Watching the Watchmen – Cedar Sanderson

Watching the Watchmen – Cedar Sanderson

Before solutions to police corruption can be posited, it must first be defined, categorized, and fully understood. I’m only going to touch on this in the broadest of terms, as this could literally fill a book. I’m sure the commenters will have much to add, as well. Let me begin by pointing out that I know no bad cops. I’ve known a few that were very good indeed, and I would trust a cop, were I in trouble and in need of help. But as a woman, I would also be very very cautious being pulled over late at night on a dark road. That’s where we are, as a population. On the other hand, comparing our nation to, say, one a bit further south, our cops are paragons. So take this for what it is.

Corruption can exist at both an individual level, and at the organizational level. At the individual level, the corruption may range from the seemingly innocuous of accepting free coffee from local businesses, to the level of murder, drug dealing, and utter betrayal of the power entrusted to them. At the organizational level, the corruption may be tacitly legal, or knowingly illegal. With almost 19,000 separate police departments in the US, there is a lot of latitude for good cops, bad cops, and cops stuck in bad places.

Police corruption is so disturbing because they are the organization that has been put in place to keep the laws, and when they operate outside those laws, whether explicitly or implicitly, then the Rule of Law is threatened, and tears form in the fabric of society. “Police corruption, which may take the form of soliciting, taking, or offering bribes; selling favors; accepting gifts; abusing authority; and aiding and abetting criminal behavior, is anathema to the repository of public trust in institutions that are entrusted with protecting citizens from crime and bringing criminals to justice. In a nation that regards democracy and justice as cardinal values, the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of corrupt police officers are crucial for preservation and advancement of social order, as well as efficacy of the criminal justice system itself.” (Onyeozili)

Despite public perception of what is called the thin blue line, the unwillingness of the police to report their own for misconduct, a study done by Rothwell and Baldwin shows that the police are overwhelmingly more likely to have policies in place defining misconduct, punishments for those actions, and internal affairs units than any other civilian or government agencies. Because of this, corruption at the individual level is less than popularly believed, but the converse is that corruption in other agencies, like the IRS specifically, is profoundly disturbing and far more likely to go on without any internal whistle-blowing. However, because of the gravity of the abuse of power, police corruption is likely to lead to more public outcry when it is discovered.

To deter corruption at an individual level, the police department must have those clear policies in place to define what is not acceptable for the officers. While some offenses are obviously unacceptable, as in, they are illegal, there are others that fall into gray areas, like accepting gifts. Further, the police department needs to have punishments that will actually deter wrongdoers, which administrative repercussions might not. Criminal convictions of cops who have erred in the line of duty are few and far between. It’s more likely that sweeping-under-the-rug will occur, with unpaid leave, transfer, or dismissal. Policies at a departmental level vary, are not always enforced, and for publicity reasons, are usually downplayed as much as possible. Or, as was discovered in the Rampart investigation, policies might work against themselves, allowing corrupt officers to evade murder charges through manipulation of something called a Lybarger admonition. “Obviously, then, anything an officer says during the investigation of a shooting can result in nothing more than his dismissal. Although administrative action is a serious deterrent, it is not as serious as the prospect of criminal prosecution for murder. Of course, it may appear that Lybarger admonitions would induce officers to “spill the beans” immediately so as to inoculate themselves against criminal actions. According to the RIRP, however, the actual result is usually an ineffective interview of the officer by an attorney from the police union, consisting of leading questions such as “You feared for your life, right?”

The Rampart scandal also illuminated another serious drawback in policing, through the discovery that by hiring individuals based on qualifications other than their suitability for police work, ignoring their psychological profiles, and with backgrounds glossed over in order to meet quotas. “In any case, the bottom line for the LAPD is that Rampart was caused by the misbehavior of a few individuals who should never have been hired. The implication of this frame is that the problem lies outside the LAPD organization and within the character of certain types of individuals. The policy solution is thus simply to prevent such individuals from entering the organization. This is a classically individual-level analysis.” (Kaplan, Paul J. “Looking Through The Gaps: A Critical Approach To The LAPD’s Rampart Scandal.”) It becomes clear that pre-screening before commission as a police officer is not something that can be omitted, and is an important part of corruption controls.

