Michael Brown Shooting

What Policing Should Look Like

How can we build an ethical police force based upon the concept of Constitutional policing by consent?

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nycmonkey/Flickr

Over the past four decades, the federal government has flooded American law enforcement with billions of dollars worth of financial incentives and military equipment in order to leverage local police toward support of the war on drugs—at the expense of law enforcement's primary mission of public safety. These failed federal policies and their collateral incentive programs have generated a mission creep that is transforming U.S. cops from peace officers to militarized warriors.

National debate surrounding the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the response by police in Ferguson, Missouri, has produced a clear consensus that this militarized transformation of American law enforcement—and all that comes with it—is not exclusive to Ferguson and should not be a part of the American landscape. So how can we change? How can we build an ethical police force based upon the concept of Constitutional policing by consent?

All law enforcement officers take an oath of office. Most police departments have published codes of conduct, ethical standards, core principles, and other ideals intended to provide guidance to officers in their delivery of professional, compassionate, and constitutionally-framed community service. However, dependency on federal money has diminished the resolve of many police executives to uphold and defend the organizational doctrines they so proudly display above the portals of their buildings and on the home page on their websites. Instead they have been motivated to support a status quo that has served to suck dry the reservoir of community goodwill essential to effective policing.

In order to refill that reservoir of goodwill, we first need to dip into the values elucidated by Robert Peel in the 19th century. Here are Peel's "Nine Principles of Policing": 

  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that 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 on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Using Peel as the foundation for building an ethical, Constitutional police force, we should reshape the landscape of American policing with immediate reforms that include:

  • Ending the war on drugs.
  • Prohibiting the use of local police resources to "partner" with the federal government in programs that divert police resources away from matters of public safety in favor of federal policy.
  • Ending federal programs, such as the 1033 program, that provide materials, training, and equipment to local law enforcement. 
  • Ending local law enforcement's dependence upon all funding that promotes a mission contrary to Constitutional policing.
  • Ending asset seizures not accompanied by a criminal conviction.
  • Establishing "consent search" policies that prohibit fishing expeditions and unreasonable detentions.
  • Establishing effective civilian oversight to independently investigate all allegations of police misconduct. 
  • Establishing stronger ties with our communities by supporting full transparency related to allegations of police misconduct and establishment of police policy.
  • Repealing all legislation that conceals the identity of police officers from the public when internal investigations involve police shootings, allegations of excessive force, and matters of honesty and integrity.
  • Ending arrest quota management practices and reward systems.
  • Establishing policies that address the abuses of "interfering" and "failure to obey" arrest laws.
  • Restricting police union activity to matters related to wages and working conditions and prohibiting the use of membership funds to influence local elections.
  • Prohibiting the use of public funds to support membership in law-enforcement organizations that support goals and lobbying activity contrary to the mission, goals, ethics, and policies of local law enforcement.

With these kinds of reforms in place we could begin to heal our communities; diminish the mass incarceration of people of color; allow more parents to be with their children and fewer children to be sent to foster homes; recognize that addiction is a health rather than a criminal-justice problem, and supplant prison with treatment; abate the arms race between the police, gangs, and cartels; end police profiling; and restore the requirement of reasonable suspicion as an irrevocable feature of constitutional policing. Then, and only then, will we be able to return to a true model of policing in which the police and the people are one.

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  1. Then, and only then, will we be able to return to a true model of policing in which the police and the people are one.

    *** rising intonation ***

    What about “If you see something, say something”?

    Seriously, conspicuous by its absence is any notion that LEOs will be held to the same — or (shudder!) *higher* — standards as “the people”.

    1. No mention of scaling back qualified immunity? How can you except the police and people to be one when the police are exempt from the peoples laws.

      1. Exactly. Statists like to say that for every complicated problem, there’s one simple wrong answer. The truth is that there is one simple meta-answer, markets, and they only work that way when authority matches accountability.

        Immunity of any sort distorts accountabiity, and that is what we have. There are other problems with coercive government, but restoring accountability would ameliorate it a bunch.

  2. 10. Have Andy make sure that Barney only has one bullet and he keeps it in his pocket

    1. More Taylor less Fife?

  3. Where is the incentive for police and government to change?

    Yeah. That’s what I thought.

    1. This is why you get simple, easy, common-sense reform ideas out of former officials. The ideas sound good, but how do you get them past a mayor and a city council who don’t want to give up their piece of the power pie and can’t afford to appear soft on crime, get them past a bureaucracy that only wants more power and less responsibility, get them past a police union that only wants more money and more employees, etc.?

      It would be nice to think that people do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, but people (especially the sort that seek out power) mostly do the right thing only if they’re bribed or threatened into doing it. There’s too much money and power in policing for anybody to start giving a shit about what’s right.

    2. Where is the incentive for police and government to change?

      Well you see, governments that make bad policies don’t take in tax revenue and eventually cease to exist. Wait a sec, I just read somewhere that taxes are involuntary and reflect no costs or consumer choices regarding the state’s products. I guess there’s no incentive at all, who’d a thought?

