This now famous motto came into the public consciousness as part of a contest run by the Los Angeles Police Department’s internal magazine, BEAT, in 1955. Officer Joseph Dorobek submitted the winning entry with “to protect and to serve.” Nearly 60 years later, it continues to be seen on the side of the department’s patrol cars and serves to “embody the spirit, dedication, and professionalism” of the LAPD’s officers (via joinlapd.com).
With so much animus and distrust of law enforcement in some circles right now, it can be easy to forget their vital role of keeping peace and enforcing the law. Without them, anarchy and violence would reign, with no one to restrain the lawless from violating and harming those incapable of defending themselves. While there are unethical, lawless individuals in every profession, many who hear reports against law enforcement never stop to ask whether there is ever bias on the part of the reporters. Perhaps it is a bias against law, authority, or the perceived power delegated to those wielding a badge. It is good to remember that God has appointed the governing authorities of each locale (cf. Rom. 13:1ff).
God does not have an official position in His Kingdom for watchdogs or police officers to police the actions of others. He made us creatures of choice and He allows us to choose good or evil. While occasionally there are preachers and other members who are self-appointed to such a position, the concept is foreign to Scripture. However, He did organize the church with elders who protect (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2) and deacons who serve (1 Tim. 3:10,13). In fact, all members are to be servants of Christ (Gal. 5:13). Preachers are to preach the word, and when they declare the whole counsel in love (Acts 20:27; Eph. 4:15), they will sometimes convict the hearts of the hearers. Particularly elders, who are commissioned to protect and serve the flock, deserve our respect and esteem (1 Th. 5:12-13). Especially is that vital in an age that disdains authority.
It was an honor for me to serve as a reserve police officer in Livingston, Alabama, for a couple of years in the early 1990s. I was able to see the dedication and sense of honor held by these extraordinary men and women. Let us honor those public servants of God (Rom. 13:6) and those spiritual servants of God (1 Th. 5:13)!