Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Justice Carlson addresses law enforcement training graduates

May 29, 2002

Supreme Court Justice George C. Carlson Jr. on Tuesday, May 28, in Grenada, told graduating law enforcement officers to wear the uniform proudly, be fair, and never be afraid to admit making a mistake.

Justice Carlson spoke at Grenada City Hall to a class of 28 part-time and reserve officers who graduated from the Grenada County Reserve Officer's Training Course. The graduates included officers of sheriff departments in Carroll, Clay, Grenada, Leflore, Montgomery, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties; and officers of police departments in Coffeeville, Crenshaw, Greenwood, Grenada, Oxford and Vardaman.

Justice Carlson, a former circuit court judge from Batesville, said, "I have always had the utmost respect for law enforcement officials, but especially my 19 years on the circuit court bench caused me to admire and respect the awesome duties and responsibilities shouldered by law enforcement officers."

Criticism comes with the job. "I implore you to never become discouraged, and always wear your badge and your uniform proudly," Justice Carlson said.

Justice Carlson said most of the officers will at some point be called as witnesses in criminal prosecutions. He gave them a bit of advice about candor, including admitting mistakes.

"Let's face it, we are all human, and we all make human mistakes. And if you make a mistake in the performance of your duties, and are taken to task for it on the witness stand, don't hesitate to admit the mistake," Justice Carlson said. "The worst possible scenario would be for you to somehow downplay or even deny a mistake or deny a fact you know to be true, just to avoid having to admit a mistake."

Justice Carlson emphasized fairness and civility. While there is a time to be tough and stand one's ground, he said, Andy Griffith's character Sheriff Andy Taylor "got to the bottom of things and solved cases by being polite and courteous and low-key."

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks increased the nation's respect for the law enforcement profession, Justice Carlson said. But, he said, "It is one thing to do your job well when everyone is watching you, but it is altogether different and commendable when you do your job well, even when no one is looking or paying any attention to you."