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Anarcho-tyranny and the police here and abroad

We've all, unfortunately, seen stories like this one, about the police tasing a disabled man to get him off a bus after he refused to sit down, or this one about Ethan Saylor, with Down Syndrome, who was asphyxiated to death by police gone wild at the movie theater in a dispute over a $12 ticket, or this recent one about an elderly man killed by police with bean-bag shot rounds after he refused to go to the hospital for treatment his nursing home staff wanted him to have. (Hey, wait, I thought everyone had a right to refuse treatment? Never mind.) Then there's this one about the perfectly innocent college girls in a car terrified out of their lives and eventually put in jail for a night over a bottled water purchase and a police mistake. (The police thought the bottled water was beer.)

There are many more such stories out there about police using excessive force, behaving in a wildly militarized fashion, terrorizing perfectly innocent people, and so forth.

On the other hand, a friend in Ireland recently sent me this story. It seems that police in Northern Ireland aren't permitted to defend themselves effectively against hooligans and rioters, who therefore think it great sport of a summer's evening to go out and try (sometimes successfully) to light police officers on fire. Think I'm making it up? Have a look at the video. Sometimes the water cannons work, and sometimes they don't.

Let me add that, in the U.S., the police are sometimes defended in cases like that of Ethan Saylor by the statement that they had to use what ultimately turned out to be deadly force because otherwise a police officer might have gotten hurt.

So, what does this mean? Does it just mean that the United States and Ireland are completely different in their approach to these matters? Would the Ethan Saylor incident (and the other incidents) never happen in Northern Ireland? After all, if police lives are valued so little and if avoiding killing non-police is so important that even murderous hoodlums throwing gasoline bombs are treated carefully in confrontations, one would assume that the innocent, the disabled, and the elderly have nothing to fear from excessive police force.

And that may simply be true. I'm certainly open to that explanation. Why create a conundrum where none exists? Ireland is one country and the U.S. is a different country. Maybe the police in the U.S. are being (sad to say) increasingly trained to behave like SWAT-style thugs against all and sundry while police in Northern Ireland are being trained to be MacGyver-style non-violent peacekeepers willing to risk life and limb rather than risking harm to anyone else.

On the third hand (as it were), from Sweden we have the following perfect illustrations of Samuel Francis's concept of anarcho-tyranny. When car-burning riots raged in Sweden, police had a policy of deliberately doing nothing about the rioters while cracking down decisively on so-called "vigilantes" who tried to stop immigrant rioters burning cars and neighborhoods. To add insult to injury, authorities issued parking tickets on burned cars.

The Swedish policy appears to be to stick it to the weak and law-abiding. Let the strong and scary criminal mobs do as they will. Somehow, I wouldn't be all that surprised to see stories about the police suffocating or bean-bag killing people in Sweden and also stories about police getting their heads burned by gasoline bombs, because they weren't allowed to shoot at the bomb-throwers.

There, it all kind of fits together.

Is there a pattern like this growing all over the West of excessive force against the innocent, the weak, the law-abiding, and those defending themselves and others but excessive deference to actual violent criminals? Is that the true explanation of the crazily contradictory stories from the U.S. and Ireland?

Even if it is not the explanation of the apparent tension between police practice in Northern Ireland and in the U.S., is there such a pattern in the U.S.? More sobering still, will anyone recognize that pattern and do anything effective about it, or will proposed solutions swing from the extreme of advocating absolute anarchy to advocating more police toughness, which in practice will mean more violence against the wrong people?

Let's also get practical: Who, specifically, is training the U.S. police to take this militarized and/or exaggerated approach to perfectly ordinary conflict situations? Is it some kind of federal program or is it a set of similar state-level programs? The police didn't get this way by accident, and this kind of tase-first-ask-questions-later approach is definitely new in the last couple of decades, if not less. If there is some program or set of programs, how can ordinary citizens try to get them stopped and get police policies changed? Lawsuits, I'm sorry to say, don't seem to be doing the trick.

By the way, I know that we have readers who will advocate the anarchy end of this. In fact, I have some idea who they are and have therefore hesitated to put up this post. There may be others who will advocate outright revolution. Please understand that I'm not going to allow the latter at all and that the former, once you have stated your case, will get old kind of fast. Ideally, we would come up with some creative, do-able, and non-seditious ideas, such as, "Get your state lawmakers to pass a law explicitly requiring police training to address x and not to include y" or "Find out if your town's police officers have received the Z program."

The sensible Western view of the role of police has always been tacitly chivalrous--kindness to the weak and innocent combined with unyielding toughness to the wickedly violent and truly criminal. If that chivalric code has been or is being reversed, something must be done, and fast.

Comments (33)

I cannot believe how difficult it is to make the State to take action. My mother let her brother come stay at her home for a time out of Christian charity; he is a felon that pleaded nolo contendere to arson. There was no lease and no money paid. The entire time he was there, he tried to control and manipulate her. She saw the courts and they said that she'd have to give him a 30 day notice, then go to court to get an eviction order, and after that, the sheriff could take several weeks to get around to removing him. We had a lawyer draft up a no trespass notice and had it served to him, but the magistrate drug his feet and seemed like he didn't want to get involved. His probation officer was no help and didn't tell us the terms of his probation. In the end, the mere threat that we could get probable cause for trespass pressured him enough to move out, but there was no need for any of this. It turns out that he was either not a tenant at all or was a tenant at sufferance, and the procedures for removing them are much simpler. It also turns that merely by being in our home, due the presence of a firearm, he was in violation of his probation the entire time. Yet no one - not the police, not the sheriff, not the probation officer, not the courts - would help. In fact, the police told us that he could destroy any property in her home that he wanted to and it would be a civil matter. Wrong: in VA, her state of residence, destruction of property is criminal! Anarcho-Tyranny indeed. I will never, ever, let anyone stay in my home because of this. The State practically makes it impossible for private citizens to help out due to perverse incentives.

I don't want to propose anarchy, but I remain dubious of recourses involving "state lawmakers" under the current system of appointing and incentivizing lawmakers, except to have them undo what previous state lawmakers did.

I would think that the appropriate course here is a return to subsidiarity, particularly in light of Peel's 7th principle of policing:
"Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence."

Some specific examples: a return to citizen's arrests, abolishing various special police privileges, particularly abolishing police militarization, and that citizens should raise the hue-and-cry and form juries as the first line of upholding the law, with the specialist institutions being, as their name suggests, for special cases. Community defense against violent hooligans, and handling young girls who have gotten hold of alcohol, do not seem very special. (There may be a separate problem with the former: The destruction of community...)

