Here Is Why We Have Problems with Law Enforcement

 

shutterstock_56280433If you’re conservative (and you are, if you’re reading this), you’ve heard the general narrative on the decline of culture in urban centers from individuals like the Rev. C.L. Bryant. Of course, he speaks of the new slavery that is government dependence, but more importantly, in the context of law enforcement, he talks about the lack of respect in black inner-city neighborhoods. It is not just the lack of respect for authority in the form of police officers, but also a severe lack of self-respect.

Theoretically, this is something that could be fixed, with the encouragement of small business development, school choice, and intervention programs for at-risk youth — the current liberal-speak for young people that are very likely to end up in the juvenile detention systems and later in adult prisons. I know this is a severe oversimplification of a complex societal problem, but there are already volumes of information out there on these facets of the problems faced by law enforcement today.

It could be argued that because of the antipathy that is shown to police officers in general, particularly in urban centers, the officers themselves have become hardened. The days of the friendly “Andy Griffith from Mayberry” police are gone, or at least mostly so. At some point in the past couple of decades, it seems that police academies stopped teaching future officers to differentiate between law-abiding citizens and felons. Everyone is a potential felon and everyone is a potential threat, or so it seems. In the wake of the shooting in South Carolina, it’s even more difficult to muster sympathy for this mentality, in spite of the fact that from all appearances so far, the officer involved in that shooting probably wasn’t a sterling example of what law enforcement personnel should be. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to dig at least a little to determine how we’ve gotten to this point.

While it would give me a great deal of pleasure to blame a single case for the entire problem of law enforcement becoming at least a little dysfunctional, I can’t do that. However, I can suggest an example of the root of this problem. On Dec. 9, 1981, Daniel Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer, was shot dead by Mumia Abu-Jamal. The 1982 trial resulted in Abu-Jamal receiving the death penalty, but this was in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That means that after decades of appeals, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. During that time, there have been various liberal groups and activists that have claimed Abu-Jamal is really a freedom-fighter, and the end result is that a convicted cop-killer has been lionized to the point where schoolteachers have made their students write “get well” cards to him.

As I said, it would be nice to just blame this specific case, but I can’t. There are others across the country, where misguided youths and academicians have romanticized criminals beyond the point where Hollywood itself has taken gangsters and infamous criminals like Bonnie and Clyde. Yes, it could be argued that this is simply human nature, and that we are silly enough to be fascinated with the seedy side of life. However, there’s a huge difference between romanticizing crime on the silver screen, and teaching children that it’s a good thing to send greeting cards to convicted felons, while simultaneously implying that they were wrongfully imprisoned. It’s difficult enough to teach children how the judicial system works without muddying the water with lessons about (and from) cult-like followers of felons who are hellbent on turning those criminals into heroes.

Abu-Jamal executed a police officer at a traffic stop, and he is a hero. I’m not going to imply that the officer in South Carolina is anything but a villain, however I will say that the officer in Ferguson could definitely serve as the obverse on this particular coin. Combine this backward thinking on criminal justice with the hostile attitude toward police in many communities, and it’s understandable how officers could end up returning that general feeling to the people they are supposed to protect and serve. That isn’t right, but maybe it would be easier to change how police view the public if we at least try to put an end to the backward logic of turning criminals into heroes.

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  1. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I recently addressed this from a different angle. It didn’t generate much interest. The term “police state” derives from the fact that police are the business end of the government spear. As I see it, the attitude and actions of the police filter down from the ethos of government elites. The US has become a heavily coerced society. Stand out and you will be crushed. The police merely reflect the prevailing view of us as subjects of the sovereign state. The sad part is that few understand that this is exactly what they voted for: power-hungry statists whose notion of governance is – “Shut up and do as you are told.” In many instances that power is expressed in the form of police bullets. It is not really surprising.

    The other irony is the puerile fascination in our “entertainment” with glorification of anti-social and criminal activity. It seems our only outlet – lest we get shot – is vicarious, as in rooting for the bad guys on TV and movies. Watch an episode of “Shameless” to see what I mean. In a nation whose aim seems to be perpetuation of adolescence unto senescence, is this really surprising?

