Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Law enforcement runs amok

Apologies for not posting for a while here. I have difficulty imagining that many folks read my ramblings, so I usually don't write unless something moves me, often in response to other posts I've run across in the blogosphere.

Lately I have been seeing posts concerning absolutely outrageous, immoral, and illegal behavior by cops. Not that there is anything new about that, but it appears that this behavior is growing more prevalent and over-the-top than ever, although perhaps I simply haven't been paying enough attention.

I imagine some of you have read of the police officer named Jared Wheeler who kicked an almost nine-months pregnant black female in the stomach, hard enough to leave a massive bruise. Fortunately, it appears the baby was not damaged, although the woman did require an emergency C-section a short while later, probably secondary to the assault. As usual, his agency has deemed his atrocious behavior "acceptable", "within department policy". This young neo-Nazi, who - based on what appears to be his own Facebook page - is a fan of Nietzsche and Heidegger (a German philosopher who was also a Nazi), claims he didn't notice she was pregnant. Looking at photos of this cretin (Wheeler, not the young lady), I find it easy to believe he noticed she was black.

Yes, I realize the race card is played all too often, and with no reason other than to foster hatred and division between Americans, or to excuse bad behavior on the part of some blacks, but sometimes it is real. It is an unfortunate fact that many officers today have bought into the whole "us vs them" philosophy, that if you aren't a cop, you are scum. The notion that cops can do no wrong, and civilians can do no right.

Massad Ayoob, a New Hampshire police officer (he could be retired now, I certainly haven't been wasting my time paying attention to his status) who teaches firearms handing, legal issues connected with armed self-defense, etc., always - yes, I mean every time - comes down in favor of the cop or agency when there is a question of abuse or inappropriate behavior. Many of us former peace keepers have taken him to task on this over the years (although I have ceased, since he will never admit being wrong about anything) have tried to get him to acknowledge that sometimes cops are bad. Massad refuses to see that as a possibility, although it has occurred to me that perhaps he is afraid his firearms training business might suffer if he said anything negative about his fellow officers. What price integrity, if that is the case? I have no idea if he has made any comments in this particular case, but had to bring him up to emphasize how the Blue Line reacts when one of their own is called to task for abusive behavior.

There are certainly many cases of law enforcement abuse much worse than this. The killing - murder, in truth - of Erik Scott in Las Vegas back in 2010 is but one example. The cover-up of his killing by Metro (LV) police officers continues to this day. Follow-up stories document how Metro and other local department police officers have harassed Scott's fiance, probably because she has been vocal about his murder by police officers. If you don't bother to read the link, by the way, understand that of the five bullets fired into Erik Scott, one entered his armpit while his hands were raised, and the others entered his back after he was lying on the ground, dying.

We can talk about other cases, such as that of Jose Guerena, where the video taken from a helmet camera belonging to one of the responding SWAT officers clearly shows one cop leaning in and shooting his pistol at Guerena after all the other officers had stopped shooting. Considering how many times Guerena was hit by the 70+ rounds fired at him (42 times, IIRC), this cop who fired his pistol after the others finished shooting had to be shooting at Guerena's body as it lay on the floor, no longer even possibly a threat to anyone. Guerena was allowed to die on the floor, as these cops refused to allow responding EMS to approach him for over an hour.

Last, but not least, we all have read of the many cases of asset forfeiture that have occurred over the years, where any time the tiniest connection with drugs can be suggested, people have had their property confiscated by police departments and Federal agencies, especially very valuable property such as expensive cars, yachts and boats, and aircraft. When I worked as a reserve officer for a small department in Northern California, the captain (they only had one, and no lieutenants - I think he was related to the mayor) drove a nice Ford Bronco 4X4 that had been confiscated by the department. The victim - the former owner, that is - was never convicted of a crime (I think a small amount of marijuana was found on his person during a traffic stop), but boy, did that Captain love to drive that Bronco around town during the winter. Using fuel charged to the department, of course.

But that is mild compared to what is happening in Tennessee right now. People are being stopped and asked if they are carrying large amounts of cash. Those foolish enough to admit it, and permitting a search of their vehicle, have had their cash confiscated. They then have to go through a very lengthy process, including returning to Tennessee, to recover their money. Sometimes they are unsuccessful, and sometimes they simply don't, because it is too difficult or they are refused by the agency or local courts. Some get it back after they agree to forfeit $1000 or $2000 of their money. One man recently lost $22,000 in cash that the officer took simply because it "looked suspicious". So much for "innocent until proven guilty". Tennessee seems to be the pre-eminent state for these kinds of stops at this time.

Murder by cop. Home invasion by SWAT. Physical abuse, beatings, tasering, pepper spraying. Theft of property and cash. Incidents where officers responding to calls for help end up killing family members not even connected with the original call. Law enforcement is way out of control all across our country. The only bright spot in the picture is that many departments have had to downsize due to budget restraints and reductions. If
your local department has to downsize, look upon it as a blessing, not a problem. These days too many cops will do more harm than good if you allow them into your home. Much better and cheaper to buy a gun, get some training to learn how to use it properly and safely, and defend yourself, than to risk "death by cop".

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Sorry, folks. I was completely ignorant about comment rules. Anyone can post, but I'd prefer a name, even if it is made up. Anonymous posts just seem cheap, if you know what I mean. Also, if you want to argue a point, that's fine. Cheap shots and name calling towards me or another person commenting (ad hominem) is rude and will get you banned. Other than that, I'd love to get some comments.