One of my underlying concerns here is that anarcho-tyranny may be a ratchet, and one with a very effective means of propaganda: any time good citizens attempt to reestablish proper order, the anarcho-tyrant can shout "Anarchy!" at citizens who are disobeying the anarcho-tyrant. I want to separate revolt against anarcho-tyranny in specific from revolt and anarchism in general, which I understand is difficult, but I fear that attempting to work within the system and reform an anarcho-tyranny seems like a way of lending legitimacy to anarcho-tyranny, a favor that I would not expect to see returned.

State legislatures still have power of the purse, and that is no inconsiderable thing. Cities are strapped for cash everywhere. They are often dependent on state appropriations, and thus subject to being nudged.

For instance, there are counties where it is policy to send militarized SWAT units to every arrest warrant served. That kind of overkill aint cheap. A determined state legislature could undoubtedly end such a policy, probably without even writing new legislation.

Thanks, Paul, good point. I've seen state legislatures influence university policy, for example, by threatening to withhold funds. And your point about sending Swat-like teams and the expense is well-taken.

Erik, I wouldn't want to seem to be opposing all citizen efforts to restore order in chaotic situations. Nor am I at all opposed to self-defense. I'm a big defender of concealed carry permission and of 2nd Amendment rights. I also actually disagreed with the facile characterization in the Sweden case of any group that stood up to defend their property as "vigilantes." In reading about the similar riots in England I was rather inspired by the picture of a bunch of Sikhs with swords standing in front of their place of worship (which was not harmed). Naturally, the line gets rather blurry there regarding anarchy, but in the Sweden case the fault for that lies squarely on the shoulders of the police, who were deliberate enablers of anarchy. The rioting and burning, unopposed, was already anarchy in itself.

Not sure what you have in mind about young girls who have gotten hold of alcohol, and I have some doubts there, but in general, yes, there needs to be space for the defense of oneself, of property, and of others in the public at large, and our legal system should reflect that.

Trouble is, SWAT-related funding is frequently federally dispensed.

I may be opening a huge can of worms here, but the perplexing fact is that this sort of funding is intricately tied up with the decades-long War of Drugs, from whence derives a major impetus for the militarization trend. Whatever one's view of illegal intoxicants, it seems to me that some federalist (in the old sense) compromises may be in order.

The nettlesome irony is that arsonist riots and street mobs may well necessitate heavy weapons and armor for the police, but it's the pot growers and black-market drug business that comprise the basis for the SWAT funding.

The federal government has backed off on enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana, and has done so in a way that is legally entirely unprincipled. (That is to say, federal legalization would have been more principled than non-enforcement in just those states.) I'd be surprised, though perhaps I'd be wrong, if police behavior and treatment of innocents is better in states that have legalized certain drugs.

Also, over-tasing and killing elderly veterans with bean-bag rounds is, of course, a separate issue from over-use of SWAT teams, but aren't they closely related as a manifestation of a wrong police attitude?

Another thread in this bewildering tangle is the recent revelations of government surveillance. It was known (and generally accepted) that the DEA has some access to information outside the usual purview of law enforcement, and that DEA was authorized to deploy elaborate counterintelligence, including deception of prosecutors and judges, to protect confidential sources; but now we're informed that other agencies (cough cough IRS) may be included in these operations.

So alongside the militarization trend, and the combination of feebleness in the face of brutish criminality and severity toward the innocent, we also have this expansion of electronic surveillance and sophisticated counterintelligence. Worrisome.

The 'War on Drugs' is probably the main factor in all of this. Police can find drug users easily enough and can keep the jails and court systems full without risking life and limb. When they DO have to confront real violent criminals, they want to overwhelm with force (SWAT tactics) in order to minimize resistance. The money changing hands due to drug prohibition has fed the militarization and overwhelming brutality of the drug cartels, (it's 'the mob' on steroids!) thus the police feel the need to meet excessive force with even more excessive force. Of course these things tend to escalate - creating an 'arms race' between the police and the cartels. The problems arise when the police THINK they're going against someone violent but get the wrong address, or the perpetrator turns out to be unarmed, or when their SWAT training kicks in automatically (he's resisting so overwhelm him with force!) Unfortunately the average citizen sometimes gets caught in the middle.

There is also the Patriot Act - which removed some of the checks on law enforcement. Often, these militaristic SWAT teams are put together using federal money under the Homeland Security banner. There has been, and continues to be, a post 9/11 knee-jerk anti-terrorism backlash in the law enforcement establishment. Often, these forces are envisioned as going against al Qaeda terrorist cells in our midst (or, in the absence of al Qaeda, 'right-wing' terrorists like the whole Tea Party or the pro-life camp!) Witness, however, the abject failure of the whole Homeland Security apparatus in the Boston bombings: not only did the NSA 'surveillance state' fail to 'pick up the chatter' and thwart the attack, but the lockdown and manhunt failed to produce results. (It wasn't until the lockdown was partially lifted that a citizen went outside, noticed blood on his boat and alerted authorities.)

Repealing the Patriot Act and ending the 'War on Drugs' are two steps most immediate to the problem. Adopting a more realistic view of the actual domestic terrorist threat would help (as would changing our foreign policy - but that's another debate!) As for drugs, I don't know the actual percentage but I'd guess that the vast majority of arrests are drug related. If we as a country could agree that drugs are a medical problem, not a criminal one, that would free up the police to concentrate on real crime (property crimes, violent crimes, fraud, etc.) Ending the drug prohibition would also end the drug cartels. No longer would there be huge sums of money to be made bringing illegal drugs to this country. It might just calm things down.

Civil disobedience is another option. It would have to be widespread and popularly supported though. Once popular opinion is entrenched against militaristic police actions, bureaucrats would probably fold. More importantly, a peaceful uprising of widespread civil disobedience could eventually win over the rank and file police personnel - who would refuse to use such tactics. It's happened before.

This definitely has several strands. But would readers agree or disagree: The increased militarization of the police in the U.S. is somehow causally related to (if that means anything) the increased willingness of police to use fairly heavy, though non-militarized, force in individual confrontations? For the latter I have in mind things like tasing anyone who won't obey an order instantly, the incident with bean-bag rounds and the old man in the nursing home, and the like.

See, if these are in fact related, then the role of the war on drugs is much more murky. I find it a little difficult to believe that the war on drugs has much of anything to do causally with the overwhelming force used on the old man in the nursing home who didn't want to go to the hospital.