As a direct result of the Rampart scandal, where police were proven to have been hired for affirmative action appeal rather than their integrity, a study was done and a solution was suggested. If an innovative solution means one that is controversial, this certainly fills the bill: “A scholarly study published in April 2000 in the professional journal Economic Inquiry found that aggressive “affirmative action” hiring raised crime rates in many parts of the U.S. In careful statistical analysis of 1987-1993 U.S. Department of Justice data from hundreds of cities, economist John Lott (then of the Yale School of Law, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute) found that quotas requiring more black and minority police officers clearly increase crime rates. When affirmative action rules take over, he reports, the standards on physical strength tests, mental aptitude tests, and other forms of screening are lowered. The result is a reduced quality of officers–both minority and non-minority recruits end up being less impressive.” (Rothwell, Gary R., and J. Norman Baldwin. “Whistle-Blowing And The Code Of Silence In Police Agencies: Policy And Structural Predictors.”)

Perhaps more troubling than individual corruption, even when it involves a gang, as in the Rampart scandal, is corruption at the organizational level. Especially as we see with the implementation of affirmative action raising serious concerns about the quality of officers, the corruption can be above the law, making it much more difficult to cope with until legislation can be raised to counter the effects. Police departments seizing monies, goods, and property without ever bringing criminal charges, for instance. “Over the last two decades, forfeitures have evolved into a booming business for police agencies across the country, from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to small-town sheriff’s offices. Although there is no single tally of all this activity — the information is buried in the budgets, court records and annual reports of thousands of individual agencies — the available data makes clear that billions of dollars in cash, cars, real estate and other assets are being confiscated nationwide every year via civil forfeitures.

One measure is the growth of a program in which federal law enforcement officials seize property on behalf of local authorities in exchange for a share of the proceeds. In 2000, officials racked up $500 million in forfeitures. By 2012, that amount rose to $4.2 billion, an eightfold increase.

Bing is among a significant number of property owners not charged with any crime who lost their home or have battled for years against forfeiture actions. Other similar cases reviewed by ProPublica include an elderly widow, two sisters who shared a house, a waitress and hospital worker caring for two children, and a mother of three whose family wound up homeless. All stemmed from drug charges brought against a family member.” (Thompson, Isaiah. “Law To Clean Up ‘Nuisances’ Costs Innocent People Their Homes.”) Increasingly, we see concerns raised over the number of civilians who seem to be targeted in order to seize monies, goods, or property. While it may be a ready source of income to some departments, it erodes public trust in the police and structures that were supposed to be in place for the protection of those very things.

Accountability and transparency are said to be the foundations of a healthy police force and many systems have been implemented in recent years to show their willingness to be held accountable. Body cameras and dash cameras on individual officers, real time crime data, and the rapid adoption of COMPSTAT-like programs are all part of this progress. The author of the paper expresses reservations, however, pointing out that just having numbers is not enough without knowing “numbers are always the end product of a series of decisions, many of which are subjective and somewhat arbitrary.” (GILSINAN, JAMES F. “The Numbers Dilemma: The Chimera Of Modern Police Accountability Systems.”) For instance, he points out that until a generation ago, domestic violence was not counted as a crime, while homosexuality was.

In both cases of individual and organizational corruption, the root cause is that the offender has made a decision to satisfy a need without proper deliberation, to weight the long-term costs of the action taken. “Neither as individuals nor as members of organization do we optimize our decision-making, picking the best of all possible alternatives. Instead, we satisfice, picking the alternative that best seems to fit, without expending a great deal of energy to review – in a systematic way – all other possible choices (Gilsinan).” Given this, then, a way of forcing individuals and organizations out of the rut of easy thinking and into a deeper contemplation of the consequences of their action must be considered.

As a parent, I well know that to teach my children proper behavior’s, I had to create a consistent system of rewards and punishments. They could not be applied capriciously, and they must reliably hold true, or if an exception was made, to have a good reason for doing something different. Although slightly more complex when applied at this level, the general principles remain the same. To keep an individual from moonlighting, stealing, or extorting, make it painfully harsh when those actions are taken, and be sure to pay the police at a level where such money-making efforts are not tempting. At the organizational level, legislation needs to be reformed to prevent departments from preying on the innocent for income, and independent commissions should decide the merits of such cases, who cannot benefit from them. In the end, the police must be held accountable for their actions, and there have to be systems in place to enforce that accountability. Otherwise, we have only to look south, just over the border, to see the fear and uncertainty which could all too easily overtake our own daily lives.

400 responses to “Watching the Watchmen – Cedar Sanderson

  1. 😀

    From your lips to there…

    • As is my usual, it’s hopeful that talking about things, and as much as I hate the phrase, raising awareness, will lead to the clean-up of some of the more egregious problems. It’s a controversial topic, especially given the timing, so we shall see.

