On the topic of the whole “defund the police” movement, I should start by noting that I feel like the movement is strawmanning itself. “Rethink the police” seems more accurate than “defund” or “abolish” the police — both of which are phrases I have heard used.
Over the past few weeks, however, it seems like nobody is asking the questions that should be asked. The biggest one being, of course, “why do people want to defund the police in the first place?” Did millions of African-Americans just wake up one morning and go “You know what, I hate the police now.”? Of course not!
As a libertarian, I believe government power should be as limited as possible — maybe even non-existent. However, if authority is to exist, said authority must manage to justify itself through basic forms of reason.
As such, I would simply like to ask the police of the United States some very simple questions.
(Note: If you are a police officer and you or your department do not apply to anything I’m criticizing in this posts, you are not who I am criticizing in this post. Basically, do not be offended if you are not an offender.)
#1: When Do A Few Bad Apples Represent The Entire Group?
Remember the “just a few bad apples” argument? When some on the left uses phrases like “all cops are bastards” the counter argument is that not all cops are bastards, but a few bad apples exist and they need to be dealt with.
However, when a small amount of people present at the protests for George Floyd, this proves these protests are entirely violent and evidence the Black Lives Matter movement are terrorists. As it did when four Black Lives Matter supporters kidnapped and tortured a white Trump supporter in late 2016. And, for that matter, when any violence happened during the protests in response to the shooting of Michael Brown.
CNN even got in hot water after they called protests “mostly peaceful.” Why was this statement controversial? Because some of the people at the protests (which doesn’t make them protesters by default by the way, for the same reason the National Guard was never part of the Vietnam protests at Kent State) were violent. Nobody ever proved, mind you, that a majority of the protesters were violent, which would actually disprove the claim.
Ignoring the fact that a centralized tax payer funded system that has existed for centuries should be held to a higher standard than sudden decentralized protests — why aren’t the looters just a few bad apples?
#2: What Are The Police Doing To Try And Weed Out Bad Apples?
If the major issue with the police force is just “a few bad apples” what is your police force doing to try and remove “bad apples” from the system?
The officer who shot Philando Castile is still on the force, despite the shooting taking place almost four years ago at time of writing, for example. In October 2017, the Minnesota Star Tribune found at least three cops who were convicted of serious crimes and still worked with law enforcement. That same year, a detective from Norridge, Illinois who was caught driving drunk was still allowed to be a policeman.
All three of these stories were found with a simple Yahoo search, and they are not isolated incidents. In 2019, the California Desert Sun found that around eighty police officers who had been convicted of misdemeanors were still on the police force. Again, this is a small percentage of the over 70,000 police officers in the state of California, but shouldn’t you have a system to weed these people out or risk encouraging officers to break the law?
#3: Why Do Police Officers Need Military Weapons?
America’s most in-demand police vehicle is a 10-officer 16,000-pound armored tank that takes bullets like Superman and drives 80 mph. The federal government buys dozens each year for local police departments. Do America’s local police need tanks?
The above is a quote from an NBC article written back in 2011. If the military is needed for the purpose of domestic law enforcement, the president has the power to use the Insurrection Act to allow the military to enforce domestic laws in the case of an emergency. As such, what need do the police have for military grade technology?
The same day as I write this, marketplace.com reports that 8,000 local law enforcement agencies have been given military grade weapons since 1997. For context, that is out of just under 18,000 police departments in the United States. This means just under half of all police departments have one form of military weapons or another — why do they need them?
#4: If Police Are To Have Military Weapons, Shouldn’t They Also Have Military Training?
A common aspect among videos of police officers if them pointing their gun at someone they are attempting to arrest. This is unacceptable in even the most redneck “lose cannon” parts of the United States military.
As a man interviewed on CNN pointed out just after the Ferguson scandal, in the military soldiers are only allowed to point their guns at someone if they plan on pulling the trigger a second or two later. Soldiers are taught how to deescalate a situation so they have to pull a trigger as little as humanly possible, while I assume some police also are, way too many of them are not.
If police wish to use military technology, they should be trained to use it as members of the military are. While obviously violence must sometimes be used when dealing with more dangerous criminals, police should be taught to use as little violence as possible.
These are all basic, common sense questions any police defender should be able to answer and explain. Otherwise, you’re admitting that our police system needs massive reform, meaning you are with the protesters, even if you don’t know it.