Power and Authority

Ozell Sutton

CRS Mediator, Atlanta Office

[Full Interview]

I convinced the city that, "You may have some powers, but when you have a segment of your city who perceive you as something less than fair and honest, you've got a problem. You may be able to enforce your will for a time, but," and I use this point often, "power is like a can of coffee; every time you dip into it, you've got less. Every time I take a sip out of that cup, I've got less, right? Every time you have to use power to enforce, you've got less power left. If you keep dipping into it, it becomes powerless. When it comes to people you're enforcing against, you have to understand," and I say this quite frequently, "that in a democracy, you manage people with their own will. Without that will, you cannot. 10,000 police could not enforce the law in this city unless the will of the people is that they do so. You can have all of the guns that you want, but you can't shoot a million folk. If a million folks rebel, even if 10,000 of those folk rebel, you are in big, big trouble. So you manage and you rule by that concept," and I keep emphasizing that all of the time. I use this with police officers.