April 22, 2013

Word: Alexander Hamilton on the proper behavior of a police officer

Sam Smith: One of the best descriptions of the proper role of a law enforcement officer was that delivered by Alexander Hamilton to the first group of officers of the Revenue Marine, later the US Coast Guard. Said Hamilton:
"While I recommend in the strongest terms to the respective officers, activity, vigilance and firmness, I feel no less solicitude that their deportment may be marked with prudence, moderation and good temper. . . They will bear in mind that their countrymen are freemen, and as such are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of domineering spirit. They will, therefore refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of hautiness, rudeness or insult. If obstacles occur, they will remember that they are under the particular protection of the laws and they can meet with nothing disagreeable in the execution of their duty which these will not severely reprehend. . . This reflection, and regard to the good of the service, will prevent at all times a spirit of irritation or resentment. They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty -- by address and moderation rather than by vehemence and violence."
This quotation was on a page by itself at the very front of the Coast Guardsman's Manual that I was given as Coast Guard officer candidate in 1961. In the next edition, a few years later, it had disappeared - replaced by the Star Spangled Banner.

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