Pfhorrest wrote: J Thomas wrote:
They're putting their lives on the line for you, they have the training, and they know what they're doing.
And that's why they're getting paid for it. Lots of other people get paid -- often times pretty shit wages for that matter -- to do difficult and life-threatening tasks. Miners, oil riggers, Alaskan fisherman (at least if TV is to be believed). We have no trouble filling those jobs. The only thing giving cops special powers accomplishes is luring in people who crave power to the last place we want them. We want people who are, at worst, just there because we paid them to be, who are only going to stick their necks out as much as required to keep drawing a paycheck (which is exactly as much as we tell them to); or at best, people who do it because it's a job (protecting the innocent) they really care about, who are going to to the best they can for the sake of doing it right.
I agree with everything you say. However, I think the patterns of professionalism will tend to result in it working more the way we do see it work. You'd have to find a way to overcome that.
I agree that there will be a tendency for it to drift that way, and I don't think there is an easy solution to that problem; I'm just acknowledging that it is a problem, it is not the normal or necessary state of things, it is a flaw. But some flaws are really hard to fix.
I agree with you, and I see no hint of a solution. It's precisely the things that can help police department be effective at doing good, that give it great power to do bad. I don't see how you can get the benefits of having police without giving them the opportunity to be corrupt.
I think the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and the only way we'll ever have truly free societies is if enough people insist on it and don't stand for it being slowly eroded. But so long as people are stupid, lazy, selfish, etc, they will tend to delegate their power to people who will tend to abuse it until the abuses get bad enough that it's worth getting up from the TV and doing something about it, and by then it's usually too late to salvage anything, and we end up starting over from scratch.
The solution then is obvious to a philosophical anarchist like myself, though not easy. Since there are no such things are states, only groups of people, the only way to improve states is to improve people. An enlightened and empowered populace is the only way to true peace. And that is a long uphill battle. But so is peace.
On the one hand we have a motivated, loyal police force who keep secrets well and who can punish their own dissidents with anything up to death. On the other hand we have a public which knows a whole lot but doesn't at all know the same things. Some of us know all about astrology while others know a lot about palmistry, etc. You want the massive fragmented group which has extremely poor communications, to track the conspiracy and crack their secrets. You definitely have an uphill battle. It isn't going to stop being uphill.
You need some better method.
And since the only way to solve the problem is to have enough people not stand for it, getting people to acknowledge that it is a problem and that we don't have to stand for it is the first step. Which starts with exactly what I'm doing now: arguing that it is a problem, and that we don't have to stand for it. There is a better way, if only we will follow it.
What is the better way? Release police records to civilians? That causes all sorts of problems. It requires the police to do extra paperwork -- they must create public documents for everything they do, and then keep their private documents in some hidden form. And it makes their work very hard, because any time they forget and do something that looks bad on camera, they create dissention.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7oenshcwPkhttp://www.uticaod.com/news/x1819707736 ... f-respondshttp://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_21192468/ ... -postponedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN4ge1ovJPM
As you can see from these examples (the first few from a Google search, a small random sample from a lot of videos purported to show police corruption), videos which do not actually prove that police did anything wrong still make them look bad.
But police are bossed by police chiefs, who are themselves police. They stand up for each other -- they're professionals together. They will lie for each other if necessary, provided they are being attacked by outsiders and they haven't done something stupid that makes the force look bad. In the crunch they must depend on each other for their lives. How can you expect them to stand up for random crappy civilians against each other?
Police ultimately answer to someone else; the courts, the city, the people somehow (however circuitously).
Sure, and armies answer to war crimes tribunals after they lose wars. What war would the police lose, that would get them disbanded and their records searched by outsiders and stringent interrogation to get them to confess and to implicate others? Not likely!
What I am suggesting in essence is that they, whoever the police work for, do not afford them special privileges and power, and stand up for other civilians when the police get out of line -- "other" being a key word here, because the police are civilians in this system. Everyone is. They are just paid to do a job, a job which anyone else is free to do if they like -- and maybe even take the police's job from them.
