Saturday, June 6, 2015
Reining In The Cops
I've said much of this before, but enough folk have asked me for details that I thought I'd best fill them in.
Okay, problem: thuggish cops killing unarmed civilians. A lot of Black civil rights groups have tried to make this a racism issue, claiming for justification the fact that a lot of police victims are Black, but what they're not saying is that more than half of police victims are anything but Black. Thuggish cops have happily assaulted and killed poor Whites, Asians, Indians, and everything else. (If you want to see a real-life horror movie, Google the name "Kelly Thomas", and go to the video on YouTube -- but be warned: when the beating starts, turn your volume down; the screams get very loud.) What all the victims have in common, besides being unarmed, is that they're poor -- therefore unlikely to afford clever lawyers or political leverage. Cops seem to have a keen nose for class.
They also seem to be covertly training and practicing for class warfare. This seems to have been encouraged by whoever in the federal government started the practice of giving county and municipal police departments surplus military gear, up to and including small tanks and artillery. This makes sense, seeing how much political as well as economic power the corporate aristocracy have collected over the past few decades. It's clear that the famed One Percent intend to rule the world just as much as the Jihadists do. It would be nice if those two would make war directly on each other, leaving the rest of us out of it, but looks very unlikely in the immediate future.
So, to quote Tolstoy, what is to be done?
Obviously we have got to stop, and reverse, the militarization of the civil police forces -- which will include reining in the cops' thuggish tendencies. I have some suggestions, all of which will take concerted action -- petitions, and other pressures on the local and federal governments -- to pull off.
1) Get the exact facts and figures from the army, find out exactly where those surplus military toys went, take them back from the police departments and send them to the nearest National Guard armories, where they belong. Mollify the police by assuring them that if they ever really need those tanks and helicopters and artillery, the National Guard will be happy to supply -- and operate -- them. The only real military gear that civil police need on a daily basis is--
2) --state-of-the-art military-grade body armor. Dress all the beat-cops in armor whenever they go out on patrol, and assure them that this grade of armor will turn any bullets that civilians are known to have. This will handily cancel out the standard police excuse of "I'm In Fear For My Life", which will make a difference in court.
3) Yes, body-cameras, with audio pickup. Make every on-duty cop wear one, from check in to quitting. Make certain that these are transmitting cameras, which send to one or more archival locations separate from the police stations, where all the recordings shall be automatically time-stamped, safety-copied, and stored. Likewise, make certain that the cameras cannot be turned off, censored, or blocked by the wearer.
Make certain that the cameras include batteries with sufficient charge to last 12 hours at a stretch and sufficient power to transmit through concrete and steel buildings. Also make sure that the people staffing the receiving/recording stations are kept unknown to the cops.
4) Take away the cops' firearms, and give them stun-guns instead. Leave the firearms locked up at the police station-houses, not to be taken out except when an emergency requiring the SWAT team is called in.
There already are, on the civilian market, stun-guns which can fire two shots before being reloaded, and a little incentive would encourage their producers to come up with stun-guns that carry more shots than that. Of course the cops could still carry their clubs, hand-stunners, and tear-gas spray bottles on patrol, so they could still kill unarmed civilians if they worked at it -- the one-eyed cop who helped kill Kelly Thomas bragged of how he beat the boy's face in with the butt of his stun-gun -- but they would seriously have to work at it, and of course the body-cams would pick up all of it.
5) Send trained dogs out with ever police car. This way, if a suspect tried to run, the cops could merely sic the dogs on him to bring him down and hold him still. Of course, this would require that somebody other than the cops themselves would train the dogs, so as to prevent teaching any secret signals for "kill the perp", "bark even if you don't smell drugs", or "don't bark even if you do smell drugs". It might be a good idea to put small body-cams on the dogs, too.
Implementing these changes would make a real difference in police behavior, and save quite a few lives.
Naturally, the police would be highly resistant to any such reforms (except maybe the improved body-armor), but that can be put to good use, too. Get the media seriously involved in the argument, and tell them to do thorough research on just how dangerous a cop's job really is. This would lead to revealing the Department of Labor's and FBI's statistics, which show that there are easily a dozen civilian jobs that are more likely to kill or permanently injure their workers than being a cop. These include: fireman, commercial pilot, logger, garbage collector, high-wire lineman, high-iron construction worker, farmer, miner, heavy-equipment repairman, sandhog, chemical-plant worker, and -- if you please -- professional football player.
If the police resist the reforms to the point of going on strike, that could be useful too. A really intelligent (and freedom-minded) mayor or even governor could use the opportunity to summon the Militia to "deal with the emergency". Surprise: every state still has laws on the books establishing and defining state militias. Among other things, said mayor or governor could suspend or even rescind the local gun-control laws, instead command all remotely-able-bodied citizens to go purchase firearms and citizens'-band radios, if they don't have them already, take formal training in the defensive use thereof, practice regularly (drilling on the village green, anyone?), and go patrol and defend their neighborhoods themselves (with or without body-cams, or dogs).
I can tell you from experience exactly what would happen; rates of crime -- especially violent crime -- would take a nosedive. People would become very polite in public. Winos and junkies would quickly get off the streets (and alleys), and find ways to indulge their habits quietly, in private. As soon as these facts became public knowledge, the police would end their strike and come back to work very quickly -- if only because some of them would guess that it was only a matter of time before the citizens realized that they didn't really need police, and the jobs began to evaporate.
But the situation is unlikely to get that far. We can, and should, start promoting these reforms right now. They'll make a hell of a difference.