      • It seems to me there should be three levels at which corruption may manifest: individual, organizational, institutional. The clearest example of the last (at least that bounces off the top of my head) would be a community in which an entrenched power structure corruptly maintains its position through use of the police force. That this is in some ways indistinguishable from legitimate policing tends to add to the blue fog confounding the matter. Think of the Jim Crow South vs MOVE.

        Of course, additional complications can ensue when, a la Serpico, the organization is corrupt but individuals within it manifest integrity, caught between the Scylla of personal honor and the Charybdis of organizational pressure.

        There is also the issue beloved by writers of a certain genre, that of the dysjunction between legitimate ends and illegitimate means: “we know he’s guilty, but we need evidence that will stand up in court!” (Legislation barring utterance of such sentiment in TV dramas would cut the number of hours of Primetime detective/police programs by 50%.)

        There be reasons ethics has confounded the greatest minds of our species since Eden.

  2. Pingback: Essay, Links, and Errata | Cedar Writes

  3. Before any consistent system of punishment can be put in place, two things much happen;

    1) Qualified Immunity for police officers must be defined much more narrowly than it is at present.


    2 The power of police unions to shield bad cops from administrative punishment must be broken.

    • Qualified Immunity is, I believe, a matter of case rather than statuary law. Very, very, very hard to change. I have actually read of a judge defending letting bad decisions because otherwise the court would lose respect. . . .

      • I believe that statutory law trumps case law, if the state is clearly stated as intended to CHANGE the case law, and does not violate some fundamental principle. IANAL, but if that is the case then the solution is to push for legislation specifically holding LEOs accountable to the civil authority for violations brought about by over-enthusiasm, stupidity, arrogance, etc.

        No necessarily and easy sell, but one that can, I think, be made.

  4. When an officer is fired for misconduct he is not presently barred from police work. He simply goes to another city and is hired. If you think they won’t hire him you are wrong.
    The fact that police have internal affairs departments means almost nothing when it is them policing themselves. There is no disinterested third party examining the facts.
    They are allowed to not hire people because they are too smart. Think about that a bit. What exactly is wrong with a smart cop? Nothing if what you want first is a compliant thug.

    • I’m very aware of the faults of administrative punishments, which, as you point out, allow the bad cop to merely slip into the night and find another place. However, this is not as much an individual problem as it is an organizational one, and it’s at the top we need to focus to solve the problems at the individual level.

      • Wouldn’t this problem be addressed, in part, if the character pre-screenings and back ground checks were toughened up again?

        The problem is two fold.

        First you have the individual, who seeks to continue working as a cop after having been dismissed with reason. Of course, the dismissal indicates that the individual in question does not necessarily care about the law when it applies to himself.

        Then there is the police department that is either willing to hire without checking the background, or in spite of the results of the background check of the individual applicant. In doing so they fail the people they are supposed to be protecting.

    • What exactly is wrong with a smart cop?

      You might be surprised. For some types of work, being far more intelligent than average can lead to any number of problems. In police work, this could range from questioning things at inappropriate times to becoming too engrossed in the minutiae of an issue and wasting time, to being able to justify someone’s criminal actions to themselves by taking their excuses at face value. In some cases, their distraction by such means could wind up getting someone killed.

      • There are many different kinds of smart personalities. Some smart people are far more compulsive or obsessive or distractable than others. But the same is true of average people. Smart alone sould not disqualify.

      • To being bored out his gourd. That can be dangerous.

    • I know a young lady that aced the local police academy but none of the area departments will hire her because she has too much education – bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in something.

      • Government jobs often are required to pay one X amount of money per degree and type of degree. Sometimes policy also requires them to give a certain amount of seniority or manager status for a master’s degree. It may be desirable for people going for principal to have one, or it may help your school’s stats to have folks in your school getting their master’s after several years of experience, but not right off for ordinary teachers without experience.

        So yeah, as with many school systems, I doubt that police departments want to hire a newbie with a master’s.

    • William O. B'Livion

      How do you square that with notions of repentance and redemption?

      Or are those only for non-cops?

      • If you repent of your sins, you can get into heaven. Got nothing to do with Earth, for one simple reason: God knows if you’re serious, whereas your fellow humans have to guess, and if your past is sufficiently dark, we can’t afford to guess wrong. (Atheists should feel free to substitute “no one” for “God”, here. The operate point is not about the nature of the divine — which we can’t prove one way or the other — but about the limitations of human systems, which we can establish quite well indeed.)

