I am a police skeptic and a former Sheriff’s Deputy. I am increasingly ill at ease with the burgeoning police state, misbehavior of all levels of "law enforcement" and the willing complicity of united States subjects to an ocean of bad laws, both unconstitutional and foolish. What one could call willful submission to illegitimate authority. At every level of policing from local to FLEA (federal law enforcement agencies), the abuse gets exponentially worse with each passing decade and now the Wars on Drugs and Terror have literally loosened the restraints on any remaining (if tattered and threadbare) protections from police mischief. In the end, the robed government employees will, for the most part, excuse or rationalize the criminal or outrageous behavior of the thin blue line.
The increasing militarization of cops has worsened even more. Why do cops need to blouse military boots and wear the silly "high and tight" haircuts? I cannot watch an episode of "Cops" without an airsickness bag. Every show is a sordid chronicle of cops overreaching, overreacting and brutalizing people. If you start to think of cop behavior as occupation behavior, the parallels start to get even more eerie. David Kopel puts it succinctly:
"The militarization of law enforcement has created the equivalent of a standing army engaged against the American people – precisely what was feared by the Framers. The consequences have been just what the Framers expected from a standing army involved in domestic law enforcement (especially enforcement of laws against the possession of certain commodities): the erosion of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches, and the deaths of innocent people."
I think that police as a government entity are prone to corruption and abuse in a fashion that leads to disastrous results for free men. The FLEA phenomenon has been emblematic of the rights-destroying enterprise that is now permeating the entire "criminal justice" complex in America. The thin blue line is a clear and present danger now. Police brutality is ubiquitous and not as uncommon as most think. I read a great little small circulation magazine, The Match, by Fred Woodworth out of Tucson, AZ in which he publishes a column called "Who the Police Beat." I have seen plenty of rough life in my time but I always have to pause after a few paragraphs after reading story after story of naked overreaction by the boys in blue across the country and wonder how can this happen here and not be common knowledge. Look here, here, and here. Take a gander at these videos, I do wish more cops would suffer the self-immolation shown in the last video.
America has the largest incarceration rate on planet earth with 2.2 million behind bars. This counts the housed population and not the parolee, newly released or house arrest numbers. The FEDGOD houses almost ten percent of this number. The Federal jurisdictional problem and supremacy in the entire legal arena is another discussion altogether. The percentage of victimless crimes being immense.
"Roughly half the arrests and court cases in the U.S. each year involve consensual crimes. More than 350,000 people are in jail right now because of something they did – something that did not physically harm another's person or property. In addition, more than 1.5 million people are on parole or probation for consensual crimes. And more than 4 million people are arrested each year for doing something that hurts no one except, potentially, themselves."
What are some of these crimes that merit incarceration:
"Who are these 2.2 million people? Among them are Elisa Kelly and George Robinson, sentenced to 27 months in prison for hosting a drinking party for their son's nine friends in their own home. There's Jessica Hall, sentenced to 24 months for throwing a cup of McDonald's coffee at a car that cut her off. And then there are the hundreds of thousands of people imprisoned for nonviolent drug crimes.
As these examples suggest, and the JFA report demonstrates with statistical evidence, the primary reason for overcrowded prisons is not an explosion of crime, but an explosion of prison sentences. Not only are these sentences many times the length of those for equivalent crimes in other industrialized nations, they are "significantly longer than they were in earlier periods in our penal history." The result is greater expense for less effect, as is testified by rates of recidivism and crime alike.
The JFA Institute argues that its recommendations would save the U.S. taxpayer $20 billion a year and, eventually, reduce prison rolls by half. Certainly, they represent the real reforms that California and America as a whole need: reducing sentences, eliminating the use of prison for parole violators, reducing parole and probation supervision periods and, most importantly, decriminalizing victimless crimes, particularly those related to drug use and abuse."
Good luck in protecting yourself from what have become gang organizations in their own right. Paul Craig Roberts spoke to wronged innocents and their inability to defend themselves in an earlier essay on LRC:
"The law makes it impossible for Americans to defend themselves from police brutality. Law and order conservatives have made it a felony with a long prison sentence to "assault a police officer." Assaulting a police officer means that if a police thug intends to beat your brains out with his nightstick and you disarm your assailant, you have "assaulted a police officer." If you are not shot on the spot by his backup, you will be convicted by a "law and order" jury and sent to prison."
It almost appears as if a cop’s primary task today is to select various and sundry candidates to escort into the American penal system. In essence, statist concierges forever destroying vast swaths of individual lives and their associated networks of friends and family; a maw through which humans pass but are rendered unrecoverable by civilized standards after a few years inside. I think the confluence of the police industry and the massive (and illegitimate) expansion of criminal statutes nationwide has given a vicious inertia to the problem.
I am even hard-pressed to think of a good reason to keep police on the streets. Cops are basically historians who come to a crime scene after the fact. Their entire charter has changed from being peace officers to becoming law enforcers (no matter how silly). Has anyone else been irritated by the changing nature of police cruisers? Usually festooned with light bars and clear identification, the new trend has been stealth police cars with hidden lights and antennae. Why? Most likely to more readily stop speeders or other non-crimes for which the revenue streams are so lucrative. Imagine, for instance, if a state instructed all highway patrol organizations to stop speeders but only insurance points would be assigned with no fines imposed. The vehicle stops for speeding would dry up because the remuneration incentives would evaporate. This is not about safety, it is about revenue. "Research conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation showed that the percentage of accidents actually caused by speeding is very low, 2.2 percent."
One of the most frightening implications of all this is that the continuous shaping, conditioning and consequent cowing of Americans will lead to the seamless transition to a full-blown police state (we’re close).
I can think of a number of possible solutions to include the reduction and disarming of all FLEAs. In an America more anchored to the Founding roots, FLEA visits would be few and far between because state’s business would be the preemption at the border. The few FLEA visits that did occur could be escorted if necessary by armed local constabulary. L. Neil Smith, in one of his brilliant novels, even envisioned reflagging the mission of the US Marshals as the sole armed FLEA whose charter was riding herd on FLEA misbehavior. I can even envision the elimination of all police jobs excepting detectives who would be greatly curtailed in the level of violence they could visit on the population. A further step would be the total privatization of the provision of "law enforcement." The elimination of all Federal gun laws to include the 1934 NFA, 1968 GCA and every federal gun law on the books would make the country and the states much safer. I am wide open to new ideas because the current regime is awful and will only get worse.
I do take solace in the observation that every time a united States subject is stopped by the cops today, all visions of Officer Friendly are soundly defeated and they discover that the police are far more concerned about obedience than criminality. I have no beef with cops per se, I simply don’t need them.
January 17, 2009
William Buppert [send him mail] and his homeschooled family live in the high desert in the American Southwest.
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