Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the lessons she leaves behind for Law Enforcement
“I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill — very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you.”
Seven days ago The New York Times shared a reflection on the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Associate Justice, examining the transitions which led her to the highest court in the land. The piece was a brilliant observation highlighting that if you want to do good work, necessary work, one must put people — human lives and human dignity at the forefront of their work. While Justice Ginsburg’s life could easily be a case study for every profession, I find, especially in this moment, her life to be an exceptionally bright guiding light helpful in leading law enforcement into a new era of Policing. Understanding that justice was her priority, accepting and learning from our individual errors should happen without delay, and finally; dissent — necessary, especially when the majority’s opinions and behaviors demean human life; are all lessons we should embody as law enforcement professionals.
Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to have visited the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. — during each visit I stood in reflection of those four words above the entrance to the court that reads, “Equal Justice Under Law.” Justice Ginsburg understood this necessity intimately when she first argued on behalf of Sharron Frontiero, a lieutenant in the United States Air Force, Ginsburg’s first time before the Supreme Court. During the trial Justice Ginsburg argued the notion that men and women — regardless of sex should always be treated equally by the federal government; and more importantly that women are not inferior to men. This application of justice should also define our work as police officers. How we treat one demographic of citizens should be no different than the way we treat another demographic of citizens. For example, if drinking on a public street or sidewalk is illegal then it should be illegal for all citizens and enforced accordingly. Anything on the contrary yields distrust between communities and their law enforcement partners. While police officers don’t write…