Uniform Code

Last night, another black male teenager was killed by police in the St. Louis area. This time, according to police, the teen was armed and fired at the officer. If that’s true–and once again, I believe all police shootings should be independently investigated–I can’t find fault with the officer for shooting. The fact that he fired 17 times tells me he’s probably not a good shot and should spend more time at the range, but that’s a different matter.

A fact in this story that will likely get overlooked–I may not have noticed it, if not for the tweet below–is that the officer was wearing his uniform while off duty and working private security gig.

And that’s a problem. Not that he was working another security job; I know cops don’t often make a lot of money (except at the Port Authority apparently, but that’s a topic for a separate post) and it’s fine putting their skills to work in another job. The problem is they do this in uniform. And it’s common.

In most cases, cops retain their police powers off duty, which is fine. But when you see an officer in uniform, how are you to know if they’re working in their official capacity or as hired help? The distinction is important! Are they enforcing the laws, or obeying the wishes of a private employer? As I stated in a previous post, you’re generally compelled to obey a police officer. Are his orders based on the law or the whims of his boss?

This is just another one of many things that should be fixed with policing in America.