Ethics goes on to say, “I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service.” They obviously forgot this part as well. They also did not recognize that their conduct would have a significant impact on others in the profession, many who are now dealing with the fallout and having to face dangerous situations stemming from this tragic incident.
The “Thin Blue Line” is not a circle. If an officer commits a crime, other officers do not circle around that person and protect them. The “Thin Blue Line” is a line – straight and unbending. If an officer commits a crime or engages in behavior that is not worthy of the profession, the person is removed from the line and those of us who are left make ourselves a little bigger and a little wider to fill in the gap as best as we can.
I pray for the family of Mr. Floyd. I pray for the City of Minneapolis. I pray for those officers who are still wearing the badge and uniform, who have not forgotten what the Code of Ethics says, who have not forgotten their purpose, and who still have the heart to serve their fellow man and who must deal with the mess these individuals created.
I am proud to serve with men and women of integrity. Men and women who demonstrate the Code of Ethics daily. Men and women who serve their community with a dedication to service. Men and women who recognize the badge of their office as a symbol of public faith and do the best they can to earn that faith and trust daily.