In answer to your question, Lydia, it seems to me that the militarization of police tactics carries with it a concomitant shift in police attitudes towards ordinary people as "civilians," rather than as fellow citizens. One element of this process that Peter Hitchens has focused on a bit is the elimination of true "beat" cops who spend their days walking a neighborhood, in favor of teams of officers who spend all their time in heavily-outfitted cruisers, in continuous communication with a dispatch unit that acts as a sort of tactical command center. It takes almost no imagination to see how this alienates the police from the people they are supposed to be protecting, and encourages a mentality in which every interaction is viewed from a strictly tactical standpoint. It enables the individual officer to cover an enormous amount of geographic territory, but it is territory in which he doesn't know anyone and every interaction with the "civilian" populace is fraught with suspicion and uncertainty. Their role is more similar to that of an infantry patrol in occupied Baghdad.

This alienation is dealt with through lame and obviously doomed "training" programs concerning "community outreach"--the very title of which suggests a wide moat between the police officer and the community that is somewhere "out there," some place he has to be trained in how to "reach out" towards. Moreover, as we see with ordinary people driving their cars and becoming extremely hostile to anonymous strangers (we call it "road rage," but it happens on the internet, too), all the tactical training, equipment, and so on become extensions of the officer's individual will which, when frustrated in any way, explodes in excessive overreaction and personal pique. The "Us and Them" mentality encourages corruption, too.

Thankfully, this is an area where conservatives really are starting to move on and recognize that the world is changed, and that the police in most places are not what they once were. Even in my lifetime I've witnessed an incredible change in demeanor among municipal police. Connected to all of this, of course, is the breakdown of coherent communities, as well as the explosion in costs associated with personnel in the public sector, but those are separate issues from the militarization angle, which was the main point of the thread.

There's a new book out about this - "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces" by Radley Balko
From the summary:

In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians’ ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610392116/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376320187&sr=1-1&keywords=rise+of+the+warrior+cop

Sage, that's an excellent, and disturbing, analysis concerning the change from thinking of people in the neighborhood as fellow citizens to thinking of them as foreign civilians in something more like occupied territory.

Thankfully, this is an area where conservatives really are starting to move on and recognize that the world is changed, and that the police in most places are not what they once were.

Meaning that conservatives are becoming more concerned and less inclined to assume reflexively that the police are always right in any real situation?

I don't think we have real "beat cops" in our town, but I think we do have something like neighborhood cops. I can certainly say that on the (thankfully few) occasions when I've seen a cop respond to a neighborhood call, I recognize the guy, and I'd recognize his name if I saw it (er, from occasional parking tickets). For a while I did know his name, because I'm friends with someone in the neighborhood watch who knew and liked that particular neighborhood officer, but that officer got transferred or something, so now it's a different person. But there does seem to be a measure of continuity.

There is only one core reform: give the public a right to match the cops blow for blow when the arrest is unlawful. That means at the very least let a concealed carry permit holder use whatever gun he has in defense of the disabled veteran getting shot with beanbags. Shooting an elderly man with bean bags over simple non-compliance is violent, criminal behavior. The only rational, conservative response is to let a concealed carry permit holder plug a round or two into the cop for such criminal conduct.

Beyond the use of self-defense against unlawful arrest, one could easily add:

1. Abolish qualified immunity for cops and absolute immunity for prosecutors acting as court officers.
2. Make it possible for negligent police officers to be personally sued by victims without the money coming out of departmental funds or insurance.
3. Get the state legislature to pass a law putting SWAT under the state police and deployable only in active shooter, hostage taking and similar situations where there is a violent crime requiring SWAT escalation in progress.
4. Abolish civil asset forfeiture outright. Here's an example of how civil asset forfeiture has been abused. Not the one threat: give us your cash or we'll break up your family.

Now people are talking about several different things at once. Civil forfeiture laws, for instance, a longstanding problem. I do not think that abuses of those laws are necessarily related to the problem Lydia discusses (that is, we could have perfectly normal pre-9/11 police departments and the cops in one-horse Texas road stops would still be seizing stereos from UT kids).

A couple of thoughts:

1) I don't think Northern Ireland can be fairly grouped in here. Police responses to demonstrations in Northern Ireland are, I am fairly certain, governed by the Good Friday Accords. I am not an expert on the Accords or the Troubles or the current state of affairs in the occupied counties. But the peculiar history and the at-times uneasy nature of civil society in Northern Ireland make it apples to our oranges.

2) 9/11 had a lot to do with this phenomenon.

First, there was and remains the widespread "preparedness" syndrome: this belief that we were "unprepared" on 9/11 and that if we had just had our act together better, we could have prevented the whole thing. Why the powers that be think that turning the local police department into an infantry battalion with enough firepower to seize Barbados makes them better prepared to stop lone bomb- or knife-wielding fanatics, I have never been sure. But there we are.

Second, the law-enforcement arena has been awash in money. There is federal money just pouring out of spigots for semi-automatic rifles, SWAT equipment, armored cars, cameras, license-plate readers, and all sorts of other gadgets. Again, we need all the money so we can be "prepared," apparently for a Soviet invasion.

3) Conservatives got completely snookered on this phenomenon. We've been "tough on crime" for decades now, ever since Tricky Dick discovered it was a good way to beat those slightly pink, slightly effete liberals who were content to let thugs take other people's wallets. So we didn't think twice when everyone voted to be better prepared and increase the number of cops, and armored cars, and so on, after 9/11. After all, we can't be weak on crime, much less on terrorism. Someone would come and take away our conservative cards.

4) I would like to blame the increase in the diversity and effectiveness of non-lethal weapons. It used to be that an American cop carried a service revolver and a nightstick. Now he has pepper spray, a couple of kinds of tazers, rubber bullets, bean bags, as well as a truncheon or two. All the new array of gadgets does is increase the array of scenarios in which a policeman can use force. Why are we surprised that a lot of those scenarios, in practice, are inappropriate or come out poorly?

Regarding #3 this is one of those things that hurt the Church by association. It's hard to claim that conservative Christians are just when they're constantly calling for tougher law enforcement rather than just and equitable law enforcement. One has to ask, for example, if taking away 20 years of a man's life for selling 1 kilo of cocaine and having a 9mm handgun on him is just. Many would say it is not and with sound reasoning behind their argument.

All the new array of gadgets does is increase the array of scenarios in which a policeman can use force.

