By Nathan Barton
In part 1, I talked about the problem we have with cops and police in America today: killer cops, abusive cops, tyrannical cops. I presented some thoughts on how to deal with that, and recognized that those things are NOT really solutions.
So let me propose a restatement of the problem and what may be the solution.
The model of “policing” we have developed in this country (and before that, in the UK and other Commonwealth countries) is a failure. We cannot fix it anymore. It is time to accept that and replace it with something else: END the occupation. NOW.
We MUST replace it with something that might work better. What would that be?
One that comes to mind is Heinlein’s concept of a public safety proctor roster.
You would have people volunteer and are selected (after some basic screening) almost on rotation or by the lot to serve for a very limited time and a very specific area. Their duties would be to keep or restore the peace, deal with emergencies, and aid people. This roster would be on a very local level: a city neighborhood, a township, a small county: probably nothing larger than 25,000 people (and that large only in huge urban areas: in rural areas, I could see that “jurisdiction” to be as small as a few hundred people or a few blocks of businesses).
These would NOT be professionals: we don’t WANT professionals. We want people who don’t think that they are superheroes or magic workers or the like: but people who know their community and care about it and want to fix things, not make them worse. Their purpose is to identify, stabilize (keep things from getting worse), and if beyond resolution, to call for help: paramedics, fire service, or citizen emergency response teams, or just other neighbors with various skills to deal with the mess (and if need be, the person(s) causing the mess).
This is related to the old English idea of Frith-guilds: that small groups of people voluntarily enter into agreements to protect them, their families, and their properties, and to mutually pledge to keep the peace and deal with trouble of any sort.
Also related to this is the use of private security and service companies, entering into local, limited, and voluntary contracts with people and businesses, and working “at will” with companies and communities: hired to do a specific job, one of those dozen or so that we lump together in “police” or “law enforcement.” Tasks like ensuring that traffic flows safely and smoothly, that parking privilege (or rights) on other peoples’ land is not abused, that fraud and corruption and theft are investigated, prevented, or compensated. Like protecting people from violence initiated by others. L. Neil Smith has come up with, or popularized, many ways of dealing with this sort of thing. The emphasis is small, local, and limited, and ALWAYS with someone watching to see that they do it right (and take action if they don’t). Bad as Jenny and Win Bear’s USA was, the thought of a dictatorship run by or supported by Griswolds’ (Brrrr!) is frightening.
With modern communications and equipment and all we have, there is no need for a centralized force to do these things at ANY level, including the federal: at best, someone to maintain communications and databases, and to provide for mutual aid. EVERYTHING (even that) is private: not “privatized” like BlackWater or contracting out parking metermaids, but PRIVATE: crime investigation and prevention (security), and even prosecution and serving of warrants and legal papers done by private companies under private contract with private individuals and businesses. With NO special privileges, written or implied.
The theme of all this is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY: taking responsibility and accepting accountability for your own actions, your own body, your own land, your own community. Our modern, sick system of policing destroys personal accountability and individual responsibility. We must restore something that creates conditions in which we are expected to be responsible and will have no choice but to accept that; whether it is as spending one day a month as a volunteer public safety proctor or contracting for services and insurance and paying compensation when we do mess up. The only reason the old system lasted as long as it did was because there were enough people who were still willing to be responsible and behave as they would want others to do.
These are not utopian fixes: there would be lots of problems. But what we have now is not just not working, it is leading to more and more evil by the day. Enough is enough.