Reflections of a Law Enforcement Officer

Yesterday a longtime friend called and during our conversation asked me where I stood with the killing of George Floyd, the protests as well as the violent actions of the few.  I thought it to be a little strange that someone who I thought knew me quite well would ask the question.  It made me wonder if others in Talbot County might be wondering about my thoughts. 

To me they are three unique questions.  Here are my thoughts.

The killing of George Floyd was disgusting and intolerable.  I believe that those responsible will be held accountable.  And yes it is exponentially worse when a person of authority uses their position to commit crime.

The first amendment of the Bill of Rights to the constitution guarantees four freedoms: freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. Peaceful protests are one of many reasons law enforcement exists in America.  Law enforcement is charged with protecting all of your rights under our constitution and the laws.   Many in uniform and out of uniform have sacrificed their very lives to defend that freedom and the men and women who I have served with me over the past 30 plus years would give their lives to defend that freedom.

Violence and damage to others property is not a right in America and cannot be tolerated in our society. 

Your deputies, troopers and police officers are raised in our families, educated in our schools, attend our churches and are involved in our community.  Since our families, schools, churches, and community are not perfect we don’t raise perfect people.  In the same vein our legal system, social and medical welfare systems, affordable housing, and mental health services are not perfect which create huge gaps that you ask the police to fill. 

After 4pm when most of these services have closed their doors for the day, our society requires police officers to assume many of those roles.  The police have become the dumping ground for all of the failures of our families, schools, churches, community and all of the “services” provided by government and non-profits.  None of those groups will ever be perfect and neither will we.

During these difficult times we ALL need to look in the mirror and clean up our house and get better at our responsibilities at home and at work.  A good starting point is to teach our young people to treat all persons with respect.

 As your sheriff, it is my solemn responsibility to see that all people that we take into custody are treated fairly and with the respect, regardless of the crime alleged.  In my 30 plus years of policing I have been honored to serve with the most selfless officers and had several of my friends murdered while serving heroically.  Sadly, I have seen a few selfish, self- serving officers as well.  Thankfully, we were able to arrest those officers who committed criminal acts, and terminate those whose actions did not meet the criminal standards necessary for prosecution.  I tell the men and women who serve here, “every day we either get better or we get worse, we never stay the same”.  Once again our goal for the day is to get better at serving everyone in our community.


Sheriff Joe Gamble