Los Angeles, California June 20, 2001
The Rising Police State
Former Cop - "Law Enforcement Is The Police State's Servant"
From J.D. Tuccille c. 2001 About.com 6-15-1
Several months ago, I penned a column called "Cops who say 'no'" that
turned out to be one of the more thoroughly hashed-over pieces that I've
churned out. As happens when I have lots of white space to fill, I waxed
philosophic and evoked my inner literary self even quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson on the way to making a simple point. I suggested that in an age of proliferating laws that micromanage our lives and that involve ever-scarier law-enforcement powers, police officers have an obligation to consider the morality of the laws they enforce, and to refuse to enforce laws that have no business on the books.
It's nice to be noticed, and my e-mail soon demonstrated that people
have been paying attention. Messages pro and con streamed in, with a
preponderance of readers saying that they agreed with the point I was making.
Dissenters tended to use stronger language, leaving me only one possible response: My mother is not! - or not so that you can prove, anyway.
Among the more interesting messages was a note from a retired police
officer (I've checked his credentials) who served with a major urban-area
law-enforcement agency, and so has more first-hand familiarity with
modern policing than I hope to ever have. This former officer, who asked me not to use his name so that he gets no more grief at reunion picnics than necessary, suggested that my heart might be in the right place, but I just don't understand the depths of the problem.
Rather than paraphrase what the one-time police officer said so well, I
reproduce his note below... ___
I was a police officer for many years and am now retired. It is apparent
to me that you suffer a few misunderstandings of the police officer's job.
However, that is not to say that you aren't right. There are many laws
that are stupid, wrong, unconstitutional, feel-good (hate crimes come to
mind) and silly.
Each police officer is given discretionary decision-making power. That
means that barring the commission of six particular crimes (Burglary, Arson, Rape, Robbery, Murder and Mayhem) a police officer may decide for him or herself whether to arrest, report, release in the field, or simply to do nothing.
For decades, I nullified bad laws (e.g., concealed carry of a weapon by
honest citizens, gambling and prostitution) and so did many other officers. We did it because we had the power to and it was the right thing to do.
Before you suggest how to correct modern day law enforcement, I suggest you first review the reason modern local law enforcement is becoming the police state's handmaiden.
It is simple: Federal influence. Since the Nixon / Mitchell Administration,
federal funds, training, hiring standards and procedures have penetrated
into local law enforcement in an insidious manner.
Training is of the siege mentality type, fear is inculcated in training, and
the belief that no one needs a firearm but the police is encouraged and
Waco was made possible by a perjured affidavit swearing that a drug lab
was on the premises. They lied and got the army to help under Titles 26 and 32, USC. These are the same people who have been training local law
enforcement for decades. Until we can remove the federal influence in local law enforcement, it will just get worse. Hell, it may not even be reversible.
I respect your intentions, but there is a hell of a lot you don't know about how bad it has gotten in local law enforcement. Many of these kids have never read the Constitution, nor have they been required to. They also have a natural antipathy towards armed citizens as a result of brainwashing in primary and secondary school. Many are also unrestrained and unfamiliar with self-discipline. This can be fatal if not harmful to an innocent who is doing nothing more than lawfully owning a firearm.
The job is one of the safest there is statistically, and I am sick of
police administrators, in their effort to build empire, lying about being
"outgunned." They pander to federal anti-constitutionalists by crying
for more gun laws, but no mention of severe treatment for violent criminals.
No one is in law enforcement by way of impressment or the draft. They are all volunteers and if anyone is in fear of armed citizens and not armed
criminals, they should get another job, perhaps a milk route. I wouldn't
recommend the U.S. Postal Service, though.
Local police are in danger of ceasing to be responsible at all to their
local community and taxpayers. ___
The note is disturbing because it reflects concerns that I've heard before,
but says that the problem is much more advanced than I've suspected. Two years ago, The Cato Institute came out with a report that made a splash at the time, then as is the way with such things, sank without a trace. In "Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism In American Police Departments," Diane Cecilia Weber started off saying:
Over the past 20 years Congress has encouraged the U.S. military to
supply intelligence, equipment, and training to civilian police. That
encouragement has spawned a culture of paramilitarism in American law enforcement... State and local police departments are increasingly accepting the military as a model for their behavior and outlook. The sharing of training and technology is producing a shared mindset. The problem is that the mindset of the soldier is simply not appropriate for the civilian police officer. Police officers confront not an "enemy" but individuals who are protected by the Bill of Rights. Confusing the police function with the military function can lead to dangerous and unintended consequences - such as unnecessary shootings and killings.
She then documented her point to an extent that provoked many right
thinking opinion pieces recognizing the concerns she raised, but without any noticeable impact on the federalization and militarization of law
The note that I received from the retired police officer says that not
only was Ms. Weber correct - but that the problem is so advanced that it's now difficult to find police officers who haven't been trained in that
paramilitary culture. Since "Cops who say 'no'" was necessarily directed
to police officers who are willing and able to make moral judgments about
the law, and who identify with civilians rather than the state, my column
becomes moot if my correspondent is correct.
What's the source of this problem ? Well, there's plenty to share around,
and both the former police officer and Ms. Weber suggest that the rot starts in D.C.
But there's finger-pointing to be shared. Police have become soldiers
because people let them accumulate power and training and toys - even encouraged it to happen. It was all in the name of "safety," the "war on drugs" and (of course) it was done for "the children" - those little yard apes who are evoked to justify every lousy idea in the modern age.
And so we got, in the words of my correspondent, "modern local law
enforcement [that] is becoming the police state's handmaiden."
Fixing the problem is another matter.
Sent by Ronald Jerome, Webber firstname.lastname@example.org
I have said many times that a police state can only come about when the judiciary of a country fails. Can anyone site an instance when the judiciary of the country forbade such police state, yet despite the opposition of all its judges, the police state advanced undaunted?
Every police state in history is either the result, at best, of the judiciary turning a blind eye, or at worst, and the more likely, engineering the police state. Now think for a minute and tell me, are the police carrying out the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court, or are they revolting against those decisions and these justices? You be the judge!
Again, I, Ronald Branson, say, every police state is engineered by its judicial system through its endorsement and edicts, and no police state can abide where the judges are made accountable to the People. When We the People arise to hold the judges accountable, we also automatically hold the police state in check! The can be no other conclusion!
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