The Modern American Police Officer

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American law enforcement is a very sick entity these days.

American police are very much like Tokugawa Shogunate-era Japanese samurai, in that they have EGO, POWER and WEAPONS, but they have no PURPOSE.

The samurai were soldiers being used as police, and they resented the hell out of it. They had been raised to seek glory in battle, and the task of riding herd on a restive population of serfs disgusted them, but hey, orders are orders.

Consequently, they reacted harshly and violently to any perceived “lack of respect” or petty infraction. They were even empowered by The State to murder any peasant who acted ‘disrespectfully’ toward them.

Just like Officer 82nd Airborne.

Except he’s NOT a soldier playing cop, but rather the opposite. He may have once been a soldier, but right now is demonstrating why former military personnel should never be given badges.

Soldiers and police properly have completely different mindsets, and even honorable and decorated military service should be a lifetime bar to employment as a police officer.

Soldiers are trained to yell and scream, to follow orders immediately and without question, to never contemplate the rightness or wrongness of those orders and ultimately to regard anyone who is not dressed like themselves as the enemy.

This is not a healthy mindset for police, who are supposed to be peace officers, not an occupying army. Part of the problem with this soldier mindset is that it never completely fades away, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” describing the condition pretty well.

And speaking of soldiering, I think SWAT teams are actually an end-run around Posse Comitatus, the law that forbids the use of the military in the enforcement of civilian law.

Think about it.

American SWAT teams dress like soldiers, are armed with the same weapons as soldiers, use the same tactics as soldiers, wear their hair the same as soldiers and even talk like soldiers.

But they’re NOT soldiers, they’re police officers.

And they should act like them. Oh sure, there are violent, heavily-armed criminals out there, but part of the reason they’re violent and heavily-armed is because they think they’ll have to fight the army in order to rob that gas station.

Besides, dudes holding up 7-11s with assault rifles and gang bangers doing drive-bys with AKs are Hollywood fabrications anyway.

This one’s gonna get me on a list somewhere…

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12 COMMENTS

  1. In the past, lots of cops, such as my uncles, served in combat in WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam. I wonder what the difference between then and now was…was it the fact that we expected these veterans to leave their military mindset behind when they left their service? Was it the fact that the memories of fascism and communism were fresh enough in people’s minds that they were extra careful not to let police-statism cloud their outlook?

  2. Well I guess I wasted my time swearing to an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, since now according to this I am unfit to be expected to defend citizens of the community against criminal elements. All the training I received to obey lawful orders, must have also been wasted. Since obviously people that have served in the military do not have the intelligence to determine when an order violates the Constitution, laws or statutes. I am in need of being locked up to protect the community. I like how the author dictated to all military to give up the dream of policing and then can only give marine and army examples of blindly following stupid orders. If one wants to disqualify anyone they should know what they are talking about. Of course I don’t actually know why this article was written, there has to be some prejudicial background we are not getting. There is a difference between following orders blindly and abiding by lawful orders. I was issued no order ever nor did I issue an order that would have violated any right that U.S. citizens feel they are guaranteed, while serving in the military. Unfortunately people do not understand someone that serves in the military, or as a police officer but they can articulate an idea that appears to have merit based on a selective group. So guess I will burn my resume now and turn in my badge.

    • Hi Jack,

      The issue is that to a great extent the job of being a law enforcer (cop) does not involve “defending citizens of the community against criminal elements.” Because much of this work involves pursuing and caging and punishing people for non-crimes (because there is no victim involved). Everything from minor outrages such as seatbelt violations (this man ended up dead because some cop tried to pester him over his failure to “buckle up for safety” – http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130513/NEWS/305139977/1040?p=1&tc=pg ) to manning Soviet-style probable cause-free checkpoints to arresting and caging people for the non-crime of possessing/partaking of arbitrarily-decreed-to-be-illegal “drugs.”

      Many things are illegal. That does not necessarily mean they are criminal. And many things that are legal are arguably criminal – such as using force against peaceful people who’ve caused no harm to anyone but who have transgressed against a statute. That is, ignored or disobeyed some law – some arbitrary edict passed by a legislature or imposed by a bureaucracy. Have you been to traffic (and “criminal”) court? In traffic court, probably 75 percent of the cases involve no victim (the state is the complainant – but the state is a fiction; it cannot be harmed. Only actual human beings can be victims). In “criminal” court, too, a large percentage of the prosecutions involve no victims – hence, they involve non-crimes.

      What is a “lawful order,” Jack? Is it any order that derives from law? Is there any “lawful order” you would refuse to enforce? How do you determine that, if so?

      There is a big difference between a peace officer – someone who protects the peace – and a law enforcer. Someone who enforces the law. Any law. Every law.

