Follow the Leader?
Would you jump off a bridge if your boss told you too?
With the recent racist allegations that have sprung up regarding the Hoboken Police Department, and investigations into their “fun” trips to Louisiana, I was a little confused as how one could blame one “commanding officer” for the actions of other grown adult men. Having never been in the military or similar “rank and file” organizations, I never knew the “power” these superior officers seem to wield.
Personally, in my career (and I disliked pretty much ALL my superiors), I would never follow bad advice from a supervisor, even if that meant me getting in trouble. While Hoboken’s recent embarrassing events can’t be compared to a battalion leader orchestrating a military attack during wartime, I guess “Mother Hen” behavior still applies even when off duty?
Richard Rivera, Spokesperson for the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NJ), had this to say:
“The history and nature of a police subculture is long and confusing.
In short, the answer is yes to whether the troops will follow the leader in jumping off the bridge. Rarely do subordinates challenge the authority of a superior officer. You have to remember, policing is a paramilitary structure where people are not “individuals” who act out of selfishness. There is a strict chain of command that must be followed. If an officer deviates not only from this chain, but from the norms and values of the group, there are serious consequences.
Such is the case in Hoboken PD right now. The five officers, who happen to be litigants are standing up against the wrongful conduct of others, including high ranking superiors. It takes a lot of courage to do so and every day citizens cannot comprehend why it’s so difficult to take such a stance. But that answer is quite simple if everyone who questions the veracity of these officers’ motives just simply stares into a mirror. Daily, our morals and integrity are challenged, and I would guess that after looking in the mirror a great many people would honestly say they did not always make the right decision. Somewhere, at some point they sold themselves short because it was expedient or convenient. For had they chosen to take the high road, they would have surely suffered the consequences.
The five police officers in Hoboken chose to take the high road. A suit was filed out of desperation and the officers’ lives are forever changed. Nobody in the police department trusts them or wants to work with them. Retaliation is inevitable and termination is a possibility. They will be blacklisted from law enforcement entirely and no amount of money can repay them for the sacrifices they are making.
Instead of people contemplating that these officers are looking to cash in, they should wonder why these highly regarded public servants cashed out when they would have benefited more by remaining silent-just going with the flow.”