        The fact that they claim to have repented and reformed doesn’t mean I’ll ever hire an ex-embezzler to be my accountant. Nor does it mean I’ll hire a supposedly-reformed child molester to take my kids on a trip. And it doesn’t mean that guys like Daniel Harless should ever be able to have a badge, a uniform, or a gun again. Not anywhere, not ever.

        In the world we actually live in, however, the latter rule generally doesn’t hold. If that guy hadn’t been annoying his bosses with a worker’s comp lawsuit, he’d still be in uniform today, despite having been caught on camera threatening to murder an innocent civilian and then cover it up. The cops who supervised my gang rape are still working for the same police department they were then, as far as I know. If any of them have left it, it would simply be to join another department. And that department also, I am quite sure, could be reliably counted on to track down and murder my loved ones (simple enough…just phone in a fake anonymous tip saying that someone’s cooking meth in their houses, then burst in guns blazing, and when no meth is found amid the bullet-riddled corpses, chalk it up to bad intel and then go grab a beer), if I ever file a formal complaint, just as the original one would have done. And other than the neighbors (who would presumably complain about the noise of gunfire and terrified screaming, as well as the crowding of the street with armored vehicles, on whatever night the deed went down), no one would bat an eye.

        There are a lot of good ones out there. But the tribalism in the culture has gone beyond the point where one who’s ever been “bad” can ever be trusted again. An “us” vs “them” mentality is inevitable. When “us” is defined as “people who don’t commit crimes”, this can be beneficial. But when it’s defined as “people with badges”, it becomes just another excuse for even the supposedly “good” guys to cover up for their crooked “brethren”.

        • “The cops who supervised my gang rape”

          Oh man. Who do you report to when the watchmen are at fault?

          • 😦

          • CombatMissionary

            I knew a man who used to say, “When those who are sworn to uphold the law break the law, there IS no law.”
            I am really glad he lived in a good area. He was an incredibly dangerous man, but very nice until provoked. The one time he dealt with a crooked sheriff’s deputy, he simply beat the hell out of the cop and then called the sheriff to tell him to come collect his bloodied and unconscious deputy, and that if any of his deputies ever tried pushing innocents around again while he was in the area, he’d be picking up corpses. The Sheriff simply said, “Oh, we’ll be having a discussion with that deputy once he wakes up. You and your friends have a nice day.” Had he ever come across systemic corruption in his hometown, the trail of bodies would have made the worldwide news, and they would have had to call up hundreds of soldiers from the Army to have enough forces to find him and kill him. He would NOT have gone down easily.

            My personal opinion, most people know if there is systemic corruption in their local police forces. If your local police force is getting to that level, and there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s time to make a judicious withdrawal from the area, because those kinds of areas don’t get cleaned up without a bloodbath, usually. Your first duty is to protect your family, THEN your community. If your community isn’t protecting your rights, you owe them nothing and it’s time to get out of Dodge.

            • Your first duty is to protect your family, THEN your community. If your community isn’t protecting your rights, you owe them nothing and it’s time to get out of Dodge.

              Thank you for that; I still feel guilty about a few situations where I feel like I “gave in” because I did not want to pay the probable cost for doing the job that nobody else was willing to do.
              For example, there’s a violent guy down the road who will, eventually, hurt someone. Probably killing them, after time in the hospital. It will most likely be a small woman or an old-enough-to-be-frail person. I’ve taken all steps short of continuing to put myself at risk by walking past there, even though I have a slightly higher than average chance of defending myself, because I don’t want my family to lose me.

              • CombatMissionary

                My folks were in a similar situation in the People’s Republic of California. Stupid bad guy that the State Legislature prevented from going to jail by writing stupid laws giving bad guys approximately ten million and one chances before he could be locked up by the cops. I finally had a conversation with my Dad and told him, “Look, dad, I know you hate feeling like you’re being driven off your land, but the honest truth is that state has elected the officials that write those laws. The law makes it so that the ruling class have lots of armed security and lawyers to protect them from street scum, and the street scum know how to play the system. An honest man is in the position of either standing up for himself and his family and going to jail, leaving his family defenseless against the scum; or being victimized by the scum; or simply leaving. WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THAT STATE?”

                They’re now selling their house and will hopefully be moving to a red state soon.

          • William O. B'Livion

            Their masters. If they don’t have any, or if their masters are part of the problem, then soap box, cartridge box.

