Thursday, July 21, 2016

The greatest tragedy of recent attacks on police . . .

. . . is that not only 'bad cops', but also the law enforcement 'system' in the USA, have helped to produce the attitudes towards law enforcement that have been amplified and exploited by extremist groups to justify these attacks.

I have the highest regard for honest law enforcement.  I've worked for years within the criminal justice system.  I have friends in law enforcement whom I trust absolutely.  Nevertheless, to deny that there is a widespread problem in the law enforcement field would be to hide from the truth.  We've discussed it many times in these pages.  Here are just a few articles selected from my blog's archives, sorted chronologically from oldest to newest, discussing various aspects of it:

I submit the real problem is twofold.  First, law enforcement in general has been co-opted by the 'establishment' to be more than just law enforcement.  It's now a revenue-generating arm of government.  By that I mean enforcing measures that are designed to raise revenues under threat of law enforcement action if they're not paid.  They're not malum in se (i.e. wrong in and of themselves), but malum prohibitum (wrong because someone has arbitrarily decided or decreed that they're wrong).  The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and the wider area of St. Louis County, is a classic example of the latter - and Ferguson's far from the only place where such abuses occurred.

Second, in far too many areas and agencies, law enforcement has been militarized.  Mark Steyn has observed:

So, when the police are dressed like combat troops, it's not a fashion faux pas, it's a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are. Forget the armored vehicles with the gun turrets, forget the faceless, helmeted, anonymous Robocops, and just listen to how these "policemen" talk. Look at the video as they're arresting the New York Times and Huffington Post reporters. Watch the St Louis County deputy ordering everyone to leave, and then adding: "This is not up for discussion."

Really? You're a constable. You may be carrying on like the military commander of an occupying army faced with a rabble of revolting natives, but in the end you're a constable. And the fact that you and your colleagues in that McDonald's are comfortable speaking to your fellow citizens like this is part of the problem. The most important of the "nine principles of good policing" (formulated by the first two commissioners of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and thereafter issued to every officer joining the force) is a very simple one: The police are the public and the public are the police. Not in Ferguson. Long before the teargassing begins and the bullets start flying, the way these guys talk is the first indication of how the remorseless militarization has corroded the soul of American policing.

There's more at the link.

Claire Wolfe, no friend of either the establishment or self-proclaimed 'progressives', had this to say earlier this week as the Republican Party convention began.

Today a convention begins in chaos, amid cries of law and order, that classic killer of freedom. Today, the media mourns three blue lives, as if the murder of armed agents of the state is worse than decades of police murders of the less politically protected.

Decades of unaccountable beatings and killings.

Decades of testilying us into prison.

Decades of stealing our possessions.

Decades of corruption.

Decades of militarization.

Decades of intimidation, thuggery, and abuse.

Decades of videos contradicting “official” stories.

Decades of creatures of government getting away with it, just because they are creatures of government.


Today the news is full of noise about the need to crack down, federalize crimes against cops, impose harsh minimum sentences, build walls against scary people, punish the innocent for the deeds of the guilty, curtail freedom, surveil everybody.

Today the media has all that it wishes to change the world: terrorism, attacks on state agents, and political rah-rah. Grand excuses for killing liberty.

Today the pundits predict that the fall of cops, if not checked with pacifying words and unyielding punishments, signals the fall of civilization. They don’t notice or care that the long rampage of the State vs the People was, and remains, the real engine of destruction.

Again, more at the link.  It makes uncomfortable, thought-provoking reading.

I think there really is a problem with law enforcement in the United States.  It's not the fault of the good officers and/or agencies;  they're doing their best under very difficult circumstances.  It's the fault of the demands placed on police agencies and the law enforcement 'system' in general.  That 'system' has all too often been warped into a tool of the establishment (whether local, regional or national) rather than doing what it's supposed to do - enforce the laws in a neutral, non-partisan manner.  Furthermore, law enforcement powers have been arrogated by and to agencies that neither need nor deserve them.  Witness the fact that there are now more armed Federal law enforcement officers than there are US Marines.  That fact alone stinks to high heaven.  There is no possible need or justification for most of them . . . but there they are, paid for by our tax dollars.  What's more, thousands of them belong to agencies already notorious for being partisan and politically biased in their operations, such as the ATF and the IRS.  The distrust with which most of us view their agencies is thus automatically transferred to the law enforcement officers of those agencies.

