Police Power and the Law

What can be said of the past few days that would be in any way sufficient?

It is useless to take sides; each side is not wrong, but they are not completely right either.  Each side in this matter is rooted in contradiction; to this observer, it is better to stay away completely.

The people that normally say that only the “police and military” ought to have guns are the ones so skeptical of police power.

The people that normally say they are skeptical of a powerful government are so supportive of police, which is nothing more than the enforcement arm of a government.

We can either keep this in mind and recognize the good and bad points of each side, or we can take hard-line stances which will only further perpetuate the problem.  So let’s avoid that!  However I think it is a good opportunity to think a little bit about the institutions we take for granted.

What is the purpose of a police force?  To enforce the law.  Without some mechanism of enforcement, the law would loose all legitimacy.  But it is already loosing legitimacy when it is so complex and selectively enforced, at the whims of the officers that have little more understanding of the law than the average citizens.

Nobody has anything ill to say of firemen; they stay in fire stations and only go out when called for.  They don’t go around looking for fires, nor do they attempt to start them.  The stigma against police has developed because they do that very thing: they go around looking for fires or end up starting them, inconveniencing or hurting innocent people in the process.

The law must be simple and easily enforced.  It must only attempt to punish violent and harmful crimes; when it attempts to punish ‘crimes’ that are inherently non-violent, such is where the root of the problem begins.

 

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