Serve with Courage and Respect
By Chief Mike Masterson
Yesterday marked an important anniversary in our nation’s history. On September 11, 2001, a small group of terrorists attacked structures, including the twin towers and the Pentagon, using commercial airliners. The terrorists actually were attacking our way of life, our American freedoms and liberties.
As we all know, it didn’t work. What we saw from the events of 9/11 was the extraordinary courage of ordinary citizens and dedicated first responders who entered burning buildings to save others and of passengers aboard Flight 93 who joined together in saying “Let’s roll” to prevent the terrorists from taking countless other lives.
These heroes had courage and the willingness to act. The heroes of 9/11 leave a legacy for us today. It won’t likely be an event as significant as 9/11, but you, too, will face situations throughout your policing careers when you will call upon your personal courage, both physical and moral, to guide you in important decisions you must make.
Rights and Freedoms
Over the past 6 months you’ve learned much about enforcing laws that protect society from harm. You’ve been well-trained and, I’m sure, eager to begin practicing your skills. Today I’d like to talk about the other aspect of our work as police officers—protecting the individual freedoms and rights of others.
Two days ago I brought you to a place in Boise considered special throughout the world—the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary and at that sacred place, the value of protecting human rights served as a fitting reminder for all of us. I have had the opportunity to visit the memorial often during my tenure as Boise’s Police Chief. This memorial is one of just a few locations in the entire world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is on public display in its entirety.
The declaration consists of 30 articles, all having a nexus to human rights. It was published in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The UN called upon all member countries to publicize the text of the declaration and to “Cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read, and expounded principally into schools and other institutions without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”
Chief Mike Masterson of the Boise, Idaho, Police Department delivered this speech to the graduating class of the Boise Police Academy on September 12, 2014.
Why is it important? Alongside the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, hundreds of thousands of others—including union members; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people; persons with disabilities; and those attacked simply for their race and religion—were targeted by Hitler's regime. These are special populations within our community, still sometimes vulnerable to hatred and discrimination and denial of rights simply because of who they are or what they believe. It is a particularly important message to those of us in policing. For those of you just starting your careers, always remember that policing in a free society begins with the police protecting and respecting our freedoms to practice the religion we choose, to speak freely, to protest government, and to peaceably assemble for whatever cause, gun rights to gay rights.