Lawmakers in states across the nation are responding to the recent onslaught of high profile police cases involving unarmed citizens being beaten, shot and killed.
So what answer do legislators have to a failed government policing monopoly? Why, throw more of other peoples money at it, ofcoarse.
Bills have been proposed in at least a dozen states mandating or expanding the use of body cameras by officers. Other proposals would require more training, tighter limits on using deadly force and the appointment of special investigators when police kill people.
In Missouri, lawmakers have filed more than 40 bills stemming from the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
The debate over police misconduct, and officer safety, is expected to be heated in New York, following the police chokehold death of Eric Garner and the subsequent shootings of two officers.
State lawmakers proposing to require officers wear body cameras argue they would protect both officers and the people with whom they interact. But one Democratic proposal to fund the cameras with a tax on handgun and ammunition sales is unlikely to pass in Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature, which recently cut taxes and strengthened gun rights.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said he supports a $500,000 request to buy cameras for all state troopers. The proposal needs legislative approval.
In Rhode Island, the push to require police cameras is being led by Democratic Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, a former patrolman who co-founded the state’s minority police association. But privacy concerns are being raised by fellow Democratic Rep. Raymond Hull, who is a police sergeant in Providence.
“It’s not so much that I’m looking to protect the cops, I’m more interested in protecting the privacy of people when I’m in their home,” Hull said.
Body cameras have their critics but have showed some promise.
According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2002, there were over 26,000 official police brutality complaints across the nation.
That’s a rate of 6.6 complaints for every 100 full-time officers. Of those complaints, eight percent resulted in disciplinary action. That means that only about one in every 200 police officers accused of excessive force were actually punished.
After the city of Rialto, California required its 70 police officers to wear portable video cameras on the job however, police brutality statistics fell by 60 percent in the city, according to a controlled study recorded by the department. In 2012 alone, complaints against Rialto police officers fell 88 percent.
Bills pending in the New Jersey Assembly would create a task force on officer cameras and require local government approval before police agencies can get surplus military equipment.
In New York, Republicans have proposed equipping officers’ vehicles with bullet-proof glass, while Democrats have suggested various proposals, including promoting greater diversity in police ranks and the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate killings by police.
Citizen review boards, which hear complaints about police conduct, date to the 1960s in some cities but are now being more widely pursued, including as a constitutional amendment in New Mexico.
Wisconsin enacted a law last year requiring an outside investigation into officer-involved deaths. Similar proposals are emerging elsewhere, including in Alabama and California, where thousands took to the streets to protest law enforcement killings of unarmed black men.
California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a Democrat, wants to create independent panels under the oversight of the state Department of Justice to investigate officer-involved shootings. He said local prosecutors are often perceived as too close to law enforcement agencies to investigate them fairly.
“Is the current process fundamentally flawed and morally bankrupt? I don’t know. Could there be a better process that brings more public trust and independence? Absolutely,” McCarty said.
All these proposals may sound good but the hard working American taxpayers should be asking ourselves a question: why should we have to foot the bill?
In no other institution does failure reap more reward than in government.
Any other institution or business that provides a service to the public is forced to make changes and CUTS when faced with its waist, mismanagement, inefficiency and repeated failures.
The fact is however, government lives in a black hole void of accountability.
If there exists only one arbitrator of all conflicts, and it is even arbitrator in conflicts involving itself, we cannot expect justice. Government (the state) is this sole arbitrator.
Government allows no appeal above and beyond itself. Also, government is an agency that exercises a territorial monopoly of taxation. That is, it is an agency that unilaterally fixes the price that private citizens must pay for it’s service as ultimate judge and enforcer of law and order.
Every “monopoly” is “bad” from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is here understood in its classic meaning as an exclusive privilege granted to a single producer of a commodity or service, or as the absence of “free entry” into a particular line of production.
Only one agency, A, may produce a given good or service, X. Such a monopoly is “bad” for consumers, because, shielded from potential new entrants into a given area of production, the price of the product will be higher and its quality lower than otherwise, under free competition.
In the absence of a government law enforcement monopoly, private companies would be competing on the open market to provide citizens with the lowest cost, highest quality protection services available. This would reduce police misconduct because firms that employee violent law enforcers will loose market share as customers flee to their cheaper nonviolent competitors.
By no longer designating law enforcement a public good, private firms would have to foot the bill themselves for the abuses of their employees. This means, to avoid these costly pay-outs, firms would undoubtedly demand rigorous ethical and moral training as outside arbitrators would hold their employees more accountable than the state apparatus they belonged to otherwise would.
This may seem like a radical idea to some but a government monopoly, in any arena, does three things: Restrict personal choice, draw up costs, and drive down quality. Certainly, having the individual liberty to choose whom provides you with law enforcement services in preferable to a forced government monopoly that demands taxpayer money to not only pay for its abuses, but to function at all.
An advantage of private policing is that companies would have a contractual responsibility to protect their customers. In Warren v. District of Columbia, the court found that public police have no such responsibility. Thus, they cannot be sued if they fail to respond to calls for help. This is why the response time of police in some areas is so long and why the percentage of cases successfully pursued against burglars and thieves range in the single digits.
Police have no legal obligation to either serve or protect you.