    3. Paying taxes, voting, and writing your congressman doesn’t seem to work anymore. It may come down to bullets over ballots some day.

      1. The problem is that only half of us pay federal taxes, only about 65% vote in federal elections (much less in state and local elections), and very few people write to their congressmen. I anticipate the same level of participation should it come down to an armed revolt. It’ll take a catastrophic event to precipitate change in any of these numbers. $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities…people don’t get it. They’ll “get it” when they see their grandmother eating cat food because her retirement account is worthless due to inflation and an unstable, mismanaged, over-regulated economy. They’ll “get it” when they reach the age of 50, have worked for 30 years building a profession or a business, only to watch half of what they earn get sucked up by crack whores and hill-billies with 7 illegitimate kids.

    4. “Where is the incentive for police and government to change?”

      When one of their own – family, friends etc. – is on the receiving end of police brutality.

      1. Bingo, Rufus, and that’s exactly why police overreach and misconduct are getting widespread attention now. It’s not just people of color and the poor getting their doors kicked in, beat up, stopped and searched, or having their dogs shot anymore. This is increasingly happening to white, middle-class, “law abiding” (yeah, right. I know.) people whose opinions matter a little more to those in power. Even the loved ones of police and government officials themselves are not safe anymore.

        1. Even the loved ones of police and government officials themselves are not safe anymore.

          I find that difficult to believe.

      2. That’s the nice thing about being part of the ruling class. You get the easy treatment from the cops.

  4. Law enforcement is the arm of power, whether it be the politician’s power, the bureaucrat’s power or the individual officer’s power. You don’t flex that arm, it will become weak. The next thing you know, people are living their lives as they see fit, with no abject submission to the whims of authority.

    We can’t all live in Mayberry. Sometimes law enforcement has to put down the fishing pole and pick up the MRAP for its own good.

    1. “In order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”

  5. The police are my enemy.

  6. Reform?

    How about mothballing the police?

  7. One of the deep roots of the problem is the concept of ‘crime prevention’. How do you prevent crimes without infringing on the liberties of the populace? The notion that there are non-criminal acts that are inherently markers of impending criminal rather than non-criminal activity seems highly questionable.
    The only sense of ‘crime prevention’ that makes sense to me is ‘increasing the odds of being caught’, whether in the act or after the fact.
    After all, ‘free speech zones’ are justified as ‘crime prevention’ moves.

    1. All crime prevention does is divert resources away from reacting to actual crimes.

      1. “away from reacting to actual crimes.”

        Such as walking your dog without a license.

        There are tens of thousands of similar ‘actual crimes’ that police are called upon to deal with, along with getting involved with things like elementary school disputes between teachers and students whose speech or dress is proscribed by the school’s endless regulations.

  8. What should it look like?

    One small step would be for state “troopers” to end wearing those insidious hats.

    The only other place in normal life you ever saw those freak’n hats were in military basic training…the drill instructors. Of course, intimidation was the goal.

    Every time I see someone wearing one of those things, the urge to swat it off the head of the arrogant ass is only exceeded by my not wishing to be charged with assaulting an “officer”.

    1. Agreed. I would add, how about also banning that stereotypical look of “high and tight” or buzz haircuts and Oakley sunglasses. It frankly makes the police look like a gang of thugs.

      1. It frankly makes the police look like a gang of thugs.

        That’s the point. Once upon a time the police demanded respect. Now they want to be feared.

    2. One small step would be for state “troopers” to end wearing those insidious hats.

      Yeah, the park rangers, scouts, mounties, and tin pans look real intimidating in those hats.

      The weapons that they are required to keep on their person or in their possession at all times when on duty (whether they need them or not) are far more insidious.

      Lose those, and as long as it’s not some James-Bond-Villian headwear, wear what they like.

  9. How can we build an ethical police force based upon the concept of Constitutional policing by consent?

    Well the first step is to lie to everyone and have them thinking that they signed a social contract before their birth. Second, you convince those concerned with government power that the Constitution is a safeguard of their liberty instead of a codification of usurped state power. Once these lies have matured, you’ll have people teaching this to their children et cetera. Then blammmmo; consent.

    The fact that you use Robert Peel as the inspiration of your preferred version of policing tells me that you believe in a strong centralized police force. Because nothing says liberty like concentrations of power vested in statist monopolies masquerading as institutions that exist because of public demand.

    1. Government and police are unavoidable. There will always be a gang of men employing organized violence as a license to steal. Might as well try to get them to follow some principles other than “obey or die.”

      1. Where’d you buy that crystal ball?

        1. Serious question: in your anarchist utopia, what happens when groups of men employ organized violence for the purpose of plunder?

          You may say “hire groups of men to employ organized violence to fight them off.”

          OK, well what stops these hired guns from, once the thugs they were hired to fight are vanquished, demanding payment or else?

          It defies logic to say that a society can exist without groups of violent men plundering society. Be they bandits or government, they will always exist.

          1. what happens when groups of men employ organized violence for the purpose of plunder?

