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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14578/theyre-no-angels/

They’re No Angels

November 10, 2010 by

If it were not for the police, lawlessness and chaos would rule; therefore, we owe our safety, our civilization, our very lives to the selflessness and dedication of the police; thus, police are our “heroes.” So we were told, and so we believed. FULL ARTICLE by Stephen Mauzy

{ 51 comments }

carn November 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

What would be the situation on private highways?

Considering, that certain vehicles .e.g. tanks damage normals roads fast, that accidents cause damage and dead customers and their severity and frequency is also dependent on speed and that any privately build road is built for some amount and type of customers or vehicles, it would be highly likely, that a privately owned road would have speed limits and other rules and of course employ people to enforce those rules.

Same in case law and justice in general is provided by market, the companies would have methods to investigate, whether some of the services they are paid for by their customers are needed, e.g. try to decide who murdered some customer and act in some way against him to fulfill their contract.
Decent (=those who survive in free market) would also investigate, whether the offender is among their own customer.

So i do not see the fundamental flaw in the general approach of the police methods, private security companies would act in similar ways – and today private investigators do act similar sometimes with even less respect for individual rights.

Of course it would be possible, that with competing companies the whole service “Law, Order and Justice” is provided more efficient and/or with better results.
But i cannot see, why the methods should be fundamentally different.

Robby November 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart anymore. It has nothing to do with all the dribble about how they “exploit” their workers, etc., but everything to do with two simple constants of a visit to their stores: 1) It’s too much work to get through the store and the check-out lines to be worth the savings; and 2) Every time I left the store, I was interrogated by a sweet old person as to whether I stole the things in the Wal-Mart bag I was carrying out the door. This lack of respect drove my business away.

The same rationale would apply to a wider, free security industry. Firms that employ reasonable security means would be rewarded, while firms that employ angry, impertinent, abusive security personnel would be avoided. Thus, security providers would have a very real incentive to train their personnel to handle situations with civility and class instead of brutality and disrespect.

Scott D November 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

Robby,

I’ve never had that happen. I did one time see someone rush out of the store hefting a 24-pack of beer and hop into a waiting car.

Fephisto November 10, 2010 at 10:54 am

Bigger cities tend to have the old people interrogators that Robby speaks of.

J. Murray November 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

They’re also common at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. They disguise it as, “Let me check your receipt” before swiping it with a yellow hilighter or hit it with a hole punch.

Ken November 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

They are common at warehouse stores. I haven’t had the experience at Walmart. Not yet, anyway.

Matt November 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

If it’s a non-member establishment (like Wal-Mart as opposed to Costco), I refuse to show them my receipt because they do not have a search warrant. In my view, once I’ve exchanged my Federal Reserve Notes for Wal-Mart goods those goods become my property.

Either than accuse me of shoplifting or I walk out the door. Simply ignoring them or, at most, a “no thank you” while not stopping usually works. I’m polite, but firm.

RWW November 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I think you mean “drivel.”

Stutz November 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Correction: firms would employ security just tolerable enough not to drive away business that was attracted by other things, like low prices. In other words, they would be as obnoxious and intrusive as they could get away with, to minimize losses. It’s the same reason the lines are so long at your Wal-Mart: 98% of people will shop there anyway (you’re a 2-percenter). There’s no incentive to civility and class when the presence of security is of secondary importance to the consumer — which, by the way, security always is. I guess my point is that there’s no way privatizing all law-enforcement would automatically create friendlier officers. The only thing that does is oversight and accountability, which the government does imperfectly to say the least, but which I doubt the market would do much better as a side-effect of privatization.

Sione November 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

“it would be highly likely, that a privately owned road would have speed limits and other rules and of course employ people to enforce those rules.”

Speed limits? Don’t bother. Recently I drove on a German freeway where there was no posted speed limit whatsoever. I had a Hamann Motorsport V-12 powered BMW which seemed to have a sweet spot at ~286km/hr. It had more to come (the vendor suggested that 330km/hr was not out of the question) but that was the speed at which everything worked well and felt good enough.

