When any action is undertaken by the government – and tools are given to perform those actions – there is a responsibility – a requirement – that the ending result of that action is to the benefit of the society paying for the action.
However, over time this concept has been completely overlooked – in particular in the case of police departments.
Let’s take a look at my favorite part of the Constitution of the United States of America – the preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
How do unjustified police shootings apply to “promote the general Welfare” of the people. Would you not say that if you are dead your general Welfare has been removed?
How do unjustified police shootings apply to “insure domestic Tranquility”? In particular, the large number of unjustified shootings that involve minorities. Do these unjustified shootings, fatalities at the hands of police or just plain abuse by the police make everyone feel safer?
I don’t think so.
A little greater detail of a specific incident. Eric Garner was murdered by police officers because he was selling cigarettes singly without a license.
What was the impact of Garner’s actions on the people of New York City? Minimal. His death – he was a parent, the loss of his life, the loss of him with his children for as long as he may have lived, and his grandchildren. He had 6 children and 3 grandchildren. One of his children was 3 months old at the time of his death.
Just as a little side note – do you think any of his children, grandchildren or any relatives are ever going to trust the police? Nah, I didn’t think so.
The lack of proportionality of the execution of laws, the lack of proportionality in the penalties in laws, the police brutality – aren’t actually what I’m here to talk about right now.
There are two things I want to delve into.
- Social Contract by society in giving capabilities to any governmental organization
- The laws that we create for the benefit of businesses and the execution of those laws
When society pays taxes and then that money is used to purchase weapons, cars, or just about anything the idea is that those items, and the people they are entrusted to – are going to make society better, safer, and in a word ensure domestic tranquility.
So, when police (or other agencies of the government) take the things they are given by society to make things better (including authority) we have to question how these things are being used.
Imagine, for a minute, that Eric Garner did not give authority to the police to protect the laws of the state. He would have had a weapon to protect himself from the police. He would have resisted arrest the second they tried to arrest him and a man that size would do significant damage without a weapon. Instead, he gave up – but apparently not fast enough for the officers performing the arrest.
The police frequently and flagrantly break laws and put the citizens in danger. Have you ever been on the highway to have a cop blow by you? Did you assume that there was an emergency they were running toward – even if they didn’t have their emergency lights running?
Well, based on information about Florida’s police – that is an incorrect assumption. The police don’t need guns to cause accidental deaths and harm to civilians.
Speeding cops can kill. Since 2004, Florida officers exceeding the speed limit have caused at least 320 crashes and 19 deaths. Only one officer went to jail — for 60 days.
19 people are not feeling “general Welfare” or “domestic Tranquility” – and neither are any of their friends and family. Not listed are the number of people injured in these accidents.
Additional findings in this article were the 18% of officers speed excessively – while not on duty. This isn’t a small insignificant number. This is habitual, profligate, abuse of power – even just a small amount of power – results in death and injuries and a notable lack in satisfaction of the performance of state police officers.
The social contract – that we give the police – to protect us, to preserve order, to promote general Welfare, insure domestic Tranquility – is broken. This isn’t about punishing a few police officers – although that would be a start – if 19 people can die and only 1 police officer go to jail for a short time.
We need to dispose of the idea that police officers when convicted of crimes need lower penalties. We entrust them with our lives and this trust is completely betrayed. This is a much worse crime than a citizen that isn’t responsible for keeping anyone other than their selves safe accidentally killing someone.
With the technology available now – all police cars need to be equipped and monitored with GPS units – and the data needs to be reviewed to ensure that non-emergency uses do not contravene the law. The people who enforce the law – need to be stellar examples of what it is to follow the law. This systemic lack of regard for the law by law enforcement needs to be curtailed – it needs to be made clear that to enforce the law is a responsibility and a privileged. A privilege that can be removed if you show that you do not care for the law and are willing to break it for your own benefit.
For the second point – you should examine the law – the pretext that was used to kill Eric Garner. Why is there a law restricting who can legally sell cigarettes? Ostensibly to protect those under the age of 18 from procuring them and destroying their lives. Really? Or was it in place to limit who could sell cigarettes – thus giving those who can attain licenses a market for which not anyone walking on the street could compete with them. This would allow them to manipulate prices – and people who are addicted to cigarettes would sometimes pay anything in order to get a cigarette. The cost of a pack of cigarettes in NYC is now $14 – and not unlike taxing tea by the British this ‘sin’ tax makes cigarettes cost far more than their cost of production.
There is no conclusive research that indicates that sin taxes actually make the population healthier. This is another point to address – should laws be enacted by using faulty or untested hypothesis?
There are legions of laws out there that protect markets. Have you noticed the problems Tesla has encountered by not using traditional car dealer methods? In my home state of New Jersey they were basically kicked out. These laws end up being like a protection racket – that citizens never see. However, if you ever wonder why there is only 1 Ford dealer in a specific region? It is because Ford only allows this limitation – and the laws enable them to protect it. Imagine, if online retailers could sell Fords anywhere at their special discounted rates? New car dealerships would go out of business left and right. And that’s the way it should be – New car dealerships don’t add any value to the sales process when people can look up all the information on buying a new car (including videos of how the cars perform under different conditions). The new car dealerships are a legally held in place middle man – which adds cost to the final product – in sales person getting their cut, paying enough for all the staff at the new car dealership.