    • #1
  2. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    That is part of the solution. The criminal justice system in general is a problem. It’s become a machine that churns along, without humanity, grinding into pulp those caught in it.As Conrad Black points out here:

    Eight to 10 percent of federal and state cases are dismissed because of a technical error or because a defendant chooses to cooperate, but of the rest, 97 percent of federal cases and about 95 percent of state cases are resolved by plea bargains, and, in practice, these are almost invariably dictated by the prosecutor.

    It’s no wonder people don’t want to get tossed into this machine. They play a game where plea for X punishment is exponentially smaller than the Y punishment handed down by a jury trial (especially with sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums.)

    Then there’s also the cost. As demonstrated by what happened to Koch industries several years ago:

    A federal grand jury indicted his company on 97 felonies involving alleged environmental crimes at an oil refinery.

    Prosecutors dropped all but one of the charges six years later, after the company spent tens of millions of dollars defending itself.

    Ultimately, Koch Petroleum Group agreed to pay a $10 million settlement.

    “It was a really, really torturous experience,” said Mark Holden, Koch’s chief counsel. “We learned first-hand what happens when anyone gets into the criminal justice system.”

    Holden said Charles Koch wondered afterward “how the little guy who doesn’t have Koch’s resources deals with prosecutions like that.”

    The prosecutor has the power of the state and the budget of the state at his disposal. No individual stands a chance against such a thing apart from divine intervention. With even an inkling of what is waiting for one in the system it’s no wonder people have an antagonistic relationship with those who can toss them into it.

    • #2
  3. Liz Harrison Contributor
    Liz Harrison
    @LizHarrison

    civil westman:I recently addressed this from a different angle. It didn’t generate much interest. The term “police state” derives from the fact that police are the business end of the government spear. As I see it, the attitude and actions of the police filter down from the ethos of government elites. The US has become a heavily coerced society. Stand out and you will be crushed. The police merely reflect the prevailing view of us as subjects of the sovereign state. The sad part is that few understand that this is exactly what they voted for: power-hungry statists whose notion of governance is – “Shut up and do as you are told.” In many instances that power is expressed in the form of police bullets. It is not really surprising.

    The other irony is the puerile fascination in our “entertainment” with glorification of anti-social and criminal activity. It seems our only outlet is vicarious, as in rooting for the bad guys on TV and movies. Watch an episode of “Shameless” to see what I mean. In a nation whose aim seems to be perpetuation of adolescence unto senescence, is this really surprising?

    Perhaps some of it is from government elites, however the attitude on the ground toward police also does play a part. I say that because of the changes my own family members in police service have seen over the past couple decades. It has changed from “working with the community” to an “us v. them” battleground on the streets. If it really was entirely top down, how did Ferguson happen? The current elites are definitely opposed to lethal action against “people of color”, aren’t they?

    • #3
  4. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Liz Harrison:

    civil westman:I recently addressed this from a different angle. It didn’t generate much interest. The term “police state” derives from the fact that police are the business end of the government spear. As I see it, the attitude and actions of the police filter down from the ethos of government elites. The US has become a heavily coerced society. Stand out and you will be crushed. The police merely reflect the prevailing view of us as subjects of the sovereign state. The sad part is that few understand that this is exactly what they voted for: power-hungry statists whose notion of governance is – “Shut up and do as you are told.” In many instances that power is expressed in the form of police bullets. It is not really surprising.

    The other irony is the puerile fascination in our “entertainment” with glorification of anti-social and criminal activity. It seems our only outlet is vicarious, as in rooting for the bad guys on TV and movies. Watch an episode of “Shameless” to see what I mean. In a nation whose aim seems to be perpetuation of adolescence unto senescence, is this really surprising?

    Perhaps some of it is from government elites, however the attitude on the ground toward police also does play a part. I say that because of the changes my own family members in police service have seen over the past couple decades. It has changed from “working with the community” to an “us v. them” battleground on the streets. If it really was entirely top down, how did Ferguson happen? The current elites are definitely opposed to lethal action against “people of color”, aren’t they?

