Monday, December 11, 2006
Officers to take sides in a protest?

Q: What is the department's policy regarding law-abiding demonstrators and displaying political affiliations or opinions while on duty? I am a longtime opponent of the US invasion of Iraq and for the first couple of years of the war, I was made to feel quite uncomfortable by the police officers who drove by those of us who protest the war downtown on Monday afternoons. Police cruisers made
it clear they supported the invasion and were against our protests. Is it within departmental policy for on duty officers to take sides in a peaceful lawful political debate or protest?

A: Officers are when on duty expected to be representing the police department in their official capacity as police officers. Without knowng the circumstances of the "police cruisers making it clear" they were against your protest is a broad statement it is difficult to give an answer as to what exactly was done that you felt this way. Officers are summoned to gatherings such as the ones
you mention for a variety of reasons, but mostly to prevent obstruction of traffic or public disturbances.

An officer who, for example, may have required your group to move or quiet down, may have been viewed by you as not being in support, however the greater good of maintaining peaceful order it the function of the police in a case such as what you describe.

posted by South Bend Police Department @ 12:57 PM  

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