April 24, 2021

Alexander Hamilton on police behavior

Sam Smith- Back in the 1960s I served as an officer in the Coast Guard, including operations officer of a cutter, aide to an Admiral, public information officer and, when no longer on active duty, executive officer of the Baltimore reserve unit. Although I never was directly involved in maritime law enforcement I was, like all Coast Guard officers, trained in it, and the manual we were given had a  quote from Alexander Hamilton, founder of the the Revenue Marine, the Coast Guard's original name. The quote disappeared from later editions of the manual. Here is what Hamilton told us to do

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 haughtiness, 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. 

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