“The police cannot protect the citizen at this stage of our development, and they cannot even protect themselves in many cases. It is up to the private citizen to protect himself and his family, and this is not only acceptable, but mandatory.” Jeff Cooper
The United States is full of people who hold strong opinions, most of these individuals follows one or the other of the two major political approaches. What each side has in common is an affinity for what is termed, criminal justice. They promote the application of any number of hundreds of thousands of laws written by people in power now and those who held power before. They promote the use of state law enforcement, paid for by the taxes so brazenly levied against all who work.
In most populated areas in the United States there is a police force, appointed to provide the illusion of protection and service to the tax payer. The job most police forces spend the largest amount of time doing however, are in the enforcement of petty legal statutes against the average taxpaying citizen. The largest percentage of time spent by any one police department is not in the solving of the relatively small amount of major crime, but in the generation of revenue by prosecuting civil crime. These civil crimes range from personal drug use and possession to traffic related ticketing and law enforcement.
It is well known among the law enforcement community and in the legal world that 97% of major crime is committed by 3% of the population. Less then 65% of all murders in the United States are solved. This means that over 6,000 people annually get away with murder. If you include rape, child molestation, child abuse, physical non rape assault and felony theft you will quickly find that it is a literal coin flip as to whether the person who commits the crime will be caught and punished for that crime using the system of justice the United States has today. A quick look through the Federal Bureau of Investigations crime statistics (the most complete publicly available statistics) will show you that real crime tends to have between 40-60% rate of being solved. What this list of crime statistics will also show you is that contrary to popular opinion, the law and police presence does little to actually prevent crimes from occurring.
The crimes that tend to be prevented are those crimes that are not really crime, in that the actions involved have harmed no one other then the person being caught and prosecuted. These crimes include but are not limited too, drinking while driving, the personal use or abuse of controlled substances and traffic related incidents. While all of these crime types have the very real potential of being a causative effect in crimes against another person, they are not by themselves crimes against others. They are what is commonly known as crimes against society. Another fallacy that is promoted as a fact is that by using police in high crime areas the local crime control jurisdiction can in fact reduce crime.
The facts however show that while temporarily disrupting crime in areas where police presence is raised, crime simply shifts to other areas. Therefore the use of additional police units and pointed area reduction strategies that are not implementing community involvement tend to spread crime around versus actually reducing it overall. (Wiesburd et al. ) Where police have a direct impact on crime is areas where they make use of the community in their efforts to reduce it. Community policing has shown the greatest positive approach to being able to reduce crime overall in societies with large governments.
Community policing is what most of the liberty crowd desire to see, however, it can be called many different things. Community policing as it is known within the criminal justice world is having an officer work directly with the local inhabitants of a set area. By building a repertoire with the local community and in some cases going so far as to live within the community as well, the officer is better able to address the true problems that may exist. The first examples of community policing were the town sheriffs of old west towns before the various territories were appended by the Federal Government. These individuals were paid by the local residents directly to enforce codes and laws the local residents had voluntarily agreed too. This was an effective approach at this time, and remains an effective approach today where it is used.
Unfortunately, most policing agencies have either shut down their community policing projects or begin promoting a greater alliance with the federal governments law enforcers as the monetary benefits of doing so tend to outweigh the negative side affects in the minds of those in control of these agencies. A great example locally is the use of Operation Stonegarden, this quietly instituted local program for border states divides almost Fifty Million dollars among various agencies who then use this money for overtime for those law officers who want it. The program itself is meant to expand the local departments abilities to patrol their areas of influence, however, with very few exceptions the money is used to provide deputies and officers with the means of gathering additional funds without actually doing any work.
The common argument here is that these bad seeds represent a very small number of people within law enforcement as a community, however, this is another incorrect assumption based on the idea that a uniform and a badge somehow makes a person better then others. The opposite is far more common unfortunately, and while some good does exist, in the past couple of decades the incidents of publicized and un-publicized police brutality has risen exponentially. (Pharr et al. 2000) The public sector has largely seen a decline in trust of law enforcement and this is in no small part attributed to the abuse and misuse of the power originally granted.
The original question is, why do we need police again? The answer is a simple one, though it may seem difficult to most. We do not need the police, if each individual community desires to have some type of law or order in place, let them do so based entirely on their communities needs. However, we do not need such a large contingent of law enforcement at this time. Over the past several years the push has been made using terrorism as a keystone for the exponential growth of law enforcement career options. Sadly, even with this massive growth the majority of publicly available arrests and apprehensions of active terrorists or terrorist suspects have occurred as a direct result of civilians interaction and not that of law enforcement. In the recent Boston Bombing, it was only after they lifted the restrictions on travel that a single civilian located the suspect in those bombings. Using close to ten thousand FBI, National Guard and Law Enforcement, forcibly removing hundreds of people from their homes these men and women seen by so many as necessary found nothing. A lone single civilian smoking in his backyard found what these men and women had rampaging like bulls in china shops had failed to find.
So ask the question, and be honest, why do we need police again? Before you answer that, take a long look at what the local police actually do. What crimes do they actually stop, and what crimes do they actually solve. If you live in an area where the police solve higher then the national average of 50-60% of crimes committed then feel lucky, or maybe take a second look just to make sure the right people are being arrested for these crimes. For myself and hundreds of thousands like me, we do not need, nor do we want the system involved as it is now. We see that more problems are caused then are fixed as a result of it. And yes, I use facts to come to these conclusions.
Free the mind and the body will follow.
David Wiesburd, Laura Wyckoff, Justin Ready, Josh Hinkle, and Frank Gajewski,
“Does Crime Just Move Around the Corner?
A Study of Displacement and Diffusion in Jersey Cit y , NJ ,”
NCJRS, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/211679.pdf (accessed April 25, 2013).
Susan Pharr, Robert Putnam, and Russell Dalton,
“Trouble in the Advanced Democracies?
A Quarter-Century of Declining Confidence,” Journal of Democracy, 11, no. 2 (2000),
- County crime increased in 2012 (utsandiego.com)
- Criminal Justice and Criminology: How Are They Related? (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
- Faculty Post: The Boston Tragedy Reveals the Need for Community-Based Counterterrorism Strategies (nuslblogs.org)
- Technology and Crime Analysis (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
- Gay politician attacked in possible hate crime outside bar (kfor.com)
- Mexico’s vigilante law enforcers (bbc.co.uk)
- Patience wears thin in police force (stuff.co.nz)