    If they think about it at all (which they don’t) they merely blame it on bad actors. As with all statist/progressive policies, they simply ignore unintended consequences of their own policies, which they are absolutely certain are correct. If only everyone did as they were told by their superiors.

    • #4
  5. Liz Harrison Contributor
    Liz Harrison
    @LizHarrison

    civil westman:

    Liz Harrison:

    civil westman:I recently addressed this from a different angle. It didn’t generate much interest. The term “police state” derives from the fact that police are the business end of the government spear. As I see it, the attitude and actions of the police filter down from the ethos of government elites. The US has become a heavily coerced society. Stand out and you will be crushed. The police merely reflect the prevailing view of us as subjects of the sovereign state. The sad part is that few understand that this is exactly what they voted for: power-hungry statists whose notion of governance is – “Shut up and do as you are told.” In many instances that power is expressed in the form of police bullets. It is not really surprising.

    The other irony is the puerile fascination in our “entertainment” with glorification of anti-social and criminal activity. It seems our only outlet is vicarious, as in rooting for the bad guys on TV and movies. Watch an episode of “Shameless” to see what I mean. In a nation whose aim seems to be perpetuation of adolescence unto senescence, is this really surprising?

    Perhaps some of it is from government elites, however the attitude on the ground toward police also does play a part. I say that because of the changes my own family members in police service have seen over the past couple decades. It has changed from “working with the community” to an “us v. them” battleground on the streets. If it really was entirely top down, how did Ferguson happen? The current elites are definitely opposed to lethal action against “people of color”, aren’t they?

    If they think about it at all (which they don’t) they merely blame it on bad actors. As with all statist/progressive policies, they simply ignore unintended consequences of their own policies, which they are absolutely certain are correct. If only everyone did as they were told by their superiors.

    Or they adopted the policies in direct response to an increasing rate of on the job injuries due to altercations with members of the public, and a rash of false emergency calls for fire and EMS that resulted in gun fire and other violent acts against emergency personnel.

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Liz—

    Good post, and a subject dear to my heart. I’ve been “in law enforcement” in various ways for –Holy Cow!—thirty years, first as a state trooper’s wife, then as a state trooper’s widow and then-to-now as a law enforcement chaplain.

    —I saw a real and generally positive change through the 1990s. Police departments that had heavily emphasized patrol response time (LAPD being the most obvious example) began to move toward community-based policing models. My late husband’s last assignment was as the first community policing officer in his Troop, so that was 1996. In 1998, I joined the board of the Maine Community Policing Institute, whose goal was to train all law enforcement officers in Maine in the theory and practice of CBP.

    —In 2001, the year I became the chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, our whole department was put through the training, and it was excellent. The guys loved it—well, they’d been doing it without calling it Community Policing for more than 100 years!.

    —In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, federal funding for Community Policing and similar programs began to dry up, and it was difficult to get start-up grants for anything that didn’t involve counter-terrorism. (In vain did the Maine Institute argue, correctly in my view, that Community Policing is counter-terrorism!). This inevitably meant that departments started training, acquiring equipment, and developing teams (e.g. SWAT) based on the threat of, say, Al Qaeda attacking the University of Maine at Fort Kent (seriously). Some of this turned out to be applicable to other problems, like barricaded (domestic violence, usually) gunman and drug interdiction. Still, even in Maine, where police remain pretty close to their communities, there was a shift in emphasis.

    Having said that, I think the time is ripe for a paradigm shift, given Ferguson etc. It is a crisis and therefore an opportunity (isn’t that a Chinese saying?)

    Advances in policing can’t make up for other problems—for example, family breakdown in inner city communities, welfare dependency, drug addiction—but we know from previous experience that it can do a lot. What do you think?

    • #6
  7. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    No matter how hard we try there will always be some us vs. them tribalism going on. When us included law abiding citizens and police the them of criminals stood less of a chance. Now it seems like the us is comprised of non-government citizens (both law abiding and criminal) and them is the government, including the police. This can’t end well.

    • #7
  8. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    There is a struggle between order and disorder, between the rule of law and anarchy, and the police are on the front lines. There is also government overreach and corrupt law, and the police are inevitably the enforcers.

