Yes Sir, No Sir - The Missourian: Editorials

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Yes Sir, No Sir

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Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 6:30 pm | Updated: 2:53 pm, Mon Aug 25, 2014.

Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, and a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years, wrote a column this week on the Michael Brown shooting that is raising some eyebrows across the country. Many deem it highly inflammatory.

The veteran police officer wrote “while it might seem harsh and impolitic, if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.”

The column and that central piece of advice it posits is deemed controversial. To us, that in and of itself, is mind-boggling. It is also a statement of how far our society has slipped. Respect for authority isn’t what it used to be.

To Dutta and his detractors, we offer some advice of our own. We can’t take credit for it because our parents passed it on to us a long time ago. We probably heard the same advice from some teachers.

Whenever questioned by a police officer, answer “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir.”

No doubt that will light up the phone lines, crash some email servers and generate some letters to the editor.

We don’t know what happened between Brown and the Ferguson police officer. We may never know.

But we agree with Dutta that in terms of pure public safety, it just makes sense to obey the commands of a law enforcement officer. It also makes sense to treat police with respect even when you don’t agree with them.

We’ve heard the word “respect” used a lot over the past two weeks in connection with the events in Ferguson.

But we heard it first from our parents.

Editor's Note: Sunil Dutta, a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, has been an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years. The views presented in his original op/ed piece are his own and do not represent the LAPD or CTU.

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