By Nathan Barton
Once more, we see “American” police gunning down innocent people for no more reason than a mistaken address given by someone – or misunderstood by cops and dispatchers.
The latest is in Southaven, Mississippi, as reported by The Free Thought Project, where a man responded to cop cars and pounding on his door by opening the door only to be killed in a hail of bullets from cops. The cops claim he pointed a gun at them: no gun was recovered at the scene and the man’s wife said he did not have a gun with him when he went to the door.
I don’t know the total death toll due to cops killing people – especially not innocent people with no record of anything, no warrant, and no reason to be killed, like Mr. Lopez, for this year. Previously, I’ve found information that it amounts to about three killings a day – and who knows how many wounded, beaten, tortured, or terrorized by men in dark blue, black, brown, and khaki, wearing badges that are – more and more – licenses to kill issued by their masters in federal, state, and especially local-level government agencies.
Today, for probably the fifth time this week, I’ve received a robo-call from some company or another (some identify themselves as “paid callers”) using fake telephone numbers and trying to get me to donate money in support of police officers and law enforcement, to protect the “thin blue line” that supposedly keeps civilization alive. Or in other words, adding yet another lie to the first four or five they say in just making the call. When I am able to get an actual organization name, more often than not a search on line turned out to come up with nothing: the organization does not seem to exist. When it does, it is often on lists of con-artists and fake charities that spend 90% of the money that they get and give 10% to the “benevolent” organizations of police officers or to actual police organizations.
Believe me, that 10% is 10% too much. Even one percent is too much. In fact, the way things are going right now, I would feel better if I were stupid enough to give money to the con artists, making sure that not a red penny went to a law enforcement agency – or even to the children or widow (or widower) of a law enforcement thug. Yes, I realize that I am painting with a very broad brush, but even if there are ten good cops for every bent or bad one, enough is enough. And I think it is much worse than just one in eleven bad’uns. Let me give an example.
I frequently drive through San Juan County, Utah, the Four Corners county in the extreme southeast of the state. San Juan is the Old West, filled with good people: Navajo (Dineh), Ute (Numu), LDS, and other Anglo-Europeans. A fair number of tourists – even from East Asia and Europe and the Commonwealth. An LDS temple. A lot of hard-working farmers and ranchers and, yes, government employees, and oil and gas people and folks who run and work in tourist establishments in this red rock desert country.
Today, there are three trials going on in Monticello, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune and the San Juan Record. The trials are of the Sheriff, and two Deputy Sheriffs. The victim of the crimes of which they are charged is another member of the Sheriff’s Office in the County. (In addition, of course, to the taxpayers and citizens of the County.) The sheriff has been in office for 7 years – the deputies for even longer. They are accused of threatening the other employee with a rifle, and then of covering up the incident and lying about it. Just like the cops in Mississippi appear to be lying about the gun that Mr. Lopez did not have. At least (as far as we know) the victim in San Juan County was not killed or wounded.
That is three out of eleven officers in the Sheriff’s Office in this large but sparsely populated area. I’ve seen several of these, together with some of the Monticello city police, frequently as I travel through their county (usually about 70 miles of US highway) – and I’ve seen them stop and help people who were broken down, as well as stops for other reasons (I assume: speeding, etc.). They have usually been friendly: I suppose my South Dakota plates let them treat me as a tourist or a temporary worker in the area, and not a local. Unlike some counties and towns in the Fifty States, I’ve not heard much bad about them. Unlike some of the neighboring counties, where sheriff’s deputies and police officers are regularly on front page stories for various crimes (at least once or twice a year), I’ve not seen that in Monticello and the county. They haven’t recently killed anyone – at least not going back for several decades. The community respects them (or used to, at least). But there is a very good chance that more than a quarter of this sheriff’s office are lawbreakers, criminals, felons.
Multiply that by hundreds of thousands, especially in places like the Deep South and the Rust Belt where the history of corruption and bad cops, abusive killers is known. Statistics and studies say that the presence of sociopaths and psychopaths on police forces is 15 to 20 times as high as that in the population as a whole. I have seen good men and women become police officers – and turn bad. I have seen bad men and women become police officers – and become worse. I have seen a few good men and women become police officers, realize what was happening, and quit to go do something else. And I will admit that I have seen a few good people become cops and NOT turn bad – a very few, but a few. But for most, it is inevitable.
