Are Police Exempt From Laws They’re Sworn to Uphold?

Are police officers exempt from following the laws that they are sworn to uphold? Apparently one officer in the rural Texas town of Temple believes that is indeed the case. After arresting active-duty Army Master Sergeant. C. J. Grisham, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for “rudely displaying” his firearm while on a walk with his teenage son, one of Temple’s finest is alleged to have defended his gestapo-like tactics with the following reasoning:

Particularly chilling is the officer’s telling Grisham that a police officer is “allowed to” carry a weapon, but that Grisham is not — despite Grisham’s having a permit. “We’re exempt from the law” is not a phrase you want to hear from law enforcement in a constitutional republic.” (here)

Do they not teach basic, Constitutional Law 101 to police officers in the Temple, Texas? Is is too much to expect that a police officer will be able to tell an otherwise law-abiding citizen why he is being detained, questioned and/or what law he has broken that would lead to an arrest? Should police officers simply ignore the laws that they are sworn to uphold? Or, better yet, should law enforcement officers defer to the fears of our fellow neighbors who are alarmed when they see someone walking along a rural road in Texas with a firearm? From the following part of the conversation/arrest caught on video, we might get an idea of how at least one of the Temple Police Officers would answer these questions:

You alarm people and they call us . . .”  Temple Police Officer

“And, did you explain to them what the law is, sir?”  Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham

“They don’t care what the law is.”  Temple Police Officer

“Do you care what the law is?”  Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham

“In this day and age, they are alarmed when they see somebody with a weapon like this.” Temple Police Officer

Undoubtedly, our culture has become polarized over the issue of guns. With gun control legislation set to come before the U.S. Senate in the days ahead, politicians on both sides of this contentious and emotionally charged debate mirror the opinions of Americans-at-large. It would be very easy, therefore, to view what happened to Master Sgt. Grisham through our own personal prism. Those who favor gun control legislation and/or bans on certain weapons will perhaps view the Temple Police Officers’ response to Master Sgt. Grisham as entirely reasonable. Of course, those who favor gun rights and support the 2nd Amendment “Right to Bear Arms” may side with Master Sgt. Grisham over against the actions of the local police in this instance.

However, to better understand that what happened to Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham and his son was both frightening and unconstitutional, let’s change the scenario. Instead of a a white, active-duty Army Master Sergeant walking with his Boy Scout son on a rural country road in the backwoods of Texas, let’s assume that we have a thirty-something African-American male taking a leisurely stroll through an upscale, predominantly white neighborhood in the suburbs of Austin. Now imagine the same conversation between the police officers and the black man:

You alarm people and they call us . . .”  Austin Police Officer

“And, did you explain to them what the law is, sir?”  African-American Male

“They don’t care what the law is.”  Austin Police Officer

“Do you care what the law is?”  African-American Male

“In this day and age, they are alarmed when they see somebody like you walking in their neighborhood.” Austin Police Officer

I have no doubt that this second scenario is not merely hypothetical, but takes place far too often in our nation. The case of Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham, in the whole scheme of things, is probably rare. Whether all-too-common or rare, neither circumstance is one that we should condone in a nation whose ideal is “liberty and justice for all.”  However, for that ideal to be a continuing reality in our Constitutional Republic, we must be a country of laws, not of men. When men or women — be they police officers or politicians — think and act as if they are “exempt from the law” that they are sworn to uphold, then the freedoms we enjoy in our great country — freedoms that Master Sgt. Grisham and so many others have fought and even died to protect — will be lost for future generations.  And, that’s not a loss that any of us — conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, Christian or Atheist — should be willing to take!


7 comments for “Are Police Exempt From Laws They’re Sworn to Uphold?

  1. April 17, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    This type scam has been used for years to disarm types or classes of people they don’t favor . This was a local city policeman talking to me in old clothes and a beard . He said , ” That schools in NC that have a Sunday School are forbidden to have firearms on the premises .” I disagreed and he wanted to throw me out of this gun store where there were many black customers . He had a way to prevent any church from having an armed security committee for parking lots etc by qualified permit holders including visitors who are attending . Some of the old scams were that you needed a – you fill it in , Voters Card , Tax Receipts for property you owned and on and on . Only the dumb like me would get pushed around . Don’t think this guy is working there anymore .