This is true, but the failure here is ultimately on prosecutors and judges. The use of a projectile weapon on an elderly veteran for non-compliance is only acceptable if the senior is seen drawing a weapon on the police officer. Certain demographics (the severely drunk, stoned, overweight and elderly) are also very susceptible to being fatally harmed by tasers because of various reasons why their bodies are less able to withstand the current. Prosecutors and judges have largely failed to punish cops when they act out of line here. Another example is when cops keep tasering someone who is already on the ground; such force ought to result in the immediate prosecution of the officers involved. If a cop cannot handcuff and move them at that point, they are not physically fit to be a cop.

Titus, that's an interesting set of comments, but what stands out most to me is the observable fact that, post-9/11, the country went bananas over "security" (I remember there being huge barricades in front of the State House in Columbia, SC for weeks on end), and conservatives went along with things they never ought to have because, after all, there was a Republican in office and Michael Moore is a disgusting creep, so...

The plain fact is that with the exception of some parts of the border with Mexico, America just does not face the kind of threat from terrorism and armed criminals that would justify this outpouring of hardware--which among other things puts local law enforcement in a supplicant's relationship with the DHS, who gets to divvy up the spoils. America isn't Israel, and the threat of terrorism, while real, seems not to have much rational connection to the policies you're describing. The word "pretext" comes to mind, but I don't want to impute conspiratorial motives to people who, on the whole, really did think that there was such a thing as a "post-9/11 world" that justified all kinds of heavy-handed craziness from the powers that be.

A much more deep-seated aspect to the problem is the failure of the justice system and, especially, the penal system, to take matters in hand properly in the 70's and 80's as far as putting a stop to crime. That is, there was runaway damage to simple law-abiding society when criminals were being let off on stupid rules that should not have been made up at the bench - judges making their own laws. Many (but not all) of these judges had bleeding hearts and didn't really believe in the penal aspect of prison at all, only deterrence. When you put known criminals back on the street due to newly invented theories of procedure that you spring on cops, not surprisingly cops will end up being a little irritated and fight back in other ways. I think a good deal of police brutality came out of their perception that the "system" wasn't going to do the job right (whether they grasped "right" validly or not). The Supreme Court's invalidation of all 50 states' capital punishment procedures @ 1972 is perhaps the capstone example of the absurdity: at one fell swoop every person on death row was commuted to life in prison instead, REGARDLESS of how evil his crime or how certain his guilt, because a handful of men were certain that legal procedures - though more enlightened than at ANY TIME IN HISTORY - were not enlightened enough in any state to justify putting a criminal to death.

In some respects, Mayor Giuliani's campaign to clean up NYC was intended to reverse that, though only in certain respects. I doubt that the trend can be wholly reversed without recovering teaching morals officially and pointedly in schools, morals with a capital M. And teaching that some basic parts of the moral law are valid whatever your religion (or non-religion) and be-damned to the perverse amoral liberals who want to impose on us a "decide the meaning of your own life" regime by force.

This is, by the way, a big reason why conservatives got snookered on supporting "law and order" as Titus says. They have been fighting idiotic liberal mantra that "so-called 'crime' is just a symptom of poor education and lack of opportunity."

There is only one core reform: give the public a right to match the cops blow for blow when the arrest is unlawful.

Mike, you have suggested this before. Please explain to me, how is a person going to know beyond reasonable doubt, exactly what grounds a policeman is arresting you, if he hasn't said yet and is ordering you to the ground? How do you know, for example, that he hasn't mistaken you for a look-alike for whom there is a warrant out for arrest on suspicion of murder? Until you know why he is arresting you, resisting arrest "blow for blow" because you think it is unlawful is pretty dangerous to REAL law and order, isn't it? Can't every criminal say "I thought he was trying to arrest me for looking at him funny, and there's no crime in THAT!"

I would be much more in favor of (a) removing immunity for out-of-bounds behavior, and (b) requiring all police to wear a camera on their shoulder, with the arrest sequence being made available to all defendants as a matter of course. Combined, I suspect that police politeness would increase dramatically. It wouldn't solve the SWAT / militarism problem all at once, but it might have an impact.

Tony is certainly right that there is nothing wrong with being tough on crime. I consider myself quite the hawk in that regard as well. What's rather surprising is that anyone would consider the utter waste, on several different levels, of the over-reactions we are now hearing about, to be getting tough on crime. Obviously, tasing a guy for refusing to sit down on the bus or surrounding a car with girls carrying water (because you thought it was beer) isn't getting tough on crime. Taken at their worst, these activities aren't serious crimes. In fact, people stand up on buses and other forms of public transportation all the time, often they _have_ to stand up, so most people can't even figure out what the bus driver called the cops for in the first place.

Getting tough on crime has to do with enforcement at various levels. It may have to do with enforcement of laws against _relatively_ minor crimes, such as window breaking (hence, the "broken window principle"), but nobody ever said you needed to bring in an army to arrest a window breaker, even then. Moreover, my impression is that a lot of the laxness on crime has been at the more "bureaucratic" level of prosecutors and judges rather than at the level of not sending in enough cops to every call or report of a crime or not insisting enough on compliance with every police order.

Mike T., I did know already something about the civil asset forfeiture mess but had no idea it was that bad. That's absolutely appalling, and I have little more to add. It's so troubling that it's enough to make one wonder if it's safe to travel across the U.S. by driving. (Great, so if you travel by plane, you get hassled by the TSA, and if you travel by car, you can be the innocent victim of a blatantly corrupt shakedown, without recourse, in some small town where they just want to steal your money.)

I would think that the civil asset forfeiture problem would have something to do with general police attitudes toward the public. If nothing else, it's teaching police that they can just stop innocent people and take their stuff on some incredibly dumb pretext (like "driving too close to the white line" or "not changing lanes soon enough"), which is hardly the attitude we want our guardians of law and order to have.

Another option is to repeal the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and restore grand juries to their original purpose: that of an independent citizen's watchdog over government malfeasance.