            They’d rightly be branded as criminals and dealt with via arrest, outlawry and/or economic exclusion.

            OK, well what stops these hired guns from, once the thugs they were hired to fight are vanquished, demanding payment or else?

            Division of labor and the delegitimization of security monopolies.

            It defies logic to say that a society can exist without groups of violent men plundering society. Be they bandits or government, they will always exist.

            No one said crime would evaporate without a state. But I find it interesting that you claim it’s logically impossible to order a society on any basis other than legitimized plundering violence.

            It defies logic (and actually does) to say that the best protector of life and property is an institution predicated on the expropriation life and property.

            1. It defies logic (and actually does) to say that the best protector of life and property is an institution predicated on the expropriation life and property.

              Who exactly are you arguing with? Because I’ve never said it was the best.

              Whatever. Seems the only way you can win an argument is by attacking straw men.

              What color is associated with anarchy? Because you’re that color’s Tony.

              1. I dunno, “Black Tony” sounds kind of racist.

                1. Yeah. I’ll just call him Anarchist Tony.

              2. Who exactly are you arguing with?

                I’m arguing with an artful dodger, who makes arguments but insulates himself against rebuttals by erroneously claiming never to have argued X, Y or Z to begin with.

                Because I’ve never said it was the best.

                Well you claim that statism is inevitable and inescapable. And any alternative proposed is automatically held invalid or unworkable because “statism is inevitable and inescapable”. So by process of elimination, you do hold the minarchist position that statism=best. Far be it from anyone to actually call you out on your arguments for what they are.

                What color is associated with anarchy? Because you’re that color’s Tony.

                The intellectual coward shows his colors.

                1. So by process of elimination, you do hold the minarchist position that statism=best.

                  Um, no. That’s a logic fail if I’ve ever seen one.

                  1. It’s a logic fail because you attribute a value judgment with the word “best.”

                    There’s no value judgement in saying that death and taxes are certain. That’s like saying death is better than some imaginary alternative.

                    That’s the part where you piss me off. When you attribute a value judgement onto my statements.

                    You’re the intellectual coward here, because you must attribute a false value judgement in order to “win” the argument.

                    1. It’s a logic fail because you attribute a value judgment with the word “best.”

                      I know you disklike words that accurately describe your arguments. Like the word ‘statist’ has been known to rile you up.

                      Even if you hate the ever-living fuck out of statism, but you hold that every other non-state means of ordering society to be a pipe dream that is invalid because states will ‘inevitably’ rise up, or invalid because it will be a surer way to totalitarianism or something. That renders your argument to be; that this thing you hate is nonetheless the ‘best’ available option. If you understood logic correctly, you wouldn’t be contesting that point. But I think you just don’t want to acknowledge your inner statist. I get that.

                      There’s no value judgement in saying that death and taxes are certain.

                      Agreed, just bad judgement because by now you should know that’s a stupid fucking analogy. Immutable laws of nature are not at a probability parity with norms that exist entirely within human relationships. Much less that societies actually have existed without taxation.

                      When you attribute a value judgement onto my statements. You’re the intellectual coward here, because you must attribute a false value judgement in order to “win” the argument.

                      There’s all kinds of adjectives that accurately describe your arguments that you don’t like, get over it.

                    2. If you understood logic correctly, you wouldn’t be contesting that point.

                      LOL! That’s funny.

                      Much less that societies actually have existed without taxation.

                      And what happened? Yeah. That’s my point.

                      There’s all kinds of adjectives that accurately describe your arguments that you don’t like, get over it.

                      There you go attributing value judgements again with the word “like.”

                      This shows again that you don’t know jack shit about logic, because logic doesn’t assign value judgements.

                    3. And what happened? Yeah. That’s my point

                      They persisted for hundreds of years. How does that prove your point that taxation is entirely unavoidable, Mr Logic?

                      There you go attributing value judgements again with the word “like.”

                      This shows again that you don’t know jack shit about logic, because logic doesn’t assign value judgements.

                      What the fuck are you babbling about? In a room full of serial rapists, you can logically say the one who only raped once is ‘the best’ of the bunch, that doesn’t mean you’re saying he’s ‘good’. ‘Best’ is a word that cannot be used unless in reference to other things. i.e. it’s a ‘relative’ word. Is that really hard to understand?

                    4. Whatever. Back to the original argument.

                      They’d rightly be branded as criminals and dealt with via arrest, outlawry and/or economic exclusion.

                      What Anon said. That’s a pretty dumb response.

                      Division of labor and the delegitimization of security monopolies.

                      I don’t even know what that means. Security monopolies don’t need legitimacy. They need the last word in violence. After that it doesn’t matter, since they can kill you if you don’t do as they say.

                      No one said crime would evaporate without a state. But I find it interesting that you claim it’s logically impossible to order a society on any basis other than legitimized plundering violence.

                      I’m saying it’s logically impossible to not have some state emerge from a society, once it reaches a certain level of wealth. Because it’s human nature to take the easy way, and plundering is easier than producing. So men will organize for the purpose of plunder, and before long you’ve got a state. Either the bandits become the state, or the people who organized for the purpose of fighting off bandits become the state.