Now the point of this is that even though that freeway was a government road, it didn’t feature a speed limit. It was safe and convenient not to have one. Soooooo, a privately owned road need not have such a silly thing either.

Moving on, assuming that the private road has rules, these would be a matter of voluntary agreement between the owner and the user. Behaviours commonly employed by the Police presently could not be used by the road owner without consequence. Customers would accept that sort of thing? Unlikely. Very much so. Certainly there would be push back and the customers would be in exactly the position to provide it- for instance, right in the pocket book. Contrast this with the situation in the USA right now where the citizen has no reliable remedy. Given that, why should a US Police Officer treat any US subject with respect or dignity. There is no reason to so do.

The treatment of individuals in a free society has to be fundamentally different from the authoritarian methods often seen in Police methods within the present regime because of the differing nature of the relationship existing between parties.

Sione

Ohhh Henry November 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

The most extensive private road system I have experienced is at Walt Disney World in Florida. It has speed limits and all the usual signs and markings and is even patrolled to some degree by the local sheriff’s deputies. But there seem to be very few accidents or other incidents which require law enforcement. I think that the main reason for this is that being private, there is no tragedy of the commons. Nearly every vehicle on the road system is driven by either an employee of WDW who has every motivation to drive safely and courteously in order to keep their job, or a customer of WDW who has paid a lot of money to visit the place and does not want to cause an accident and lose their investment of money and vacation time by wrecking their car.

The other place where private roads are common is within condominium developments and private, gated communities. One never really hears of any problems associated with these roads, for the same reason – the users are either employees, owner/residents or their personal guests, who have every reason to use the roads safely. Yahoos are expelled with “no trespassing” written notification, in other words they are exiled and shunned.

The statist arguments against private roads, that they are “not done anywhere” and that they “would not work” are therefore false.

In a world which consisted of a patchwork of private, voluntary communities there would presumably be only a tiny minority of incorrigible louts who simply will not abide by any community’s rules, probably because of mental problems (attitude problems would quickly sort themselves out). For that minority there would be both private, for-profit facilities paid for by the families of the mentally ill, and non-profit, charitable communities similar to leper colonies. The even tinier minority who could not fit into even these institutions would either be consigned to wilderness or wasteland (if any exists that is not claimed and utilized by private owners), be locked up by any community which they persistently harass, or shot out of hand as a trespasser and vagabond.

Mushindo November 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

Living in SOuth Africa, Ive encountered cases of vigilantism, whether neighbourhood watches have been, er, overzealous in their crime preventiuon activities, or more ‘sinister’ groupings of judge jury and executioner who will mete out ( sometimes fatal) violent punishment on the alleged perpetrators of crimes the community concerned finds particularly odious.

WHile the legitimacy or otherwise of these actions is debatable, what I have come to find ironic is th eusual response of th emainstream media and particularly th epolice and prosecution authorities: shrill cries of due process, constitutional rights of th eaccused to a fair trial. Despite the much-publicised thinly stretched capacity of the police forces , particuloarly high-profile vigilante cases have been known to result in large numbers of police and support resources being deployed exclusively for stamping out and prosecuting the members of such vigilante groups. All accompanied by th emantra ‘ you can’t take the law into your own hands’.

well, maybe , maybe not. But never acknowledged, is that vigilantism doesn’t just fall from the sky fully formed. Given a society in which th epolice have the monopoly on law enforcement ( as distinct from mere guarding of premises and property), vigilante groups emerge out of the frustrations of ordinary citizens , as a response to the police’s INABILITY to discharge the duties it is publicly (theoretically) mandated to do – solving crimes, bringing perpetrators to court , and protecting citizens and their propertry from depradation. ( granted, once a vigilante group emerges, it is ripe for being hijacked by powermongers and bent to their own ends, material or political….the experience with a community-based anti-gangster group PAGAD in Cape Town a decade ago being a case in point, having swiftly morphed into a radical Islamic grouping with a taste for placing home-made bombs in public places, and as it turned out, fortunately inept for th emost part, but I digress).