I found an interesting paper on this subject: "IF IT'S NOT A RUNAWAY, IT'S NOT A REAL GRAND JURY", by Roger Roots.
From that paper:

A "runaway" grand jury, loosely defined as a grand jury which resists the accusatory choices of a government prosecutor, has been virtually eliminated by modern criminal procedure. Today's "runaway" grand jury is in fact the common law grand jury of the past. Prior to the emergence of governmental prosecution as the standard model of American criminal justice, all grand juries were in fact "runaways," according to the definition of modern times; they operated as completely independent, self-directing bodies of inquisitors, with power to pursue unlawful conduct to its very source, including the government itself.
Before the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure — which made independently-acting grand juries illegal for all practical purposes — grand juries were understood to have broad powers to operate at direct odds with both judges and prosecutors. One recent criminal procedure treatise sums up the inherent inconsistency of the modern grand jury regime:
In theory, the grand jury is a body of independent citizens that can investigate any crime or government misdeed that comes to its attention. In practice, however, the grand jury is dependent upon the prosecutor to bring cases and gather evidence. Except in rare instances of a "runaway" grand jury investigation of issues that a prosecutor does not want investigated, the powers of the grand jury enhance the powers of the prosecutor.
Thus, while the grand jury still exists as an institution — in a sterile, watered-down, and impotent form — its decisions are the mere reflection of the United States Justice Department. In practice, the grand jury's every move is controlled by the prosecution, whom the grand jury simply does not know it is supposed to be pitted against.

http://www.constitution.org/lrev/roots/runaway.htm

Mike, you have suggested this before. Please explain to me, how is a person going to know beyond reasonable doubt, exactly what grounds a policeman is arresting you, if he hasn't said yet and is ordering you to the ground? How do you know, for example, that he hasn't mistaken you for a look-alike for whom there is a warrant out for arrest on suspicion of murder? Until you know why he is arresting you, resisting arrest "blow for blow" because you think it is unlawful is pretty dangerous to REAL law and order, isn't it? Can't every criminal say "I thought he was trying to arrest me for looking at him funny, and there's no crime in THAT!"

Come on, Tony. This issue isn't that complicated. An arrest, when presented in a court, is factually lawful or factually unlawful. It can be that way for various reasons the biggest ones being the alleged activity was not in fact illegal or the cop used excessive force to effect the arrest.

Obviously, if you forcefully resist a factually lawful arrest you can and should face even worse charges. For that reason, most people would still have a good reason to just take the crime from the cop and sue later just to be safe. However, knowing that one can be shot dead for going Rodney King on someone is a good incentivizer for cops as well. I have older cops in my family, remember? They worked under that regime and liked it because it was good for culling the macho meat heads that now get away with just about anything and consequently destroy the occupation's reputation.

I would be much more in favor of (a) removing immunity for out-of-bounds behavior, and (b) requiring all police to wear a camera on their shoulder, with the arrest sequence being made available to all defendants as a matter of course. Combined, I suspect that police politeness would increase dramatically. It wouldn't solve the SWAT / militarism problem all at once, but it might have an impact.

Good points, but I would add a few more because (b) is often short circuited by "oops, our equipment malfunctioned:"

1. Any criminal conduct by the police or prosecution during the investigation or prosecution that is material to the case results in immediate dismissal of all charges with prejudice. This includes failing to disclose evidence to the defense.
2. Equipment failure among police surveillance equipment automatically results in police testimony becoming hearsay unless corroborated by other witnesses.
3. Failure to maintain evidence post conviction results in the immediate release of the defendant from prison unless the evidence was destroyed by an "Act of God" for which there was no reasonable method to provide redundancy (a joke when you factor in how cheap Amazon EC2 is today)

Regarding militarism, I think the immediate reforms conservatives should demand are that police will be limited to revolves or handguns with no more than 7-8 rounds (a typical 9mm/.40 compact handgun) and semi-automatic rifles. All selective fire weapons should be immediately confiscated from state and local agencies and placed in the hands of National Guard and state militia units (I understand some states still maintain them). Finally, I think no knock raids should be limited only to active shooter, hostage taking and things of that nature. Even after the fact, they shouldn't be permissible because it's safer for the public to just wait until the perpetrator leaves the building and pounce on him. A few cops with shotguns supported by a sniper would be better.

Tony,

A good example for you of fighting an unlawful arrest would be the habit of some police to claim that any videotaping of them is impeding them. There have been cases of cops crossing the better part of a city block, coming onto private property and threatening people recording from their porch. Such an arrest would be logically absurd because there is simply no credible argument that the cops were impeded by someone well outside of their area of operation was preventing them from doing their work. If the cop got physical, I'd advocate for a right to knock his lights out; draw his weapon and he deserves to get plugged because in such cases the decision to draw his service weapon is itself criminal conduct indicative of truly malevolent intent upon the target of the "arrest."

Or another case would be that of Isaac Singletary who was killed by drug police posing as drug dealers doing a controlled sale while trespassing on his property. The moment they pulled a weapon he should have been perfectly, 100% clear to shoot them both dead. The alternative is we say that Officer Friendly can pose as a criminal, make law-abiding people think he is breaking the law on their private property and when they act in defense of their lives and property... execute them.


If nothing else, it's teaching police that they can just stop innocent people and take their stuff on some incredibly dumb pretext (like "driving too close to the white line" or "not changing lanes soon enough"), which is hardly the attitude we want our guardians of law and order to have.

More than that, it's teaching cops that policing for "fun and profit" is better than policing the uglier side of the law like robberies, rapes, murders, etc. No juicy property seizures from that unless you have a murder committed with a luxury car.

The problem with civil asset forfeiture is that it is one of those really useful tools that helps a lot in high profile cases, but everyone with a lick of honesty knows makes a total mockery of the Bill of Rights. It's designed to limit the owner's due process rights and separate them from their property. It also can have the side effect of asset stripping a defendant before their criminal trial. Getting rid of it would do a lot of good for our system.

2. Equipment failure among police surveillance equipment automatically results in police testimony becoming hearsay unless corroborated by other witnesses.

Or it gives the defense a spoliation instruction - that is, the jury is instructed that the equipment would have shown the arrest to be illegal. That will practically guarantee the equipment to be in good working order.

Come on, Tony. This issue isn't that complicated. An arrest, when presented in a court, is factually lawful or factually unlawful. It can be that way for various reasons the biggest ones being the alleged activity was not in fact illegal or the cop used excessive force to effect the arrest.

Obviously, if you forcefully resist a factually lawful arrest you can and should face even worse charges.