                      They’ve got the last word in violence. Pay your taxes or else.

                      *shrug*

                      That’s just the way it is.

                    5. I don’t even know what that means. Security monopolies don’t need legitimacy. They need the last word in violence. After that it doesn’t matter, since they can kill you if you don’t do as they say.

                      I know you don’t. That’s why talking to you is largely pointless.

                      The government could not go on doing what it’s doing without widespread acknowledgment of it’s legitimacy. If pure brute force were the only ingredient, and no ideas regarding that brute force were applicable, then how the hell do 300 million people get bossed around by a few thousand?

                      Without statist ideology, where most people accept the legitimacy of the state for one stupid reason or another, there could be no state.

                      Because it’s human nature to take the easy way, and plundering is easier than producing. So men will organize for the purpose of plunder, and before long you’ve got a state.

                      See the above. Plunder yields diminishing returns and if it were truly easier, everyone would do it. Even competition for plunder makes it harder to plunder. Yes men will organize in order to plunder, but they may only persist in their plunder because people allow it, people legitimize it.

                      Sarc circa 1014 AD: “There will always be slavery. That’s just the way it is.”

                    6. Whatever. Back to the original argument.

                      You should save this quote on your clipboard for easy use when arguing. “Whatever’ being shorthand for “I don’t want to discuss or acknowledge the rebuttal you posed.”

                      And ‘back to the original argument’ is shorthand for, “I want to broaden the subject of debate since I’m losing on this one.”

                    7. Immutable laws of nature are not at a probability parity with norms that exist entirely within human relationships.

                      I’m saying that gangs of men using organized violence for plunder are in immutable law of nature.

                    8. I’m saying that gangs of men using organized violence for plunder are in immutable law of nature.

                      No you said taxation. Taxation is a legitimized form of theft. Everyone already knows regular ole plunder is theft, and it’s not legitimized that’s why it’s widely regarded as theft.

                      And nonetheless your false clarification is still fucking stupid as what you describe also exists entirely within the confines of human relationships. But hey, you can just keep repeating that death and taxes quip like it proves your point.

                    9. It’s legitimate only in that the people who engage in organized violence say it is. It’s plunder is what it is.

                    10. It’s legitimate only in that the people who engage in organized violence say it is. It’s plunder is what it is.

                      No it’s legitimate when other people, lots of other people, agree. A murderer may say that his murder was legitimate, but that alone doesn’t make it legitimate by any stretched definition of the word you care to push.

                2. The intellectual coward shows his colors.

                  Yes. Yes you have.

            2. “They’d rightly be branded as criminals and dealt with via arrest, outlawry and/or economic exclusion.”

              Simple questions: Without an organized police force, who is going to arrest criminals? Who exactly will have powers of arrest, and who will assign those powers? Who will try the accused once they’ve been arrested?

              Economic exclusion? Haaaaahahahahaha….HHAAAA HAAAhahaha…. There are people in this world that will use violence to obtain what they want. There are people in this world that will crush your skull in a vise just to hear you scream. Do you seriously think “economic exclusion” is a fucking deterrent to a serial killer, bank robber, or rapist? Dude, put the bong down. “Branding” someone as a criminal is a fucking badge of honor in some circles. “Economic exclusion” of criminals that steal whatever they want with violence…that’s full-fucking-retard material right there.

              1. Anarchist Tony feels that we can all get along once we evolve into The New Anarchist Man.

              2. Simple questions: Without an organized police force, who is going to arrest criminals?

                Who said there wouldn’t be an organized police force?

                Who exactly will have powers of arrest, and who will assign those powers?

                Everyone. No one inherently has rights that others do not have. But thanks to Division of Labor, this task will be best left up to professionals with whom others’ delegate this this right.

                Who will try the accused once they’ve been arrested?

                Courts, judges, arbitrators.

                There are people in this world that will use violence to obtain what they want.

                People who use force to steal money, are doing so in order to facilitate their future voluntary transactions, or what would be the point?

                Do you seriously think “economic exclusion” is a fucking deterrent to a serial killer, bank robber, or rapist?

                I never said it was the end-all solution to all criminal problems. But all the same, do rapists not eat? Do bank robbers not want to spend their loot?

                1. But all the same, do rapists not eat? Do bank robbers not want to spend their loot?

                  I wasn’t talking about bank robbers and rapists. I was talking about gangs who use organized violence to demand tribute. Who stops them, except people engaging in organized violence? And what happens when they demand tribute?

                  1. I wasn’t talking about bank robbers and rapists. I was talking about gangs who use organized violence to demand tribute. Who stops them, except people engaging in organized violence? And what happens when they demand tribute?

                    I was responding to Anon. As evidenced by the direct quotation from him that preceded my post.

                    Who stops them, except people engaging in organized violence?

