Good law enforcement is worth its weight in gold

It’s human nature to hold certain people, often because of the positions they hold, to higher standards than others. This can all depend on an individual’s personal perspective, but police are among those held to a higher standard. To a certain extent, on the individual level, this is reasonable. Law enforcement officers are entrusted with considerable responsibility – and power – and, to date, there have been mixed results in systems to mitigate for this power.

Still, lofty expectations might not be all that realistic. Police officers are people too. Why shouldn’t there, naturally, be a mix of good and less-than-stellar police officers at the same time there are good and bad teachers, good and bad ministers and good and bad… everything else.

Perhaps that’s why reading about Berthold Police Chief Al Schmidt in yesterday’s Minot Daily News should have been such a pleasure. Here we have an officer who has helped build that police department from the ground up, has established positive relationships in the community and now is acting as Carpio police chief as well. All evidence points to Chief Schmidt being exactly the kind of person, and the kind of professional, every community should want for its top cop.

Of course, we have some good law enforcement officers at all levels here too. We have good cops at the Ward County Sheriff’s Department and we have some notably good police at the Minot Police Department.

But over the past couple of years, questionable police behavior has been big news in North Dakota. From Ward County’s jail scandal and subsequent body count of at least one, to several other elected law enforcement officers in other counties being embroiled in even larger scandals, if you haven’t started to wonder about top cops as elected officials, then you haven’t been paying attention. From alleged drug kingpins to alleged thieves to minor scofflaws, there has simply been too many allegations, too many charges related to those who are charged with upholding the law.

Minot Daily News does not know if other states with many elected law enforcement leaders are having the same challenge, but there is something very peculiar happening in North Dakota – where alleged law officers seem to fall afoul of the law they swore to uphold, only to end up facing a “justice system” that works just a little bit more to their advantage than it ever would to a private citizen. This is, of course, outright public corruption, but it also appears to be a type of public corruption state authorities turn a blind eye to.

But bad cops can’t steal the thunder from good ones, and it is only a matter of time until the state stops abiding law enforcement criminality.

In the meantime, there are still the Chief Al Schmidts and countless other good law enforcement officers around the state and in our area fighting the good fight, protecting the public. They’re protecting us right now.

But doesn’t every taxpayer everywhere deserve that kind of law enforcement?