• D.L. Williams

An Open Letter to My Brother Officers

Law Enforcement Oath of Honor

On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution, my community, and the agency I serve.

Brothers, This is the oath we all took the day we were sworn in and issued our badge. It’s a simple promise, given with a raised hand while our loved-one’s looked on weepy-eyed with pride and no small amount of worry.

That was a solemn day, and uttering the words made it honorable and worthy of all the sacrifices we knew would come. We were knights on a mission to protect and serve, the badge our shield, the pistol our sword, and the oath our quest.

Today I’m reminding us all that this oath is still ours to follow. It doesn’t magically dissipate because people hate us for the profession we chose or because we don’t personally agree with the theme of a protest. There is no wiggle room in an assignment to protect & serve; we simply carry out the mission for each person we encounter, even if they don’t pray the way we do, live by the same moral compass, vote our party line, or carry a similar melanin hue in their skin. We sacrificed our personal feelings in exchange for the honor of the mission the moment we accepted the badge.

Fail to follow the oath at your peril, brothers. You betray us all when you crush an unconscious man’s neck under your knee, fire pepper bullets at journalists, stand by and do nothing as other officers violently break the law, or bludgeon American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Your actions put good officers in greater danger, get you and your department sued in federal court and, perhaps worst of all, lose what trust and respect the citizens of this great nation hold for you.

Honoring your oath sends you down a different path, a path the vast majority who chose this profession exercise every day. You are the guardians of neighborhoods, the protectors of abused children, the seekers of truth, the front line for a system of justice that aspires to be blind and fair, and the very symbol of a nation founded with a vision of equality. I’m retired now, but I’ll have your backs for the rest of my days. You’re doing God’s work in a true spirit of Samaritan-ship, and I see you. Courage.

For those others who choose to betray your oath and your fellow officers, know this: you are no longer our brother. In that moment of betrayal you became our enemy, and the time is finally coming when you and your ilk will be treated accordingly. You racists, sadists, and crooks who have believed you could walk some fine blue line and hide your hatred for all that is good, hand in your resignation and leave us now. Otherwise, true lawmen are coming for you, and they see you for what you are—just some punk who accepted the honor of this profession under the most false of pretenses.

For everyone else, carry on and hug your family for me. We’ll get through. D.L.