                    You act like “organized” violence is the hallmark of the state. Any two rapists working in tandem constitute organized violence, that doesn’t make it government. Similarly, anarchy is not philosophically opposed to, nor does it lack, organized violence.

                    And what happens when they demand tribute?

                    A cost-benefit analysis ensues. But within an already existent stateless society, you would call whomever you subscribe to for security.

                    1. You act like “organized” violence is the hallmark of the state.

                      That’s because it is. Yeah, two rapist are organized violence, and so are the dozen cops who jump on top of them and beat the shit out of them.

                      What happens if you don’t pay your taxes? You get summoned to court. What if you refuse to appear? A warrant is issued for your arrest. What happens if you resist arrest? You will be subjected to organized violence.

                      Without exception, everything that the government does is predicated on organized violence. Not only organized violence, but the last word in violence.

                      But within an already existent stateless society, you would call whomever you subscribe to for security.

                      What if they are that whomever you subscribe to for security? That’s my point.

                      What if, after a cost benefit analysis, one security company decides to literally destroy the competition, giving them the last word in violence? Now everyone is their customer, and they’ve got to pay up or else.

                    2. That’s because it is. Yeah, two rapist are organized violence, and so are the dozen cops who jump on top of them and beat the shit out of them.

                      If the definition of the state were “organized violence” then all sorts of ridiculous things would be classified as a state. If that is the definition you literally accept, then you are in dire need of further reading and examination of the topic.

                      What happens if you don’t pay your taxes? You get summoned to court. What if you refuse to appear? A warrant is issued for your arrest. What happens if you resist arrest? You will be subjected to organized violence.

                      If you break into my house and my son and I organize to shoot you, we become a state. Got it! That’s so simple, any non-thinking cretin should be able to believe it.

                    3. What if they are that whomever you subscribe to for security? That’s my point.

                      So it becomes game over that easy eh? That’s the current system actually. In a competitive market, you would go to their competitor and say “look what these assholes did”. But I’m not about to debate non-factuals with you where you proceed to think up some insurmountable hypothetical that you’re unwilling to actually dissect.

                      What if, after a cost benefit analysis, one security company decides to literally destroy the competition, giving them the last word in violence? Now everyone is their customer, and they’ve got to pay up or else.

                      This is what I’m talking about with insurmountable hypothetical that you don’t allow to be satisfactorily answered. But if it’s a given certainty that this concentration within the market will take place, then why don’t states behave this way? Why don’t we have a single world government? All the governments in the world exist with each other in anarchy vis-a-vis each other so why is it not a constant battle of all against all? They too deal in violence and they too mostly cooperate without an institution with the “last say” in violence lording over them.

                    4. But if it’s a given certainty that this concentration within the market will take place, then why don’t states behave this way?

                      You want to see competition for market share among security corporations? Look at Ukraine.

                      As for your dishonest representations of my definition of government, I’ll simplify it for you.

                      Government is the people with the last word in violence (assumed to be organized) within a geographical area. Is that clear enough for you?

                      Everything it does is predicated on that. That’s why politicians won’t do a damn thing about the militarization of the police. Because that’s where their power comes from. Without militarized police having the last word in organized violence, the politicians and bureaucrats would be powerless.

                      The reason why I don’t see a stateless society working is because there are power seekers who want a state. It’s not a strictly economic cost benefit analysis for power seekers. They want control. Having the last word in violence gives them the control that they cannot have if there is competition in security.

                      Human nature is a bitch.

                    5. You want to see competition for market share among security corporations? Look at Ukraine.

                      You’ll need to expand on this.

                      Government is the people with the last word in violence (assumed to be organized) within a geographical area. Is that clear enough for you?

                      It’s no trivial question that you have previously answered with very little thought, answers that could be invalidated within 3 seconds of rational analysis. So yes you do need to clarify and this answer also doesn’t suffice but I don’t want to labor the point. So I’ll just agree that it’s a better definition than you have been operating on.

                      Without militarized police having the last word in organized violence, the politicians and bureaucrats would be powerless.

                      Government officials also had the power and the will to behave unjustly before the advent of militarized police. But okay sure.

                      The reason why I don’t see a stateless society working is because there are power seekers who want a state. It’s not a strictly economic cost benefit analysis for power seekers.

                      So there are people who want to legally rape any woman they choose, but that proposition is purely indefensible and so no one awards them that license with a document that ‘forces’ them to rape within limits. But unlike rape, when it comes to theft and murder it’s not necessarily clear who the real aggressor is. This gray area is the operating margins of states.

                    6. “They too deal in violence and they too mostly cooperate without an institution with the “last say” in violence lording over them.”

                      Last time I checked, there isn’t a functional state on the planet that doesn’t have this “institution with the “last say” in violence” We call that the “military”, and states don’t fund them to look pretty and march smartly. They’re the “last say” in violence. It’s a sort of unspoken understanding that if one state fucks with another state, the military will make it hurt.

                    7. Last time I checked, there isn’t a functional state on the planet that doesn’t have this “institution with the “last say” in violence” We call that the “military”, and states don’t fund them to look pretty and march smartly. They’re the “last say” in violence. It’s a sort of unspoken understanding that if one state fucks with another state, the military will make it hurt.