These problems work their way down to the 'cop on the beat'.  Corruption in one area soon crosses boundaries to other areas.  One bad apple begets a bunch of them.  That's why some individual officers seem to think they can (sometimes literally) get away with murder.  That's why entire precincts can actively engage in illegal, unconstitutional activity in the name of 'law enforcement'.

That's why it's no good to simply fulminate against 'cop-haters', as in this recent sign in Indiana.

We must address the attacks on police in the USA.  We must find and convict those responsible, and do all we can to prevent more attacks.  But, at the same time, we must address the problems I've discussed above.  We must restore our law enforcement agencies and officers to what they're supposed to be;  representatives of the community, operating in support of and to protect that community, not militarized jackbooted thugs.

How do we do that?  I honestly don't know.  We've gone so far down the road of police militarization and social radicalization that I can't see where to begin, except on every street where a policeman patrols.  It's up to our officers and agencies to win back the public support they've lost.  It's all very well to say that we have to give them the respect that is their due.  For someone like me (and, I'm sure, for most of my readers) that goes without saying.  However, for those suffering under abuses such as those described above, it does not go without saying.  They have an institutionalized and entirely justified fear and distrust of police.  How can we overcome that?  Your guess is as good as mine.


15 comments: said...

You're right Peter. But you certainly aren't going to win this year's popularity contest! And no bad thing that.

August said...

Somebody needs to get a message to law enforcement that the military gear isn't going to protect them. If anything it makes them more of a target- they are also being targeted by the federal government, in anticipation of using them for more violations of our liberties.
What kept the American police officer alive and healthy was an armed populace. If your community knows you are a good officer, they'll have your back. If they know you are a bad cop, or are too angry to stop and think about it- well, even APVs are a target. They are a hard target, but if you are sitting in a sea of angry people, eventually they'll stop it and burn you out.

I am afraid the current impulses coming from the right and left will lead to something like Gaza. If politicians gave it any thought, they'd actually be kind of jealous at the high degree of control the Israeli politicians have over their voters by having a captive boogeyman population around. Unfortunately, there also corporations already selling these sorts of solutions, and government programs- like H.U.D. or section 8 housing have already created these large impoverished areas. It won't be one wall that the Mexicans pay for, but many paid by us.
It is really important the police realize they should have their back up coming from their own communities, and not from these governments that routinely pass illegal laws. Indeed, if they were really protecting and serving, they'd be arresting the crooks who try to steal from us via the state.

mark leigh said...

So long as the police are used as enforcers they are going to be hated by those they use force against. Instead of being the face of propriety and justice they have become the very symbol of enforcing injustice. This situation will continue so long as "laws" granting special privileges or prohibiting consensual behavior continue to poison the civility of our society.

dave said...

I maintain that the estimates of what percentage of cops are "good" cops are substantially overstated. Not actively committing offenses against the citizens and the Constitution isn't enough to be "good;" I'd lay odds that there are a lot of LEOs--very possibly a majority of them--who may not break the rules themselves, but know somebody who does, and say nothing.

Silence is acceptance; silence is tacit approval. When they start coming forward and saying "my fellow officer did x, and that's wrong," then I'll count them as "good cops."

Rolf said...

What is interesting is reading Lind's "Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook," and realizing that our police are heading down the same heavy-handed path (if in doubt, escalate!) our military look that lost Iraq. The guys at the top are either dumb, evil, incapable of learning, or something, because it isn't like the signs of things being "not quite right" are everywhere.

sdharms said...