    These two things are true simultaneously, and any attempt to address the issue successfully must address them both.

    • #8
  9. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Cops are stuck. Citizens are stuck. Society is stuck. And the reason is that government has SO metastasized into everything that no one actually knows anymore what is or isn’t the law. No one has any reason to expect common sense to prevail. No one sees any civic virtue at work. Only the mechanics.

    Everyone here has mentioned serious contributions to the issue. Yet in reality it is ALL OF THE ABOVE. ?Why should citizens “trust” cops when what cops do is abuse citizens with stupid or demoralizing laws they enforce. ?How else can one view the whole Eric Garner incident. ?Why should cops “help” citizens when citizens are angry about the laws that the cops are attempting to enforce.

    Only some wholesale erasure of laws will begin to right this ship. Take away the state’s awful power – to tax, to prosecute, to incarcerate, to financially ruin who it wishes.

    • #9
  10. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Liz,

    I think you’re over-generalizing. Most cops, the vast majority of them, have no trouble differentiating between the decent and the indecent (to borrow from Victor Frankl — see Dennis Prager’s piece here for an explanation), regardless of what part of town they’re working in. (See my piece at NRO from 2006 here.) But it can be exhausting to be burdened with every perceived grievance against the police, regardless of how unfounded they may be. Look at what happened to Darren Wilson in Ferguson. He did absolutely everything within the law and was ultimately vindicated, but he still went through hell and had to leave his job. There’s not a cop working today who doesn’t think about that every time he goes to work.

    • #10
  11. Sisyphus Inactive
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    The glamorization of criminals and crime has always been a personal peeve of mine, regardless of if it is gangsters on the street or corrupt public officials. The bank robbers of the early 20th Century treated as romantic heroes striking a blow against banks that enjoyed common lending terms of the time that were harsh to the common farmer coping with the natural ups and downs of weather.

    As Americans, we were born as a nation by the lawlessness of Lord North and through the lawfully complex process of armed rebellion. There are times when the only effective response to corrupt public officials, who are already operating outside the law, is to respond outside of the law. That is so central to the American culture that it is easily exploited by monsters like Bill Ayers and the Black Panthers, who easily drew media figures like Barbara Walters and Dick Cavett into their wider circle.

    A friend of mine, a deaconess in her church with a mortgage, daughters, and a job, was handcuffed to a ceiling pipe for 12 hours in a police station basement because, as it turned out, her daughter wouldn’t give some informant the time of day.

    On the other hand, I will note that the retired Hanafi assassin I once knew enjoyed regular attention from the police. The assassin had served his time and by the “code” was retired, but was still loyal to the Imam that had honed and employed his skills. Their goal was the peaceful overthrow of the Constitution and the imposition of Shariah law. I was quietly grateful when he complained about the “brown shirts”.

    Having an ungifted political hack like Holder as AG has guaranteed more of the former and less of the latter.

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Combine this backward thinking on criminal justice with the hostile attitude toward police in many communities, and it’s understandable how officers could end up returning that general feeling to the people they are supposed to protect and serve. That isn’t right, but maybe it would be easier to change how police view the public if we at least try to put an end to the backward logic of turning criminals into heroes.

    This is balderdash, complete balderdash. That might be how the Left is looking at the police violence in the US, but it isn’t anywhere near the actual atmosphere from what I can gather. The police have done this to themselves through implementing paramilitary style attitudes about the relationship between the citizens of this country and their “duty to serve.” Abu-Jamal was a scumbag no doubt about it. The “gentle giant” was not so gentle after all, but you folks who believe every little thing that law enforcement says about their interactions with the people are going to have to come up with more than “well they had it coming” when explaining these items:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/27/white-teen-gilbert-collar-killed-by-black-cop-trev/?page=all

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/25/jose-guerena-arizona-_n_867020.html

    http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/report-dayton-based-parole-officers-wrongfully-det/ncN38/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/23/us/23atlanta.html

    http://www.businessinsider.com/9-horrifying-botched-police-raids-2012-2

    https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/no-knock-warrant-resulting-denver-mans-death-should-not-have-been-issued-aclu

    http://www.cato.org/raidmap

    If the cops want respect, maybe they should stop looking at the neighborhoods they police as Fallujah and stop looking at the people in them as al Qa’ida.