                      WHOOOOOOOOOSH. There is no world state forcing lesser states to behave cooperatively with each other. Bilateral relations exist within anarchy.

                2. “…this task will be best left up to professionals with whom others’ delegate this this right.”

                  We call these “professionals” the “police”.

                  “Courts, judges, arbitrators.”

                  We call these people “the judiciary” and they are what makes a “state” a state.

                  Pro Tip: It takes violence or the threat of violence to counter violence. You can have organized, sanctioned violence as a counter to violence, or you can have chaos where everyone just goes about dispensing their own brand of justice. I prefer my violence organized: At least the teams are slightly more defined.

                  1. We call these “professionals” the “police”.

                    “Courts, judges, arbitrators.”

                    We call these people “the judiciary” and they are what makes a “state” a state.

                    Clearly you assume that none of the aforementioned services could possibly exist within the market.

                    Pro Tip: It takes violence or the threat of violence to counter violence. You can have organized, sanctioned violence as a counter to violence, or you can have chaos where everyone just goes about dispensing their own brand of justice. I prefer my violence organized: At least the teams are slightly more defined.

                    Pro tip: When arguing against others, actually take the time to argue against them instead of that strawman. You clearly have taken absolutely no time to read up on anarcho-capitalism or it’s positions. In short, you are a waste of time.

                    1. Government officials also had the power and the will to behave unjustly before the advent of militarized police. But okay sure.

                      And how did they get away with it? Because their organization had the last word in violence. Doesn’t have to be militarized police. Could be men with swords, or clubs, employing enough organized violence defeat anyone who disagrees.

                      Clearly you assume that none of the aforementioned services could possibly exist within the market.

                      Yes. Clearly. Let’s say I’ve got security company A and you’ve got security company B.

                      You accuse me of robbing you and send security company A after me. I call security company B to protect me. What happens? Do they shoot it out? Does my security company give me over to yours based upon your allegations? If so, then what am I paying them for? Do we resolve it in court? But we pay different courts in the market. Which court do we use?

                      I can’t see it working. One of these entities must have the last word, or nothing can be resolved. And that last word is backed up with violence. It’s called government.

                    2. The thing you seem to be leaving out of your equation is a desire for power. If the only thing to consider was economics, then maybe I could see what you describe working. But that’s not the only consideration. Some people want to rule over others. Many feel that people must be ruled. I’m not one of those people, but I don’t deny that they exist, nor do I deny that they will seek to rule and have the support of those who feel that people need to be ruled.

                    3. I don’t need to “read up on” anarcho-capitalism or it’s positions, asshole. I’ve seen real anarchy personally. Anarchy DOES. NOT. EVER. WORK. It ignores basic human nature. Someone comes along and organizes people based on their basest prejudices and fears and what you end up with is something similar to post-Paul-Brennan-Iraq-idiocy, or Somalia.

                      You, the cubicle-dwelling IDEALISTS, are usually the first to go, because you can’t be troubled to carry a fucking M4 around 24/7/365, and you certainly can’t bother learning how to actually use it. The next thing you know, you’ve ventured outside your undefined safety perimeter and the religious fundies in the next town over have you blindfolded and duct-taped to a chair and there’s some wires tied to your genitalia, and a bloody cordless drill laying on a table. You think your anarchist buddies are coming after you? Fuck no, man…they’re stoned and don’t want to piss off the religious fundies and end up like you all screaming and crying and pissing yourself.

                    4. It ignores basic human nature.

                      Yep.

                    5. So now you’re all dead and shit, and nobody is going to investigate the crime, or prosecute the offender, because who the fuck is going to pay them to do it? Ha, your wife is already fucking the pool boy, your kids make minimum wage, and so now we have an emboldened criminal element, because it’s clear that in your magic world, nobody wants to invest the time and money to do the hard stuff like confront a band of murderous savages.

                    6. And that completely ignores the fact that in your “anarcho-capitalist” utopia, even if your relatives are interested in spending the money to solve your murder and manage to hire someone to do so, what exactly keeps them from stonewalling, or even selling out to the guys who drilled holes in your fucking skull, burned your dick off, and dumped your body on your front porch? What keeps the guys you hired to protect you, from killing you? Let me guess: Market forces, right?

                      Here’s a market force you didn’t consider. Say there’s a group that extorts money from everyone in a neighborhood. It costs X amount of dollars every week to keep them from beating your ass like a rented mule. In order to hire someone to protect you from this gang, it costs 2 times X. Guess who’s bitch you are?

                    7. “Say there’s a group that extorts money from everyone in a neighborhood. It costs X amount of dollars every week to keep them from beating your ass like a rented mule.”

                      As long as these neighbours continue to insist on using easily extortable dollars as money, they deserve every beating they get. When these neighbours figure out that using a non extortable form of money will protect them from violent extortionists, then we can talk.

                    8. What exactly would be a form of “non-extortable money”, and how exactly will using a different form of money keep extortionists from taking it?