And I have to smile softly to myself, because therein lies the explanation for th edisproportionate deployment of massive police resources towards rounding up vigilantes. The very existence of a vigilante group is sign that the police have failed to protect the citizens adequately . And the police really hate that even more than they hate crime. And so, as for most other government agencies, its far more important to silence the signal than it is to make the signal fale. SO they never have time or vehicles to respond to an emergency call from a citizen reporting a crime in progress, But they can send 25 men and 11 cars in minutes to arrest a few guys who summarily beat up a housebreaker and returned loot to the householder.

Fephisto November 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

The government hates competition.

Gil November 10, 2010 at 8:53 pm

However the question is whether the citizen defence force work better than the police force (warts & all)?

Phinn November 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

>>>“Living in SOuth Africa, Ive encountered cases of vigilantism, whether neighbourhood watches have been, er, overzealous in their crime preventiuon activities, or more ‘sinister’ groupings of judge jury and executioner who will mete out ( sometimes fatal) violent punishment on the alleged perpetrators of crimes the community concerned finds particularly odious.”

The vigilantism you describe sounds an awful lot like the daily activities of the LAPD and/or NYPD.

agdrummer November 10, 2010 at 11:48 am

bear markets are a product of negative social mood. as the mood gets more negative authoratarianism (spelling?) gets stronger,social mood worsens,bear market gets worse….it’s self feeding.

J. Murray November 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

The Decepticon Barricade has the words “To punish and enslave” written on the side of his police car form in the 2007 live action Transformers movie. Truer words have never been spoken.

guard November 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

We may most certainly take the law into our own hands, since that is where it originated and was given up only voluntarily and conditionally. The police is simply a form of organized crime. For this reason I do not report crimes, unless they are crimes by government agencies themselves.

Param November 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

This is the first mises.org article in years which I stopped reading after the first few paras.

Does the author not realize that the police are the first line of defense against people who live in the clean, antiseptic suburbs ? Maybe a look at the show “Cops” will inform the author.

The speed limits argument is also largely ridiculous

– Not only are we fined for speeding; the police officer snoops around for ancillary digressions — a burned-out license-plate bulb, a cracked windshield, an unbuckled seatbelt, and, God forbid, the whiff of alcohol. The tally quickly rises into the hundreds of dollars -

I totally agree with the seat-belt argument and somewhat partly with the license-plate bulb (it hampers the police’s ability to monitor cars (stolen, involved in an illegal act etc)but surely, the author is not FOR drunk-driving. I consider myself a libertarian but in extreme circumstances, is it not obvious that a drunk driver is a danger to ALL drivers ?!

Tyrone Dell November 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

“… As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
-Frederic Bastiat.

Another great quote by Bastiat to memorize is the following:
“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim – when he defends himself – as a criminal.”

Ryan November 10, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Drunk Driving Laws Cause Drunk Driving Accidents
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/crovelli5.html

RWW November 11, 2010 at 12:01 am

I’m not sure what to make of this comment. Most of it sounds like satire. For example,

Does the author not realize that the police are the first line of defense against people who live in the clean, antiseptic suburbs ? Maybe a look at the show “Cops” will inform the author.

The only response I have to that is a hearty laugh.

…is it not obvious that a drunk driver is a danger to ALL drivers ?!

A reckless driver is a danger to all drivers. I have nothing against the removal of people who are driving recklessly. But whether they are drunk has no bearing on that.

Dave Albin November 11, 2010 at 9:54 am

Another ridiculous part to all this is the requirement to purchase auto insurance. I was involved in a minor accident by an uninsured driver. Nothing ever happened to him. I called the police to see why the other driver (who was at fault) was not being charged for not having state-required insurance, and I got some canned answer about how they can’t do everything. So much for serving and protecting!

Andy November 11, 2010 at 1:53 am

I would guess that seatbelt laws have more to do with insurance lobbying than public safety…public safety is not a bad by-product though.

Dave Albin November 11, 2010 at 9:59 am

That argument can be used to hand over control of our lives to the government….in every part of our lives.

