ALL Sheriffs and police officers should read this and seriously dwell on it.
It was 1983, a beautiful fall day, early in the evening evening. I was sitting in my patrol cruiser facing North just a short 50 feet or so from a four-way stop intersection at 600 W 300 S. I was making a few notes on my daily activity report when a lady ran the stop sign going Eastbound. She was very occupied with four or five kids who seemed to be giving her fits. She seemingly did not realize she had gone through the sign and did not do so intentionally. She looked over at me and threw her arms up in the air as if to say, "what else could go wrong today?"
She immediately pulled over. I didn't even have to turn on my red and blues. I walked up to her car, a beat up old Datsun compact station wagon, and she already had her license and registration handed out the driver's window. It was way obvious this lady was having a bad day and I was certainly not making it any better. Her kids were still fighting and crying and being quite unruly. It didn't matter anymore. She was shutting them out completely and was simply staring through the windshield wondering why she had ever been born, or so it seemed. I started right in with my work. This ticket was going to be easy; heck she wasn't even putting up a fight. She never uttered a word.
I was just about about to sign my name to the citation when I paused momentarily. I looked down at this cruddy old car, it couldn't have been worth $400, I looked down at those snotty nosed kids still screaming, I looked at this discouraged and depressed woman... and then I looked at me!
It was the most penetrating gaze I had ever experienced in my life! I asked myself a few questions, "Mack, is there anything that you are doing here that's helping this lady and her family? Is there anything that you're doing that's making this a better town to live in? And is there anything that you are that's bringing honor to the badge that's pinned to your chest?"
I knew the answers all too well, and now I was discouraged. In fact, I was completely overcome by shame and guilt. So much so that I handed the lady her license and registration and just walked away. I mean I said absolutely nothing to her. I couldn't have taken it if she had thanked me for anything! So I got back in my patrol car and drove lethargically back to the police station where I tore that ticket into a thousand pieces and threw them in the briefing room trash can, something that was clearly against policy.
The next day I came back to work early and headed right to the city clerk's office. I honestly had no idea what was directing me to her office or what I was looking for. Yet, I asked the clerk for a copy of my oath of office. I really don't know why, I had never given my oath a second thought. She made me a copy and I saw that I had signed it and it was dated the day I started my job as a Police Officer. "I, Richard Mack, do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will faithfully protect, defend, and obey the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Utah..."
These words began to ring in my mind and now I was more depressed than I was the day before when I had my epiphany with the lady and her kids. Man, what a no good hypocrite I was! I had never even read the Constitution. I took an oath I never had any concern whatsoever about keeping!
I signed that oath to get a job and a paycheck. It meant nothing more to me than that. I reached my hand up to my chest and touched the silver starred badge which hung on my shirt. I knew that I had to turn it in and quit my job. There was no way I could keep my job and career as a peace officer. Then I stopped and realized that I did not need to quit my job, just quit being a liar and a hypocrite. I felt so relieved! I did not have to quit my job!
Right after briefing I drove home and grabbed the World Book Encyclopedia and took it with me on patrol. I read the Constitution every second I was not busy with anything else. I loved it, especially the Bill Of Rights. It was amazing and easy to understand. I promised myself that I would never violate the principles in this document of American Liberty, that I would always keep my sacred oath to uphold, defend, and preserve the United States Constitution, and that no matter what it cost me, that I WOULD NEVER BE ON THE WRONG SIDE AGAIN!