I've mentioned before that I've got a close familial and friend relationship with law enforcement. My dad was an Oakland cop during the 1960's and then was a lieutenant with the Marin County Sheriff's department. I've got a brother who's a senior cop with a California agency. I've been in 3 cop weddings and attended many others. I've hired two different retired cops in my PM business.
For the first thirty-odd years of my life I thought all cops were like my dad and my brother. Good, decent men that loved, and lived in, the communities they served. They were held in high esteem because they had earned that respect.
Well, 22 years ago, my bubble was burst. I was on a jury for a meth cooker. This guy was dirty as hell. He did the cooking and distribution out of an auto repair shop he owned. The irrefutable evidence found in the shop and in his home would put this 1-strike felon away for good.
During the trial, they presented evidence of gun ownership in the guy's home. The police said they found a rifle in a back bedroom, and a pistol under the guy's bed.
The DA was questioning the guy about the guns. He admitted to the rifle in the back bedroom - a felony by itself (convicted felons cannot knowingly possess any weapons). When she got to the gun under the bed, he said, "No damned way, ma'am." Not his, had never seen it, not a clue where it came from.
I think it would be safe to say that, at this point, all of us on the jury thought, "bullshit."
The DA finished up with the cooker, and brought up a cop. A very special cop. He was a member of some multi-jurisdictional, soooooper dooooper drug unit. All decked out in the (now common) black cop jump suit. Everything was either black cloth, black leather or polished chrome. Very tacti-cool looking, and made him seem more "elite" that a regular beat cop. This dude means business.
The DA asked him where the rifle was found, and he gave very detailed, very precise information. When she got to the pistol, he described the make, model and caliber, how it was approximately 2 to 3 feet under the bed and would be easily accessible by anyone laying in the bed.
She finished up and handed him off to the defense attorney. They jabbered back and forth, and this cop never wavered. His story never veered.
They then got to the pistol. The attorney asked to cop to refresh the jury's memory on what kind of gun was found and its location. The cop repeated his testimony verbatim.
The attorney then flipped on an overhead projector. On the screen was a picture of the bed. The cop was asked if this was the bed under which the gun was found. He examined the screen, noted the headboard, night stand, bed spread and some other items he remembered from the arrest.
Yep, that was the bed.
The attorney asked the cop to repeat where he found the gun. Two to three feet under the bed. He asked the cop to show on his arm how far under the bed he had to reach to get the gun. The cop held out his arm, and motioned to his arm pit. "About this far."
As the cop motioned to his arm pit, the attorney pushed a button and the image on the screen changed. It now showed the same bed, except the bed spread was now pulled back. The judge, jury and courtroom could see that the bed in question was a platform bed. There were perhaps 4 or 6 inches of space under the bed.
There was literally a gasp from the audience!
The attorney asked the cop if he'd like to change any or all of his testimony. He declined, explaining he stood by his earlier testimony.
Excuse my language, but my thought was, "That piece of shit just looked us in the eye and lied like a mother fucker." When we got back for deliberations the next day, every single one of us on the jury said we were ignoring every single bit of evidence presented by that asshole (no worries - scumbag meth cooker was still convicted for the rifle and the cooking).
The arrogance of this bastard was shocking. Having been around "good cops" my entire life, this was a gut-punch. How could someone who had sworn an oath, "to serve and protect" devolve into such a lying piece of crap?
This rocked my world, and forever changed my impression of cops. They were human, like the rest of us, no longer granted respect simply because of their choice of profession. Background check and vetting or not, there were criminals among their ranks, just like society at large.
Over the past 22 years, this problem has gotten worse, not better. This arrogance, this feeling of superiority by sworn officers seems to be growing. It is becoming the rule, and not the exception.
I've written a number of times about all of the military equipment and para-military training domestic police services attend. It's all under the "terrorist threat" and public safety umbrella. Sadly, most Americans accept the, "freedom for safety" trade quite readily.
I remember heated arguments with folks over DUI checkpoints. For God's Sake, there could not be a more blatant disregard for the fourth amendment. But the public accepted it with open arms, the Supreme's gave their stamp of legitimacy, and it's been downhill ever since.
No need to change the Constitution when it's easier to just ignore it.
Law enforcement and virtually all government entities now regularly act unchecked. NSA spying. The President enforcing some parts of a law, ignoring others for political favors. IRS abuses. Government agencies shutting down whole industries because they're not "green". TSA checkpoints. VIPR Checkpoints. DUI checkpoints. Obscene abuses of citizens and their rights. Color Of Authority abuses that regularly go unpunished. Procedure was followed, dear citizens.
We're no longer a constitutional republic. Not even close. At best, we're a monarchy. The king, and the earls, and the dukes get to make the rules, and decide who must follow them.
