Hippocratic oath for policing

Sgt. Jeremiah P. Johnson of the Darien Connecticut Police Department responded to a discussion about the policing industry having its own Hippocratic Oath.

Given the extent of misconduct now revealed in North America, this is worthy of wider attention.

The following is from A Hippocratic Oath for policing published by the National Police Foundation:

Below is what a law enforcement code of conduct modeled after medicine’s modern Hippocratic Oath might look like. Hippocrates once wrote, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” May the same also be said of our noble profession.

I solemnly swear that I will fulfill my duty according to the tenets of this oath:

I will honor the tradition and sacrifice of those officers who have preceded me, and will seek to pass on my knowledge and experience to those who follow my path.

I will faithfully serve and protect my community while recognizing that policing is strong medicine and must be delivered at the right dosage. I will apply my craft accordingly, avoiding the dual temptation to over-police or de-police neighborhoods and communities that need my help the most.

I will remember that policing is both an art and a science. I will seek to carry out my craft skillfully, judiciously, and with empathy. I will embrace what is known about policing and seek to advance the evidence base to answer that which is unknown.

I will remember that policing, especially its coercive elements, is not a panacea for social ills. I will not be ashamed to de-escalate, wait for backup, or request the assistance of professionals outside of my field that are better equipped to address the root of the problem.

I will respect the humanity of those whom I encounter, both victim and suspect alike. I will treat life as sacrosanct and will only use deadly physical force as a last resort. If I must employ deadly force, I will strive to preserve life once it has been applied.

I will remember that I do not police an act or behavior, but a flawed human being, whose conduct may jeopardize their own future and that of their family.

I will prevent crime whenever I can, for the absence of crime and disorder is preferable to the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

I will remember that my calling as a police officer is an honorable one, but should never set me apart from society or the community I serve. I have been granted authority and am enjoined by duty, yet I am a member of the public and share the same obligation to comply with the laws I am sworn to uphold.

If I do not violate this oath, I will one day retire from public service having earned the enduring respect of my colleagues and my community.

1 reply »

  1. geeze that is nice. Now if they could get each cop in each dept. to say that at least a couple of times a week, it might sink in. better yet, every time they start their squad cars a few lines of it go off. who knows if they hear it enough they may believe it. But once again, I ask, why do we hold them to a higher standard than ourselves. yes, they have more responsibility, but if we as individuals held ourselves to a standard as this is written, we might not have the problems we do in today’s society or yesterday’s society.

    We have gone through these protests over the decades, but in the end not much changes. I’ve been watching this since I was a kid and the Civil Rights movement.

    But the oath would be a good starting point for people to repeat, they could even try it in schools.


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