How do you do this? Same way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time:
1. dis-arm all federal agencies except the legitimate law enforcement, FBI, CIA, DEA, Secret Service and US Marshalls Service
2. repeal MOST federal crimes. Let Crime be handled by the states.
3. do not allow Congress or Agencies to CRIMINALIZE what should be a civil matter -- such as violation of EPA regs, etc.
4. DO AWAY WITH DEBTORS PRISON!!! you think we don't have it? Boy are you disconnected from what is going on.
5. Develop a plan for REDEMPTION for criminals. Some can be redeemed and want to be. But our system keeps for grinding their entire lives -- cant get a job, cant get certain occupational licenses, in other words CANT be forgiven by the state.

How to do it? Just start.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

I'd be happy if they stripped FBI agents of the power to arrest, a power they never should have been given, and repealed the legislation making it illegal to lie to an armed agent of the state! It's a fricking felony! No swearing of oaths required! They ask you a question, you lie, you go to prison. It's insanity.

Glen Filthie said...

Jesus, Pete. Maybe you should wipe after a post like that. You should know better, given your background. You've put the cops in an impossible situation. The Black Lice Matters crowd are pushing to fry cops for just doing their jobs. They're shooting and killing cops that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Liberals are making excuses for it.

You put them in a squad car 8 hours a day dealing with human sewage, and when they DO catch murderers, rapists, and thieves, you do your utter best to put those criminals back on the street. The perp gets every benefit of the doubt, the cop gets none, and at some point he is either going to quit or check out rather than put up with your crap. A couple decades like that, and it is no wonder Officer Friendly has morphed into Robocop.

Good grief, you don't have to worry about the bad cops, you need to seriously look out for your GOOD ones. They aren't going to put up with this chit much longer and when they pack it in - you'll be working with the Law Of The Jungle. It will serve us right too.

Peter (not our gracious Host) said...

Thank you.

I've read your recent posts concerning BLM and the Left with no small trepidation in the way that you seemed to gloss over "Law Enforcement's" contribution to the problem.

The issue isn't merely the efforts of Cultural Marxism's efforts to destroy our society; the effects of TPTB also need to be factored in, addressed, and fixed.

JK Brown said...

It is rather interesting that they don't seem to want the idea of 'Broken Windows' policing applied to the administration of police. Suddenly, not taking action against petty offenses against the rules doesn't lead to more serious violations and even criminal behavior.

August said...

Police actually kill more whites, but we tend to read autopsy reports and assume things like 'suicide by cop' are real. But I often wonder if we aren't painting ourselves into a corner with an over developed sense of honor. It's too late to mount a defense when you are surrounded, and they are letting you bleed out in the snow.

Judy said...

The sad truth is this problem of LE running rough-shod over people is not new. We just have the cameras and the ability to post it on the internet for everyone to see. It's in our face now.

The problem has always been what I call, The Little Man Syndrome. Someone who needs a uniform, a badge and a gun to make-up for whatever perceived inadequacies they think they have. Basically a bully! As Dave pointed out, silence is approval by default. Until there is a major change in the culture of LE the problem will continue to be there.

Dan said...

There are no good cops. Only the bad cops who abuse their position, violate the rights of citizens and commit crimes and the bad cops who observe this activity and do nothing.

When you hire sociopathic bully's, tell them every day from the academy to retirement to
"Go home at the end of your shift no matter what you have to do" and give them essentially total immunity for any act they commit the outcome is predictable.

And then stupid people wonder why people are starting to shoot back.

When a justice system turns into a Just Us system the historical response is a society
that resorts to vigilantism. The ride is just getting started. Buckle up because it's going to be a rough one. Especially for the anointed ones with shiny badges and special privileges.

Anonymous said...

Amendment 10 to the U.S Constitution: Any powers not specifically granted...... Would someone please show me the words "police powers" in the Constitution. The nearest thing I can find there is that the Congress is supposed to write laws for calling forth the States Militias for law enforcement. Maybe if the citizens of the Militias were enforcing Federal laws, we wouldn't have these problems (from the Fed's at least).

RBM said...

Eric Garner was killed because of stupid revenue generation laws passed by dumb politicians. Police are allowed/required to use whatever level of violence necessary to enforce a law.

BTW, In the Eric Gardner case, you can buy a "loosey" in any Bodega in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens. Jeez, they hang lighters on strings by the door.