Andy November 14, 2010 at 5:01 am

No, I’m offering a little perspective. The actual cost is wearing a seatbelt or choosing to pay a fine instead. Intent and motivation behind the law are speculation on your part and mine.

If you get rid of the regulation side of this particular equation, if I’m correct in my speculation, why would you expect the lobbyist to be less corrupt than their collusion with the state would suggest they are?

Sione November 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm

” is it not obvious that a drunk driver is a danger to ALL drivers ?!”

No. He is not. Still, if you really believe the statement try proving it.

Sione

Andy November 14, 2010 at 5:15 am

It can’t be proven to be dangerous, but property protection after the fact is little consolation after your loved one dies in a drunk driving accident. Having your home restoration paid for after your next door neighbor violates your property rights by detonating his meth lab next to it isn’t too heart warming either.

Sione November 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Andy

“It can’t be proven to be dangerous”.

That’s right. That’s because it usually isn’t.

Of course should you wish to continue with your line of thought regarding the POTENTIAL for accidents then you ought to be consistent.

“property protection after the fact is little consolation after your loved one dies” in a driving accident. Along this route lies brilliant notions such as banning driving altogether (except for public officials and the like).

Sione

Andy November 17, 2010 at 5:12 am

You and I could both offer evidence to support either argument. You can’t prove that drunk driving isn’t dangerous (statutory BAC). Assuming that you don’t conduct your own studies, both of our opinions are based on what we read and personal experience alike.

My opinion in support of DUI laws is based on my choice to trust the premise of a great deal of literature (and experience) that alcohol DOES impair your ability to drive safely. Further, I believe that DUI regulation acts to restrict law enforcement just as much as the offender. BAC tests permit third parties a basis for legal argument, rather than depend wholly on the testimony of the arresting officer. There are many mitigating circumstances that will make a misdemeanor DUI charge little more than a minor inconvenience, relative to having your life taken in a drunk driving accident.

I couldn’t care less if you decide to get drunk and end up killing yourself smashing into a tree with your car. My concern is what you can do to other drivers. It is my choice and yours as to what risks we will assume for ourselves in life . I have decided for myself that drinking and driving is not worth the risk. I am fully aware that my opinion is imperfect and fallible, and different from yours. I am aware that I am sacrificing personal freedom for a possibly dubious level of safety.

Why should I disregard my strongly held conviction pertaining to road safety and regulation when there are so many alternatives available to people that choose to drink alcohol and drive a car?

Designating a sober driver or simply choosing not to drink and DRIVE is much less costly than an outright ban on driving. I don’t agree with banning alcohol again, either. Legalize pot, acid, cocaine or whatever else you want, and stay off the roads and out of my face. I just don’t believe my death or anyone elses should be your wake-up call when it comes to taking responsibility for your actions and how they effect others.

Christopher November 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

What nonsense.

A Liberal In Lakeview November 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Why do you think that, Christopher?

Harry Schell November 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

When government wants a monopoly on something, but cannot fulfill the obligation it has undertaken to provide the benefit, government must cede back to citizens the freedom to pursue personal options.

This is a paraphrase of why the Canadian Supreme Court overturned Quebec’s ban on ANY private health care arrangement, from insurance to service delivery. The fastest growing segment of healthcare delivery in Canada are private arrangements.

“Shall issue” law in the US for concealed carry of firearms is a recognition that 95+% of the time the police are minutes away when seconds count. And it is clear such law works to reduce violent crime just as the UK’s policy of disarming citizens and literally prosecuting acts of self-defense has promoted the highest violent crime rates per capita in the “developed world”.

The police have a role, but the 2nd Amendment comprehends that tyranny comes in all forms, from the criminal and petty to governments, and that self-defense is a basic human right which cannot be enjoyed if the effective means is denied to citizens.

