The Police Problem

Over at National Review Online, A J Delgado points out that it is time that conservatives stop reflexively defending the police when they make errors:

…it’s time for conservatives’ unconditional love affair with the police to end.

Let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way: Yes, many police officers do heroic works and, yes, many are upstanding individuals who serve the community bravely and capably.

But respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens.

On Thursday in Staten Island, an asthmatic 43-year-old father of six, Eric Garner, died after a group of policemen descended on him, placing him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes. A bystander managed to capture video in which Garner clearly cries out, “I can’t breathe!” Even after releasing the chokehold (chokeholds, incidentally, are prohibited by NYPD protocol), the same officer then proceeds to shove and hold Garner’s face against the ground, applying his body weight and pressure on Garner, ignoring Garner’s pleas that he cannot breathe. Worse yet, new video shows at least eight officers standing around Garner’s lifeless, unconscious body.

Who can defend this?…

No one can, of course.  On the other side of it, Jack Dunphy – the nom de post of a police officer – points out, correctly (though involving a different case), that the police are often put in a very difficult position by the forces of the left: if they do something, they can be blamed and if they fail to do something, they could just as well be blamed. Pointing out that videos of alleged police misconduct are often either edited for dramatic (and political) impact or simply incomplete, Dunphy shows that the police do have a hard time of it in our modern, lawyer-ridden, political correct era.

First off, we conservatives do have to stop it with the rigid defense of the police.  In our modern time as the police become more militarized (often via grants of federal money – which allows defense contractors who lobbied for the grants to sell military-style weapons to local police forces at no direct cost to those forces) and, at times, all too willing to ignore not just law but common sense, we conservatives dare not turn a blind eye to police errors.  That said, the problem with the police is not so much with the police officers, themselves, but in what we’re not ordering them to do: be police officers.

The case of Mr. Garner is made doubly tragic by why the police were attempting to arrest him: he was out to sell cigarettes; cigarettes which hadn’t paid their due sum to the government before being sold.  At the end of the day, Mr. Garner is dead because nitwits in government decided that smoking is so bad that we have to massively tax it to the point where a black market in the product is created – and in order to ensure that the taxes get paid, police officers are taken off police duties and turned into revenue agents for insane taxes. What Mr. Garner was doing was illegal – but it ought not to have been; had it not been – were we rational – then Mr. Garner wouldn’t have been tempted to enter a lucrative black market and the police would be out policing rather than acting as revenue agents and Mr. Garner would alive.

We did not create police forces for the collection of insane taxes; nor to be super-sleuths solving difficult crimes; nor to be robo-cops armed to the teeth for a drug raid (and all too often getting the wrong house); no, we didn’t create police for any of these things.  We created them to keep watch – to prevent crime by being an armed force constantly on the scene. A force which by its existence on the streets – day and night – deters criminals from acting because of fear of instant arrest.  The police are not supposed to be at SWAT training; they are not supposed to be gearing up for the drug raid – and they are not supposed to be putting Mr. Garner in a choke hold because he didn’t pay some bull**** taxes on the cigarettes he planned to sell. They are just supposed to be there – clearly uniformed, friendly, observant, deeply versed in the nuances of the neighborhoods they patrol (on foot! Not in cars!)…and ready at a moment’s notice to answer the call for a “bump in the night”; when some citizen believes there may be a criminal about to break in or attack.

Our police forces need to be reformed into their original purpose: to police our neighborhoods and be on the look out for the honest citizens in their homes and businesses. Doing this reform will be difficult – entrenched financial and political interests (some of whom are in the police forces, themselves) don’t want to go back to being old fashioned police.  There’s no room for glory (or graft) in just keeping the streets safe. But it really does need to be done – and we also need a means of checking up on the police; some sort of citizens review board (which the police and DA must have no influence over) to which citizens can turn if they believe that police officers are acting against their oath to uphold the law. In service of this, we do actually need more video with the police – modern technology gives us ample ability to equip our officers with video cameras which don’t interfere with police duty, but will record everything…and I’ll bet far more often than not, will clear officers accused of misbehavior; but they will also provide a tool for weeding out those who are unsuited for the high and noble calling of being a police officer.

As always, my hat is off to the good police officers.  They do a job which I am in no way capable of doing – they do handle the very seamy underside of our society, which has been made all the worse by 60 years of moral degradation. That most of them even under these circumstances (moral depravity coupled with over-sensitivity to perceived slights) still manage to do their job well and with honor is a testimony to their worth.  I don’t want to make the job of police officer more difficult – but I do want to make the job back into the job we originally intended. I want the cop on the beat who knows his local people and how they operate and who is on the watch for anyone who is up to no good; and I want a means of correcting the police when a bad apple is found in the barrel of good police officers. One thing is certain, it can’t go on like this – and we conservatives, as the people of law and order, have a primary responsibility to ensure that we do get our law and order and a police force that everyone respects because everyone knows that it is just doing it’s proper job.