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Jack Dunphy:Liz,

    I think you’re over-generalizing. Most cops, the vast majority of them, have no trouble differentiating between the decent and the indecent (to borrow from Victor Frankl — see Dennis Prager’s piece here for an explanation), regardless of what part of town they’re working in. (See my piece at NRO from 2006 here.) But it can be exhausting to be burdened with every perceived grievance against the police, regardless of how unfounded they may be. Look at what happened to Darren Wilson in Ferguson. He did absolutely everything within the law and was ultimately vindicated, but he still went through hell and had to leave his job. There’s not a cop working today who doesn’t think about that every time he goes to work.

    What about the free citizens who happen to live in rough neighborhoods who are looked at through the same “everybody-is-a-threat” attitude that cops have toward them? It is unfortunate that Mr. Wilson lost his job, but how many people who are innocent have lost their LIVES at the hands of cops? Cops SHOULD be on edge about the fact that they might face scrutiny when they go on the beat because, in case you have forgotten, this is free society.

    • #13
  14. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    civil westman:I recently addressed this from a different angle. It didn’t generate much interest. The term “police state” derives from the fact that police are the business end of the government spear. As I see it, the attitude and actions of the police filter down from the ethos of government elites. The US has become a heavily coerced society. Stand out and you will be crushed. The police merely reflect the prevailing view of us as subjects of the sovereign state. The sad part is that few understand that this is exactly what they voted for: power-hungry statists whose notion of governance is – “Shut up and do as you are told.” In many instances that power is expressed in the form of police bullets. It is not really surprising.

    The other irony is the puerile fascination in our “entertainment” with glorification of anti-social and criminal activity. It seems our only outlet is vicarious, as in rooting for the bad guys on TV and movies. Watch an episode of “Shameless” to see what I mean. In a nation whose aim seems to be perpetuation of adolescence unto senescence, is this really surprising?

    Your point about the police being the proverbial “tip of the spear” for the government and enforcing a multitude of statist laws is the main reason Eric Garner died in Staten Island. Police were trying to arrest him for selling a few packs of cigarettes illegally. Let that sentence sink in. If NYC did not have absurdly high taxes on cigarettes there would be no reason for people to buy them from people like Eric Garner, no reason for people to sell them on the black market and no reason for the Police to arrest them.

    • #14
  15. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    Devereaux:Cops are stuck. Citizens are stuck. Society is stuck. And the reason is that government has SO metastasized into everything that no one actually knows anymore what is or isn’t the law. No one has any reason to expect common sense to prevail. No one sees any civic virtue at work. Only the mechanics.

    Everyone here has mentioned serious contributions to the issue. Yet in reality it is ALL OF THE ABOVE. ?Why should citizens “trust” cops when what cops do is abuse citizens with stupid or demoralizing laws they enforce. ?How else can one view the whole Eric Garner incident. ?Why should cops “help” citizens when citizens are angry about the laws that the cops are attempting to enforce.

    Only some wholesale erasure of laws will begin to right this ship. Take away the state’s awful power – to tax, to prosecute, to incarcerate, to financially ruin who it wishes.

    I just read your post after finishing mine. I could not agree more. The root of the problem is too many unnecessary laws creating constant friction between Police and civilians. I would like to see Police focused on reducing violent crimes instead of petty crimes and traffic violations.

    • #15
  16. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Population growth and the consequence anonymity of individuals has gone a long way to creating the disconnect between police officers and the public. The image of Andy Griffith’s police officer is one of a member of the community, someone who knows all of his neighbors who also know him. Instead, the reality is a cop patrols a neighborhood where nobody knows him, and he knows nobody by name.

    I live in a small suburban, you might even call it a rural, area. Over the years the local police force has become a form of tax collection for the township, handing out tickets for traffic offenses. Many of these “offenses” are created by rules which are designed solely for the generation of revenues. My only personal contact with local law enforcement has been a couple of these citations over the last 20 years. I know more about police officers from from more distant towns who I meet and shoot with at my gun club.

