What’s going on with our police? More and more, it seems that our men in blue have been transformed from a friendly neighborhood peace office, whose mission is to protect and serve, to a hostile military force, whose mission is to harass and intimidate.
I am going to broach a subject in this syndicated column this week that people such as me are not supposed to talk about. By people such as me, I mean Christians, “conservatives,” Republican-types, etc. “We” are NEVER supposed to criticize the police–not in any shape, manner, or form. ANY criticism of all things police (and military, for that matter) is immediately deemed to be “left-wing,” “unpatriotic,” etc. To criticize the police in any way brings immediate and vehement accusations that one is against law and order or is a “bleeding heart liberal,” etc. But, in all probability, the vast majority of “our” folks will simply ignore this column. My observation is “WE” are mostly very closed-minded and don’t tolerate ideas that are outside the box of what is heard on FOX NEWS or from today’s milquetoast preachers.
However, it is an absolute fact that today’s law enforcement agencies are more and more being militarized and are becoming more and more hostile to the American citizenry. More and more, police officers view the American people as “enemy combatants” and are developing a deeply imbedded “us versus them” mindset. More and more, police officers are behaving like soldiers, not peace officers. Examples of police abuse are becoming more and more frequent and more and more severe. If this breach of the public trust is not reined in soon, it is going to get very ugly in this country.
When I grew up, we were all taught that policemen were our friends and that we could always trust them. Hardly anyone teaches that to their children anymore–and for good reason. Too many policemen have abused and misused the trust that the American people have placed in them. I’m sorry if you don’t like to hear that–I don’t enjoy saying that–but it is the honest truth.
More and more often, routine traffic stops quickly escalate into full-fledged police abuse over the most innocent conduct. Too many police officers today have developed an “I-have-a-badge-and-a-gun-and-therefore-I-can-do-anything-I-want” attitude. More and more police officers seem to feel that the law they are sworn to enforce is whatever they determine the law to be. More and more often, bringing up constitutional rights to a police officer today or merely questioning what a police officer is doing often invites physical beating, incarceration, or even death. This is especially true if one attempts to film a police officer.
One does not have to search long to find limitless examples of what I am talking about.
In the State of New York, a police sergeant is under investigation for slapping around a law-abiding young man simply because he asked the officer why he was demanding to search his vehicle. After the young man questioned the sergeant, who is a 27-year veteran of the police force, the officer slapped the man and yelled that he could “rip your f****** head off and s*** down your neck.” The only reason an internal investigation is going on is because another passenger video-recorded the event.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a police officer threatened to “beat the s***” out of a young man for simply looking at him. That’s right. All the young man did was look at him as he walked down the street.
In Miami, Florida, a police officer went ballistic with rage after a young man, whom he had just given a traffic ticket to, said, “God bless you.” That simple remark set off a profanity-laced tirade from the officer in which he took out his handcuffs and threatened to put the young man in jail.
In East Dublin, Georgia, drug task force police officers gunned down an innocent grandfather in his own home on the word of a self-confessed meth addict. Police executed a no-knock invasion of the home and killed the innocent 59-year-old businessman who had armed himself to protect his family from what he could only determine were armed home invaders. The resident was killed in a hail of gunfire by police. He was completely innocent of any drug offenses. Police acted as judge, jury, and executioner of the poor man.
In Boynton Beach, Florida, two young men were pulled over by police in a traffic stop. One of the young men began to video-record the officers. Quickly, the policemen became enraged and began physically assaulting the young men. One officer pointed his pistol at the boys and threatened to immediately shoot them. At no point did the young men display a weapon or physically assault the officers. Granted, the young men acted rudely and disrespectfully. But since when in America is cockiness and rudeness a potential death sentence?
But the worst part of the story came afterward when the chief of police issued a statement defending the conduct of the officers. Chief Jeffrey Katz viewed the video tape (recorded by a passenger in the car) and said the following: “When I watch this video, I don’t see a car full of young men who are behaving in a manner consistent with FEAR OF THE POLICE.” (Emphasis added)
Did you get that? The police chief and his officers were angry that the young men didn’t FEAR the police enough.
So, that’s it. We are supposed to FEAR the police. Really? Then, pray tell, who are the police supposed to fear? My father didn’t teach me to fear the police. He taught me to respect the police. And he taught me that the police were my friends. He did not teach me that I had to fear for my rights and my very life every time I’m pulled over for a traffic stop. And that’s not the way that Sheriff Cliff Arnold’s deputies behaved while I was growing up.
And, again in the State of Georgia, Henry County Police forced a small group of fifth graders to the ground at gunpoint as they attempted to build a tree fort in their neighborhood. Can you imagine? Throwing 11-year-old children to the ground and putting a gun to their heads for building a tree fort? This is reality in modern America’s burgeoning Police State.