I don't think that's good enough, a "factually lawful" vs. "factually unlawful" determination, after the fact, to tell you whether you were in the right to resist. The problem is what's known on the ground at the moment you have to make a decision whether to comply with an order. If at that moment you are not certain beyond reasonable doubt that you know (a) why you are being told to do X, and (b) that the police have no business telling you to do X, then you cannot have a good basis for resisting. If you are on the bus and the policeman tells you to sit, maybe it's because he is trying to get past you to someone else who is (a) holding a knife, or (b) passed out and needs help and your refusing is obstruction of his carrying out his duties. If he stops you for a traffic violation and then tells you to get out of the car, is that "lawful" of him or not? Well, you don't really know yet, because you don't know why he is saying that, do you? The point is, unless he point blank tells you exactly why he is telling you to do X, there can often be multiple reasons for it and you are making an estimate as to the most probable ones. That estimate is often based on incomplete information, and I think that generally the police have to be given the benefit of the doubt - until there is time to sift out the facts, which means later.

Good points, but I would add a few more because (b) is often short circuited by "oops, our equipment malfunctioned:"

1. Any criminal conduct by the police or prosecution during the investigation or prosecution that is material to the case results in immediate dismissal of all charges with prejudice. This includes failing to disclose evidence to the defense.

I am fine with beefing up the constraints on cops for their shenanigans. But I would take a different approach to this: any criminal conduct by the police or prosecution should be handled with double or triple penalties (compared to a civilian doing the same thing), because they ought to know better. If police do something illegal, they should be subject to criminal penalties but with harsher sentences. And that should (of course) mean that they cannot retain their jobs as policemen. But to throw out a case that is rock solid on OTHER grounds, because the police did something wrong in one element, is not the direction we want to go in. The liberal mantra that perverted our justice system and made a mockery of fair trials with technicalities that have little to do with justice would just be re-enforced. I say put a stop to that nonsense: if the (real) evidence is there, the criminal should be prosecuted even if the police did something illegal in getting him. Stop ignoring brute reality for the sake of "procedure" for goodness sake: procedure is for the sake of justice, but it doesn't DEFINE justice.

And for good measure, take away 3/4 of the judicially-created "rules of evidence" that are, by and large a matter of the judge telling the jury "you aren't smart enough to tell the difference between good evidence and bad evidence, so I get to throw out everything I don't like and leave you wondering if there is more there that you could have made a better decision with. You can take it for granted that there is more there, and I ain't gonna let you know it." In other words, judges take over jury duties and impose their own prudence about evidence and reliability. Legislatures ought to (and have the power to) overturn all of those judge-written case "law" and put the jury back in the picture.

Tony,

The conservative objection to the idea on principle that a factually unlawful arrest cannot be resisted is akin to the liberal fear that Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws would result in people shooting each other over minor provocations. For most of this country's history, the very system you fear was actually legal, just like Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine were the law in most states. The reality was that cops and people on the street were more polite and less likely to fly off the handle because they knew society had tough mechanisms for handling them, the first one of which was a laissez faire attitude toward using force in self-defense.

Regarding your points about knowing when a use of force was unlawful, that's actually much of my point. Most times you won't know until after the fact and the law should not protect people who think the arrest was unlawful any more than the law should protect police who think they have an arrest authority the legislature did not give them. For example, I'm equally in favor of prosecuting the Northern Virginia cops who cannot be bothered to learn that open carry is a legal right in Virginia and that arresting people for it is a criminal act like any other false arrest (with "duh duhhhh duhhhh but ya honah I done tot it wuz illegal" is no less pleading ignorance of the law than any other attempt by anyone else).

I am fine with beefing up the constraints on cops for their shenanigans. But I would take a different approach to this: any criminal conduct by the police or prosecution should be handled with double or triple penalties (compared to a civilian doing the same thing), because they ought to know better. If police do something illegal, they should be subject to criminal penalties but with harsher sentences. And that should (of course) mean that they cannot retain their jobs as policemen. But to throw out a case that is rock solid on OTHER grounds, because the police did something wrong in one element, is not the direction we want to go in. The liberal mantra that perverted our justice system and made a mockery of fair trials with technicalities that have little to do with justice would just be re-enforced. I say put a stop to that nonsense: if the (real) evidence is there, the criminal should be prosecuted even if the police did something illegal in getting him. Stop ignoring brute reality for the sake of "procedure" for goodness sake: procedure is for the sake of justice, but it doesn't DEFINE justice.

Your whole argument here presupposes that a prosecutor will actually bring charges except in the most heinous and abnormal cases. The evidence is simply not on your side. For example, when was the last time you saw an excessive force case involving a taser prosecuted? And yes, a case should be thrown out if the cops committed a serious crime material to the case itself because they've just impeached their own credibility as witnesses and evidence gatherers. Do you support the testimony of jail house snitches who've been offered a reduced sentence in exchange for their cooperation? Same deal there; it's all cui bono at that point.

You have to ask yourself, why should you trust a prosecutor or cop who destroys or withholds evidence, both of which are serious criminal acts? Suppose a cop is shown to have threatened a witness into coming forward? Suppose a cop simply broke the law so much that he has established a clear mentality of "the ends justify the means?" Consequentialism like that leads inexorably to an attitude of "perjury is fine as long as the perp doesn't walk."

The US Constitution actually complicates things here via the double jeopardy protection and incorporation doctrine of the 14th amendment. If double jeopardy or at least double jeopardy via incorporation was not a legal issue, the states could open prosecution to private parties with the state always having one chance to bring its own charges unless the defendant was already convicted by a private prosecution. That would allow, for example, a defense attorney to prosecute a police officer who committed a criminal act even if the district attorney wanted the cop to not be prosecuted for breaking the law. Such a reform would allow for removing many of the technicalities that bog the system down.

The main reason we have these technicalities is that there is no effective deterrent to government malfeasance other than making it a waste of their time under our current system. The way things are set up, you are relying on the peers of these corrupt cops and prosecutors to go after their own and any conservative should know exactly how most people respond to going after members of their own group. It's especially difficult for cops as their whole career can be destroyed and their job has little private sector application that pays anything reasonable.

But getting back to the point about cops and prosecutors committing crimes material to the investigation you are essentially saying that you don't think the case should be tainted even if a large part of the guilt or innocence may hang on the extent to which a criminal act by government agents played a role in bringing the case forward in the first place. This is part of the problem with the Zimmerman case; Alan Dershowitz has called for the prosecutors to be criminally charged because he said there is evidence their whole affidavit used to secure the 2nd degree murder charges was based on perjury. That is just a popular example of government agents committing a crime material to the very case they wished to bring. Zimmerman should have never seen the inside of a court room for that reason alone.

And yes, a case should be thrown out if the cops committed a serious crime material to the case itself because they've just impeached their own credibility as witnesses and evidence gatherers. Do you support the testimony of jail house snitches who've been offered a reduced sentence in exchange for their cooperation? Same deal there; it's all cui bono at that point.
you are essentially saying that you don't think the case should be tainted even if a large part of the guilt or innocence may hang on the extent to which a criminal act by government agents played a role in bringing the case forward in the first place.

