Police officers were seen as friends and not agents of the state.
Deist presents 4 key traits that distinguish Mayberry Sheriff, Andy Taylor, from modern-day police officers:
One, he’s part of the community. He does not see himself nor do others see him as apart or separate from the residents in Mayberry. He does not exhibit an us versus them mentality that seems so prevalent in police departments today. Does not see himself first and foremost as a government employee or a union member. He does not resent the people he protects, but instead considers himself a fellow citizen. In other words, Andy Taylor is a true civilian police officer.
Second he truly seeks to maintain peace within Mayberry, and sees his job as keeping the town safe, happy, quiet, peaceful. He’s a peacekeeper, not an enforcer. In fact, he seldom uses force. Doesn’t want a crime wave to hit Mayberry to justify an increase in his salary or budget or staff. On the contrary, he would view an increase in local crime as a personal failure. He’s apt to downplay rather than exaggerate the importance of his job. His focus is on creating an environment that discourages crime in the first place.
Third, in every instance Sheriff Taylor tries to smooth over and defuse problems rather than escalate them. Invariably he looks for common sense, polite answers to conflicts rather than using his legal authority to threaten or arrest. He rarely concerns himself with technical application of the law, but rather uses his judgment to solve problems to make them go away with least fuss possible. He never makes a bad situation worse.
Then Jeff gives this example:
It is amazing that Americans could identify with this show. Jeff offers a couple of examples of Andy Taylor’s good judgment. Otis, the town drunk, is one example.