“Professional courtesy” has been called the “third rail” of topics in law enforcement circles, says the Baltimore Sun. Many police officers don’t like to acknowledge it exists outside the family. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in the world: the ethic that “cops don’t write tickets on other cops.” Or retired cops. Or cops’ family members. Or military. Or people with a sticker on their cars indicating they’ve donated to a police charity. Or anybody any individual police officer decides is part of a protected class.
To get an idea of how far professional courtesy has gone, Google “professional courtesy police” and you’ll find a wealth of reading matter about when — if ever — law enforcement officers should apply the same traffic penalties to colleagues as they do to civilians. Professional courtesy is a lively topic of discussion on police forums such as PoliceOne.com, where officers heatedly debate such topics as whether police who drive drunk should receive the same courtesy as other offenders. Frank Borelli, editor in chief of Officer.com and a former instructor, says, “When I was working the street there were certain groups of people I extended a level of leniency to because I felt either I or society as a whole owed them that as a sign of appreciation. Those groups, for me, included cops, firemen, doctors, nurses and military service members. Those folks would only get a citation from me if either 1) what they did was way out of hand, or 2) they just couldn’t find it within themselves to show me common courtesy when I pulled them over.”