This blog has only been around for about a week or so. But there’s already one post about cops and police overreach. There will be more.
I titled this post “Abrogating Responsibility (an ongoing series?)” because as a broad topic I could probably stretch this out overall several posts: charity, work ethic, willpower, etc. etc. etc. We’ll see if I get around to it all.
Today I want to begin by discussing responsibilities many people have partially “shoved off” onto law enforcement: protection and conflict resolution.
The former is epitomized in the saying “when seconds count the police are minutes away.” So obviously true, but then you look at the number of people who have to plan for that intervening time and realize that we have pushed off a lot of responsibility for our personal protection to other people. (Google provides a rough number of households with guns as somewhere between 40-50%. Even assuming that’s now, at 65% that’s still 1 out of every 3 people armed with a wiffle-ball bat should the worst happen.)
Consider an anecdote: there were some car break-ins around me and one home invasion. Nothing super serious in the grand scheme of things. (In fact total crime in my immediate area is some of the lowest in the region.) Nevertheless it came up at the annual subdivision meeting. The general response: get security cameras and ask for more police drive-bys. Not one person suggested an actual plan to defend themselves. (Quite ironically, in the home invasion they took only his stamp collection and his old rifles, suggesting someone with knowledge of the house’s contents.)
For my part, I swapped the slug barrel of the Mossberg for the shot barrel and moved it under my bed. (Yes, yes, slugs may be better, but the scope makes the slug barrel unwieldy for home defense.) I know that I’m responsible for my own safety ultimately and no number of police drive-bys can keep me 100% safe.
Consider conflict resolution. Now to be clear, I do not have a problem with the civil court system or government mediation of disputes and contract enforcement. This is one of the oldest purposes of government, and it still has importance to societal cohesion. Applying civil law in an adversarial court system is a fair idea. What I’m talking about is that argument that gets heated until someone decides “call the cops.” Bringing down the brute force of government on someone.
I personally have seen it too often. Neighbors feuding over some miniscule thing maybe a fence going up or a driveway being put in. And rather than doing what people have done throughout the centuries and talked, you get cops called in an attempt to get government force behind you.
Now yes, there are times cops should be called. Breaking out into fisticuffs is usually not a good thing. But cops should not be the first tool you reach for before even conversing with your neighbor (especially when your neighbor has shown you 0 ill will.)
You see a similar problem in many cases of families with a mentally ill member. We’ve broken the family and community response to mental illness to the point that many feel that have no option but to call the police, often to disastrous results. Trust me, I very much understand, more than I care to admit, especially on a blog. I do not blame the family for the destruction of the mechanisms that should respond in these situations.
Yes, we have a problem with police overreach, but we also need to consider everything we’ve willingly foisted upon police to give ourselves less responsibility.