Holding Criminals Accountable

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)

People do evil because they decide in their hearts to do evil. Our verse says so clearly. Criminals do evil things: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain:” (Romans 13:4, boldface added) The criminal justice system uses words like “felony,” “robbery,” and “burglary,” but the Word of God uses a much stronger word: EVIL.

According to God’s Word, part of the government’s charge is to deal with evildoers. The “minister of God to thee for good” mentioned in Romans 13:4 is the police. He or she is also the one who “…beareth not the sword in vain:” the one of whom evildoers should be afraid. Police have deadly weapons because criminals have them. Police need to be able to confront criminals on the same terms the criminals set.

Yet if the government will not do what God’s Word says it should do; if those who are supposed to deal with criminals don’t do their jobs, criminals will see that judgment is not executed speedily against them, if it is executed at all. As our verse indicates, then, criminals will do evil deeds against innocent citizens.

For many people, violent crime is not something that hits home. It may be little more than a news story. Yet for those in high-crime areas, especially those who know the terror of a robber’s gun pointed at them or their house being smashed into in the dead of night, violent crime and the fear of it are daily realities.

Not a few government bodies, however, in the name of police reform, have labored to limit the ability of police to take action. Such measures are presented as safeguards to prevent police misconduct, especially against people of color. No doubt such measures mean well. Police misconduct is certainly unacceptable.

Yet any police oversight measure must take into account four realities: 1) Some violent criminals are also people of color. 2) Crime victims of color are often victimized by criminals of color. Those two facts are easy to verify by a survey of crime reports detailing the respective races of victims and suspects. 3) Citizens in tough areas, including citizens of color, know criminals are no friends of theirs. They want the police to be proactive. That fact is also easy to verify by a survey of how many 9-1-1 calls are received when high-risk incidents occur.

Police should be accountable and non-discriminatory, no doubt. Body cams, complaint investigation and Internal Affairs units, citizens with cell cameras, and fellow officers all help keep officers honest. Police misconduct should also be dealt with appropriately. Yet a fourth reality is that a citizen in any area, especially a high-crime area, is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than police misconduct.

Officers must understand they are held to a high standard, but criminals also must understand there are speedy consequences for their deeds. Leaders should expect good order and discipline from their police, as well. Yet if leaders over-regulate officers and create a punitive environment that discourages proactive police work, they indirectly hand criminals a free invitation to menace decent people. By so doing, leaders not only do citizens a disservice, but they also commit sin against God. Our verse says so.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” God gave us the Bible to guide us in every area of life. Most importantly, the Bible tells us how to have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life by receiving Jesus, God the Son, as our personal Saviour. If you would like to know more, please go to www.clevelandbaptist.org, click “Helpful Links,” then “How Do I Go to Heaven?”

Brian Miller 3/2/2023

Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822