By definition, criminals operate “out from under authority.” And they’re constantly trying to get the police to step out there with them. They will push every button you’ve got until they get you to react to them out of your own pride and ego. And once you step out into their territory, they’ve got you right where they want you.

It’s the classic challenge to a police officer’s authority. You’ve all heard it. It goes something like this: “You wouldn’t be so tough if you took that badge off!” Regretfully, some officers will figuratively take their badge off and answer the challenge. A few of them will literally take their badge off and engage the criminal at their level.

To resist this challenge, remember what you represent: the law, the Constitution, the agency, your Chief or Sheriff, the standards of the police profession. Ultimately, you represent the people. The one thing you don’t represent is yourself. And the minute you think that you are out there to represent your goals, your agenda, and your ego, is the minute you set yourself up for a major ethical failure. This is the fundamental teaching of the Dynamic of Authority, the cornerstone of the Police Dynamics program. Watch this video on the Independent Spirit for more information.

Operating under authority is essential to building trust and accomplishing the police mission. It means: if the criminal is pushing your buttons, make sure you don’t have any buttons without “button covers…!”

About the Author

13 Responses to The Classic Challenge to a Police Officer

  1. Mike Vetrano says:

    Hey Ray,

    I found you in a group were connected in on LinkedIn. I love your stuff. You have had a very distinguished and impressive career. I am retired for Everett, MA PD just outside of Boston. I did 12 years retired as a Sergeant and am now living in San Diego looking to get on the job over here.

    I writing to tell you I am forwarding your blog to a Captain in Everett who is a friend so he can share with the agency. Its about a 100 officer dept.

    Great stuff.

    Stay Safe!

    Michael Vetrano

  2. Thanks, Mike. If anyone else wants to link in on LinkedIn, go to my profile at:

    Sheriff Ray

  3. AmandaMoore says:

    That was very well thought out and on target. The badge represents the authority of an officer to protect and defend the Constitution which ultimately represents the people. It seems that too often, as seen on youtubes and read about in blogs, peace officers are not only stepping outside the authority but have completely missed the whole purpose of the badge and the job. I know a lot of really good police officers but have had an occasion or two, to hear from dear friends, stories of abuse. I think that when these young officers are trained, they should be reminded that they are there to protect the citizens and they should be tested on their understanding of the document that they are swaring an oath to protect and defend. The Constitution is not CASE LAW, it is a rule book to be followed at all cost, even before an order.

  4. Fred Leland says:

    This was agreat post Ray. Thanks for putting that message out, loud and clear! Developing trust is keya nd its done through strength of character!


  5. Fred Leland says:

    “If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.” ~General George Washington

  6. Fred Leland says:

    Ray this video inspired this from me which i have posted on my site with a link to this video challenging cops to create and nurture their character. Please keep up the great work.


  7. Tamara says:

    Well you nailed it. All I can say is Great and I think all officer’s should hear this and it be a part of their training. Just one question, why do you sound so “country” now? lol
    Anyway, you know I get it and this is a great forum for you to share and train. It is your calling. Glad to have found it.

    Take care and keep on training.

  8. John Demand says:

    Ray, What an important message you have delivered. As Fred Leland points out, the 10% of mindset truly understand the significance of wearing the badge. What worries me as a trainer, are those who look at law enforcement as only a paycheck and are not out there trying to improve themselves. I am talking about those who think that qualifying with a firearm once a year is enough or keeping physically fit is too difficult. As you so aptly point out, those who wear the badge represent government. That makes every police officer a walking target or sitting duck for those who want to strike out against the government.

    Today, every officer must realize that he or she must be constantly vigilant and aware. They must be training and improving their skill sets if they are to survive and be victorious in the fight against terrorism and increased violence. We have all seen the training camps of terrorists and militia organizations. Any officer that thinks the police academy was the last time he or she needed to train needs to wake up.

    It is incumbent upon all of us to constantly remind every law enforcement officer, not only the significance of the badge they wear, but the risks they take and their vow to uphold the law. Law enforcement is the front line of defense in every community in our country and every officer must realize that he or she is being counted on to deliver that service. May God Bless all of them that serve this great nation.

  9. […] is a great video over at Police Dynamics, posted by Ray Nash, entitled The Classic Challenge to a Police Officer. It sets out the challenge for us cops to stand behind the honor and integrity of the all important […]

  10. […] Comments A subscriber to Police Dynamics recently asked for permission to use the Classic Challenge to a Law Officer training video during a law enforcement ethics class that he is teaching. Just so that all of our […]

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Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

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"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
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