Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are like many things in life. They can be used for good or evil. There is nothing so frustrating as when social media is used to lie about security and police officers and they cannot respond to the lies or defend themselves. Winston Churchill said that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” I used Paul Blart and Barney Fife's pictures because they are the image that many people have of a mall cop. I have been called Paul Blart and Barney Fife more times than I can count, along with many colorful curse words. My favorite names so far have been (lumpy assed old man) and (stinky fingers). This lumpy assed old man escorted the guy off of mall property that called me that. I was called stinky fingers by a belligerent drunk who accused me of giving him a prostrate exam. Being human, on occasion I have been untruthful in my life. I have discovered that I am a terrible liar and I don't enjoy lying. It amazes me how easy it is for some people to lie and they are very good at it. Friday night I was reading the lies written about one of my young officers concerning a recent incident and I thought that my head was going to explode. It amazes me how parents act in front of their children. They use language that I wouldn't use in front of a sailor. We live in a society that produces people that have a sense of entitlement. It is all about me. Rules are made to be broken rather than obeyed.
There are certain misconceptions about a mall. First of all, it is private property. A common misconception is that it is public property. You do not have the freedom to say anything that you want in a mall nor do you have the freedom to wear anything that you want to in a mall. Private property rights rule. We have certain rules governing behavior posted on the entrances. The security officer has to rely on logic and past precedent many times in making a decision on whether something is appropriate or not. For example a tee shirt that has the F word on it is not allowed, even though you can buy these shirts in certain stores. However if I see a shirt with a controversial statement on it I will not say anything to the person unless the shirt causes a disturbance. A few years ago, right after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, a man was wearing a shirt which read "Did your gun kill a kindergartner today?" As offensive as that shirt was I would not have said anything to him about it. However the shirt nearly caused a fight so I asked the man to turn it inside out or cover it with something. He refused, citing his 1st Amendment rights. On private property a person has no 1st Amendment rights. I asked him to leave and he refused. He was arrested for criminal trespass, lying to a police officer and driving on a suspended license. I had to go to court several times and the man tried to say that his 1st Amendment rights were violated in court. The story was in the local news for days. In the end property rights prevailed. Whenever I train a new officer I try to stress to them that they should not allow themselves to be bullied. They should always be courteous and professional but once the behavior of the person crosses the line they must firmly ask them to leave the property. We should always try to deescalate a situation if possible but I have found that many times if we do not make the person leave upon the first provocation the situation can easily get away from the officer like it did the other night. As Barney Fife might say "Nip it in the bud". I cannot comment on the specifics of the situation but I am just amazed sometimes at the lengths people will go to dismiss their own bad behavior. Everyone makes mistakes and I have said and done things on the job that if I had them to do over I would have acted differently but I was raised well. My parents taught me to be respectful and courteous to everyone that I meet. I will usually approach everyone in a respectful manner. Trust me when I say that this is really difficult when you see people doing some of dumbest things imaginable. If I approach that person in a courteous manner I expect to be treated in the same manner. Well I guess I will end my rant now and play hockey with my grandson Russell. He says he is going to take me down.