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The Military and Miranda – Sorting Fact from Fiction About Military Police

Active Military
Active Military
January 1, 2024
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In the vast landscape of military lore, few entities elicit as much curiosity and skepticism as the military police. The finest the Provost Marshalls’ Office can offer still makes most other service members roll their eyes and groan, because we often seem to be inconvenienced by them. (Sometimes deserved, sometimes not.) Maximillian Uriarte, the mind behind the comic strip Terminal Lance, even once wrote a strip dedicated to the way MP’s get their start. Stories, rumors, and outright legends circulate, painting a colorful picture of these enforcers of discipline and order. While this is all good fun, do remember that the E-3 at the gate checking ID’s is being treated like a boot just as you were, even if you’re not there to see it, so cut the kid some slack every so often.

Myth #1: Military Police are Superhuman Lie Detectors

Media portrayals of figures like Jack Reacher and Leroy Jethro Gibbs give the impression that MPs and investigators are trained like CIA operatives, able to force the truth from a suspect with a tense glare and nothing else. Occasionally, but not quite like that.

While military police receive training in investigative techniques, they are not bestowed with mystical lie-detecting powers. Their skills lie more in the realm of evidence gathering, legal procedures, and maintaining order rather than possessing an otherworldly ability to see through every fib. The reality comes more in the form of interview training, and as fictional Special Agent Michael Casper once put it, “in 13 years with the Bureau, I’ve discovered that there’s no amount of money, manpower, or knowledge that can equal the person you’re looking for being stupid.” The majority of criminals simply fail to follow the Golden
Rule of being arrested; Shut the Fuck Up.

Myth #2: Military Police Have a Secret Handbook of Creative Punishments

Whispers in the barracks suggest that military police officers carry a clandestine handbook filled with inventive and whimsical punishments, ranging from push-up contests to dance-offs. While I have heard (and seen) some examples which can make someone believe this, it’s not true.

As entertaining as it sounds, military police adhere to established regulations and guidelines when meeting out punishments. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) outlines the legal boundaries for disciplinary actions. This doesn’t mean an individual MP can’t be convinced to trade paperwork punishment over a minor and innocent infraction for some test of strength, dexterity, or willingness to embarrass oneself, just don’t count on it unless your silver tongue is up to the task.

Myth #3: Military Police Use Stealthy Ninja Tactics

Late-night tales often weave stories of military police officers silently gliding through the darkness, employing ninja-like stealth to catch unsuspecting rule-breakers. Not so much, said everyone who has met an MP ever.

In reality, military police, like any law enforcement professionals, prioritize safety and communication. They don't engage in covert ops with smoke bombs and grappling hooks. The Batman belt just doesn’t sound as quiet as you’d think when purchased with taxpayer dollars. Their approach is more likely to involve a firm knock on the door and a straightforward conversation, especially in the Marine Corps where we don’t have the budget to be chucking bangs for every idiot with his music too loud drinking without the appropriate placard.

Myth #4: Military Police Can Summon Thunderstorms on Command

Okay, this one might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that military police officers are sometimes portrayed as having almost supernatural powers. From being basically all special operations trained, to being capable of taking an action movie amount of physical punishment and still keep going, to being one dead family shy of being the Punisher, the media and even some within the military community have presented a view of MPs that is strikingly flattering, but wholly ridiculous.

Military police officers are trained professionals who undergo rigorous training in law enforcement and military procedures. They are not endowed with magical abilities or weather-controlling powers. Their expertise lies in maintaining discipline and enforcing the law, not altering the atmospheric conditions. They are cops just like the ones you run into out on town, just with the wider range of training opportunities, skill sets, and experiences provided by that Department of Defense budget and the increased left and right lateral limits of their authority. Serving and protecting in their own unique and challenging way, MPs are a valuable and necessary part of the military infrastructure.

But so we’re all on the same page… They’re still not Infantry.

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