Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sorry Tommy, cops are not the fire department...

I saw this on Fans of Best of the Web, an internet service from the Wall Street Journal. But Mr. Mullen is suggesting we do away with having police on the street and just let them sit in a patrol station and wait until we get called.

Now as a street supervisor Tom, it's bad enough getting some of my officers to run calls, they practically do set up "stations" at parking lots, etc. But his premise is we should not have proactive policing and the Constitution basically outlaws it. Strange theme, but here we go.
A Practical Solution: Run Police Departments Like Fire Departments

Do you lie awake at night in constant fear a fire will break out and nothing will be done to put it out?

For the 99% of the population not suffering from pyrophobia or a similar neurosis, the answer to that question is "no," even though firefighters aren't patrolling the streets in their big red trucks. They still manage to arrive at the scene of a fire within minutes of an emergency call.

Why can't police departments be run the same way?

If they were, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland would be alive today. All three encountered police doing what would be considered outlandish for any other institution charged with public safety: roaming the streets, looking for trouble.

No one had called 911 asking for protection from Scott, Gray or Bland. No judges had issued warrants for their arrests. All three were, at least at the time of their arrests, just walking or driving down the street, minding their own business. They were detained in what are generally considered "routine" but are in reality wholly unnecessary encounters with police...

No, Scott and Bland were driving on the public streets and committed a traffic offense. I don't question a traffic offense is not a capital crime but it is still a crime. You drive on the public street you have agreed with the state to do so according to set law. BTY, I can somewhat agree with the point on Gray, but you may want to ask the New York City Council to repeal the law on selling loose cigarettes. Or maybe cut the taxes so there will no longer be a market for loosies.
...I'm going to suggest a solution that will sound radical, even in a country that styles itself "the land of free." Let's get cops off the streets, unless responding to a 911 call or serving a warrant issued by a judge. Everyone would be freer and safer, including the police officers themselves.

This is by no means an anti-cop argument. The problem isn't how they do their jobs; it's the job we ask them to do. A free society shouldn't be asking armed agents of the state to patrol the streets, keeping its citizens under 24/7 surveillance.

I haven't seen any surveys, but I have a feeling that if you asked cops at random why they joined the force, very few would say it was to protect the public from broken tail lights or untaxed cigarettes. The men and women we want on this job join to protect the public from real crimes, like murder, assault, rape and robbery.
And Tom, hate to give you a bit of insight, traffic is a way we do get murderers, rapes, and robbers. I have pulled over two people in my career with murder warrants and other multiple felonies. I have two cops who daily catch suspects with narcotics and the reasonable suspicious for their investigations that gives us PCP and heroin is a traffic stop. Now you may want to discuss the wisdom of banking narcotics because it is a "victimless crime" (I would argue that, I've seen what this stuff does to humans) but this shows your point of surveillance as false.
...Here's the catch: you can't have a free society where this "protection" occurs in advance. The federal and every state constitution assumes the government can't and shouldn't do anything to prevent a crime. The Fourth and Fifth amendments were written to keep the government from even trying. They assume the government is powerless until a crime has already occurred, the Fourth in particular providing further restraint on how the government investigates after the fact.

Defending oneself while a crime is occurring is left to the citizen. It's not a responsibility of the police. Even the Supreme Court agrees. Protecting oneself is what the Second Amendment is all about.

Yes we can. Tell me something Tom, if you are standing on a sidewalk and Mike Brown walks up and starts "asking" for money in an intimidating manner. Do you think he might think otherwise if Mikey sees a cop walking a beat or a police car twenty feet away. The bad guys don't like it when a cop is sitting on the street, watching. While they are there, it deters the bad guys from acting illegally. That is why you have proactive law enforcement.
The job we ask police to do today annihilates the principle of the Fourth Amendment. Regardless of statutes and Supreme Court rulings, police surveilling all of society all of the time is as unreasonable a search as there ever was. Only decades of becoming accustomed to the idea allows us to see it any other way.

Well, what does the 4th Amendment say?
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Tom, hate to shock you but you have no reasonable expatiation of privacy on the public street. I cannot kick a door in without a warrant (with certain exceptions) but I can look around. Do you think you have a right to privacy on the public street? Why don't you walk down the street naked and tell me how that works out. You are in the public and the public and people can look. Cops are people too.
It hasn't always been this way. The modern police department as we know it is a product of the 20th century. Prior to that, peace officers were generally dispatched in response to a complaint by the victim of a real crime, usually with a warrant. Contrary to legend, this did not lead to chaos, even in the inappropriately named "Wild West."...

Yes Tom, law enforcement wasn't too proactive in the 19th Century. However, back then you didn't have a society crumbling like we have right now, we had many more capital crimes (rape, horse theft, etc) and the general public had more respect for the public. People didn't steal or commit murder to the degree we do now. Back then (even earlier in the 20th Century) murder was a serious event for the suspect. Now it's an initiation for many gangs.

Get the point Tom? This is not the 19th Century.
...Would life under these circumstances be significantly less safe? No. The laws that might go unenforced are largely those that shouldn't exist anyway. Yes, more people might "get away with" driving 66 mph in a 55, but people would be free to call the police if a reckless driver were truly threatening public safety. The same goes for thousands of other victimless "crimes" currently enforced by police...

True Tom, people going 66 in a 55 generally is not an issue. How about someone going in a family neighborhood doing 65 in a 30? I would call that risky and I've stopped someone doing that. And Tom, we nightly get calls on "reckless drivers" on the highway and maybe one out of ten we catch. One, the caller doesn't have eyes on him and two we can't get a unit there in time. And your idea would not do well for DWI enforcement, but I'll go out on a limb and say you're not happy with DWI enforcement.

Oh Tom, a lot of city's have "proactive fire". In Houston we have pumpers and ambulances on "patrol" because they have medics onboard and can be at a location sooner than a unit dispatched from a fixed sit. Sorry Tom, you are way off base on this. Next time you hear someone breaking into your house, call the fire department.

No comments:

Post a Comment