In the face of a societal breakdown and a paralysis of law enforcement institutions there often arises the question of staying a human being. Being an officer in such situation requires strength and courage to make decisions that benefit society as a whole even though it contradicts morale. In the total chaos, people seek defense and sometimes you are the only person who can provide it. There is another category of population which can be characterized as people with low social responsibility. That means when the situation allows committing a minor crime like looting they would opt for it. They surely have different underlying reasons such as saving their family or surviving themselves, but their actions may endanger other people. This as an officer I cannot allow. Even if my lines of communication with my supervisor are broken, I know the primary duty I have as a law enforcer – to serve and protect.
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Despite the fact that the goals of my service stay the same, a course of actions I would take does change significantly from such under normal circumstances. I have to patrol streets, preventing crimes or stopping them with the means my code authorizes. If I happen to be a witness to a crime, for instance, if I see a looter or a group of looters, normally, I would have to arrest them. However, the procedure of an arrest presupposes taking the arrested criminal into custody. That measure can temporarily be unavailable due to the disarray in all governmental institutions. The places of temporary detainment, the judicial system, and police offices can also be out of service. Therefore, I would have to enforce the law and establish order with the means I have available. My actions would be limited to preventing and stopping the crime.
In the case of looters, I would order them to stop and drop whatever they have stolen. If they resisted, I would be authorized to use force. This moment provides a particular temptation. Since I would be left temporarily unaccountable for my actions because the circumstances practically resemble martial law, I could use force in a way that suits my own understanding of what is sufficient to prevent or stop the crime. Here, it would be essential to remain a human being as I mentioned in the beginning. My judgment would, therefore, stem from the notion of defense. If I were able to stop or prevent a crime that endangered the lives of other people or mine without using force, I would definitely opt for it. However, if this was not the case, I would have to use enough physical force to prevent that danger. The circumstances could be different depending on the kind of weapon the looters had. Should the looters have firearms that were not holstered, and the intentions of the looters could be interpreted as malicious, I would have no other choice but to use my service weapon. That is provided my previous request to stop the criminal act had no effect.
All things considered, there seems to be no clear guidance on how to act in situations when norms of civil society temporarily cease to exist. However, a police officer should be a reminder and a beacon for those who have forgotten that the law still exists. In my attempt to establish law and order in circumstances similar to those described in the video, I would adhere to the goals set before the police such as serving and protecting people. In doing so, I would also remain human enough in order not to use the power and authority I possess more than it is absolutely necessary.