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Why Are People Afraid of the Police?

I had the opportunity to talk to Jack Schwertman our resources officer at the high school. I was able to ask him some questions that I thought the student body would like to know about the police work that Jack is a part of doing, or any other general questions about police and their jobs.

I think the people who have had negative interactions with law enforcement are predisposed to fear us more. -- Jack Schwertman

Is the uniform a way to radiate authority to civilians?

I suppose the uniform is a symbol, to associate with authority. Because it's well-known. I think the levels of authority people perceive from it are based on their own opinions. I don’t think there is a hard and fast . . . I think it depends on every person’s perception of authority figures. What they may or may not do is their opinion. They show authority in a clean-cut matter; this is more just as accessible for us officers

In what ways do people fear the police?

I think the people who have had negative interactions with law enforcement are predisposed to fear us more. Or just being hesitant to interact with us. People who have just been brought up do not think highly of police or law enforcement. Or authority figures it's their own perception.  I mean people read the bad news in the media and bad news makes more news than good news. So that's out there more. But I think it's mostly just how their experiences have been with officers before. Along with maybe how they are raised to perceive them. 

What does a typical police day look like? 

It's different every day--some days it’s driving around making traffic stops. Going on medical calls, helping people out. Going to assault calls. I mean more often than not up here things aren’t crazy busy with the bad violence.  It could also be silent and nothing going on, people minding business, other times they can enforce traffic make sure there is no violation around. Or it could be the opposite and it could be call to call to call until the end of the shift. 

If you saw another officer committing a crime what would you do? 

You have to intervene while on duty--that would be an immediate call to a supervisor. That person would immediately have to stop doing what they are doing until further action can be taken. Especially if it is an officer within the same department; however, if it was an officer from a different department, it would entail calling their supervisor. And we as officers are here to uphold the law and we should never feel that we are above the law. Furthermore, multiple cops get arrested for the same things regular people do all the time. Cops are no exception.  

If a superior officer told you to do something that was against regulations would you do it? 

No, you don’t do it. If anybody knows anything about me, I’m gonna do what I'm supposed to do, and I’ll do things if they are told to me. However if it’s an unlawful command then that is a different story. You would have to go to a higher-up and tell on the supervisor if it is that policy for that specific department they would have to go do that. That goes in with their union contract and everything else.  

If you had to arrest a family member would they do it?

Yes--they have done it; it is no different than someone getting arrested for disorderly conduct. Because if anything, if you are related to anyone in law enforcement and you commit a crime in the city they work in you can expect to be arrested because you are showing disrespect to that person. 

So now as you are informed of what the police go through on a day-to-day basis they are just like us and will only make an arrest if it is a lawful order and they have probable cause to arrest someone.  They are in charge of looking out for us. They are only trying to do their job and to uphold the law as they are required to do as their role needs them to be.

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Interesting interview! Its good to have a lot of the reaffirmations from Jack of how things should be handled, especially in regard to other officers and the law.

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