 

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16 thoughts on “The Police Problem

  1. GMB July 23, 2014 / 3:39 am

    “Dunphy shows that the police do have a hard time of it in our modern, lawyer-ridden, political correct era.”

    Yeah? And who is to blame for that? Anyone who just wants to go home at the end of he/she/its shift for 20 plus years so the can collect a nice pension and health care is bound to be beholden to those that cut the checks.

    Do you think the Staten Island cops might just be a bit nervous right now? BFD let the chips fall where they may. Those cops made their bed and if soon they are called to rest in in it, they have only themselves to blame.

    Maybe if you would wander around to some of the more fringe sights on the net you might just find that love of LE has almost disappeared. It has for some time.

    And if you got back through whatever comment archives you may have left, you might just find a couple of troublemakers have been saying that cops are not friends for, well, since ever.

    • M. Noonan July 23, 2014 / 1:52 pm

      GMB,

      I still support the police – I recognize that they have been ordered by their political masters to take on tasks never intended for the local police. We need to reform the police back to their natural, original function.

  2. Retired Spook July 23, 2014 / 7:49 am

    There are always going to be people who abuse positions of authority, and police are not immune from this dynamic. I’ve never been arrested for anything other than minor traffic violations, and my last speeding ticket was at least 10 years ago, but I’ve generally found that if you are polite and treat police with respect, they will do the same. I’ve gotten a number of warning tickets rather than an actual ticket just by being polite and admitting I was in the wrong. I suspect where you live also has a lot to do with it. I think rural LE officers, both county sheriffs and municipal police tend to be more laid back than their urban counter parts.

    • M. Noonan July 23, 2014 / 1:54 pm

      Spook,

      I’d say that most police are good people trying their best…mixed in are some corrupt and/or careerist elements. I think we can isolate the corrupt/careerist element, remove it for the most part, and have a police force which is doing its actual job.

  3. Amazona July 24, 2014 / 3:25 pm

    On the other hand, take a look at the videos of a carjacking just west of Denver yesterday afternoon. An armed man, waving a rifle, who had already fired many shots at a civilian in the course of stealing one of several vehicles, was trying to stop cars on I-70, and the video shows a motorcycle cop riding past this man, steering one-handed while pointing a gun at him, and then approaching him on foot and taking him down.

    To run at a man with a rifle, knowing he has shot at others, is an act of courage no one can deny. Restraint was used: The gunman was not shot, though he did complain that his impact with the highway was too emphatic for his taste.

    It’s interesting footage, as well as an example of good law enforcement work. It is also an example of Murphy’s Law, applied to dumb criminals. The carjackings happened to take place near where Jefferson County law enforcement officers were having a training day, so when the criminals ran from a routine traffic stop it didn’t take long to have dozens of cops swarming the area.

    • Cluster July 24, 2014 / 9:54 pm

      I think there have been some past examples of police brutality, and I think those cases have been properly adjudicated. I also think that those instances are rare. Anyone who resists arrest, puts themselves in a precarious situation and don’t have much room to complain about the outcome in my opinion. Being a cop in this day and age is a very tough and dangerous assignment and I am thankful that there are those who continue to take on that assignment.

  4. Amazona July 24, 2014 / 10:39 pm

    However, I am concerned that the militarization of our police forces could very well result in a dramatic shift in ideals, agendas, etc. When you have cool stuff like big weaponry and urban tanks and so on, it has to be tempting to use them. When you have a hierarchy tending to the Left, which is to say using tyrannical power to advance one political agenda, which also controls the police, who are now armed and treated as SWAT paramilitary forces instead of civilian law enforcement officers, you have a problem in the making. Remember who is the chief law enforcement officer in the nation—Eric Holder.

    Who would have expected to see the BLM—-the Bureau of LAND MANAGEMENT, of all things—–to show up armed to the teeth, with snipers in ghillie suits stationed on the high ground, to enforce a civil ruling? It was bizarre, it was surreal, and to many of us it was a harbinger of the future we can expect when we look at weapons pointed at women and children with the echoes of the Obama promise of a “civilian security force as well armed and funded as the military” still fresh in our minds.

    The military has always been a system of rigid processes, led by trained personnel. Put the same amount of firepower in the hands of untrained bureaucrats who answer only to the President, and you have a truly frightening scenario. Our police forces are also run by bureaucrats, not people who have come up through the ranks of a trained military, and when we treat them as paramilitary forces, with unlimited power and answering only to the Executive Branch, we start to see a nation with two armies. Do we want Eric Holder, who answers only to a radical anti-American president, in charge of one of these armies, while the Commander in Chief guts the other one?

