Faithful readers know I regard our police forces as the worst humans on earth since the heyday of Nazi storm troopers. Prior to 1970, those who disagreed with me had a leg to stand on. Since then, that leg has been cut out from under them. For the last 43 years there is no respectable argument against me. I have posted several pieces on the subject, mainly in www.watching politics.com and today I resume the attack.
Nothing I have to offer today is original. It is mainly a précis of Radley Balko’s magnificent article in today’s Wall St. Journal. “Rise of the Warrior Cop”: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories
As the unfortunately hackneyed expression goes, if you have time to read but one newspaper article this month, make it Mr. Balko’s. I can only present a few highlights interspersed with a few of my usual sarcasms and expressions of hostility but I can not match Mr. Balko for sober appraisal.
We live in a brutal police state, dominated by tens of thousands of evil-minded people hell-bent on one end – to hurt the rest of us. Call this hyperbole at your own risk and pray you do not become a victim of police viciousness one day, as happened to 92-year old Katherine Johnston or 11-year old Alberto Sepulveda. I find the claim that their slaughters were unintended and merely unfortunate errors too preposterous to criticize.
Here are a few highlights from Mr. Balko’s article, with some additions of my own:
1.First official SWAT team (Special Weapons and Tactics) in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, the number had risen to several hundred. By 1980 there were a few thousand. By 1985 there were tens of thousands and by 2005, 80% of all cities and towns over 25,000 people had SWAT teams that engaged in 50,000 raids.
2. In 1970, Congress authorized a no-knock-on-the-door act authorizing federal agents to batter down doors on residences without announcement. Although the law was repealed four years later, the practice has never halted.
3. Police arrive in full battle gear that include helmets, heavy duty assault rifles, incendiary devices called flashbang grenades that blind and maim all those who happen by.
4. Raids are typically conducted on the basis of unverified tips that gambling is going on in garages, basements and VFW halls. In a recent case, Matthew Stewart heard his door being bashed down, so he got his Beretta pistol to defend himself. In the ensuing battle, 250 rounds were exchanged and six “officers of the law” were wounded, one fatally. In the opinion of this writer, no wrongful harm by Stewart was committed, including the execution of the cop. The only wrong was the arrest of Mr. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was a military veteran who was being attacked for allegedly possessing marijuana. After losing a hearing on the legality of the search, Stewart hanged himself in his cell. Very clearly, it would have been better for all twelve raiders on Stewart’s home to have died than for Mr. Stewart to have died.
5. Today’s police are trained in battleforce techniques to bring to an end gambling and drug use (mostly marijuana, of course). Police use M-16 rifles, armored personnel carriers and helicopters to descend on our relatively law-abiding citizens. ["Relative" at least to the police themselves.] No one can doubt that if in the course of the raid, Officer Francom had shot Stewart to death there would have been only the usual pro forma investigation ending with complete exoneration and medal for Francom. Mr. Stewart faced a first degree murder charge for the death of Francon and he certainly would have been convicted because killing an officer in the course of a shootout requires no proof of premeditation in any any American jurisdiction.
6. Police are our heroes, dullards like to say. How could we get along without them? Who would not call on them in a moment of crisis? Etcetera and ad nauseam (including by one stupid defender of the faith in this very blog.) Police are backed by government officials who are almost a match for them in indifference to suffering. Probably the worst mayor in American history is the militarist autocrat Michael Bloomberg whose list of evil doings would require twenty pages. The midget boasted in 2011 that “I have my own army in the NYPD- the 7th largest army in the world.” With any luck, one of these days, when the midget is not recognized by one of his soldiers, he will get bludgeoned to death in a most fitting “Goodbye, Michael.”
7. How many innocent people may be killed by SWAT terrorists to balance out the alleged good they do? In my view, none, but 50 have been documented Mr., Balko. No amount of presumptive safety and security SWAT officers do can justify 50 deaths. America is a lawless land, not because of sensational acts of violence as happened a few times this year but because of the unrelenting crushing of our civil liberties by police in the most violent ways imaginable. One young cop put it in these frightening terms, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get home safely” at the end of a day. He overlooked one simple thing he could do: quit the force and remove himself and his family to a peaceful, rural area.
8. The sensationalists make much of wild shooting sprees civilians occasionally go on with assault weapons but conveniently ignore that 1/8th of 1% of homicides committed in the USA are committed with military-style weapons. These homicides are usually committed with low-powered handguns. Of course, if we toss in the everyday murders committed by police then the homicde count rises.
It is time to stop celebrating the ubiquitous presence of police and being grateful for their intervention “when we need them.” We don’t need them. Wh doubts that the Gestapo occasionally came to the rescue of good people? Even if it turned out they did so as often as they did monstrous deeds, that could not justify their existence. Let’s put an end to all police forces now.