A case in point [link]:
D.C. law requires residents to register every firearm with the police, and only registered gun owners can possess ammunition, which includes spent shells and casings. The maximum penalty for violating these laws is a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.On its face, this is insane. Spent shells and casings are considered ammunition? But let's say the police believe someone has broken this law. How would you respond? Like this?
The police banged on the front door of Mr. Witaschek’s Georgetown home at 8:20 p.m. on July 7, 2012, to execute a search warrant for “firearms and ammunition … gun cleaning equipment, holsters, bullet holders and ammunition receipts.”
Mr. Witaschek’s 14-year-old daughter let inside some 30 armed officers in full tactical gear.
His 16-year-old son was in the shower when the police arrived. “They used a battering ram to bash down the bathroom door and pull him out of the shower, naked,” said his father. “The police put all the children together in a room, while we were handcuffed upstairs. I could hear them crying, not knowing what was happening.”These are the tactics you use against hardened Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, not Americans that may be subject to a thousand dollar fine. There is not a single, rational justification for this use of force.
How about you call the guy and tell him you need to discuss something (like his ex-wife's false accusations)? Send three cops to his house. As he comes out of the house, have one cop give him the warrant to search his property, have the other two go in, clear everybody out, and search the joint.
Why would you feel the need to employ this level of violence for this potential offense?
[This came to my attention while I was writing this piece]
My condensed version [full version and entire dash cam footage here]: Dad and son have argument over dad's refusal to buy son some cigarettes. Son takes dad's work truck. Dad calls cops "to teach his son a lesson". Cop sees truck, starts pursuit. Cop lights up son, son does not respond. Son backs truck/trailer into front of cop car. Son races through town, dispatch suggests cop stop pursuit. He continues pursuit, and notes that the son is on the wrong side of the road, blowing thru red lights, etc. Dispatch, again, suggests he break off pursuit because, "we know who he is." Cop catches up with son, son rams him again, another cop shows up, they chase him around, cops ram him, son crashes into a tree. Cop gets out and shoots him 6 times when he refuses to turn off and exit the truck. Son is dead.
Good God Almighty. While the son had earlier attacked the officer with a deadly weapon (the truck), after that point in time (around 1:57 in the video), he was told to stop his pursuit, and chose not to do so. At around 3 minutes, the cop was again told to "back it off". No deal. One minute later, the kid was dead. At the time of the shooting, the kids truck was stopped, was apparently disabled, and could no longer be used as a weapon. Even if it wasn't disabled, it was not in a position to put either of the officers in harm's way.
With the information at hand, this is murder. You and I are held to a standard of, "threat of imminent death or grave bodily harm" if we make the decision to fire our gun in self defense. At the time the shots were fired, no threat was present. If it is shown that, off camera, the kid was pulling out a gun or something that would threaten the lives of the officers, that would obviously change things.
[I just participated in a rather heated discussion over at Claire's place regarding the recent shooting of a 13 year old by a Sonoma County deputy. With the evidence and information that is now publicly available, I continue to believe that the shooting was legitimate. Horrible, tragic, but legitimate. If information changes, I'll modify my opinion as I see necessary. I'll likely discuss that case here at a later date.]
These actions by government employees have serious implications. I could fill ten post with nothing more than links to articles about abusive government and police tactics.
I don't have to. The Cato Institute is on the job with the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project [link]. They list 10 to 20 incidents. Each day!
But, there is some push back. And, I predict, if the police and bureaucrats don't start policing themselves, I believe hell is going to rain down on their heads. The push back will become more common, more covert and more aggressive.
It is already happening on a sporadic basis. The recent shooting at LAX was by a guy pissed off at TSA tactics. There was just some guy in Arkansas that was caught blowing up electrical transmission lines. Christopher Dorner - the former LA cop - went off on a killing spree because he felt the system was being stacked against him.
This government 'superiority complex' is out of control.
You can't buy a big soda. You can't buy trans-fats. You can't buy your own health insurance. You can't buy a gun, drive a car, start a business, cut down a tree or add a room to your house without first getting permission. You can't catch a flight, catch a train or drive your car without the potential to be subjected to unconstitutional searches.
Land Of The Free? My ass.
When abuses happen, government officials need to ensure punishment is administered quickly, publicly and unambiguously. And this 'government immunity' crap has got to be dismantled. A municipality, state or federal agency that allows its employees to display this type of conduct needs to be held accountable.
But we all know nothing will change. In fact, it will get worse. If, as I predicted, people start shooting back, sabotaging government facilities and assets, and in general, making life unpleasant for TPTB, the police and government officials will only clamp down even tighter. We'll have more restrictions, more intrusions, more checkpoints, more abuse. This will bring more retribution.
It will be a vicious, vicious circle.
My advice? Right now, I've got no idea. I'd seen the financial storm that is now upon us, and have planned and acted accordingly. I don't know what to do about this tyranny. There are lots of moving parts, and there are truly life-or-death consequences for making a wrong move.
This is going to take some noodling. More to come.
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