Monday, January 12, 2009

PoLice Reform

Police Reform
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: the initial version of the following article was written more than a dozen years ago, and appeared, in two parts, in The Libertarian Enterprise Number 30, June 15, 1997. Those wishing to see the originals may find them at:

As desperate as the abusive police situation may be today, the warning signs were already plain, at least to me, four years before this century's "Reichstag Fire"—the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001—which gave the government the excuse it needed to turn the entire country into a prison. This article will be revised further and included in the book I'm writing with my daughter Rylla, What Libertarians Believe.

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The Problem

When you see three police cars pulled over at the side of a city street to deal with a single bicycle rider, you know there are too many cops. Every day we hear of some act of brutality carried out by federal, state, or local "law enforcement" against individuals or groups whose only crime was the exercise of their unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights. "Policemen" at every level of government have become, more than any mere military organization, the "standing army" hated and feared by America's Founders.

There are many reasons for this, foremost among them a failure on the part of those Founders to provide for proper enforcement of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. Creating and enacting such a "penalty clause" should be among the highest priorities for libertarians and the Libertarian Party.

Much of today's general freedom movement (which consists of libertarians, "Constitutionalists", and even a growing number of "liberals" or "progressives") is attempting to identify the causes of America's ills. As long as the causes of a problem are addressed, there's nothing wrong with ameliorating its symptoms, as well. You may get a CAT-scan to see why you suffer from terrible headaches, but you also take an aspirin. Accordingly, I suggest the following steps -- many of which I've thought about for decades—to begin treating the symptoms by which we understand we've all begun living in a police state.

Any one of these measures (or all of them grouped together), may be pursued by concerned individuals and organizations—without regard to their political ideology—who find them interesting or useful, as conventional legislation, as constitutional or charter amendments, as initiated referenda, or as a part of settlements in lawsuits.

In the short term, what's important is to generate as much public discussion of them as possible, so the authorities will understand that, if they don't change their ways, their ways will be changed for them. MORE HERE