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Thin blue line?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Rem700SD, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. Rem700SD

    Rem700SD Well-Known Member

    I've noticed the term police officer. Each cop goes through an academy and becomes an officer of the law.(correct me if I'm wrong here) In the military you have OCS, etc, and you become an officer in command of a unit, traditionally.

    So who are the enlisted in a police officers unit?
    I guess what I'm looking for is some history of nomenclature here.
    Any comments are appreciated.
  2. 2PAK

    2PAK Member


    Generally speaking, you're a commissioned peace officer. There is a administrative rank structure for supervisory and other positions but that's another topic. I wouldnt try to equate it with the military in the strict sense.
  3. cbsbyte

    cbsbyte Well-Known Member

    In Mass the process start with taking the Civil Service exam, once passing that a person with then apply to the police dept they want to serve in. Once hired, this can take years, the Police dept will send the new recurit through the a Police academy. After the academy the new recruit will enter police training at the dept and be under the watchful eye of a FTO for nine weeks. They will be tested again and then put onto full time duty. We don't have LE Sheriffs in Mass.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2006
  4. ceetee

    ceetee Well-Known Member

    Police officers definitely hold a position of trust. The table of organization can't rightly be compared to a military unit, though. Sergeants command officers, Lieutenants command larger units, and so forth. From a strictly military standpoint, though, all police officers are civilians...
  5. qlajlu

    qlajlu Well-Known Member

    Every state and every police agency within a state may have differing rules as to training. In my state a person wanting to get into law enforcement will make application to the department of the city, county, or state where he desires to work. They have state qualifications which must be met and there could be additional criteria if they are trying to go to work for a city or county department. After s/he is hired by the department they are then sent to the academy. Upon graduation from the academy the person is an officer/deputy/Trooper but will undergo additional on-the-job training (OJT) as the individual department requires.

    Police departments are historically para-military in that they have a rank system denoting authority within the department. Each of those can/will differ with each department as well.

    This is much different than what cbsbyte said above, so you cannot "lump" all departments as you are trying to do.
  6. Rem700SD

    Rem700SD Well-Known Member

    from ceetee.."From a strictly military standpoint, though, all police officers are civilians..."

    That's what I'm wondering about. Officer implies a command position, typically of persons w/in the same organization.

    Currently that "thin blue line" is between Law Enforcement and the rest of us. Once upon a time the community was an active part of the enforcement of law and order. Think posse.

    What I'm looking for is some etymoligy(sp) or history of when/how that line slipped.
  7. Firethorn

    Firethorn Well-Known Member

    In the case of police I believe that it comes from having administrative power to enforce the law.

    IE they can command criminals to stop and use force if necessary to enforce the order.
  8. qlajlu

    qlajlu Well-Known Member

    I don't think you are going to find a well defined, or even blurry, line when that happened. I suspect it has been an evolutionary thing as people stopped relying on their neighbors for such things as defense (think cowboy times in Indian Territory). Law enforcement is something that all citizens (well, most citizens anyway) want, but not all are thrilled to become involved in. So once a "town" grew large enough to employ a "department" of full-time, professional LEOs, there was no longer a need to be so involved. Let those who want to do it do it.

    I also suspect that it began along the Eastern seaboard and migrated west as the people began moving to more open country. So while the "thin blue line" was coming about in say, New York, it still had not begun to occur in Nebraska.

    Nowadays, people don't even want to be a witness. Sad. Sad indeed.
  9. ceetee

    ceetee Well-Known Member

    I think there's a conflicting paradigm at work. The very word "Sheriff" comes from the English rule of law, where the King appointed (through his emissaries) a "Reave" to administer the "Shires" (Worcestershire, etc.). This "Shire Reave" was responsible for enforcing the King's laws, as well as collecting taxes, performing marriages, and the like.

    The first settlers to the colonies were explorers, independent men that rapidly became accustomed to enforcing their own rules, at the barrel of Brown Bess, if need be. Thus, the attitude in settling the Americas would have been one of taking care of your own problems, and of groups of settlers banding together to fight off Indians, rustlers, and the like. Think of how America must have been when everything west of the mighty Mississippi was open land, beholden to no central government.

    What cop are you going to call when the nearest cop is a month's hard riding away?

    As "civilization" moved west, and rapid transportation and instantaneous communications became a reality, it actually became possible to call for help, and have help respond within days. The faster response became, the more prevalent that call for help became. Eventually, it became a cliche: "Don't take the law into your own hands." Everyone from the police, to the governmental leaders, to the schoolteachers taught peopl eto NOT be responsible for their own welfare, but instead to "Let the police handle it."

    And here we are.
  10. garymc

    garymc Well-Known Member


    I don't see where you can always take the use of a word like officer in one context and necessarily compare it directly to another. A supervisor above a certain rank in the army is an officer as opposed to those below him. In a corporation or a club the pres, secy, treas, etc are officers. In a corporation the foreman in a factory isn't, nor is his supervisor, or likely his. Its different. In court, the defense attorney is an officer of the court. In politics you have officeholders. Likewise you have FBI agents, specifically Special Agents. In some other agencies they have Agents and just about anywhere you have agents. Insurance agent, real estate agent, free agent. Like officer it can mean employee. The military didn't invent language (but I bet they invented a lot of it).
  11. DRMMR02

    DRMMR02 member

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems as if you're trying to get a certain point accross without coming out and saying it. That point being, that police see themselves as above "the rest of us" and they think they have some sort of lordship over us "civilians". Using them term "officer" means they think they are bette than us. And I for one don't agree with any of that.

    Again, please forgive me if I am mistaken.
  12. Rem700SD

    Rem700SD Well-Known Member

    The point I'm trying to make is one of Etymology, not attitude or ideology. If every cop is an officer, who are the organizational peons? The term officer implies authority WITHIN an organization. My implication is that beyond my historical vision WE THE PEOPLE were part of that group and got left out over time. When was the first use of the term "officer" in law enforcement context? Perhaps I'm wrong and it just refers to office holder. I'm just looking for clarification and some history. Internet searches ran dry.
    While I'm on this vein, the FBI has Special Agents. Do they have "not so special" agents, or just agents?
  13. DRMMR02

    DRMMR02 member

    But it has already been said in this thread, there is more than one definition of "officer". Your talk of "us getting left out" seems to denote more than just harmless curiosity about the origins of the word "officer",

    Again, what is your real point?
  14. RealGun

    RealGun Well-Known Member

    'Might try Webster's. The first definition of officer is "Agent". Only the military context makes any reference to authority or hierarchy. I believe officer is short for "officer of the law" and as such can act with authority.

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