    • William O. B'Livion

      What exactly is wrong with a smart cop? Nothing if what you want first is a compliant thug.

      Do you see what you’ve done there?

      Seriously. You are implying that non-smart people cannot think for themselves, and are ethically challenged.

      Police agencies don’t want *stupid* cops, they generally would like (if they could express it this way) to hire people on the upper half of the middle of the bell curve. Say 105 to 115 if you want to put fuzzy numbers on it.

      Being a cop is *mostly* following procedure, writing reports, talking to people, writing tickets, collecting evidence according to specific rules etc.

      They want people smart enough to *follow* those procedures, but not so smart as to either get bored quickly with it, or to think they’re smarter than the procedures and create their own.

      • CombatMissionary

        The smartest departments will hire deputies that are wise enough to understand the need for separation of powers, following procedure, etc., use their discretion wisely, seek pragmatic solutions to problems, and understand community policing as well as try to make their community a better place.
        I say deputies not because I don’t respect policemen, but as I mentioned, Sheriffs have more incentive to seek the approval of those whom they serve than appointed police chiefs and their bureaucrats. Bureaucrats seek yes-men. Sadly, they sometimes get them.

        • William O. B'Livion

          Sheriffs Deputies either work different “markets”, or have different duties than Policemen. In Rural areas they serve the most rural populations, in Urban areas they *tend* to be the keepers of the jail and servers of warrants (and yes, this varies DRAMATICALLY by state, county and city. In San Francisco they are pretty much restricted to running the jails and serving warrants. In Missouri they serve all the areas *not* served by police departments.

          All in all I’m not sure that the “Direct Election” v.s. “Hired by Elected Officials” is where the difference lies. There have been corrupt Sheriffs, and Sheriffs Deputies have routinely engaged in violence and the same sort of abuse that Police have. The difference, if there is one, is that a SD, being directly responsible to the people, will have a *tendency* to define “undesireable” or “legitimate target” in community terms while the PD will tend to do it based on policies. Hence Garner received attention because he was helping people avoid taxes they voted for.

          • Hmmm … not actually much interested in the Garner case, but I expect he bought the pack of cigs he was reselling and thus he (and his customers) would have paid the tax, they were just paying it through a third party (the vendor of the pack.) Unless he bought the pack at a Rez …

            What he was doing was a logical, easily foreseen result of a tax regime intending to drive up the cost of smoking. The effect of such a regime is discriminatory, barring smoking to those unable to afford the (absurdly high) price of a pack of cigarettes.

            • Well, part of it is that he was willing to sell ONE object. In Africa there are vendors who will sit outside big stores and make a thriving living out of splitting up packages, so you can buy one cigarette, or one drop of perfume, or three matches.

            • But he wasn’t paying sales tax. Same issue with ticket scalpers. The gubmint doesn’t care if you sell a ticket, they just want their cut.

            • The entire system is based on going outside of the taxed area (don’t know if it’s usually the Rez or just out of state or if more have an “in” on totally under-the-table cigs, and it’s not like they’re going to advertise it) and reselling without the tobacco tax, which is something like three bucks a pack. The sales tax is an additional consideration, though.

              Buying them inside of the system and reselling one by one wouldn’t provide the price advantage that the market depends on.

          • All in all I’m not sure that the “Direct Election” v.s. “Hired by Elected Officials” is where the difference lies. There have been corrupt Sheriffs, and Sheriffs Deputies have routinely engaged in violence and the same sort of abuse that Police have.

            The county next to me has a sheriff convicted of a felony (he pistol whipped another driver in a road rage incident). He can no longer arrest people, or carry a gun. He’s still the sheriff.

  5. Forfeiture without a conviction and proof that the item to be taken was gained by the crime is just un-american. I have a hard time believing that the courts have allowed it and it needs to be stopped.
    Of course, like a lot of the other problems with the police, forfeiture started with the insane war on drugs.

    • Not only have allowed, but abetted. Look at the IRS and what it has been doing and how much that has ballooned in the last few years. It’s not just the police.


      Note that the investigation by the Post found, among other things,

      Only a sixth of the seizures were legally challenged, in part because of the costs of legal action against the government.

      So, basically, they can often get away with it, because it’s simply not worth the money and time to challenge it in court. Yes, it definitely needs to be changed.

      • Factor in the issue that the State bears no personal cost for its legal bills and the individual malefactors within the state similarly get defended at the public expense, with the result being that court imposed penalties have little corrective affect.

