Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's
Number 804, January 11, 2015

We will Never Give up Our Right to Freedom of Speech

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Pearls Before Swine, January 9, 2015
Pearls Before Swine, January 9, 2015
by Stephan Pastis

The Problem With the Police
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one when I say that I have no sympathy for the crypiggies who've begun blubbering, since the mess at Ferguson, about how dangerous their "profession" is and how some kind of special steps have to be taken now to protect them. I haven't actually heard any demands for more victim disarmament (gun control) but they do want sales of body armor to civilians to be banned.

Before we go any further with this, kindly allow me to observe that nobody put a gun to their heads and told them "Be a cop!" And being a police officer isn't really all that dangerous—check the statistics, yourself. Being a fireman is more dangerous. Being a miner is more dangerous. Being a deep-sea salvage diver is hell of a lot more dangerous. Nor are these particularly dangerous times. When I was a young reserve officer in the wild and wooly early 1970s, more cops were injured or killed in California alone than in the entire nation now. That fact sparked many changes in policy, including choice of weapons, from revolver to semiautomatic, the design of holsters, and the angle at which the car should be parked during a routine traffic stop.

All that was in the 60s, and, for a while, the police did acquire a more human face. But then, something went wrong. Several things went really wrong, and it left us stuck in the mess we're in today.

To begin with there were police unions and lawyers who rode along with them like pilot fish. RICO allowed them to loot the countryside freely. There is nothing in a free society that we could have done, or can, directly, about this. But it has come to mean that no officer will ever have to face the music for whatever criminal act he may have committed, unless he has political enemies somewhere inside the structure.

Second, there were matters of accoutrement. Mace and revolver speed-loaders were the big news of my time, rapidly followed by CS gas and semiautomatic pistols, mostly Glocks in .40 caliber, while four-shot pump shotguns evolved into eight-shooters on the dashboard. Wooden nightsticks became nylon PR-24s and a engendered whole new martial art. Finally there was Kevlar body armor, and the Taser. Ammunition changed, as well. The Blue Knight's equippage was nearly complete.

All the while, the courts were depriving ordinary citizens of more and more rights and protections until the attacks on 9/11 swept what was left from the board. The police could now go anywhere, do anything—including locking people up on suspicion—without punishment for it.

At the same time, the cops have gone insane, shooting people's dogs, smashing in, beating up, and murdering innocent individuals, including little old ladies, and their pet kittens without even having to apologise about it. I'd cite some typical examples, but they happen every day and you can find them all too easily for yourself. You can't blame people for hating the police, they have good reason. I've deliberately avoided learning much about Ferguson—what little information I have would indicate that the cop behaved properly—but you can't blame the public, The police have brought this on themselves.

If they hadn't, I wouldn't be mildly worried about writing this.I wouldn't be expecting a flood of hate mail and death threats all next week.

Can the situation be fixed? No one in authority will let it be. Victimless crime laws must be repealed and those imprisoned for them released. All presently-serving cops must be laid off and replaced by individuals who are not tainted by violence and corruption, preferably individuals who've lived in the area they will police for at least a decade,

They must go back to six-shot revolvers and four-shot shotguns. No rifles of any description, no SWAT teams. No masks, and badge numbers must be displayed prominently on their uniforms. Most important of all, no more Kevlar armor—they must take the same risks that most of us do. Civilians are attacked many times as often as the cops. They also "Get their man"—shoot the actual culprit—several times as often.

I knew a guy once, a police officer of long standing, who was running for Sheriff. It was his view, he said, and his department agreed, that people should see to their own defense. It was the Sheriff's job to come by afterward to make sure the right person got shot.

I voted for him.

Which reminds me: I would abolish all police departments, and actively prohibit them reforming, turning every responsibility over to the Sheriff. Too many layers separate me from the cops: his superiors, the city council, the mayor and city manager. Not all are subject to recall. One electable man—the Sheriff—stands between me and his deputies.

All of the military equipment police departments have acqquired must be sold at auction. Official oaths must be administered in public (and on TV), with emphasis on the Bill of Rights. Courses on the Bill of Rights must be administered to all would-be police officers.

None of this offends me as a police officer. Nor would I be offended if I had to be one again. Clearly it needs doing and right away. If you want to know more, I very strongly urge you to read the chapter in my award-winning book, Down with Power [ paper and e-book] entitled "The Police".

Or listen to Brian Wilson's brilliant audio version.

I spend a great deal of time listening to talk radio. One thing that sets me apart from most of those guys presently defending the police is that I was a policeman. They are, and remain, merely copsuckers.

Remember that word and use it in good health.

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