I am saying that whether the criminal act taints the evidence wholly or only

partly is, ESSENTIALLY, a jury judgment, not the judge's. Sometimes it will be total, but other times not. You can't pre-judge the evidence by saying that ALL evidence connected with a criminal act by a cop is worthless, reality doesn't act that way. The essential function of a jury is to sort out the relative merits of evidence, set aside the evidence they think is wholly worthless, and give lesser weight to evidence they think is less reliable but still with some merit.

It is indeed possible that a many a cop uses illegal methods to place false evidence. But without taking a pre-judged antipathy to ALL police evidence, ASSUMING that it is all planted until "proven innocent in every respect", including all remotely related police actions, is just that, a biased, prejudicial attitude. If a policeman is willing to stand by his evidence that was obtained wrongly - and, by the way, pay the penalty for doing something illegal to get it - then you can't presumptively just say "it's false evidence" right off the bat. And that's the correct catch: if you can prove the cop did something illegal in getting the evidence, he ought to be liable to severe criminal penalties for doing so. Throwing out all the good evidence with the potentially bad (and any possible conviction) is the wrong response to the action, punishing the cop for doing something wrong is the proper response and will (in the long run) get the right sort of feedback.

The way things are set up, you are relying on the peers of these corrupt cops and prosecutors to go after their own and any conservative should know exactly how most people respond to going after members of their own group.

I admit that it is difficult to get prosecutors to deal with this properly. But that's a different problem. Until you DO have punishments for illegal police acts, you aren't going to put an end to them. We are well into 50 years (at least) of letting known criminals go on procedural technicalities, and by gosh and golly, we don't seem to have LESS police brutality / misbehavior, we have lots, lots more. Letting the criminals go is, in effect, a very light slap on the policeman's wrist in terms of motivational results. Putting him in jail or dropping him from the force is a much stronger motivation.

It's especially difficult for cops as their whole career can be destroyed and their job has little private sector application that pays anything reasonable.

I don't understand, are we talking about real, actual, KNOWING AND DELIBERATE malfeasance and serious wrongdoing in pursuing a suspect, or the large, (and partially made-up) class of: might be wrong-better not try it, or wrong if you look at it sideways in a mirror, or wrong according to the feminist DA's definition but nobody else's, or technically wrong because some judge said it was wrong in a flight of lunacy, or What? If some police action is an actual, real live crime that is clearly a crime and he clearly knows it is a crime, surely we WANT this guy off the force and paying his debt to society for disrupting justice by trying it in spite of knowing better. Surely good cops would want him gone if they were confident that getting rid of bums like this would improve their ability to do their jobs in the long run.

Get rid of the nonsense rules and enforce with actual criminal penalties real wrongdoing, and hire people who expect and intend (in the long run) to enforce both sides of that.

It is true that prosecuting criminal conduct by police is a separate issue from the exclusion rule in principle, but in practice that is questionable. Since prosecutors have shown no willingness to generally take a stand of prosecuting such conduct, society needs some sort of effective mechanism to control malfeasance. You haven't suggested one that would actually work right here, right now. Idealistically demanding prosecutors do the very right thing they are actively avoiding is not a policy proposal, it's wishful thinking until there is sufficient demand for change that voters put sufficiently ethical DAs into office who will rain down the wrath of God on crooked cops and prosecutors.

Ideally, everything you said is correct. However, that correctness is beside the point since the primary mechanism of accountability is fundamentally broken. In practice, the jury system is badly broken in many ways. Grand juries are famously broken and now tools of prosecutors, not tools of societal accountability against the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that a prosecutor, acting as a prosecutor, is literally unaccountable to the civil judiciary for his or her conduct against the defendant. That included such things as knowingly introducing perjurious testimony, witness intimidation, destruction of exculpatory evidence and any other criminal act directly against the defendant.

Doing away with the exclusionary rule in the absence of a better system of accountability is like doing away with the immigration laws and border patrol while keeping the welfare state. Even supposing the removal of the exclusionary rule or the border law enforcement is a serious good, it would be predicated upon other factors not being in play (as Milton Friedman noted to the horror of open border libertarians). No exclusionary rule and no method ensuring a reasonably consistent relationship between criminal conduct during investigations or trials and severe punishment is a recipe for out of control corruption and a public rising up against the whole legal system by force of arms. Most middle class whites I know already are starting to show a great deal of sympathy to inner city blacks because of all of the cases of SWAT units raiding houses over tiny amounts of drugs, police brutality on whites that's nearly on par with blacks and other issues. This lack of accountability is going to come to a head sooner rather than later.

Letting the criminals go is, in effect, a very light slap on the policeman's wrist in terms of motivational results. Putting him in jail or dropping him from the force is a much stronger motivation.

In the absence of an ethical prosecutorial profession, this is the only mechanism we currently have of ensuring administrative protection of defendants against such police work.

Surely good cops would want him gone if they were confident that getting rid of bums like this would improve their ability to do their jobs in the long run.

A recurring theme in the media when cops turn on their own is that the system turns on the good cops and goes after their careers. While I think they should still do the right thing, I can't fault them for finding it extremely hard and sometimes failing. It's only when they can watch it day in and day out and either not find a way to leave or even defend their own that I lose all sympathy for them.

However, that correctness is beside the point since the primary mechanism of accountability is fundamentally broken....In the absence of an ethical prosecutorial profession, this is the only mechanism we currently have of ensuring administrative protection of defendants against such police work.

Yeah, but (a) it shouldn't be the primary mechanism, and (b) it isn't working. So we do need to try other methods anyway.

No exclusionary rule and no method ensuring a reasonably consistent relationship between criminal conduct during investigations or trials and severe punishment is a recipe for out of control corruption and a public rising up against the whole legal system by force of arms.

I am not saying we don't ALSO make special, separate efforts to fix the corruption of prosecutors leaving bad cops alone, of course we do. There is no logical connection between not throwing out convictions on minor procedural errors and choosing to not to take note of and make new rules to address corrupt practices in the system. You've already mentioned removing prosecutorial immunity, that's one step but there is no reason legislatures cannot come up with more.

A recurring theme in the media when cops turn on their own is that the system turns on the good cops and goes after their careers.

