I respect the idea that MP's are Military and Police, not Police Military, our bearing and discipline comes from our military heritage, so it seems logical that this debate continues on. The first thing that needs to be said is, unless you are a MP/31B who has worked the road, your opinion is not compelling...sorry to be rude, but you have no experience with what MP's must deal with and the dual role we play. To the other MP's I say simply this, if you don't think you are a Police Officer when working the road, you need to get your mind right. You are not a soldier performing law enforcemenr duties...you are the police, having a badge is of no consequence. MP's have the authority of the base commander, through applicable law and regulations. Guess what guys, the commander didn't give you the authority to apprehend, the UCMJ and MCM did! Understanding this is very important, because a if you think you are merely a soldier doing a job, with no real authority, then the public is in danger, your fellow officers are in danger, and you are too! A central tenat to this principle of understanding is, that all individuals under you are charged with policing are equally capable of doing harm and killing you! Officers are no exception, if you remember, Hasan was a field grade officer! If an officer starts to make exceptions in how he comes across and deals with individuals than his objectivity becomes jaded and his ability to stay professional is hindered. I have two classes of people, subjects, and everyone else. I treat pFC's the same as civilians the same as i treat officers the same as NCO's. The only differance is the way I adress them. As MPI, I called everyone sir or maam. Weapon retention is the often cited reason to no render salutes and stand at parade rest, it is a valid concern, weapon retention and officer safety should be exercised in all situations. The day you slip up and get laxidasial is the day you need to stop working the road, cuz you will get your self hurt or killed. Some suggest that the regs say MP's salute and since it happens six feet out a MP can quickly whip it up then chop it down. Well the regs also state that the enlisted initiate and don't drop until after the officer drops theirs...so lets be honest with ourselves both ideas are against regs, but only one recognizes officer safety. When dealing with to parade rest or not, the answer is NO! MP's are taught in Basic the ready position when talking to the public, one hand in a light loose fist that is covered by the other, arms slightly bent and to the front, one foot out in front of the other for a strong yet non aggressive posture. Standing with a narrow base with your hands behind your back, weapon exsposed, is bad policy, you can't scan your flanks and all your attention is to the front of you. The good csm not withstanding, you don't know who else might seize the opportunity to assault and disarm you. It also sets up a bad precedence. If you stand at parade rest in public view of other NCO's, they might wonder why you arent standing at it before them. I challenge you to find the regulation that mandates parade rest for superior NCO's...there isn't one, it merely says it is done because it is the right thing to do...well not when on the road as a cop! The situation can mostly be avoided anyway. Why are NCO's in your crime scene or cordon anyway? If a csm wants to get on my scene, then I have to nut up and tell that csm to please move back and that this area is blocked off. At this point you are moving to enforce the boundaries of the cordone. If the csm wants to chat a little, you chat with him, do a canvass interview to see what he knows and saw. In the end, if a NCO wants to confront and discipline a MP on the road, then that NCO needs to know that they are obstructing justie and acting disorderly! If you wouldn't allow a PVT to interfere in your investigation, why would you allow a NCO too!
Back to saluting at traffic stops...I am bladed when i approach a vehicle, and my hand is by my weapon. It then is grasping their information, on second approach, I either have my ticket book in hand or their information. When concluding the stop, I hand their information back, then walk backwards keeping my eye on them, then turn around and return to my vehicle...at what point did I have the opportunity to salute? Even if my hands were empty and I wasn't bladed, when do you salute an officer who is faced in the same direction you are...exactly.
Dispite contentions to the contrary, there is a sound military reason soldiers stand at attention and salute officers, as there are for parade rest for NCO's. Its a non verbal way of establishing who the superior is and who the subordinate is. It reinforces the chain of command and ultimatly reminds the lower ranking who is in charge. If you stand before someone, then by regulation they are in charge of that formation. By regulation only the one in charge of the formation can dismiss it, if your at parade rest, you must first come to attention to be dismissed. Not only is this dangerous, but it disallows the MP from doing his job as he is stuck until the NCO/O releases him. The only person who controls my MP's on the road, is the patrol supervisor, and the MPDO/LEDO...so which regulation do we choose to ignore? Again the MP is caught between the dual worlds he must occupy. I train my soldiers that they are in charge of whatever scene they are on, I train them to be assertive and do their job, I train them to be professional, not military professional, but police professional. If I could I would replace rank on the road MP with a us patch like CID!
In summation, officer safety, weapons retention, situational awareness, duty performance, bad presedence, command and control of assets and manpower, are all reasons why parade rest for sure, and saluting for the most part need to be curtailed and abandoned while working the road. If not then what you have is a cadre of glorified security guards, who arent being treated as police officers, and so strangely enough they dont act like police officers. Ive worked in places like that, and casework suffers, evidence is suspect, charges get dropped or fail to prosecute and over all crime prevention and public safety suffers. Treat the MP as a police officer, and he will act like one...he is not a PFC or SPC, he is a police officer, his rank is imaterial to the duties he is sworn and trained to perform. Come on guys, the highest ranking officer on post has delegated his authority to the MP. It is a no no to say, but it is absolutly true, do not confuse my rank with my authority. If it sounds like I think road MP's are special, and that we are cocky and arrogant, you might be right...MPs police the nations warriors and bad asses! The weak can't control a combat veteran, trained to fight, and in shape, and bring them into compliance. So leave us alone and let us do our jobs, if we offend you because we dint salute or stand still for you, don't be, we mean no disrespect! If you really feel that a MP needs to salute you and give you respect...or you feel the need to asert your authority over us...come to the station after shift and we will salute and stand at attention or p rest...but when we are working, lives are on the line stow your ego and let us be hero's and save the day