    One of my neighbors and a close friend is county sheriff’s officer from the county to the north of us. He drives thirty miles each day in his cruiser to the neighborhood in which he works. He is a superb individual, a fine officer, but likely as anonymous in his work area as our local constabulary are here. The more this disconnect grows the easier it is for a line to form between the police and the people they are hired to defend. The more police are used to exact fines from members of the community as opposed to serving those communities, the more likely they are to be seen as “the enemy”. The more confrontations between civilians and “the enemy” that occur where the officer fails for whatever reason to act in a respectful and polite manner toward a member of the community the deeper the disconnect will grow.

    I taught school in inner city schools for more than 40 years. There seemed at times to be very little difference between what I was doing and what police officers did. I watched a video yesterday of a cop in Fort Lauderdale violently expelling a homeless man from a mall. In my opinion, based on the expectations placed on me as a teacher in a secondary school, the cop’s actions were excessively violent, his language unnecessarily crude in a public setting. When we as civilians witness this kind of behavior by a police officer it is not difficult to feel personally intimidated and resentful, as were the witnesses who actually recorded this event on their cell phone.

    There are times when officers are called upon to use all forms of violence to protect themselves and the community. When that happens cops need to do what they need to do. However, when all “offenses” are treated with the same level of anger or disdain, and police officers make armed and violent entries into homes, killing pets and forcing unarmed civilians onto their knees or stomachs to be handcuffed and violently handled because of some possibly trumped up drug accusation we are entering into something on the other side of the looking glass. They have stopped being trusted defenders of the neighborhood, and started becoming a hostile occupation force.

    I believe that remediating this situation begins with demilitarizing the majority of cops. A well-trained and disciplined SWAT team is a necessity on any force. However, the majority of officers do not need to be armed in this manner, nor do they need to have ninja suits to wear whenever a situation arises where SWAT officers are needed. The majority of police officers are not very good shots, do not particular like their firearms, and are likely not to use them with any level of skill. Maintaining them in a minimally armed condition in which they meet the public would, hopefully, induce them to act more civilly and, in return, to be treated with greater civility. When threatened they can call upon those officers specifically trained to deal with more serious threats.

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    One last thing, the DoJ report that came out about Ferguson mentioned that the cops there unfairly targeted blacks for minor traffic violations which caused fines that many of the citizens could not pay and it snowballed from there. I would bet that, A) the report is correct in that blacks were targeted only because Ferguson happens to be a predominantly black populated town and that B) if we could quantify this study to the whole of the US we would find that ALL citizens are highly burdened by traffic violations of various kinds, whether it be speeding or a tail light being out. The primary role of cops is to act as revenue collectors for local governments and not to “protect and serve.”

    • #17
  18. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    This has been an excellent discussion. The problems are deep and serious, with multifaceted causes. The dimension I have emphasized is exemplified in most all interactions with the state’s functionaries – from police to the DMV to the IRS. When was the last time such an interaction was characterized as a “public servant” assisting you as a citizen? All of my interactions clearly demonstrate the expectation that I am serving an “arrogant and intrusive sovereign.” That was how the colonists described HRH King George prior to the Revolution.

    • #18
  19. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    RM #17

    ?Recollect the utter panic in NYC when the cops, in response to DeBlazio’s insulting and totally unprofessional attitude, stopped writinig traffic tickets. It was reported a revenue lost to the city!

    Most traffic stops are minor and inconsequential to society. Speed limits are almost uniformly set too low; little or no consideration is made to a well-established rule of 85th percentile speeds. “Rolling stop sign” tickets are usually totally technical, with no real traffic or danger issues. Indeed, they usually consist of the fact someone actually slowed to ALMOST a stop – but not quite. Those in my area are $125 items! Parking tickets are simply cities trying to rent curb space – for revenue. Absent any real attempt to provide alternate facilities, once again pulling on the people’s wallets.

    In my suburb, it seems the primary mission of the police is to collect fines for parking and to hassle the kids, who understandably don’t always follow all the rules. But infractions are met not with some attempt to instill some respect for the law but outright harrassment. We have no other real crime to even merit having a police force; it’s duties vis a vis crime could easily be done by the county sheriff’s office, probably for a lot less cost. But then the city would love “empire”, and empire building IS the government game.