        In fact, continued abuse of its authority driving up legal costs might be used to justify increasing the state’s funding and staffing of its legal representation.

        Taxpayer suits thus tend to drive up their taxes without necessarily imposing any burden on individual malefactors’ abuse of state power.

        • OTOH, we have to remember that the cops regularly deal with people who commit crimes without scruple and probably would overwhelm any cop with nuisance suits to bankrupt them if the cops did have to foot their own defenses.

          • No “probable” about it– would. With the best cops being the most targeted, because they cause the criminals that are good at it the most pain.

          • Oh crap! Are you saying we live in an imperfect world and that competing issues must be balanced against one another?

            But I don’t want to live in such a world!

          • My solution, which has it’s own problems (like tick off your boss, or your boss is dirty, and you get a worthless lawyer) is that the individual has to pay all court costs and penalties if they lose, while to prevent frivolous suits, the suer has to pay if They lose.

            • So if you’re poor, you don’t get to sue?

              Or do we find out that you are judgement proof only when the cop’s ready to file for bankruptcy?

              • Like I said, there are issues with it, and actually that is not really any different than now. Many lawyers who specialize in lawsuits charge nothing up front, simply taking a cut (commonly a third) of the settlement if you win, and only charging you if you lose. The difference in my scenario is you would also have to pay for the opposing parties legal costs as well if you lose. Which is already done in many instances in some jurisdictions. The main difference is if the lawsuit is against the government over individuals actions while being employed by the government, is that those Individuals are financially responsible.

                I assume many lawyers would still be perfectly willing to work on a share basis, so yes a poor person with a good case (lawyers would be much less likely to take a case where they know by the clients finances that they are only going to get paid if they win, unless they thought they had a good chance of winning) could sue. That isn’t to say there aren’t other problems with my ‘solution.’

                • That isn’t to say there aren’t other problems with my ‘solution.’

                  Well! If you cannot assure me there are no problems I want nothing to do with it!!! Problems are messy and uncomfortable and I say phooey!

            • Elizabeth Creegan

              I believe the 1994(?) Contract with America had a nice variation on this: you were liable for the oppositions’s legal costs only up to what you paid for your own, with pro se and contingency fee lawyers required to keep an accounting of hours worked for that purpose.

              The for the majority of cases, the variation is the same as straightforward loser pays, but it changes some unusual cases in ways that I like.

              This means that you know and can control the maximum you pay if the jury finds against you. It means that if you have a straightforward case you can still pursue it without risk of bankruptcy. And it means that if you’re sufficiently outraged to represent yourself in court it affects you very little.

    • A forfeiture action requires proof that the item was the fruit or instrumentality of crime. However, because its a civil action, the burden of proof is preponderance of evidence – not beyond a reasonable doubt – and often the cases are unopposed by the original owner for various reasons including inability to hire counsel.

      • Start with the fact that the cases are against the thing seized, and the owner has to be allowed to intervene.

    • yes, and yes. Oh, yeah, and yes.

    • Asset forfeiture is legalized highway robbery.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Nah, it’s worse than that.

        You can legally shoot at highway robbers who are threatening you and taking your property. You cannot legally shoot at LEOs doing the same.

    • I spent quite a few years writing software for the courts. Including software recording court documents. The software had to know quite a lot about charges and how they’re generated.

      One of the really interesting things about forfeiture is that the thing being confiscated is charged, not the owner of the thing. So the defense attorney (if any) is not defending the owner, rather the thing itself. The two offenses are not connected, and so the owner can be released without even being charged.

  6. “until a generation ago, domestic violence was not counted as a crime,”

    puts on pedant hat

    The first law explicitly targeting domestic violence in this country was passed in colonial Massachusetts. Even before that it was prosecuted as assault and battery. Indeed, we have court reports of men (and women) being forced to give bond for good behavior.

    How consistently it has been prosecuted and how seriously treated has varied widely, but it has been treated as a crime. Indeed, my local newspaper was once doing “On this date in history” things and reported a story a couple of centuries old: a battered woman took refuge at her married daughter’s house, a group of vigilantes descended on the husband at home and flogged him, and he was found dead the next morning.

    takes off pedant hat

    • In my wholly amateur experience, whenever the phrase “until a generation ago, X was not Y,” is used, the statement is likely to be both broadly and specifically wrong.

      • I will point out here that it’s a quote. Not me. I actually am fairly sure that domestic violence has been, if not a crime, prosecuted in the past, unlike what some ‘histories’ would like to put forth. But it’s an example of why crime has skyrocketed in the last 100 years. More things are made criminal, thus more criminals.

