Good Policing vs. Bad Policing

The difference between good policing and bad policing is how the officer approaches his job and sees his mission.

It’s the difference between “protect and serve” or “respect my authoritah”.

It’s the difference between servicing justice or creating order.

We saw how dramatic the difference between the two is over two consecutive nights in Ferguson, Mo.

On Wednesday 8/13, the Ferguson and St. Louis County Police Departments decided that they police had make a show of force, and send a message to the protesters.

SWAT teams were deployed, and an aggressive posture by the police was obvious.

This doesn’t happen by accident. It is a strategic decision by the leadership of the police department.

That’s how you get cops pointing weapons at protesters with their hands upholding signs.


That’s how you get reporters arrested and assaulted for sitting in a McDonald’s and “not leaving and following orders quickly enough”.


That’s how you get tv reporters getting tear gassed just for standing their with their cameras, doing their jobs.


This kind of attitude from the police leads officers to think of citizens as “animals”.

This only happens if the bosses want the officers to kick ass and send a message.

In Contrast, the following evening, Thursday night, everything changed when Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol brought in and put in charge.. All the SWAT teams and military hardware was gone, and this was happening.

Police officers wield enormous power and authority over citizens. Policing is about decisions, and those decisions have real and immediate consequences.

This is about every police and citizen interaction, happening hundreds of thousands of times a day in this country.

And all starts with police leadership.

What is the work of a police officer?

A cop should be like a good bouncer. He is there to make sure everyone has a good times.

It’s not about him, it’s about the customers. If a person or causing problems for the other customers, then that situation has to be diffused, or that person has to be removed.

Otherwise, he should be helpful, friendly, and unobtrusive.

We as citizens are the customers.

When cops make it about themselves, they are absolutely failing to do the job for which we pay them.

About David Matson