    • April 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      2nd line down should read ” That CHURCHES in NC ” – not schools .

  2. April 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    It is interesting that the email features on the Temple Police website have been disabled. I’m guessing they have taken a beating from those who have heard about this.

  3. Bennett Willis
    April 17, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I suspect that the people in Santa Fe, NM, would object to being referred to as a “rural town” in New Mexico. Probably the people of Temple would object also. 🙂

  4. Ken Kneram
    May 31, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    There is obviously a carefully laied plan in place to slowly and mathodicly disarm the American people. Read “End of America” by “Niomy Wolf” ENLIGHTING!

  5. ken kneram
    May 31, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    PS I was reciently thretened by a NYS “Storm” Trupper when I aproched him about talking on his cell phone while driveing. He told me “We are exempt from that law sir and you need to leave NOW!” the thret was more in his tone than his words but it was cleer. these guys are the ONLY NYS employes that got a rais this past year I think they can aford “BLUE TOOTH.” If only to set a good example.

  6. Cyndy
    August 28, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    I have mixed feelings on this. I am a gun owner and totally believe in my right to do so, but, if I saw someone, rather it be a neighbor or stranger walking down my street carrying any gun as if they are on patrols in a war zone, I too would react and call the police to check it out. How am I or the cops for that matter to know a person’s intent? I can not help but wonder how this man would react if someone was walking his neighbor in doing the same thing. How would he feel if his child or wife was home alone and seen a person not related to them walking up and down their street with the same type weapon slung over their shoulder? I can only imagine the fear that a child would feel if home alone and saw this. What if his son at home alone saw a man doing the same thing and called police. How pissed off would he be if the cops refused to check out the situation until the guy committed a crime?
    While he and others may feel these cops abused his rights, in reality had he been black, I bet he would have been shot the moment he raised his voice to them and there is a strong possibility had his son not been there, he may have been shot anyway. I do not get the point this guy and the many others that have also filmed their interaction with local police when stopped and questioned when walking around with assault weapons that would frightened anyone with a brain. Yes they have their right to carry, but the people around them also have a right to not be afraid of the actions of someone they do not know.
    IMO this is no different the gay couples demanding to be married in a Christian church because it is their RIGHT to be married. They have zero desire to marry in a church but for no other reason then to stick it to those Christians for not supporting their RIGHT to marry. Just as this fellow has zero reason to be walking down the street with his big gun then for no other reason but to stick it to all those anti gun people and the cops proving he has the RIGHT to carry. Again, why put your child in the middle of this?
    On the other side of this slippery slope. I honestly feel had he been alone and resisted in any way, his son would be without a father today. The police in the US are trained by a military force to look at us citizens as the enemy. And yes they feel they are above the law, because we the people do not hold them accountable every time they abuse the power WE GIVE them. Be honest with yourselves, when the abuse is of a black person or a Muslim, how angry do you really get? How many cases of abuse on a white person have you personally took to the streets and demanded justice for? At this point, yes there are more people of color taking the abuse, but at the same time there are more then enough cases of abuse against white folks yet their families can not get many supporters to stand with them publicly. Also, just as anytime an Arab commits a crime, when the crime involves a black person the media plays it non stop. And for a reason. It is called divide and conquer . And it is working.
    Check out the links below. If we all do not start standing together soon, we will all go down together.
    The next 5 links relate to the same incident, but to get most of the entire story reading all will help/
    This is just one of thousands of cases involving Fl cops killing/injuring unarmed people.

    Ask yourself honestly , What if the couple in the article below had been Muslim or black or middle class/poor whites ??? Would they be called terrorist or treated as the couple below ?

    As for how the US police has turned into an occupying military force convinced it is their right and duty to be judge and executioner…Listen carefully to what this brave young man is saying.

    Since WW2 everything America stood for and was admired for has slowly been destroyed. The 1st link is an article about the free ebook in the 2nd link , “In Search of Enemies”

    Do not trust the US media. Google Operation Mockingbird and in case you missed this

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