        • It is more things are criminal, or more records are being kept, or some combination?

          Right now violent crime is DOWN considerably from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Naturally all kinds of people are claiming that this is because of their favorite public policy (heavier sentences, less gun control, more gun control, whatever), but it seems likely to ME that it is a case of the general population aging out of the impulsive violence of youth.

          We are, statistically if not personally, becoming a bunch of geezers.

          The differences between the society of the 1870’s and the society of today are broad enough that I question whether a comparison of statistics is useful. The statistics may seem broadly similar, but they almost certainly are collected by different means, for different reasons, and that alone would make them too dissimilar to legitimate comparison.

          However, I agree with you broadly; there is entirely too much law, and petty regulation that has the force of law. We need to introduce our political class to the notion that they could have long and graft filled careers spent REPEALING laws, to the general benefit of the populace.

          • Actually, there’s a fascinating study out there tying a strong correlation between violent crime and ambient lead levels. It’s a useful study in that localized lead levels are used, not national ones, and the correlation holds up over localized rises and drops. The suggestion is that low-grade lead poisoning pushes borderline cases over the edge into impulsiveness and anger.

            And if that’s the case, the policy that has had the best anti-crime effects was the banning of leaded gasolines worldwide.

            • I would be deeply suspicious of such a study. I suspect it is very careful about when to START the statistical data collection. I recall that lead was becoming a major concern during the 1970’s (hell, I could be wrong there) and that was while violent crime was broadly on the rise.

              • The Other Sean

                I’ve not read the actual study, but ISTR from news coverage of it that the correlation was between early childhood exposure to environmental lead and subsequent violent behavior, and it went back many decades. So the children born in the early 70’s and exposed to lead were the ones perpetrating the violent crime of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The suggested causal mechanism is impact of lead exposure during key phases of neural development. I have not heard of any follow-up research on the topic, either supporting or contradicting.

            • I would point out that since California has banned practically all lead, to include lead bullets; they should have the lowest rate of violence in the nation.

              And yes, without any evidence to back up my belief, I am one of those crackpots that think banning leaded gasoline was just another antipetroleum overreach by the government. Which incidentally significantly increased their revenue.

              • I would point out that since California has banned practically all lead, to include lead bullets; they should have the lowest rate of violence in the nation.

                Yeah. Sure.

                How about we pass a law that requires that, in order to eliminate racism, we all change out skins to chartreuse (Pantone 14-0445 TCX Bright Chartreuse) on New Year’s eve?

        • Yes, as Mary pointed out, while “domestic violence” per se was not illegal in many areas, even today “domestic violence” is simply a qualifier of another crime. It is assault against a “domestic” commonly defined as a member of your household or a person you are in an intimate relationship with.
          The big difference is the changes in what constitutes an assault. There was a time when a fistfight between two consenting individuals was not considered assault, and as for verbal assault, there are still a lot of people (myself included) who believe calling such a crime is ridiculous.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Is it “domestic violence” when a couple get into a verbal fight with both sides “giving as good as they get”?

            Is it “domestic violence” when the female verbally “assaults” the male and he doesn’t “return fire”?

            Is it “domestic violence” when the female physically assaults the male and he doesn’t fight back?

            Is it “domestic violence” when the male gets mad at the female, storms out of the room and slams the door on the way out? Said male having “stormed out of the room” so that he won’t physically assault the female.

            Unfortunately, some women (and men) would say yes to all of the above.

            • No, no, YES, no. It’s definitely domestic violence whenever one partner physically assaults another in the home, whether male or female. I don’t see what’s wrong with considering the third domestic violence.

          • Yeah, even the Puritans would just require bond for good behavior if they caught you using abusive language.

            Except for one case where the husband said his wife was not his wife, only his servant, which was probably regarded as a frontal attack on society.

        • It may be that this reflects a change in how domestic violence is handled.

          In the early 1980s a study was done in Minneapolis which determined that of several possible responses the one that led to a drop in subsequent re-offence against the same victim was to arrest the offender. Subsequently many states and municipalities have passed laws that allow the police officers responding to a report of domestic violence to press charges independent of the parties involved.

          Like dealing with the issue of any offense, how you treat the crime indicates whether or not it is being taken seriously. When society is willing to take a crime seriously and consistently apply consequences you are generally going to see a drop in that crime. As discussed above, this includes holding police to standards.

          • Actually, arresting works on if they are married. Cohabiting boyfriends are MORE likely to re-offend if they are arrested.

