Whither the Thin Blue Line?

In the entry, “Sermon of the Mounties?”, Richard P. gives a disturbing account of why and how police in many instances have stopped being primarily concerned about protecting the public and are now primarily concerned about protecting themselves. The entire downhill course of our society over the last 40 years is somehow captured in the transformation of police from protectors of the public to paramilitary SWAT teams. And how did it happen? It’s the familiar story. Liberalism released massive moral disorder and crime, and criminals became so dangerous that police were forced to transform themselves into paramilitary forces busting into houses without showing warrants. Another factor is the growth of the all-controlling state, with the police as its instrument. Waco and other terrible events of police overreaching come to mind. I’m thinking in particular of one of the most nakedly tyrannical and soulless acts ever committed by the U.S. government, the arrest of Elian Gonzalez, during Holy Week nine years ago. See my May 2000 article at Newsmax, “Liberal Fascism and Donato Daylrymple.”

So it’s not that the police are liberal wimps. It’s that, as a result of the loss of the moral coherence of society brought about by liberalism, police to a significant degree have withdrawn from a sense of a membership in and responsibility to society, and have become a specialized institution pursuing its own well being. .

I’m copying Richard’s comment here as well as in the earlier entry.Any comments about it will be posted here.

Richard P. writes:

The reason that police aren’t immediately engaging these evil people is because for much of the last two decades police departments have been operating under a new doctrine—force protection. Police departments once operated under the assumption that their first priority was protection of the public. That is no more. If you read interviews with police chiefs and management related to budgets or following any big incidents with mass shootings or unneccessary force you will hear mention their first priority as protecting the safety of their officers. This is part and parcel with the militarization trend we’ve seen in police forces nationwide.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s most search warrants were handled this way: unifomed deputies, usually with plain clothes detectives, show up at the residence. They knock and announce themselves and are let in or, with no response after some time will force open the door. It was handled pretty peacefully. No-knock forced entries began in the 1980s and were justified because drug dealers might destroy evidence by flushing it. This falls off the logic train for a few reasons, namely that any dealer with so little product that he can flush the whole thing isn’t likely to be worth a search warrant and has just seriously harmed his business in the process, but no matter.

We’ve seen a progression where now most search and arrest warrants are served by armor-wearing machine gun wielding tactical teams. They say this is to protect the police in these matters. It certainly isn’t to protect the occupants of any home they search. In the last few years this SWAT mentality has gone down to the local officer level. Street patrol officers in my little Texas suburb now wear heavy body armor and tactical rigs and approach cars in traffic stops with a large flashlight in one hand and the other on their gun at all times. They wait for backup to arrive before approaching the vehicle on traffice stops of cars with several occupants. This in an upper middle-class suburb.

There seems to be no realization that this creates an us-vs-them mentality, or that placing force protection as the first priority allows killers to continue killing as in your stories. Each new headline of some violent act reinforces this attitude amongst the police. It has reached a point where some police forces are purchasing heavy armored vehicles with .50 caliber mounted machine guns. Police are no longer a part of the community in the way they once were.

Richard P. continues:

Thanks. It was 19 years ago this month that I graduated as a police academy cadet. I then went to paramedic school and was hoping to work for a combined emergency service. (Didn’t happen—I worked strictly as a paramedic for most of the 1990’s before a career change).

What I was taught in the academy back then was so remarkably different from what I see in police policies and procedures now that I am flabbergasted. They really seem to have created a world unto themselves.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 08, 2009 04:59 PM | Send

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