Quote of the day—Sir Robert Peel

Sir Robert Peel’s Principles of Law Enforcement 1829

  1. The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect.
  4. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.
  5. The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to achieve police objectives; and police should use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.
  8. The police should always direct their actions toward their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.
  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Sir Robert Peel

[H/T Windy Wilson.

Kevin Baker has been a big proponent of Peel as well.—Joe]


6 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Sir Robert Peel

  1. Point 9 meshes well with Neil Smith’s oft-stated view that it’s better to think in terms of “Keeping the peace” rather than “Law enforcement”.

  2. Very nice. I served the people as a federal LEO for 32 plus years. I pretty much served by those principles plus a few more. In all of my 32 years, the only official complaint ever lodged against me was for being insubordinate to a supervisor. The reason for that was that he was attempting to get me to violate those principles and our Constitution.

  3. I’m actually the one who made that PDF… I’m glad to see that it’s generating visibility for the Principles.

    I’d like to start a fund to present a bronze plaque with these nine principles to every Law Enforcement agency in America.

    I agree – I originally made it to present as a framed copy to our Sheriff after he won the election. Never actually managed to do that, it’s still sitting on the shelf right next to me.

    BTW, the link is broken by the included leading quote token.

    • Thanks for making the PDF.

      And also thanks for the heads up on the broken link. I think I have it fixed now.

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