    • tiredoflibbs July 25, 2014 / 9:51 pm

      Ama, the trolls at the “other blog” are trying to state what obame meant by “civilian security force”:
      “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded (as the military)”, and in context he was clearly referring to The Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and other benign civilian volunteer groups working for non-violent patriotic aid and security. There was no mention of “arming” the groups; that was a blatant lie ginned up by the right wing noise machine for rubes like bfv. This was debunked years ago, but it still gets traction with the least intelligent and most dishonest of the conservative mouth-breathers.

      Then, they rely on “factcheck.org” for their talking points. Not a reliable group, especially when they are funded by leftists.

      Of course they take his quote out of context…. the complete quote was:
      “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

      How can we rely on the Peace Corps, (obame would say it as “Peace Corpse”), AmeriCorps (again Ameri-corpse) and other civilian volunteer groups to “protect our national security” instead of our military and be just as strong as our military without arming them?

      Progressive thinking at its finest….. Oh, that’s right, obame was supposed to bring peace to the world, lower our oceans, heal the planet, stop Iran and North Korea from refining uranium with his golden words and the willingness to just “listen to them”. Peace to the world? Nope. Lower our oceans and heal the planet? Hardly. Stop Iran and North Korea from refining uranium… again Nope. A real winning record there…. “leading from behind”.

      • tiredoflibbs July 26, 2014 / 7:00 am

        OK, the trolls at the other blog show themselves, once again, to be the infamous mealy-mouthed word-smiths that they are. They are, once again, adding INTENT to the words of the pResident without him saying as much. In response to my post above, they screech:

        “OK, first, Obama didn’t say “instead of our military”, he’s clearly talking about civilian groups working IN ADDITION to our military. Can these people write a single post without lying?”

        First, obame did not say “in addition to our military”. He clearly stated that “we can’t rely on our military to protect our national security” period. We must rely on another organization(s).

        Second, we also see defense spending getting cut and forces downsizing while these civilian “security” forces are growing (SSA, EPA, NOAA, etc). Again, one must watch the actions and results and pay attention to the words being said.

        But, progressives are hung up on INTENT. As evidenced by the recent court of appeals ruling, where INTENT trumps what is actually stated in the obamacare law. Also, when the pResident said, “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance, PERIOD.”, the INTENT was clearly something else. The situation at the border, the IRS scandal, Benghazi and of course, obamacare penalty was a tax, it’s not a tax but a penalty, now it’s a tax, bungling….. Oh and let’s not forget obame changing the obamacare rollout deadlines on his own, when the law does not give him the authority to do so, a brainless progressive twit said, “the law does not forbid him from doing it either”. Another mindless loser blamed Bush for the growing of the agencies’ security enforcement. Apparently, his ‘intent’ after he created DHS was for that all other agencies’ enforcement groups will follow, clearly not what he said. But ‘intent” is always 20/20 hindsight and can be made into whatever someone wants.

        Progressive drone: “Can these people write a single post without lying?” Now, repeating what obame said, verbatim, is lying? I guess it would have been acceptable to put in the ‘intent’ (their ‘intent’ of course, not ours). But, at the time it was said, we don’t know the ‘intent’ – Lately the ‘intent’ is whatever will work for that snapshot in time. Later the ‘intent’ will be something else…

        Can proggies say what they actually mean – or will they constantly lie about what they said and keep playing their mealy-mouthed games?

        We all know the answer.

  5. Amazona July 24, 2014 / 10:59 pm

    OT, but….

    Listening to the radio today, hearing the comments about how many poor Palestinians have been killed/hurt/scared/made homeless by the Israelis, it struck me that here again is a situation where the people who created the problem are now suffering for their stupidity and bad choices, while the blame is placed somewhere else.

    Just as in the United States, where people who were stupid enough to put Obama back in office are now paying the price but blaming the Republicans (and, I think, George Bush) instead of realizing that they brought this upon themselves through their reckless emotion-driven abuse of the power of the vote, Palestinians are now blaming everyone but themselves for their predicament.

  6. Retired Spook July 25, 2014 / 8:22 am

    Good thing we have a President who is such an excellent multi-tasker. Working on his short game, fund-raising, dealing with multiple crises and phony scandals. When does he sleep?

    • Cluster July 25, 2014 / 11:06 am

      He is a rare breed. Tireless, pro active, sincere, selfless, and always shouldering the burden. He deserves high praise indeed.

    • M. Noonan July 25, 2014 / 4:10 pm

      I stand in awe-filled admiration of the man…

  7. Retired Spook July 26, 2014 / 9:25 am

    The militarization of state, county and municipal police forces has been going on for some time. Here’s some interesting testimony from a retired marine colonel at a city council meeting in New Hampshire.

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