    • #19
  20. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    civil westman
    This has been an excellent discussion. The problems are deep and serious, with multifaceted causes. The dimension I have emphasized is exemplified in most all interactions with the state’s functionaries – from police to the DMV to the IRS. When was the last time such an interaction was characterized as a “public servant” assisting you as a citizen? All of my interactions clearly demonstrate the expectation that I am serving an “arrogant and intrusive sovereign.” That was how the colonists described HRH King George prior to the Revolution.

    #18 · TODAY AT 7:07 AM (34 MINUTES AGO) · UNLIKE 1 · COMMENT · FLAG · DIRECT LINK

    Exactly! Not “public service” – except when it’s election time – but raw power, no matter the level.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Devereaux:RM #17

    ?Recollect the utter panic in NYC when the cops, in response to DeBlazio’s insulting and totally unprofessional attitude, stopped writinig traffic tickets. It was reported a revenue lost to the city!

    Most traffic stops are minor and inconsequential to society. Speed limits are almost uniformly set too low; little or no consideration is made to a well-established rule of 85th percentile speeds. “Rolling stop sign” tickets are usually totally technical, with no real traffic or danger issues. Indeed, they usually consist of the fact someone actually slowed to ALMOST a stop – but not quite. Those in my area are $125 items! Parking tickets are simply cities trying to rent curb space – for revenue. Absent any real attempt to provide alternate facilities, once again pulling on the people’s wallets.

    In my suburb, it seems the primary mission of the police is to collect fines for parking and to hassle the kids, who understandably don’t always follow all the rules. But infractions are met not with some attempt to instill some respect for the law but outright harrassment. We have no other real crime to even merit having a police force; it’s duties vis a vis crime could easily be done by the county sheriff’s office, probably for a lot less cost. But then the city would love “empire”, and empire building IS the government game.

    You might be on to something here. Maybe the establishment of dedicated police departments to a specific zipcode or municipality should be linked to population. This would go a long way in ending towns with 2500 people getting a damned MRAP courtesy of the DoD.

    http://wyliberty.org/feature/bobbing-for-mraps-in-wyoming/

    • #21
  22. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Laws are funny things. Like most plants and shrubs, they need nurturing, tending, and pruning. The natural course of law is such that it mutates – a piece at a time. So, as Bill Whittle once explained, you have a law that says, “Water flows downhill”. But then over time, you get, “But not always”. And then you get other exceptions, and eventually you get to the stupid point that NOW the claim is that water flows UPHILL. The logic train is usually only concerned with the LAST permutation (or precedent). No one along the way seems to stop and say, “Wait! Water flows DOWNHILL. These are minor exceptions that don’t make the law!”

    Such was the course of our Founder accomodating something most found reprehensible – slavery – to keep all the states together that ended in the Civil War (and someone as otherwise honest and honourable as Calhoun arguing that slavery was good for the blacks, that the slave owners were doing them a big favour!).

    Yet there is no real attempt to cut or otherwise prune the legal tomes. NOW prosecutors have SO MUCH stuff to “charge” someone with that you wither under the load. AND then they “negotiate” away most of it in a plea bargain that leaves you with a criminal record and them with a “win”.

    As just one example, I have great trouble with “conspiracy” laws. To me they represent basically thought crimes. You spoke, and maybe even planned, something. But if you never DID something, then there is no actual crime commission. If this is NOT true, then logically all the brainstorming of possible attacks on society are ALSO conspiracies, as you thought them, articulated them, and even planned them out in order to see where the weak point is to thwart them.

    • #22
  23. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I’ve been watching Turn on Netflix. The occupying red coats in the small town are there to “protect them from the rebels,” and this reminds me a lot of how we view law enforcement these days. It’s become impossible to separate the two images. I don’t want to see Jack, or Ed, or any of the other officers we have here in that way.

    • #23
  24. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    RM #21

    I see no rational reason for ANY police force ANYWHERE in the US getting an MRAP. This leads directly back to the OP’s (and others, you included) comments about the militarization of the police.

