Cops and modern-day policing strategies cause a lot of uproar between different libertarian factions. Some view cops are inherently evil, some think cops are completely necessary, and some fall somewhere in between. I belong to the latter group.
I fully understand that in order to have some kind of civilized society, a group must wield the use of force in response to a previous aggression. However, this group should not be a monopolized group funded by the state, free from competing policing forces. It should never be the initial aggressor, and legislation shouldn’t be monopolized by a different branch of the same monopoly on the use of force, the state. These are the inherent problems that has corrupted policing today.
Fifty years ago, my grandpa tells me, cops weren’t just out to make a quick buck for the state from you. They cared about their people, they cared about their community, and they would rather let you go (and maybe inform your parents) than give you a ticket for minor offenses. At some point, things changed.
Rather than knowing everybody’s name in a given community, the policing strategy shifted to try to ticket everybody in a given community, forget their names! Back in the day, you would see your local policemen everywhere, and you would both know each other by name; but now, most people only see their local policemen in person if the lights are flashing in their rear view mirror. Usually a ticket follows.
I was on my way to my grandparent’s house last night, they live in the next town over, where the police are rather strict. I have heard stories of some people being pulled over for going 26 or 27 mph in a very awkward 25 mph zone. It’s awkward because it isn’t a community road, but a main street, and 35 mph would feel much more natural, but also earn less money for the state.
As I am entering this 25 mph zone, I pull up behind a cop at a stop light. As soon as the light switches from red to green, he’s off. I didn’t have my speedometer handy, but judging by the fact that I was going 25 mph, he was going at least 35 mph through this section. No sirens, no emergency, just the ability to live above the law.
If the situation were reversed, and I speeded off going 10 mph over the speed limit, I would have been pulled over and forced to pay the state an exaggerated sum. However, since the police function as a monopoly of force extended from the state, they don’t have to obey the same laws as you.
This encompasses a larger problem with the interference of the state and paying taxes to fund the most important of services, such as policing. They begin by being compassionate and caring and as the state gains more and more influence this deterioration trickles through all the other branches of the state. Suddenly, the cops don’t know anybody’s first name, and they utilize their scarce time to meet quotas, instead of interacting with the community.
They forget, that the taxpayers are the ones responsible for their pay, not the state. The state has no income if it wasn’t for the taxpayers! (Well if we could end the Federal Reserve too.) Instead of protecting us, they harass us. Instead of defending us, they aggress upon us. Imagine if our payment to them was direct and wasn’t disguised as coming through the state via taxation.
Are all cops bad? Of course not. Are they all corrupted when they start their career? I doubt it. Do they become corrupt throughout their career? I think so, and Michael Wood Jr., a Baltimore police officer turned activist, emphasized this same point on Dave Smith’s podcast, Part of the Problem.
The underlying nature of this corruption is that all cops are inherently socialist. Police of a given town do not have to worry about competition from another police force. There are so many laws that civil liberties lawyer and author ofThree Felonies a Day, Harvey Silverglate, believed the average non-criminal breaks three laws every day without even noticing. Since our payment of the police is not direct, they are not accountable to what would be most valuable way to police the given people of a community, determined by the people, and not some bureaucrats in Washington.
Personally, I don’t enjoy when my tax dollars go to a group of people who ride around breaking laws, yet will force you to pay the state (again) if you simply act like they do. This problem will only grow worse unless we face the fact that the socialistic nature of policing is inherently corrupted, and we implement a policing strategy based off of voluntary exchanges, safety, and obeying the rule of law.