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Friday, May 24, 2013

Out of the Two comes One: Part Eight

As a peace officer, as part of the job, I am constantly asked to make moral decisions, decisions where my judgment is the sole basis on what action I should or should not take in the query of taking a human life. 

For a basis of discussion, on a routine traffic stop, - and there is no such thing as routine- do I issue a citation or do I give a warning? Even in the matter of a misdemeanor arrest, do I take my arrestee to jail or do I issue a summons and release them in the trust that they will show up for court?  These are all to some degree a moral question, what is right? What is best?

A misdemeanor is a secondary level offense where the punishment is limited to a maximum of one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. On the other hand, a Felony is the highest level of offense where the violation is punishable of any fine amount and can result in sentencing of a minimum of one year in State Prison up to life, and or death as deemed appropriate by the court. The lowest level is an infraction and is only punishable by a fine. So there it is the three levels. 

In my 25 plus years of service, I have never had to shoot anyone in the line of duty---but I have come very close and been close to being shot as well. I was never hit and the suspects were taken into custody.  But, with that said, to shoot or not to shoot is a question I had to answer over two decades ago. This, like any other, is just one of many moral decisions I have to make on a daily basis. If you think about it, it is not too unlike what each of you are called everyday to do: to decide the right or the wrong of any given matter. Think about it….Just saying.


  1. Good stuff. Very true, some decisions have greater consequences than others, but at the heart of the matter it comes down to "Do it, or don't."

    1. It is truly amazing that all of life can be boiled down to such a simple equation...yes or no, do or don't do. Without the filtering moral agent truth we would be set adrift, unmoored.