Steve November 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm

My mother was recently witness to an accident (no injuries or anything). She stayed around to give her statement to the police. The officer then proceeded to interrogate and treat my mom very rudely (his tone, expression, and questions were all inappropriate). The questions he asked had nothing to do with the accident, but were aimed at why she was there, who she was, where she was going, where she lived etc. She couldn’t understand why he was treating her like a criminal. In her mind she was being a good citizen by sticking around and telling what she saw; she’s the helper type through and through. So I asked her if she’d stop again in a similar situation? She paused and shrugged her shoulders. The police are having an effect on people, but in this case it wasn’t a good one.

Ryan November 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm

http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-bethlehem-police-excessive-force-l20101109,0,25.story

“Bethlehem Pennsylvania has settled an excessive force lawsuit for $850,000 to a 51-year-old man and his teenage son who claimed that fourteen officers were involved when they were beaten to the point where the father had to have spinal fusion surgeries to repair his injuries. Apparently the two were beaten and arrested while they were waiting to give witness statements to police for an assault that they witnessed at a music festival.”

Enjoy Every Sandwich November 10, 2010 at 7:45 pm

If the police are seriously interested in “serving and protecting” us, then they need to rethink their attitude toward the public. For them to be at all effective in dealing with crime, they need the support of the community. The more harshly they treat us, the less any of us will want to have to do with them.

When I was kid back in the ’70s, cops were somewhat approachable, at least in the little town where I grew up. Nowadays prudent people regard cops the way they regard dangerous animals: avoid contact if possible. If contact occurs, make no sudden movements because that will trigger a violent attack. Avoid eye contact. Speak in a low voice. etc, etc. How much cooperation will that get?

Unfortunately many people think fear and respect are the same thing. They aren’t.

Andy November 11, 2010 at 1:59 am

I would probably be a little jumpy too if my job could entail having my head blown off just because of my uniform…being judged for the actions of many or some of my colleaugues.

Sione November 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Andy

You write, “I would probably be a little jumpy too if my job could entail having my head blown off just because of my uniform…being judged for the actions of many or some of my colleaugues.”

Then get another job.

There is a saying, “when you lie down with dogs you’ll get up with fleas.”

Better off staying right away from critters with fleas……

Sione

Andy November 14, 2010 at 5:52 am

All dogs have fleas. When there are no dogs around, they jump on cats. Another saying: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

If there were no corruption, no one would want or need police protection. Offering the advice of getting another job is like arguing that dogs are to blame for attracting fleas, then criticizing them for wanting relief. Police protection will be demanded whether privately or publically offered. Private police force will be faced with the same risks, and some of them will be fleas.

Police officers that brutalize are no more and no less than anyone else commiting Battery. Everyone is susceptible to corruption.

Sione November 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Andy

“All dogs have fleas.”

False. Perhaps your dogs do, but that’s because they are dirty, flea-blown vermin. Other people’s dogs are not necessarily the same as yours.

The quote about dogs with fleas relates to advice about whom one associates with. It is similar to the old saying that you are judged by the company you keep.

You are attempting to defend a “jumpy” (that is uncivil and badly behaved) government worker on the basis that he behaves as he does because some of his colleagues are uncivil and badly behaved. Best advice to such is to find another job- one where the culture and normal means of behaviour means he won’t be at risk of injury on the basis of what his colleagues have been doing.

“If there were no corruption, no one would want or need police protection.”
That reads in two ways which is apt. Consider, if there were no police corruption, no-one would want or need protection from police either. There is no justification for a corrupt group of specially priviledged enforcers, certainly not on the basis that their corruption somehow “protects” from corruption.

” Police officers that brutalize are no more and no less than anyone else commiting Battery.”
Purile nonsense. The Police have special powers and priviledges. When these are abused (and in the US that is much less than uncommon lately) that represents a very serious breakdown of civilisation in that it eliminates justice and even proper rule of law. It is not merely battery in the sense that a private citizen punches or kicks another private citizen, it is also a harnessing of the power of the state. The officer employs his position to protect him from the consequences of his unjust actions as he can call upon an entire institutionalised system to continue the persecution and battery of the victim. This is a terrible compounding of the crime of battery, a continuance and escalation into fraud and worse.