All the more reason for ditching the current situation and trying something different. You have already touched on a number of reversals we need: restore citizen's arrest, the grand jury, and personal liability (instead of immunity) for prosecutors and police. All I am saying is to add in a few more "restores" to the list, and make a few new fixes that get toward the real problems instead of the symptoms. Police brutality is a symptom not only of poor quality in the police recruitment and squad rooms, but also poor showing for what we do with their work of catching bad guys - so FIX THAT. SWAT teams used for regular arrests is a symptom not just of an "us vs them" attitude in the ranks but also of having drug lords with better arsenals than the average cop, so FIX THAT. But mainly, the whole range of problems comes from a society losing its morals because we no longer have families or schools that teach morals, so we'll need to FIX THAT too. The fact that it won't be done overnight is no reason not to start today. Changing the old west from a shoot-em-up lawless region to law and order came over 2 generations of toughing it out and insisting on doing the right thing more often even when the wrong thing was easier. They had an advantage, society as a whole still believed in morality. So we have to fight on 2 fronts instead of one.

Another aspect of "doing away with the exclusionary rule" is that what we are doing now is, effectively, punishing the whole of society by letting the criminal go, instead of punishing the guilty party, the policeman who screwed up. Saying "well, that's all we can manage, because we can't make prosecutors go after the cops" is just dumb. That's about like saying "Here, Bob hit Joe over the head with a board, so I am going to go bomb downtown." What gives me the right, and what makes that a good response?

Just off the top of my head, (1) what gives the judge the right to decide to punish society because he cannot make the prosecutor punish Bob? (2) If the problem is Bob is screwing up evidence, why can't the judge find Bob in contempt of court? (3) If the problem is that the prosecutor won't take an action, why can't the judge find the prosecutor in contempt? Or to obstruct the prosecutor's actions on things like taking vacation "nope, we're going to try that case next week come hell or high water and if you aren't there I'll put you in jail." (4) If the problem is that the police department is turning out one cop after another who does the same stuff, why can't the judge impose judicial sanctions on the police department? WHY THE HELL WOULD WE WANT THE JUDGE TO TARGET ALL OF SOCIETY for something a policeman did wrong, as if society deserves it?

The exclusionary rule is the wrong mechanism for what is wrong. It cannot fix the problem because it hurts the wrong people, inducing the wrong feedback loop. If instead the judges had just stuck to the law to begin with, they wouldn't have invented their stupid way into this mess.

The Supreme Court's immunity ruling is, probably, just the icing on the cake of wrongly chosen ways of getting out of a mistaken enterprise from the beginning, but the only way out of that at this point is with Congress and state legislatures. Which is their job anyway.

Yeah, but (a) it shouldn't be the primary mechanism, and (b) it isn't working. So we do need to try other methods anyway.

It's not making cops behave, but it is making it harder for cops and prosecutors to get a notch on their belt by breaking the law.

There is no logical connection between not throwing out convictions on minor procedural errors and choosing to not to take note of and make new rules to address corrupt practices in the system.

True, but again the exclusionary rule is the last line of defense the public has right now. There is nothing conservative about throwing it out in the absence of concrete measures that are provably reducing this bad behavior.

(1) what gives the judge the right to decide to punish society because he cannot make the prosecutor punish Bob?

If society fails to ensure that Bob's victim is adequately protected then society deserves to be "victimized by the judge," though I wouldn't call it victimization in any proper sense because I reject the notion that society has a collective justice claim in most criminal trials (this is another argument for private prosecutions). Considering how little most people, especially conservatives, actually care about the rights of defendants this is a serious issue. Even with all of the talk about how Obama is ruining everything and "making us lawless" most conservatives cannot put two and two together here between protecting defendants and how a lawless system will make many people into defendants who shouldn't be before the court.

The exclusionary rule is the wrong mechanism for what is wrong. It cannot fix the problem because it hurts the wrong people, inducing the wrong feedback loop. If instead the judges had just stuck to the law to begin with, they wouldn't have invented their stupid way into this mess.

I believe the same Supreme Court that gave us the exclusionary rule also gave us absolute civil immunity for prosecutors acting as prosecutors. They did so, ironically, by ruling that some arcane Common Law rule to that effect was in legal effect in the whole US.

Regarding militarization, I'd like to see conservatives come to the realization that, for example, using a SWAT unit against a non-violent offender is itself morally depraved on the order of threatening to beat your child senseless for acting out when a spanking is appropriate. The response from the state is not morally neutral in the least; they're bringing military grade gear and tactics to a fight that a normal street cop with a six shooter could handle peacefully. In and of itself that shows extreme detachment from reality at best; moral depravity at the worst.

I'd like to see any conservative who thinks, for example, that it is morally licit to send a SWAT unit to a man's house at 2AM over possession of some drugs is an appropriate, moral use of force explain precisely how this is morally justified without indulging in pure consequentialism. The idea that some drug users might be violent does not give police the right to simply assume that someone with no history of flying off the handle into felonious violent crime will respond that way unless the person has communicated intent to do so.

Furthermore, it is increasingly well-established that militarism (particularly militaristic no knock raids) is very dangerous to police themselves. You cannot raid someone's house, especially at night, and expect a measured response. It is as though many police and conservatives have forgotten that the very reason SWAT (which does a significant amount of no-knock and/or night-time raids) was created was to provide law enforcement with a special unit capable of escalating violence to the point that either the suspect quickly surrenders or dies quickly. That's not anti-police propaganda; the established historic reason for SWAT was to give police the ability to engage hostage takers, active shooters etc. on a "surrender or die" basis where a normal cop would be outclassed and unlikely to effect a safe (to himself or the public) arrest of the particularly violent offender.

It also doesn't help that criminals have started impersonating SWAT officers during some burglaries. (Google it if you don't believe me)

It seems to me like most of this was created by consequentialist thinking on the part of conservatives who never bothered to ask whether these practices were moral or even made sense in the light of human nature. That some drug cartels don't justify every municipality maintaining its own de facto gendarmerie; at best it makes the case for the state police and some special jurisdictions having that capability. Look up the gun stats, you'll find that assault rifles are almost never used to commit gun crime. That means the issue of superior criminal firepower is nothing more than an edge case for society to deal with.

I don't actually know any conservatives who support no-knock SWAT raids for suspicion of drug possession or what-not. I think most of us are uncomfortable with that whole idea, to say the least. I like watching old episodes of Hawaii 5-O where McGarrett and Dan-O are out there in nothing more protective than suits and ties, having a shootout from behind their cruisers with a sniper who has already murdered three people.

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