By Sergeant Tom Keilman, West Bloomfield Police Department and Ordained Minister
A law enforcement officer is often referred to as a “Peace Officer”, one who brings order and stability to a chaotic situation. The ultimate end goal of a “Peace Officer is to restore the peace to any harmful, tragic or chaotic situation. But “Peace Officer” sounds so wimpy, so sissy! When we really look at all that “peacemaking” is made up of, I think you will find that the title, “Peace Officer” is not only adequate and descriptive, but it is also very powerful!
The American Military operates on the principle of “peace through strength”. A strong military needs weapons and the right to use force to maintain international peace. Like the military, law enforcement officers have the right to use force and weapons to maintain the civil peace. It has always been said that there is strength in numbers and strength then becomes the main ingredient of peace.
An example of this is how the Bible describes the law enforcement officer as a warrior. In the New Testament book of Romans Chapter 13:4 it says: “For he (the law enforcement officer) is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (NIV)
On the other end of the spectrum, we see the diplomatic role of being a law enforcement officer. We read in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.”(NIV) And the verse that brings it all into balance is found in the Old Testament book of Zechariah Chapter 7:9: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.”(NIV) In law enforcement incidents we are often called to be both peacemakers and warriors at the same time!
A few years ago, I responded to an injury accident where the young girl held on to me with both hands and would not let go until the ambulance arrived. I was her hope and stability in a chaotic and fearful situation. Moments later, the other driver, who was drunk, decided to resist arrest and the use of force was necessary to bring him under control. Now relive some of your past dispatches to a domestic violence situation or an assault and battery in progress. As you roll up on the scene, you act as a peacemaker for the victim and at the same time, a warrior to the offender. The victim runs toward you to safety and the offender attempts to flee, avoiding arrest. The “peace through strength” principle operates for both the victim and the perpetrator involved, but at different times. It is immediate for the victim because your presence is hope and deliverance from the circumstance. The offender however, encounters you in the role of the warrior. When appropriate use of force is needed to subdue him because of his mindset, emotional state, or the influence of drugs and alcohol, the peacemaking for him comes later, usually through a jail or prison chaplain, counselor or while in treatment. All, except the hardcore, are usually touched by the peacemaker process.
Real peacemaking is made up of all of these balanced components: POWER (appropriate use of force), AUTHORITY (the right to act), TRUE JUSTICE (victim and offender due process) and MERCY and COMPASSION (bringing hope, stability and order).
When a law enforcement officer is able to maintain the appropriate balance of these components in his law enforcement duties you have one very powerful and effective, “Peace Officer”, a true world changer! As peacemakers in an ever changing world we need all the training and support we can get. A great resource is the compact PEACEMAKERS New Testament produced by the International Bible Society. It includes great articles about ethics, integrity, dealing with stress, help for families and much more. A free copy is available to you. E-mail your request to me at: email@example.com
Thank you to all the “Peace Officers” out there changing the world, one person at a time.