The role of Police Officer demands the highest standards of probity, civil behaviour, understanding of what is justice, careful judgement, being a well-known integrated member of a community (not a clock-in, clock-out visitor) and so on. It demands an uncorruptible integrity. That some (many) are not up to that standard has much to do with their activities substituting revenue harvesting and arbitrary displays of power enforcement for what police work is supposed to be- acting as peace officer.

When the culture of ones colleagues prevents one from doing as one should, then it is time to do as one should. Cast them aside. Move on.

Sione

Andy November 17, 2010 at 6:07 am

” For that reason, an alleged drug dealer’s abode must be violated violently: the front door must be kicked in; the house must be entered by officers fully armored, armed, and angry; the occupants must be thrown into chaos”.

I am not defending “jumpy” cops, so much as responding to comments such as above and made by Enjoy Every Sandwich. We live in a violent world, law enforcement aren’t the sole perpetrators. If I were a police officer that believed drug houses should be eradicated, (different debate) I would attack it with the force needed to overcome the expected resistance. You don’t deal drugs OR fight crime without force. A family friend found out how deadly rooming with a pot dealer could be, and it wasn’t the police.

The argument seems to be replace public law enforcement with private, as if they will act more civilised in their duties. Most cops do not act like this. They do good at times, and I am disagreeing with the view that law enforcement and government are incompatible with a peaceful society.

The only power that police are GIVEN is the power to detain. They are allowed to defend themselves the same as everyone else. I can’t kill someone that is stealing my television. Police can’t kill someone that isn’t a deadly threat either. We are both given our day in court, yet another debate.

I see the government as a reflection of the culture we live in. Wives beaten like Rodney King by their husbands. Corrupt police officers that would otherwise be corrupt Accountants or private security guards. A Wal-mart cashier that molests your wife just as easily as the Sheriff that laughed when her breast was grabbed by some asshole standing in line at a convenience store.

Or the officer that responded very quickly when I reported that my neighbor was being beaten by her husband. Or the officer that apprehended the dickhead that was going to rob a co-worker.

We live in a grey world. I’m disagreeing with the narrow view many have about law and order.

Andy November 17, 2010 at 6:19 am

“When the culture of ones colleagues prevents one from doing as one should, then it is time to do as one should. Cast them aside. Move on”.- Then, because law enforcement is inherently corrupt, there should be no law enforcement?

Some of the officers killed on duty are not part of that culture. My defense is for them. The comment you are referencing is a response to Eat Every Sandwich. They deal with irrational people daily, and their attitude shouldn’t be surprising when some people applaud their death. And vice versa, as EES has illustrated.

John Adams November 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm

It all started with John Adams. Anyway, thank you for this article. It sheds light on what happens when Navy ships send out boarding teams to investigate foreign boats in international waters. Even though the boarding team is infringing on the rights and property of the owner of the boats, they will not hesitate to kill the first person that brandishes a weapon in defense of that property and its associated right against trespass.

RWW November 11, 2010 at 12:06 am

But is the death of a police officer really more tragic than the death of anyone else unknown to us?

On the contrary, I usually find the death of a police officer agreeable, since most officer deaths these days seem to occur while the officer is victimizing someone.

guard November 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Police may at one time have been somewhat respectable. Now they are little more than revenuers. A significant portion of what they do is collect money or enforce taxes one way or the other, far removed from anything that historically could be called crime.

billwald November 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

The author wants the ability to talk his way out of speeding ticket and also wants the ability of police officers to judge a situation according to their experience to be eliminated? Doesn’t compute!

Seems to me the “fairest” way to control traffic is with speed cameras and red light cameras. A side benefit is that math classes in the US might begin to teach the meaning of “limit.”

The police abuse that the author complains about are the unintended consequences of the drug laws and “undercover” police officers. Been there, done that. (30 years a Seattle Police Officer) I can’t think of anything less moral or civilized than paying a government employee to tell lies.

