We are our own government

Published 12:01 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist

I have found myself to be a fan of talk radio. I don’t have a particular radio personality that I subscribe to, nor do I follow any of their leads.

I try to diversify my listening by tuning in to different shows with conservative and liberal views. My wife will ask, “How do you listen to that stuff?”

My response, mostly due to my profession, is, ‘Because I need to know what the people are saying.’ One thing you will notice is that there is division between “the government” and “the people.”

The government is referred to as “they” and the people are referred to as “we.” This is not accurate. “We the people” are the government. The government is not in the county seat, Montgomery or Washington.

We elect governors, senators, congressmen, and commissioners, and they are to report to the county seat, Montgomery or Washington, but they are elected by the people.

Our elected representatives are charged with creating law. In turn, law enforcement officers enforce the law our representatives enact. Police officers are not the government or the law. Police officers are hired by police chiefs, who in turn are appointed by mayors, who in turn are elected by the people.

The sheriff is elected by the people and hires deputies to assist him in his constitutional requirement. These officers also enforce the law.

Uniformed police officers are often identified as the government. Uniformed police officers in America started with controversy for this very reason. People didn’t want to “see” their government, but police officers put it out in the forefront.

It has been proven that a law presence is a deterrent in itself, but police officers are many times seen as the bad guy, big brother or the government and in some cases, the target. The best way to make a police officer cringe is to point at him while your child is acting up in the store and tell him, “That policeman will take you away if you don’t behave.”

What you’ve just told the child is that the officer’s job is to take his freedom away. I’ve written here before that the government we elect to represent us has no place in the home.

Law enforcement measures are sometimes seen as too harsh or inconsiderate of others. We are taught to do everything deliberately. The way that we approach a car, the questions that are asked or the positioning of a vehicle all have reasons behind them. The 174 officers that died in the line of duty in 2011 and the countless others that were injured taught us these lessons.

Most officers will tell you that they became officers to help people. It’s not us against them and they aren’t out to get us. We make the decisions to put our citizens in place to represent us and must honor this system that has been in place since our existence.

Capt. Chris George is a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He can be reached at cgeorge@shelbyso.com.