When a law enforcement officer receives praise from a citizen, it is not only flattering, but it serves to bolster confidence, validate their career choice, and create a desire to even do better. One of Arnaudville’s citizens, Mr. Carl Lagrange’s comments on social media did all of the above. I proudly and humbly include it in my blog.
Mr. Lagrange writes:
“I can't say enough good about this man, our chief Eddy J. LeCompte. And, frankly, I could care less if some disagree. I respect his philosophy of law enforcement. Simply put, he has the wisdom few subscribe to. An officer's job is not to oppress the people by inflicting upon them the letter of the law regarding minor infractions, but to maintain the peace, rather, by use of police discretion. Hence, the phrase "keeping the peace by use of relation with the people he and his officers swore an oath to uphold rather than being tyrannical with the power bestowed them." The job of an officer is to see to it that the law abiding be reminded of the rules we all in our imperfect humanity are for our good and that officers being people too understand that and have no compunction to make our lives harder than they already are. Therefore, not every encounter is necessarily one his officers are adamant be a punishment. More often, only a civil and respectful discourse informing we civilians to be more conscious of our societal contract and after be on our way. The letter of the law is reserved for those individuals who have no respect regarding that contract and so are deserving the legal system hold them accountable. Such is the wisdom regarding his philosophy in that it promotes good will and a positive relationship between those who serve our interests and the people. Well done, chief. Society could use more public servants with this mindset.”
Speaking as your humble servant, I can take little credit for Mr. Lagrange’s claims – about wisdom – it comes with age! But, aside from the age, it comes from listening and a willingness to admit fault, change direction, and learn the lessons that failures bring.
What Mr. Lagrange refers to as my “philosophy of law enforcement” caused me to reflect. I have never defined a “philosophy” per se. I just operate out of instinct and gut, under the inducement of the “law”. Taking an oath is one thing, but applying that oath to common sense, respect for the citizen, empathy in some cases, and confidence in the training and experience makes for a good cop. There is a theory that cops tend to be “alpha males”, choosing a career that allows them to demonstrate authority, aggression, and sometimes brutality – all traits that are enhanced by, and sometimes protected by a badge. But, in my experience, the good ones effectively balance authority with humility, aggression with heart, and harshness with a desire to help. At least, this describes the majority of the officers I have known. This kind of value system is essential for a Chief or Sheriff who leads a department because he or she is responsible for creating a culture within the system that ultimately is felt and is visible on the street and through the eyes of the public.
Regarding the references made to “the letter of the law”, we should know the letter of the law, use that knowledge as a baseline for discernment when faced with a “law-breaker”. We are human, fallible and subject to mistakes. Our officers act within the parameters and structure of the laws they are obligated to defend and uphold. Using a stop to correct behavior is also an opportunity to educate, to engage the citizen, and to create a positive image – not only for themselves, but for the department and for the town of Arnaudville.
Mr. Lagrange, I appreciate your words, but more than that, I appreciate that your post lent itself to further reflection. And just as your post served to commend me, and the work I’m doing, I trust that you will be just as willing to point out when we fail to achieve your expectations.