                      Whether you us fiat currency, or something with intrinsic value like chickens, gold, or grain, it can still be extorted.

                    9. “What exactly would be a form of “non-extortable money”, ”

                      It’s not like the gold coins you have in mind. Anyone who insists on using gold coins etc is setting themselves up as a target for extortion. A non-extortable form of currency would be something intangible: credit, reputation, something a marauding band of plunderers who find it impossible to make off with.

                    10. Reputation isn’t going to pay for food, and credit comes due.

                    11. Some other intangible then. Or continue using plunder bait.

                    12. The idea of the modern state didn’t really exist prior to the middle of the 17th century, and didn’t really become the default until about two hundred years ago–and some would argue that it never really has. The modern, sovereign state is a recent arrival in human history, and was preceded by several other forms of government (or society, I suppose) that worked just fine for centuries. The move to statehood arose as a result of the savagery and destruction of the European wars of the late 16th and early 17th century, particularly in central Europe, and was influenced heavily by the religious conflicts of the time. Take the Protestant/Catholic split out of the picture and absolute monarchies and feudal states keep truckin’ along.

                      I mention this to point out that states were not and are no more inevitable than any other accident of history. In retrospect, we see them now and assume this was the only way the present could look, but that’s simply an error of perspective.

                      Also, I’m not saying ancaps have it all figured out, but, again, saying that modern police (which didn’t exist in any meaningful sense BEFORE Robert Peel) are the only thing standing between us and rivers of blood is overlooking almost all of human history. I think if you look at some of your assumptions about the inevitability of huge numbers of ravaging hordes vs. three homesteaders with reasonable tones of voice you’ll find that you’re not applying the premises behind a stateless society evenly.

                    13. That lack of statehood was due to a number of factors.

                      Villages were spread out generally about a day’s walk from each other, in order not to compete for resources.

                      Villages were “self-limiting”, in that without sufficient sanitation (technology), they would grow to a certain size, and then retract as cholera or the Plague reduced the number of inhabitants.

                      Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. This isn’t 1500 where the entire earth’s population was 500 million people. With 7 billion people on the planet all competing for the same resources (if only in their minds), it’s exceedingly difficult to keep what’s yours without a state to back you up.

                    14. Additionally, society was much poorer than it is today. The modern state is expensive, and requires a wealthy society to loot.

  10. Food for thought: In 2013 105 officers died in the line of duty ? 105 too many, to be sure. http://www.odmp.org/search/year?year=2013 . The Centers for Disease control estimate that around 300 people die by accidentally drowning in bathtubs (over 40,000 accidental drownings from 1999 to 2010, averaging about 3,500 a year and a little over 9 percent of those occurring in the bathtub. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db149.htm

    1. Yep, and the most dangerous jobs by far are logging and commercial fishing, followed (distantly) by farming, roofing, garbage collectors, construction, airline pilots, convenience store clerks, steel/iron workers and linemen.

      Law enforcement and the military don’t even make the list.

      1. Don’t forget pizza delivery drivers and rock guitarists.

        1. Rock is among the most dangerous if one is 27. 🙂

    2. I forgot mining, truck drivers, and cabbies.

      Not to mention dangerous professions in areas of the free market that the State has currently deemed illegal, such as prostitution, smuggling, and the sale of illicit substances.

      Anyway the point stands. Why are we ever inundated with military and police worship? Where are the parades and monuments for our heroic fallen garbage men, roofers, fishermen, cabbies, loggers, and sex industry workers?

      It’s all about the State throwing its authority around.

      1. Most people agree that politicians are scum, yet the people who commit violence on behalf of said scum are to be worshiped.

        Yeah. I don’t get it either.

  11. Wow dude that makes a lot of sense.

    http://www.Crypt-Anon.tk

  12. Interesting how many former law enforcement professionals get the common sense religion after they retire and, therefore, become 100% ineffectual.

    1. Interesting how many former law enforcement professionals get the common sense religion after they retire and, therefore, become 100% ineffectual.

      Is is not also possible that they got the “common sense religion” while still on the job and were forced out because of it?

      1. Is it not also possible….

  13. This might work. Or, alternately, you could just not have professional law enforcement at all. That might work too.

  14. Ah, the “consent of the governed…” Unfortunately, if you don’t “consent” it’s just too damned bad. Too many people think that “police” can replace individual responsibility for oneself and legitimate dependents, including their safety.

    When some people are given the power to forcefully impose their ideas on other people, tyranny is the inevitable result. The “police” are an excellent example of that truth.

  15. Stephen Downing – not bad. Add some thinking about holding the police to a higher standard, or at least the same standard as everyone else, and this get close to complete.

    Now the age old question … How does one get power, to relinquish its power?

  16. Yes, get the federal government out of local law enforcement. Anytime the federal government gets involved there are strings attached, there is corruption, and mismanagement.

    1. “Yes, get the federal government out of local law enforcement.”

      But it’s not involved with local law enforcement. Federal money is passed on to state governments. It’s state governments that are spending the money on militarizing the police.