Once I would say (and did) that service as a peace officer – and even as a law enforcement officer under some conditions – was compatible with being a libertarian. At least with being a minarchist. Today? Theoretically, I suppose it is still the case: practically, even in a very small county or town, I do not think it is. Compromises here and there, allowing yourself to believe the propaganda spewed out by the law enforcement academy, and practice and just plain cynicism corrupts – and not only in the way we normally define corrupt cops. But in how we deal with people – especially our own families and neighbors – will change as the mental attitude and the constant wear on our souls proceeds.
What can we do? What can be done? A lot of us have given thought to this.
Privatization of police functions (as normally defined) is apparently NOT the solution: privatization simply means that the police are not direct government employees, but instead employees of a company which contacts to provide the police services for the government, but in essence follows the same rules and objectives and procedures as if they were government employees directly of a government agency.
Commercialization is also probably not the answer: again, a private company uses its employees to provide services under contract to a government; the major difference is that the contractor does not necessarily have to abide by all procedures and rules: they are given specific objectives to accomplish but not told (within limits) HOW to accomplish them. Still, they are working for government.
Libertarian “privatization” is still probably not the answer: in this case, private companies and their employees are hired by private persons (usually landowners or groups thereof) to provide “police services” (law enforcement) in accordance with laws of the various levels of government. In some states (the Carolinas, apparently) such independent police and their organizations must follow established procedures and rules also followed by the “official” city, county, state etc. police. While there are some very important advantages for this, such as taxation and many advantages of the free market, they are not much different than the usual government-run, tax-funded type.
In addition, as with standard governmental police (which really have only existed in the English speaking world since 1735 or so) and sheriff’s offices, these all have the potential for tyranny – probably on a local level, but still, tyranny and therefore abuse of the very people that they “serve” as well as those others in the community.
However, this is certainly better than the system we have here in bloody-streets America. Jarret Wollstein provides a great deal of information about such a concept of anarchocapitalist police in, among other places Mises.org.
It may be that we are looking at this the wrong way. It is not so much that we need law enforcement by police of whatever kind, but that society needs people who keep the peace – and do so by preventing crime and helping deal with the results of crime. Key to this is defining what IS a crime – and here we enter the realm of politics and philosophy. And the pragmatic circumstances that resources are limited.
This concept is far from new – indeed, some places (like San Francisco, which came as a surprise to me) have such a concept that operates somewhat in parallel with the city’s police. In the case of San Francisco, this has existed since 1847. L Neil Smith explains a similar concept in many of his Probability Broach series of novels and stories.
The main emphasis in this is NOT “law enforcement” but rather, maintaining and reestablishing the peace and civil behavior: responding as necessary to actual crimes (in which there is a real victim and in which there has been serious physical harm or damage done) and providing support to first responders and to people in the community. It is a very big difference from our current system, and not just because it is free-market. And most especially, it requires the accepting of responsibility by individuals (and their organizations and companies) for their own defense and protection against crime AND against those tempted by their position and power to take over.
But it cannot really exist and function properly, in my opinion, in parallel with government police forces, whether or not they are considered to have a monopoly of force.
And that is the key. Reform has been attempted many times both of modern police forces and of their equivalent in various societies and cultures going back thousands of years. The reforms have, at best, lasted a few years. But always (unless the society is destroyed and submerged into another), the same abuses and dangers of tyranny arise again. In 2017 and beyond, we can no longer afford this danger of servants becoming masters. The one major key to solving this problem is the abolition of government-owned, government-operated, and tax-funded law enforcement organizations.
From 2015 (Natural News – often a suspect website): Private policing and SCOP (Special Conservators of the Peace).
From Mises Institute, an article by Murray Rothbard (from his book A New Liberty) discusses the entire subject of privatizing police functions.
Also from Mises Institute a 2010 republication of a 1969 article by Jarret Wollstein on Police Forces.
Mama’s Note: There will be little or no progress toward removing the monopoly of force, and the sociopaths who use it, until people in general stop believing in government “authority.” It is that belief which keeps the liars, thieves and sociopaths in power, allowing them to do what they do.
No reform or alternate form of “police” will be possible until people in general take back their sovereign authority and responsibility for their own lives and safety.