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Las Vegas Criminal Defense

Nevada Police: Warriors Or Guardians?


The debate over the militarization of local police forces across the country has led civilians and law enforcement alike into intense discussions as to the role of police in the 21st century. Are helmets and shields, batons and riot gear appropriate?  Or has the time for a gentler police force arrived?  While some promote one or the other concept, perhaps it’s worth considering whether or not a hybrid model of policing is the answer.

The Warrior Mindset 

Those who believe in the warrior mindset contend that both officers and the public stand to benefit when safety is a priority. In general, officers need to be prepared for any situation.  Specifically, they must be mentally determined to survive dangerous encounters in order to protect themselves and the community. In its extreme, the warrior mentality is one that is focused on combating and defeating criminals.   Any interaction at any time has the potential to become deadly.  Therefore, police officers must maintain vigilance, and must be empowered to utilize a tactical response when they determine it is necessary.

The Guardian Mindset 

In stark contrast to the warrior model of policing, the guardian mindset purports that the majority of police interactions are not violent, and do not warrant a violent response.  Officers who are quick to use a tactical response instead of de-escalating a situation are likely to trigger an otherwise insignificant event.  Beyond the impact in the immediate situation, when the public perceives that it is the enemy, it deeply scars the level of trust and cooperation between communities and their police force. As one police chief says, officers should be in communities to provide protection, not to “conquer” them.

The Las Vegas Police Protective Association 

Chad Lyman of the LVPPA notes that policing is a multifaceted job, requiring a menagerie of skills of officers.  In a single day, a given officer may have cause to mediate a difficult situation, provide counsel to a struggling individual, referee an argument, cheer on someone making smart choices, and engage in physical force to protect oneself or the public. Dealing with lethal threats is, indeed, a part of the job.  Lyman notes that an officer who is proficient at report writing and counseling but who lacks the ability to physically contain certain situations is an officer who may wind up dead.  Arguably, the same is true of an officer who knows how to fight by not how to de-escalate.  While physical interaction is not the tactic of choice, nor the most frequently required skill, when it’s necessary, officers must be physically equipped and mentally prepared. In other words, officers must have the ability to be both warriors and guardians.

The problem comes when police force is used unethically or illegally. Fortunately, in the age of cell-phone video, capturing such events is easier than ever before. Lyman argues any officer who uses force inappropriately qualifies as neither a warrior nor a guardian.  They are simply bad cops, poorly trained, using misguided justifications to make poor decisions.

Police Interactions 

Officers who use unnecessary force are anything but courageous.  They are bullies. A true warrior sacrifices oneself in service to one’s community.  They are guardians and protectors. Those are the officers we need here in Nevada.  In many cases, it’s what we experience every day.  But when rogue officers lose the desire to protect and serve, and instead pursue needless violence such as we’ve seen on so many recent newsreels across the country, they need to be held accountable.  At Lobo Law, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to justice.  If you’ve had an unfortunate and illegal encounter with law enforcement, perhaps we can help.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.



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