      1. Yes federal dollars are being passed to state/local governments. As with all federal dollars, those dollars come with certain stipulations and expectations. Along with that comes corruption and mismanagement.

  17. Here’s perfect example of the corrupt police state. Forgive me it’s from CNN, but it does expose absolute corruption in Philadelphia.
    http://www.cnn.com/video/data/…..s.cnn.html

  18. Imagine a police department where all of the cops wore sports coats and ties and walked around helping people. They could prevent crimes by giving people rides home if they were too drunk to drive. They could get to know people. Offer classes on community watch programs. Some might have guns, but mostly their power would lay in the ability to use a radio.
    Police departments need to hire more social workers and fewer soldiers.

    1. How’s that “social worker” thing working out in Detroit?

    2. No jack boots and body armor? Can they still shave their heads? What about bad-ass patrol cars with lights and PA systems? Judge Dreadd in a Crown Vic.

  19. Number 7: “To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that 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 ON EVERY CITIZEN in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

    cont:

    1. There used to be a time when people sat out on their porches in the evening and saw what was going on in their surroundings. They knew their neighbors, they knew their neighbors kids, and nobody hesitated to keep a neighbor’s kid straight if they were doing something they shouldn’t be doing. If people saw something that wasn’t right, they’d take care of it themselves, and the police were called only to arrest someone who had already been caught by the people. Cops got involved only to “keep the peace”, arrest criminals, and investigate crime.

      cont:

      1. Somewhere, all that changed. People got lazy. Nobody wants to “get involved” anymore. Nobody sits out on their front porch watching their neighborhood. It’s been a slow, gradual change that went from the neighbor bringing your delinquent son to your front door, to “snitches get stitches”. That change brought an increase in crime. That increase in crime brought about a PUBLIC DEMAND for stronger law enforcement. Now it’s come full-circle. People want less law enforcement, but they still want to sit on their asses and not get involved. People literally call the police for incredibly stupid shit like “there’s a bird pecking at my window”, and then bitch when the cops aren’t there in five minutes to investigate an auto burglary that occurred when they parked their car overnight in a dark Skid Row parking lot outside a bar. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t assign responsibility for your personal safety and that of your property to the State, and then get bent because the State assumes the authority to regulate your personal safety and property. You’re still responsible, but it is YOU who have given the State that authority over you by being a lazy, cubical-dwelling fuck that doesn’t want to get involved in your community. When’s the last time any one of you volunteered for a neighborhood watch, or sat out on your front porch?

        1. ” but it is YOU who have given the State that authority over you by being a lazy, cubical-dwelling fuck that doesn’t want to get involved in your community. When’s the last time any one of you volunteered for a neighborhood watch, or sat out on your front porch?”

          Your audience here are mostly self-styled libertarians. You want to motivate them to get off their asses. offer them some money. Volunteering for neigbourhood watch? Don’t make me laugh. That’s getting into ‘community organizer’ territory.

          1. Can we have gons and wear batches?

            1. Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.

  20. And while we’re at it, maybe we can make the sun come up in hte West tomorrow instead of the East. Seems about as likely as any of these proposed reforms actually happening.

    1. I would rather enjoy having the sun rise from the west. It feels as though I am always driving into blinding sun on the way to work. So, if you can get this police abuse thing fixed, can you work on the sunrise thing next? Please and thank you!

  21. this was how cops acted when i was a kid…they would stop sometimes and play a few innings of whiffle ball…watch us jump our bikes at the park…..just hang out with us and talk about baseball who had the best little league team in town….

    now i read stories of kids playing in the woods having cops pull guns on them….shoot kids dogs right in front of them…..throw flash bangs in their cribs…..generally law enforcement in america is not the policing i saw as a kid….

    law enforcement today is completely militarized in both equipment and attitude…..if you’re not part of their twisted little tribe you’re treated like a potential insurgent with all the rights and privileges granted which is zero…..

  22. What a confused article. Policing, use of deadly force, profiling, equipment, etc. are local issues. The war on drugs is federal lawmaking gone awry. Asset seizures, arrest quotas, and stop-and-frisk policies violate constitutional protections and should be stopped by federal courts. Lumping all these different issues together as if they were a single problem is bullshit. It’s also disconcerting that Reason is now paying lip service to left-wing drivel like “healing our communities” and “profiling”.

    Most importantly, though, it’s unclear that this is an issue most people actually care about. As far as I’m concerned, reforming police is very, very low on my list of priorities because it’s simply not a problem for me. And that’s probably true for the vast majority of Americans. You’re beating a dead horse.

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  24. REASON, really needs to stop with the articles about the police.
    They are clearly written by people, who know nothing about what the police do and how law enforcement works.
    Methinks the proliferation of cop dramas, which are so far off the mark as far as reality is concerned – even “COPS” – gives many a belief that they understand the system and the process.
    They don’t know what they are talking about!

  25. Yeah, not gonna happen 🙁

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  32. Policing really has changed from what it used to be.

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