Few things are more disturbing than looking at the news each day to find yet another shocking case of American police officers using excessive brutality and belligerence against the public. There is no justification for this, and as the list of egregious rights violations by the police grows, more Americans may finally be waking up to what many of us have known for years: our nation is becoming a police state.
With the proliferation of portable handheld and dashboard video cameras, and with the ability to upload and share videos on the Web, people can see for themselves what police brutality really looks and feels like, and tension between police and American citizens is visible. A simple Google or YouTube search quickly reveals hundreds of unique cases of cops brutalizing people, often with insane cruelty and hubris, and the list of abuses grows daily.
Many of the most shocking incidents are against women, children, the elderly, the handicapped or the mentally ill. In addition to excessive violence, police are also abusing their powers and illegally stealing money and property from everyday people, while admittedly using traffic and drug laws as revenue generating schemes for government coffers. Most shockingly, though, the police are up-arming themselves with military weapons and equipment, seemingly preparing themselves for something apocalyptic, and are increasingly assuming confrontational and threatening postures when dealing with the public.
Is police brutality and misconduct actually getting worse, or are portable video recorders allowing us to just now see what’s been happening all along? More importantly, is this situation going to improve any time soon?
Our society needs police, good police, working on behalf of and in cooperation and trust with their communities to solve crimes and face legitimate criminals, but, unfortunately, there are many reasons to expect this trend to get worse before it gets better, and here are 5 of them.
1. Rise of the Security State, Decline of Law and Order
In the bigger picture, there is a cultural shift underway in America from a free and prosperous nation to a repressed, surveilled and tightly regulated shell of its former self. This has been underway for generations, but has vastly accelerated since 9/11, which has given the government a perceptual carte blanche check to create, rewrite and bypass any laws it wishes to, including the evisceration of the Constitution and the Magna Carta. We now have a thriving culture of public paranoia, suspicion, over-reaction, acquiescence and zero-tolerance.
Much of this is the natural result of the collapse of moral leadership at the highest levels of a government that now condones torture and has for decades engaged in ongoing war, geopolitical manipulations, interventions and foreign occupations. The breakdown of law and order at the top is being mirrored in every level of society.
2. The Military Industrial Economy is on Steroids
Along with insane public expenditures on defense, we are seeing the intensified militarization of American police, who are already stocked with military surplus equipment, trained in military tactics, and who increasingly demonstrate a confrontational attitude toward the American public. By 1961, when former five-star Army General and 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his ominous presidential farewell address to Americans, warning of the dangers of creating a permanent war economy, the stage had already been set for the rise of the super military industrial complex we see today.
30 years before Eisenhower’s uncomfortable declaration, U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley D. Butler, once the most highly decorated and highest ranked member of the U.S. Marine Corps, also warned us of the dangers of building a permanent economy out of war with explanation of war-profiteering in his book War is a Racket. Now we have the Defense Department’s Program 1033 which funnels billions of dollars of military weaponry, armor and gear into the hands of undertrained police departments.
Having gone unabated and unchallenged since these warnings, what we see happening now in law enforcement is the inevitable result of creating financial opportunities in violence, surveillance and dehumanization.
3. The Fox is The Henhouse and Silence is the Code
Accountability is lacking when law enforcement officers abuse their power, and suspensions with pay, leaves of absence and early retirement are not adequate deterrents to keep psychopathic cops in line. The police investigate themselves, and are an integral part of the same criminal justice system that would also prosecute any officers for misconduct. An inherent and obvious conflict of interest. Policing is a fraternity, and for one reason or another, good cops are mostly silent and are hushed or pushed out for blowing the whistle on corruption.
If a case of obvious brutality does make it to court, there are already alarming precedents that give the police extreme forgiveness in their use of physical compliance techniques. An example being the recent trial and acquittal of the Fullerton, CA police officers who savagely beat and murdered a homeless and mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, which was caught on video by security cameras. The horrifying incident is available for anyone to watch, but a jury felt that the officers had a right to use this level of force while taking him into custody, setting an ugly precedent for future encounters like this.
4. This is What Social Engineering & Mind Control Does to Societies
The use of television and mass media as propaganda for the military industrial complex has become ubiquitous in our society, and over the course of the last half-century or so, the portrayal of the role of police, government and public ‘authority’ has changed dramatically. Where once we had Gomer Pyle and The Andy Griffith Show, we now have Cops, CSI, 24, and Lockdown. Dramatizing and presenting police work as entertainment, while aggrandizing public service as always heroic, and giving fictional characters the impunity to violate the law and basic human rights in the name of ‘public safety,’ is a not-so-subtle form of psychological conditioning, teaching us to perceive public employees as being in a dominant position in society, operating under a different set of rules.
Together with non-stop mainstream news coverage of crime, fatal accidents, war, terrorism and other threats, homeland security theater and public military drills, the shock doctrine of government control through overwhelmingly visible violence that is publicized and parroted by mainstream media is the most effective means of generating mass fear and psychological obedience.
5. Not Enough People Know Their Rights and Have the Courage to Exercise Them…Yet
Knowing your rights and how to conduct yourself in any encounter with police or government agents is an essential civic responsibility; yet, sadly, too many people don’t know or understand their rights. This may be changing for the better, however, as videos are also emerging of citizens effectively exercising their rights in situations with law enforcement. Knowing your rights works wonders when dealing with police, and it does appear that more people are finding the courage for non-compliance.
What’s worse is that in many cases, law enforcement officers don’t even know the laws themselves. If both the population and the police are ignorant of the law, then we can expect, in the future, more cops to take advantage of this, and more citizens to passively tolerate this.
|Sir Robert Peel 1788 – 1850
“The Founder of Modern Policing”
The natural cycle of the rise and fall of any government includes a period of authoritarian repression and control of the citizenry in order to retain inevitably declining power. Our society is in severe decay in this regard, and police are increasingly being trained to view their job as an ‘us against them’ endeavor, emboldened with an arrogance backed up by huge federal grants, high-tech police equipment, plus an affectionately pro-government, pro-violence mainstream media.
The Gold Standard for Good Policing
As an example of what a proper policing can and should look like, take a look at Sir Robert Peel’s 9 principles for ethical policing, which was written nearly 200 years ago, and has since remained the gold standard for police conduct.
These nine basic principles are often referred to as “The Peelian Principles.” Upon close examination of each of the Peelian principles, not only are direct connections to policing in today’s world apparent, but often the nine principles are cited as the basic foundation for current law enforcement organizations and community policing throughout the world. Many law enforcement agencies currently quote the Peelian Principles on their community websites as their own principles.
Peelian Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
Peelian Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
Peelian Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”
Peelian Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
Peelian Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
Peelian Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
Peelian Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
Peelian Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
Peelian Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”