    • #24
  25. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    I don’t have that much interaction with the police. I encounter a cop, face to face, maybe once every six months. Driving around, I probably see a police car every other day on average.

    Where I live, cops aren’t all that heavy handed with minor traffic infractions, unless they figure you might be intoxicated. It wasn’t that long ago where I rolled a stop sign at night, got stopped, the cop stuck a flashlight in my face, figured I wasn’t drunk, and let me go with a verbal warning.

    So it depends on the locality. If you don’t like the cops in one state or city, move.

    This is very much a local issue. And since you don’t have to leave the country to escape the problem it’s not extraordinarily hard to solve.

    • #25
  26. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Al Sparks #25

    “So it depends on the locality. If you don’t like the cops in one state or city, move.

    This is very much a local issue. And since you don’t have to leave the country to escape the problem it’s not extraordinarily hard to solve.”

    It isn’t that I CAN’T move, it’s that IHAVE to move. Your version of cops ought to be everywhere.

    Unlike you, I have lots of interaction with cops. They are frequenters of ED’s, where I work. I have a number of friends who are retired cops. Some have sons as cops. Very few of them are comfortable or in agreement with modern policing. That in itself says a LOT.

    • #26
  27. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Liz Harrison:The days of the friendly “Andy Griffith from Mayberry” police are gone, or at least mostly so.

    I’m a fan of the Andy Griffith Show. But in comparing the mythical Mayberry to urban environments and the type of policing that results, is like comparing apples and oranges.

    The reason the sheriff in Mayberry was so laid back is because he was around people who were laid back.

    To a large degree, the police reflect back the people they are policing.

    • #27
  28. user_428379 Thatcher
    user_428379
    @AlSparks

    Devereaux:

    Unlike you, I have lots of interaction with cops. They are frequenters of ED’s, where I work. I have a number of friends who are retired cops. Some have sons as cops. Very few of them are comfortable or in agreement with modern policing. That in itself says a LOT.

    I guess by ED, you mean ER. It took me a second.

    First, I’ll point out that you’re interacting with cops at work, and not as a citizen out and about. As for cops not in agreement with modern policing, that’s been going on since at least the 1970’s, when I first started reading Joseph Wambaugh police procedurals.

    It isn’t that I CAN’T move, it’s that IHAVE to move. Your version of cops ought to be everywhere.

    I’m an advocate of local control, of allowing localities more leeway in how they govern themselves. If New York City wants to regulate sodas, let them. I just won’t move there.

    If they want a police department that stops and frisks, let them do that. And if they want to stop stopping and frisking, let them do that also.

    What you’re advocating is either an unrealistic plaint of “can’t people just get along?” or a federal control of police to get them to act a certain way (your way). DOJ has already federalized quite a few big city police departments, and some local ones too. We already know how that’s working out.

    • #28
  29. Devereaux Inactive
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    Al Sparks # 28

    Well, yes. The preferred term is Emergency Department, not Emergency Room. And the cops there are sometimes working and sometimes just looking for somewhere to rest a bit. They know they will have a friendly atmosphere there.

    I take your point about local control, but perhaps what I lament is a society where cops were friendly – and liked – and people felt comfortable interacting with them. One cause of the distance is that the cops no longer walk beats. That came as a result of the governments taking on more and more “responsibilities” for which government should not HAVE any responsibility. So there’s no money for things like police (and fire) and you get single-man cruisers and larger areas of patrol, most5 of which ends up beinig looking for traffic stops.

    I have a friend who is a retired Chicago PD LT. He remembers back when he started, and traffic stop he made he ttried hard to have the person say “Thank you,” at the end. That attitude is missing today in most PD’s. And it isn’t just the cops are suddenly different. It’s the attitude of the police academies who are training these people.

    • #29
  30. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I strongly agree with the concept of local control and local policing with one exception – I think a lot of the nuisance stops that are used for local revenue could be avoided with state laws or state constitutional provisions that require all moneys received for tickets, parking meters, red light cameras, and fines be forwarded to the state treasury rather than pay local budgets. A lot of “enforcement” might be considered less necessary if it was divorced from the local treasury.

    • #30

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