Am I suggesting that all sheriff’s deputies and police officers behave in such fashion? Of course not! I am confident that the vast majority of our men and women in blue (and brown for sheriff’s deputies) are honest, law-abiding people who are doing their best to keep the peace and who respect the rights of the citizens they are charged to serve. But I am saying that the training procedures and mindset of our police agencies nationwide IS quickly developing into a police-state mentality. And the everyday occurrences such as those listed above absolutely prove my assertion. It is also an undeniable fact that more and more police training omits teaching the Constitution and, accordingly, more and more police officers are truly ignorant of the rights and liberties of the American people under the U.S. Constitution.
Based on current statistical data, you and I are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than we are an actual terrorist. Since 2001, over 5,000 American citizens have been killed by policemen. How many of these deaths were truly justified we will never know as police departments and courts of law have a proven track record of hardly ever charging an officer with wrongful death.
Add to the above the fact that even many minor incidents will often result in SWAT teams being deployed. In fact, Eastern Kentucky University professor Peter Kraska documents research showing, “There has been more than a 1,400% increase in the total number of police paramilitary deployments, or callouts, between 1980 and 2000. Today, an estimated 45,000 SWAT-team deployments are conducted yearly among those departments surveyed; in the early 1980s there was an average of about 3,000.”
Has violent crime increased 1,400 percent during that time? Not at all. In fact, for the last several years, violent crime has been decreasing to the point that currently it is at record lows. So, how can the need for SWAT teams increase by 1,400 percent? It is the result of Washington, D.C., deliberately militarizing our police agencies.
I am convinced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is intentionally turning our State and local police agencies against us. Washington, D.C., is deliberately militarizing our police agencies. Give them military equipment, weapons, training, etc., and they will start acting like soldiers, not policemen. And that is exactly what is happening.
The phrase that we hear constantly repeated today by law enforcement personnel and spokesmen is “the safety of the officer.” But wait a minute! The sworn duty of a police officer is to obey the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights), which is designed to protect the rights, liberties, and safely of the American people. The role of the police officer is to protect the safety of the public. Any man or woman who volunteers to put on a badge should be consciously willing to put his or her life on the line to protect the public. That’s what their job is all about. And no one forces them to take this risk; they take it of their own volition.
Of course the men and women of law enforcement want to go home at the end of their shift. But so do the people of their community. Policemen are not the only ones who face hostility and threats of violence. I have had my life threatened too many times to count. I have even been shot at. (I would venture to say that the vast majority of police officers in the country have never actually been shot at.) I have had my family threatened. And none of us wear Kevlar vests and helmets and can call backup with the push of a button (calling 911 is not the same as a policeman calling for back up–not even close).
If the safety of the officer is the primary duty of policemen, they should just shoot suspects on sight and eliminate the threat before it exists. And that is pretty much what they do in totalitarian countries. But this is America where the rule of law and the rights of the individual reign supreme. In a free country, people are judged to be innocent until proven guilty. Plus, the only lawful reason a police officer has to fire his weapon at someone is for the same reason that the rest of us can do so: for self-defense against an imminent threat to their (our) lives.
Again, the impetus of the militarization of police is coming directly from DHS. In addition to receiving military equipment, hardware, attack helicopters, tanks, etc., from the DOD and DHS, more and more often U.S. military Special Forces troops are being employed to train our local police personnel. To the miscreants inside the Beltway, the American people are seen as the real terrorists, not foreign enemies or the criminal gang members that are pouring across our southern border. In truth, DHS is using our local police agencies in much the same way that the Nazi government used the local police agencies inside the occupied countries of Europe. And, unfortunately, it seems that most of our Christians, “conservatives,” and Republican-types are completely oblivious to the problem.
I applaud the numerous constitutionalist sheriffs around the country who are doing their best to maintain constitutional government within their counties and who are courageously resisting the efforts of DHS to turn their deputies into Storm Troopers. I just wish we had a lot more of these stalwart defenders of liberty. The American people are not doing a very good job of electing these kinds of patriots to public office, including the sheriff’s office. But on the whole, our sheriff’s offices around the country are far less oppressive than their counterparts in city police departments. The obvious reason for this is due to the fact that, while the sheriff is a constitutionally elective office, our chiefs of police are usually appointed by some sort of city council and are not answerable directly to the public. Bureaucrats are seldom known for any kind of allegiance to constitutional government.
And, again, this column is not an indictment against any of our law-abiding, liberty-loving, policemen and sheriff’s deputies. And I suggest that any policeman who would take umbrage at this column is subconsciously incriminating him or herself. Of all people, police officers, themselves, should be the most angry when their fellow officers betray the public trust and violate fundamental rights. A bad cop reflects badly on good cops. Therefore, instead of reacting angrily against a column such as this, it should behoove honest policemen to lead the charge against this kind of unlawful conduct being committed by their brethren in blue. They should also be the ones to most doggedly resist the militarization of their agencies by DHS.
However, this column IS an indictment against the current trend within law enforcement to become increasingly federalized, militarized, and Gestapo-like. I suppose it is also an indictment against the American people (including Christians, “conservatives,” and Republican-types) who seem to be blind and apathetic to what is becoming a major problem within our country.