I must not have said it clearly enough. We give police the right to search for evidence of crimes when they have reason for suspicion. We give them the right to use lots of professional tools to build a legal case against a suspected criminal, and then deliver their evidence to the justice system. We give them the right to hold suspected criminals in custody. We can perhaps have a bunch of civilians with no particular competence who try to collect information after-the-fact to second-guess what the police should have done in particular cases. We can get a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking. What good can that do?
Since the police have the legal right and obligation to do their jobs, that gives them tremendous power -- which they can righteously choose not to use. So if you lead an effort to handcuff the police -- to keep them from getting their jobs done -- is it at all unlikely that you might be arrested on drug charges? You have a computer so they can easily get you on child porn. If they're willing to go to the trouble they can make a case against you for child sexual abuse. If they're willing to make a deal with the IRS they can get you on tax fraud. If your taxes are the least big complicated they will include gray areas the IRS can choose to prosecute. If you have a daughter they can get *her* on drug charges and keep her in a holding pen with a bunch of prostitutes etc for awhile. They have tremendous power because we gave them the power to do their jobs
. Take that away and they aren't police any more.
If you accept the word of random civilians over their word, what kind of morale will they have?
Sure. But look how it works if you have a professional police hierarchy. Like soldiers and other professionals in hierarchies, they themselves believe that they should be reprimanded by their superior officers only. Praise for achievement in public in front of their team, assreaming for fuckups in private. If the chief doesn't believe there was anything wrong, why have a civilian trial? If he's already dealt out a punishment, why have a civilian trial?
You are presuming that we give them the option not to, when my entire point is that we don't give them that option.
If you put a policeman on trial, where does the evidence against him come from? Individual civilians can give their testimony. (They can also of course suffer consequences for testifying against a policeman, and they will certainly find out about that before the trial. Any witness who is willing to testify anyway and take the consequences, is likely to look biased and fanatical in court.) In the normal course of events, most of the evidence will come from the police. And if the police don't agree that the trial should take place, or that it should result in a conviction, why would they present unfalsified evidence?
You can have a mockery of a show trial intended to absolve policemen accused of wrongdoing. You can maybe force a trial. But if the police force doesn't want a conviction, why should they let the evidence get to court?
Likewise most of the rest of your post seems to assume that the police already have some position of power and privilege which they can abuse to get away with their crimes. What I am suggesting is thus exactly the solution to those problems you pose as weaknesses of my suggestion.
What is the solution you propose? I haven't heard any sort of solution proposed yet. Except that random civilians should pay attention to the police and make sure they do their jobs correctly. But isn't that an obvious way to get arrested?
Of course, as above, my suggestion may be very hard to implement, and I don't pretend otherwise. In order to hold the cops' feet to the fire, there has to be enough support in the rest of society, in the people the cops work for, that the cops can't just get away with it.
In general, when part of the society is afraid of another part of the society, they will not hold the cops' feet to the fire for putting some controls on the people they are afraid of. The people who are most likely to be abused are the ones that influential people are most likely to be afraid of. Poor people. Black people. People who try to disrupt the status quo. You are suggesting that a whole lot of people should try to put themselves into the third group. Directly against their own self-interest. If enough people did it at the same time, they could probably get away with it for awhile.
Thinking about it now, the employment analogy (like with your miners) works really well. Society is a company, the sovereign people are the bosses, cops and politicians and the like are our employees -- there's a reason they're called public servants -- and if we're lazy hands-off bosses, our employees will goof off and screw up and our company, society, will go under. If we make a point of managing our employees well, like firing the bad ones and only hiring the good ones, then our company, society, might do well. Like any company, it depends on the people at the top building and managing a good team of people at every level. Incompetent management will kill any company. And since the people are the management of society, the only hope for society is making the people competent to manage it.
You don't depend on a company's stockholders to do anything useful. Occasionally at an annual meeting they might pay attention and do something random.
On the other side, miners can be mostly prevented from organizing. MDs organize some but they can't do that much to each other. If one of them helps out a malpractice suit then others can help make malpractice suits against him, but that's nothing like getting him killed in prison. Lawyers organize some but they compete directly for business. They can't cooperate that much. But police departments are paramilitary organizations. Outsiders trying to regulate them is like outsiders trying to regulate the military.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.