      Which are you, Jack?

  3. To say that “military service should be a lifetime bar to employment as a police officer” is a gross oversimplification and an insult to everyone in the military. Yes, the Army is full of idiots (I like to say that “Half the Army is borderline retarded,and most of the rest isn’t borderline”) but it would be better to say “fascists shouldn’t be allowed to be police officers” than soldiers. You really think that military service totally ruins a person for public service? My libertarian values and beliefs have only gotten stronger since I’ve joined. I’m not saying that everyone in the Army would make a good police officer (far from it), but to say that my military service as an intelligence analyst should prohibit me from serving the people of America as a police officer is ignorant and illogical.

    • Hi Andrew,

      The military as currently constituted is a tool of an authoritarian state. It is therefore incompatible with civilian peace keeping in a free society.

      People in the armed forces are conditioned to be order-shouting (and order obeying) enforcers. This translates all-too-easily to shouting orders at civilians – and obeying outrageous orders, too – such as demanding that civilians “buckle up for safety” (or else) and so on.

      A tour in Iraq – browbeating Iraqis – is the worst possible sort of experience for peace-keeping work.

      Now, if the army were a defensive force taught to respect and obey the Constitution (and the rights of individuals) then things might be different.

      Unfortunately, they are not.

  4. Since moving from Pennsylvania to Colorado I’ve come to respect the process of electing a sheriff. Here in CO the county sheriff’s department is a much more visible presence in the community and is the long arm of the law in unincorporated parts of the county (something that doesn’t exist in PA). This does give the public an option and say in how the law is enforced, unlike with a police force. Recall that Hunter S. Thomspon ran for sheriff of Pitkin county during the Battle of Aspen, which still influences the town politics today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_Aspen

    Unfortunately, the DHS has been giving block grants of money for small towns to establish police forces. Not only is this a huge waste of money, since there’s very little crime to begin with, but it creates a lot of resentment toward the new cops on the beat, since they have nothing better to do than hand out speeding tickets.

    • Agree –

      In the small county where we live, we have an elected sheriff – and the deputies are far less rapacious than the “police” in the adjacent city. Still, I’d much prefer peace officers – and laws based solely on addressing harms committed as opposed to laws broken.

        • Cat Laws

          Law of Cat Inertia: A cat at rest will tend to remain at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force, such as the opening of cat food, or a nearby scurrying mouse.
          Law of Cat Magnetism: All blue blazers and black sweaters attract cat hair in direct proportion to the darkness of the fabric.
          Law of Cat Thermodynamics: Heat flows from a warmer to a cooler body, except in the case of a cat, in which case all heat flows to the cat.
          Law of Cat Sleeping: All cats must sleep with people whenever possible, in a position as uncomfortable for the people involved as is possible for the cat.
          Law of Cat Elongation: A cat can make his body long enough to reach just about any counter top that has anything remotely interesting on it.
          Law of Obedience Resistance: A cat’s resistance varies in proportion to a human’s desire for him to do something.
          Law of Random Comfort Seeking: A cat will always seek, and usually take over, the most comfortable spot in any given room.
          Law of Bag/Box Occupancy: All bags and boxes in a given room must contain a cat within the earliest possible nanosecond.
          Law of Cat Embarrassment: A cat’s irritation rises in direct proportion to his embarrassment times the amount of human laughter.
          Law of Furniture Replacement: A cat’s desire to scratch furniture is directly proportional to the cost of the furniture.
          Law of Cat Disinterest: A cat’s interest level will vary in inverse proportion to the amount of effort a human expends in trying to interest him.

          • So true!

            I like cats for countless reasons, but I suppose it’s chiefly that you have to earn their affection and trust; they don’t just give it away. Quid pro quo, Clarice. They are also amazingly canny creatures; you can almost see the wheels turning in their heads. Having animals in close proximity has also made me much more empathetic toward them. They each have individual personalities, just as individual people do. Different likes and dislikes, emotional temperaments, you name it – they are so much like us it’s humbling (and a little bit scary, given the way so many of us tend to treat them).

            We have: Four all black (three related; momma cat and two of her sons). An all-white of unknown provenance. A wild-caught Birman (looks like a miniature snow leopard, down to the tufts of hair between his paw pads) who is our most vocal and affectionate cat. A standard tabby; a milk-spot tabby. An ancient Siam (20 years) and a mottled white/grey giant we named Half Hitler because of his moustache.

            All but the ancient Siam and one unrelated black cat were members of a wild colony that lived in the woods adjacent to our house. We got that entire colony under control: All the adults spayed or neutered; adopted out all the kittens (22 of them) and kept the above referenced critters for ourselves. They are all indoor cats now and seem to be very content with the arrangements!

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