J.J. Sefton wrote a carefully considered analysis this morning of the George Floyd fiasco in Minnesota, and he touched on the larger issue of law enforcement in America, which I believe is fundamentally flawed.
The militarization of civilian law enforcement was a catastrophically bad idea, and one that had significant unintended consequences. Even assuming that military equipment is required on our streets (it isn’t), the escalation of violence inherent in the use of military hardware, and the inevitable conversion of civilian law enforcement into a quasi-military force endangers the very people who are to be protected.
The mindset of a soldier is of necessity very different than that of a police officer, and for very good reasons. The soldier is trained to use his skills and tools with maximum violence, because the goal is simple…kill people and break things. And that is as it should be. But civilian law enforcement has a much different goal; “Protect And Serve” isn’t just a throwaway slogan.
When civilians are authorized by government to use force to enforce government’s rules, they must be held to the highest possible standard. And that standard must preclude the cavalier use of deadly force unless clearly required. The social compact does not not value the life of a police officer over the lives of the citizens he is sworn to protect, but the mantra has become exactly that.
The penalty for resisting arrest should not be death. If that means a few cops get a few bruises, then so be it. They serve us, and they are the tip of the spear of government coercion, and must be carefully controlled. As conservatives we bristle at every expansion of government power, and the poorly controlled use of deadly force by civilian law enforcement is the most egregious expansion of that power.