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The resurgence of police power

Police power is experiencing a resurgence under President Donald Trump and his “law-and-order” drug warrior Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Under President Barack Obama, the 1033 program that transferred excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies originally established under President Bill Clinton was rolled back. Obama’s Department of Just(us) began scrutinizing local police agencies accused of using excessive force.

But Sessions recently announced he was scaling back Justice Department reform agreements “including collaborative investigations and prosecutions, grant making, technical assistance and training, compliance reviews, existing or contemplated consent decrees, and task force participation  in order to ensure that they fully and effectively promote the principles” of the new administration.

The AG will also restore programs that diverted surplus military equipment to local police departments at discounted prices.

But we need less police power, not more. A study published by JAMA Surgery shows that emergency department visits for people injured by LEOs (legally entitled to oppress) averaged about 51,000 per year from 2006 to 2012.

The study’s authors claim the rate of visits remained steady each year and totaled 355,677 over the period of the study. Of those 355,677 visits, 1,202 resulted in death either at the ED or later while in the hospital. More than 80 percent of those who sought treatment were male, and the average age was 32. Most lived in zip codes with household incomes below the national average, and 81 percent lived in urban areas. Injuries by LEOs were more common in the south and west and less common in the northeast and Midwest.

Most injuries that were treated were minor and resulted from being struck. But about 7 percent of the injuries from LEOs came from gunshots and stab wounds. Substance abuse and/or mental illness was common in those treated. About 20 percent of the people injured suffered from mental illness, lead study author Dr. Elinore Kaufman told Live Science.

The report did not cover deaths that occurred at the crime scene or those who were injured but did not seek treatment.

According to the website Killedbypolice.net, 343 people have died at the hands of police this year. The site recorded 1,155 deaths at the hands of police in 2016, 1,213 in 2015, 1,115 in 2014, and 777 in 2013.

In a letter sent to Sessions on Wednesday, The Rutherford Institute outlined the myriad ways Sessions’ move was a bad idea and challenged his assertion that police misconduct was the result of only a few bad actors.

From the letter:

Indeed, police abuse of authority and power is not limited to a few areas of the country, but occurs regularly throughout the United States. For example:

  • Andrew Lee Scott was shot to death by a police officer inside his apartment as he opened his door in response to a “knock and talk” police conducted at 1:30 a.m. The officer was one of team investigating a speeding incident who did not announce that they were police officers and had no reason to suspect Scott of any wrongdoing.
  • Levar Edward Jones was shot by a South Carolina police officer during a routine traffic stop over a seatbelt violation as he was in the process of reaching for his license and registration. The trooper justified his shooting of the unarmed man by insisting that Jones reached for his license “aggressively.”
  • Francisco Serna, a 73-year old grandfather with early-stage dementia was shot and killed by police for refusing to remove his hand from his pocket. Police were investigating an uncorroborated report that Serna had a gun, but it turned out he was holding a crucifix and made no aggressive movements before he was gunned down.
  • Nandi Cain, Jr., was thrown to the ground, choked and punched over a dozen times by a police officer after the officer stopped Cain for jaywalking. Cain made no aggressive moves toward the officer, and had even removed his jacket to show the officer he had no weapon.
  • Thomas Smith, a 65-year old with Parkinson’s Disease, called 911 because of a medical problem, but instead was raided by a SWAT team. Smith was thrown to the ground and placed in handcuffs because his condition prevented him from following police instructions.
  • John Wrana, a 95-year old World War II veteran, died after being shot multiple times by a police officer with a Mossberg shotgun during a raid at Wrana’s room at an assisted living center. Police responded to a report that Wrana was armed with a knife, which was actually a shoehorn, and five officers could not subdue Wrana even though he used a walker to get around.
  • A 10-year old boy was subdued by two police officers using a taser because the child became unruly at the day care center he attended.
  • A Missouri police officer has been charged with assaulting a 77-year old woman and causing her to suffer a heart attack. The woman was guilty of no crime, but was involved in a civil suit with one of the officer’s relatives.
  • Police in South Dakota subject persons, some as young as 3-years old, to forced catheterization in order to obtain urine samples. Persons are handcuffed, have hoods placed around their heads and their legs shackled as part of the procedure.
  • Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was shot by police as he lay on the ground with his arms raised while trying to help an autistic patient who had wandered away from his group home. The officer who shot Kinsey was reportedly told that neither Kinsey nor the patient had a weapon.
  • Frank Arnal Baker was mauled by a police dog and kicked by an officer as he was innocently walking back to his home. Baker, who according to police was not complying with their orders, spent two weeks in the hospital with fractured ribs and collapsed lungs and needed skin grafts for the dog-bite injuries.

The Rutherford Institute letter went on to encourage Sessions and the Justice Department to align their priorities with the that of the Constitution and do what the federal government is tasked to do; “protect the civil rights of citizens against abuse of power by state and local law enforcement” and also “’help police departments get better by holding them fully accountable to the rule of law.

Where once police ranks were filled by people from the community who wanted to keep their communities peaceful, now they are largely filled with mercenaries coming out of the military ranks or clowns with a bully complex. The result has been an increasingly militarized and militant police presence backed by military tactics and a “us-versus-them” mentality and increasingly authoritarian police encounters.

A prime example was a recent Facebook posting by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The officers were dressed as terrorists rather than peace officers, and Sheriff Peyton Grinnell vowed to have his SWAT teams “blow the front door off the hinges,” of suspected drug dealers.

No-knock raids like he’s proposing in the fight of the faux “War on Drugs” have left scores of people maimed or wounded – including infants, children and the elderly in homes where no drugs were found and no laws were being broken – and at 81 civilians and 13 LEOs dead.

Additionally, the police profession may produce more criminals than any other profession. Even though history has shown that many cases of police misconduct are kept out of sight or swept under the rug, the website policemisconduct.net documents a number of police crimes every day — from DUIs, to sexual assaults, to pornography, to sex trafficking, to murder, and more committed by police.

Of course, Trumpsters and those I call “law-and-order” conservatives in the mold of Sessions applaud police power.

Few subjects cost me as many “friends” and readers — among law-and-order conservatives, especially — as when I point out the abusive and tyrannical nature of police power and the LEO (legally entitled to oppress) class, as we do so in our Power of the State section. Doing so inevitably results in all manner of vitriol, scorn, contumely and calumny hurled my way — as well as unsubscribes and threats to unsubscribe.

But in endorsing or even abiding abusive police behavior and rights violations against those the “law and order” crowd deem undesirable, the “law and order” crowd is endorsing the surrender of its own rights. For if the state, its enforcers or the crowd can determine that one man has no rights, then no one has any rights.

Both law-and-order conservatives and progressive/statists suffer from cognitive dissonance regarding police. Conservatives claim to eschew and distrust big, tyrannical government, yet nothing symbolizes big government, tyranny and loss of liberty than the military and LEOs, whom conservatives hail as heroes. Progressive/statists love big government and trust government implicitly as being beatific, and then seem to think of the police as the Gestapo and the military as baby killers. Some of them are now calling for police forces to be disbanded (an idea that I whole-heartedly endorse).

Police power is government power and vice versa. It is the police who enforce the liberty-stealing laws passed by government criminals. That’s why I hold police in such contempt. Politicians sit in ivory towers removed from the people they oppress. Police look the people in the face as they oppress them.

Government by definition, by nature, by history and by practical existence is police power. Government would not and could not exist without police power. When governments lose their police power, they collapse. Conversely, greater police power is wielded the closer to collapse we come.

The post The resurgence of police power appeared first on Personal Liberty®.

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