We are acutely aware of stories of rogue police officers dishonoring their badges by inflicting excessive force or brutality while being judge and jury with misguided power and uncontrollable anger.

We are acutely aware of stories of rogue police officers dishonoring their badges by inflicting excessive force or brutality while being judge and jury with misguided power and uncontrollable anger.

Conversely, are you familiar with the term “Contempt of Cop?” It applies to citizens who are disrespectful to police by using profanity or gestures to vent their anger.

Contempt of cop violators are protected by the First Amendment. While it is uncouth and disrespectful it is not a crime, so says the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Pennsylvania State Police found that constitutional fact when it recently settled a case after erroneously giving out citations to profanity swearing citizens.

The state police immediately amended their academy training procedures, as have other police academies.

Officer Tom Gentry, the public information officer for the Independence Police Department, acknowledges, “It is true that one cannot disturb the peace of a police officer with ‘mere words’. That is an issue that has been settled in federal court for quite some time. Every police officer nationwide that has attended a police academy is taught that in their curriculum. If, however, a person’s behavior interferes with an officer’s ability to conduct official police business, such as an investigation or directing traffic, they may be cited for interfering.”

Mike Hendershot, the director of Public Safety Institute at Metropolitan Community College, who trains police recruits for various Missouri police departments, tells me, “We teach: First professionalism and respect for all the citizens of our communities, regardless of their response to the officer. First Amendment covers free speech, as we have recently seen by the U.S. Supreme Court with reference to our friends in Kansas and our military funerals. We train our recruits that they should expect voices of contempt but not to make it personal – to always maintain a professional demeanor that represents the oath of office that they took and the greater community that they serve. In general, and most often, the officer will be treated as they treat the community, with respect.”

Like most officers, Detective Jeremy Dickstein, the PIO for Blue Springs, has learned from experience.

“You learn that they are swearing at the uniform and not at you personally. You learn to tolerate profanity unless it is in a threatening manner. I never met anyone who had a hatred for the police,” he said.

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.