Joe November 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm

@Billwald, If I have learned anything over the years that there is no such thing as a perfect system. The judical system is not perfect and the laws are not perfect. I myself prefer the human touch and would hate to have cameras give me tickets. I know it takes away a lot of the subjectivity but I still like the human touch. I know police officers are human and as such are suseptible to errors and even being bias towards certain individuals. I have had cops just look at me and give me a ticket and I have had them give me a warning when I deserved a ticket. I believe if the police officers are trained properly, have a rational approach, and through years of experience can make a proper decision to either give a ticket or not. They serve the public well when all those conditions are present. I know all the cute blonds get a break but that is just the nature of the beast. I also know that even police officers have bad days. I would not be a police officer today. I was in a customer service job years ago when people were more civil and polite, but now days people think they are victims and want to get into your face. Thanks for your service of 30 years and it looks like you came away sane.

daniel November 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm

One issue I’ve been seeing more of in the last few years is cops committing crimes and essentially getting away with it. Whether this is a case of more cops going to the dark side, or more ubiquitous reporting, I don’t know.

Take the case of the BART officer in San Francisco who shot a handcuffed man to death. “I thought I was grabbing my Taser” he claimed and he got two years. Anyone who has handled a Taser and a pistol instantly knows the difference by touch yet his excuse was allowed to stand.

There are many stories about cops doing this or that and little, if anything, being done to them. This, coupled with the so-called “Thin Blue Line” is leading to a group of people who enforce the law, but feel no compunction to observe it. This can only lead to thuggery.

I propose that any law enforcement official convicted of a crime is automatically given the full punishment for the crime.

Stefan December 3, 2010 at 12:41 am

for what its worth, there is some value to cops as well. I agree that frequently people in positions of power (cops) tend to abuse the power, but truly without some law enforcement body there would be crime. some people do not respect other peoples property, the police are there to stop them, frequently i speed on roads i have been pulled over, the law was there written on signs i broke the law, i payed a fine, it has been my experience that the vast majority of cops aren’t trying to make your day worse because they can, they are just trying to do their jobs which sometimes includes giving people tickets. I think this whole blog could be re-titled more fairly as “some cops abuse their power” which is true, but its like hating black people because ‘some black people commit crimes’ which is true but not a fair measure of black people. similarly it is not fair to say all cops are bad and we should be angry that they exist because some cops abuse their power

nate-m December 3, 2010 at 1:29 am

for what its worth, there is some value to cops as well.

Well hell yeah there is. Certainly the vast majority are going to be regular people who want to do a decent job and get paid for it.

Ideally cops should be friends of the people. Instead of driving through a neighborhood looking for drug dealers to bust and speeders to fine…. they should be friends with the people that live there. They should know them, understand them, and have good relations with them. Protect their houses, watch their kids for them, and keep a eye on people who tend to need a little more guidance and control then everybody else.

The war on drugs have destroyed relations between police and the people. The cities and counties create traffic laws and increase fines not to protect lives, but to increase income for the government. The police are effectively tax collectors whose job is it to lie in wait and then terrorize somebody into paying the fines.

When I see a cop following me in a car I don’t think ‘Hey look my protector, hello guy’ I am thinking “oh fuck if he pulls me over I’ll be late for work and I can’t afford that. God just make him go away… please please please just make him go away.”

That is NOT a healthy relationship and I know that I am not alone.

I don’t think that most police really want that either. They want to protect and serve and be appreciated in the community for the work they do. They want to save people, save property, be told that they are good guys and get praises and payment for doing good jobs protecting us.

I don’t steal, I don’t want to hurt nobody. I want people to have nice stuff and live in nice homes. I want to have fun and go and enjoy life. I want to feel safe and have a protector, too. I don’t want to be scared when I drive or worry about every little thing that I mess up on might get me pulled over or a hundred dollar fine in the mail from some traffic camera.

This should be a no-brainer. 90% of everybody wants to be either the protector or be the protected. I want to pay money to people to protect myself, property, and my family when I am not there.. and there are people that want to be paid to do that.

But everything is damn twisted and screwed up in our society. The whole law enforcement is something that needs to be restructured. The concept of private police departments seems like a fantastic idea to me nowadays.

krs December 22, 2010 at 3:00 am

LEARN HOW TO WRITE. That was seriously painful to read.

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