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Law Enforcement Officers Need to Remember Discretion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Whether law enforcement officers realize it or not, politicians are using them for tyrannical deeds for the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the country, news articles are coming out reporting police officers are being used to enforce edicts of social distancing, mask-wearing, and dispersing “over-sized” groups. Police departments have policies that protect officers if he or she is commanded to take unconstitutional, illegal, or unethical action. Right now, it is time for law enforcement officials to remember those guidelines and how to use officer discretion. 


When law enforcement officers swear into a position to enforce laws, part of his or her oath is protecting the Constitution, which is overlooked by the public and sometimes forgotten by the officer. LEO’s are held to the same standard as a military member when he or she vows to “uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States.” When an officer is answering a call where an arrest appears imminent or about to sign a warrant on a suspect, they must ask themselves two things: is there probable cause? Does this violate their Constitutional rights?

Greenville, Mississippi Democratic Mayor Errick Simmons issued an executive order on April 7th banning all church drive-in services until the governor lifts the statewide shelter-in-place. 

On April 9th, eight uniformed officers arrived at King James Bible Baptist Church, where a drive-in service was occurring. The members were in their cars with their windows up, maintaining all social distancing guidelines. Officers began threatening to write citations to the parishioners in the amount of $500. Now, the church has filed a lawsuit against the police department through the Alliance Defending Freedom. 

The actions of the officers are inexcusable. They did not take into account that the First Amendment allows freedom of religion and peaceful assembly. 

We are at a time where we must ask the question: Does the government have more power over the individual during a declared public health emergency, or does the individual have more rights than the government despite the declared exigency via the United States Constitution? 


The enforcement of a statewide stay-in-place shelter is odd given that home improvement stores such as Lowes, or Home Depot are jam-packed daily with people, along with liquor stores, none of which are mentioned in the Constitution. However, freedoms discussed first in the Bill of Rights are “dangerous” to the public. The bottom line is, our God-given rights are a danger to the progressive agenda, and the pandemic has become more about government control than safety, despite claims from the left. 

In the state of Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has threatened to send police to churches where Easter Sunday services are held to take down license plates for a forced in-home quarantine – completely unconstitutional. 

Police chiefs and sheriffs need to think about their oaths and stand up against these politicians, Republican or Democratic, who are calling for these actions that violate citizens’ First Amendment rights.   

Police officers have a vital power when they begin working in law enforcement that not many people are aware of – discretion. While some laws require law enforcement to take action such as domestic violence, murder, armed robbery, many times, officers can choose not to charge an individual or write them a ticket criminally. Times like now would be a great time to exercise discretion. 

This is not law enforcement – it is being an oppressive government. I am not undermining the seriousness of COVID-19. It is dangerous, but the data that is coming out shows the virus on the same wavelength as the flu. Officers are not recording license plate numbers at churches and fining citizens every flu season, so why this? 


Right now, we see the government our Founding Fathers warned us. For those with little to no knowledge of American history, you are getting a modern-day lesson from a first-hand perspective of a tyrannical government. 

The police are not required to protect citizens. Yes, you read that right. There is not a Constitutional requirement for police officers to give protection, according to the Supreme Court in the 1989 landmark case of Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services. The court ruled that failure to protect by government workers have no affirmative duty to protect. Officers should not enforce decrees that are clearly against the First Amendment. 

Why are police officers being told to enforce these edicts? They are being used in a game of politics under the guise of public health. Heads of law enforcement agencies need to make this stop by telling their officers to be wise and use discretion on calls that involve criminal charges or citations revolving around the COVID-19 emergency declaration. 

These are the times that law enforcement needs to reflect on their oath of protecting the Constitution and know they are the patriots for American’s rights, liberties, and freedoms. 

Officer discretion should be used to ensure the constitutional rights of the citizens are protected – not the wants of a politician. 

John Dempsey is a graduate of American Military University and has a deep understanding of law enforcement issues and how they relate to the Constitution, society and our culture. He’s been published in and He can be followed on Twitter @John_Demp83.


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