The Power of the Badge

 

D8NJJH Burke and Hare

 

Picture this scenario, it is the middle of the day and I hear a firm knock. I open my front door to be greeted by a caucasian male adorned with a clipboard, khakis, and a buttoned knit shirt with a badge attached. He introduces himself as the Inspector that contacted me a few days prior to check and determine if my house was connected to the city’s sewer system. I look at his car, which is unmarked- thereby being quite normal.

Sensing a question arising from my raised brow he continues “Well, I was at your neighbor’s home and although our appointment is for tomorrow I thought I’d see if you were home.” Having that piece of the puzzle solved and without him asking whether or not I was busy or in the process of leaving, I reluctantly open the screen door and invite him in. Moving backwards to give him space to enter I stop abruptly as he walks in behind me and closes the door.

Now imagine my surprise when he continues to walk through my home and makes his way to the bathroom to perform his blue dye testing of my water-way and then heads to the back door, and proceeds to go outside and prod my yard, searching for proof that I was somehow connected to the now infamous sewer system of Bessemer, Alabama.

With blatant disregard for my home or property, this professional had come in and violated every form of decency that I dared to imagine. I failed to mention that before his impromptu arrival I’d assured him via phone that I indeed had a septic tank, and even while he was in my home I kept assuring him that I had proof of the septic system. As I had a plumber come in mere months before, to plot where it was before I’d dug a safe haven pond for my now deceased pet turtle named Fred.

I look back on that situation and wonder was my pessimism a bit high that day, and could I have been too cautious in my concern for a strange man feeling at home in my presence? Was the normal reaction to just trust this man because of his job and the badge he displayed upon his left breastbone? Deep down inside I would love for the answer to these questions to be yes, but my rational mind along with common sense bellows that anyone whose job gives them the honor to access as intimate of places as a person’s home and private life should be held liable to the citizens they are serving, as well as the companies they are representing.

Stricter laws and protocols should be in place that would make any person in authority who uses a badge to enter into a private residence or establishment- to perform a service, to have on hand at the citizens request, at least three names of their superiors, phone numbers to each, along with a supervisors signature copy of whatever job they are planning to perform.  There have been far too many instances of foul play when people gain the power of having too easy of an access into people’s lives.  I can’t help but think of the women and men who believed Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ed Gein before their lives were ripped from their tortured, mangled and distorted bodies.

I picture Ted with his attractive features and trustworthy demeanor -maybe he was a school teacher, government employee, or utility worker. He could have been; and people would have let him in their lives day in and day out without a second thought. Jeffrey Dahmer was able to stay calm under pressure after one of his victims managed to escape. Even after cops had stopped his drugged victim, Dahmer was able to convince the officers that the boy was merely his lover. Despite the protests of two two black female witnesses who tried to state otherwise.

Needless to say the male did not survive. That sort of discipline is innate in some, and they can easily detach themselves from the obvious and fool a plethora of other professionals and the public.  I imagine Dahmer as a computer tech, handling house calls of disgruntled elderly adults and bubblegum blowing babysitters while the parents are out on the town. He would have a ready explanation for the reason he needed to come back to the home repeatedly, unbeknownst to the family that he clearly had ulterior motives for nabbing their sixteen year old son.

Maybe this is a bit excessive, but I can’t help but wonder of all the citizens that have trusted the policemen featured in recent news for molesting family members and setting fire to homes. With so many people of authority in the world it is only plausible that some would feel as though they were above the law, and with a lie being so easily lived and told in today’s society, no one should ever be blindly taken at face value.

Of course one cannot live a happy, productive life distrusting every person that he or she comes into contact with.  Eyeing the bank teller and garbage man on a daily basis will only get you as far as being placed on the do not assist list. Badges are quite helpful in identifying the correct person to ask for assistance in a department store and are the last things you would care to look for in a dire emergency that requires the need for first responders.

To be honest, I think that I probably would not have opened the door had the inspector come to my home without the badge, and with all other things held constant, called the police had he been able to sweet talk his way into gaining entrance. It places into perspective how a simple badge privileges some into accessing the most intimate areas of lives and if not for the intuition of the persons involved, can lead to devastating outcomes, if the wrong person or persons are added into the equation.

Society has taken some steps to safeguarding themselves and incorporating accountability, such as companies having logs of when their employees go out to assist clients and the ability for vehicle operators to keep driving until they get to a well- lit, populated area if a police car has its siren and lights on. It is reassuring to know that more information is a keystroke away at the Better Business Bureau or MSN Money before you give your hard earned cash to stockbrokers or sow a good faith seed into a ‘struggling’ businessman’s vision.

lf you looked hard enough I’m sure you’d find someone who knows someone who knew the up and coming political science major when he wore onesies and went through a pack of diapers like nobody’s business. There have been too many horror stories of rogue cops, greedy politicians, and crooked CEO executives to leave it to chance.

A 2009 poll conducted by market research institute GFK, rated the most trusted professions in Europe and the United States. Not surprisingly, three careers tied at 81 percent for the third most trustworthy of jobs. They were doctors and nurses, postal workers, and the armed forces. Teachers came in second at 83 percent, and firefighters ranked number one with 92 percent. Reasons given for the statuses were the responsibility given to these professions, their inclination for handling sensitive materials, whether it was the minds of our youth or paycheck stubs, and having to place their lives on the line.

With this dedication and showing of heroism, the respect from the population was mainly earned, and rightly so (Samaniego, 2009). If more people took time to truly digest the power that a badge privileges them to have over others, and use that knowledge wisely, the world that we live in may become a more secure place for all of our futures to thrive.

References

Samaniego, Danielle (2009). Top five most trusted professions. Divine Caroline website.

Tamuriel L. Dillard

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