          • I’ve also heard (but am too lazy to look up citations now) that one measurable result of this policy was a drop in the number of men killed by their wives.

            • And indignant feminists who complained that women were being arrested when obviously they acted in self-defense.

              • And the first tactic in divorce becoming for the woman to file an “abuse complaint” so the guy wasn’t in the house.

              • Is “indignant feminist” redundant?

                Of course women act in self-defense! You don’t think women would ever otherwise act in their own interests, do you?

                Besides, to the feminist, don’t all men ultimately merit disposal? Do male lives matter when a woman’s happiness is at stake?

              • Not that I’d heard, though they’d be almost right in this case. (‹snark›Which may be the reason why they didn’t say anything of that sort.‹/snark›)

                Here’s a discussion of this result, with links to the papers: Freakonomics: Save Me From Myself, a discussion of “commitment devices”.

                Most statistical indicators of domestic violence were not much affected by the policy change: neither the number of reports nor arrests not emergency room visits nor anything researchers & lawmakers had expected. The drop in murders was completely unexpected.

                The guess is that there were women whose (possibly unconscious) thought processes went something like this: “He’s hitting me. But If call the cops, I know myself well enough to know I’ll forgive him and not press changes, and so he’ll keep hitting me.” So out comes the kitchen knife. But if arrest and prosecution happen when the police & D.A. believe there was a crime—even when the victim declines to press charges—then calling the cops is a “commitment device” equal in power to killing.

                People are weird.

                • There’s also the issue of those women who finally figure out that the abuse isn’t their fault tend to do something about it without going to the hospital.
                  Those whose “do something” is to leave (either because that’s simpler, or because calling the police still means you’re in the house with him for the next hour) wouldn’t be changed, those who have been persuaded that being hit is their fault still won’t do anything… those in that middle ground of “he needs to be GONE” now had a legal procedure to get the same result. (Those in immediate fear of their lives wouldn’t change one way or another.)

                  It makes a strange sort of sense….

                  • CombatMissionary

                    You forgot about those who “do something” but seek a more permanent solution via the aid of Smith and Wesson, Counsel for the Pissed Off and In Immediate Danger.

                    Like I tell my wife, by the time the cops and courts get involved in something, there ARE no happy endings, just the least crappy ones.

    • CombatMissionary

      This is my understanding on how DV law has changed, but caveat, it comes from when I was going through the police academy over a decade ago.
      Prior to the late 1970’s, generally speaking, when domestic violence occurred, the legal philosophy governing domestic violence was that it should be treated as an assault, but outside that, it was best to keep the family together almost at any cost. This started changing in the late 70’s and in the 80’s when state statutes started changing. CPS departments were created, the foster system was enlarged, and services for abused women began popping up more, and statutes began to heavily encourage taking kids away from abusers.

      Of course, this led to a lot of hysterical kid-yanking by many CPS departments, and there’s a growing amount of backlash against system abuse by CPS agents in our own time.

      But in the end, specialized prosecution of DV in and of itself as its own category of crime, and subsequent involvement of court-mandated counseling and/or CPS, etc. is a product the last thirty or forty years (depending on which state you live in, etc.).
      Correct me if I’m wrong, of course. I’m not a lawyer, and I value correction. Hope this helps. 😀

  7. The police are not the problem. The corruption of police is a symptom of another problem you are ignoring because it’s easier to attack the police than it is to address the real problem.

    • I’m not – pointedly, in that first paragraph – attacking the police. I am pointing out that faulty organizational policies which spring from a move away from the Rule of Law are the problem. Corruption is not coming from the bottom up, but the top down.

    • The police are A problem. A problem that we can, possibly, get the general public to recognize. If the public, bless their black hearts, want the police to be reformed, then there will at least be a show of doing so. Which will, in turn, expose some of the bigger problems that the corruption of Law Enforcement is a symptom of. And then, just maybe, we can gin up some enthusiasm for tacking THOSE problems.

    • The Other Sean

      Which real problem? That there are too many dumb-ass laws imposed by petty politicians and bureaucrats? That unions often protect scum and allow them to keep their jobs? Or that we run into these problems when we allow Democrats to govern communities?

    • Pray tell what is it that we are missing?

      If you are going to accuse give all the details?

    • As others have asked — what problem do you think has been ignored?

      Any human organization is going to have problems because it is made up of people. People are not perfect. Even at our brightest we can never anticipate all of the possible effects of any given set of rules, laws or actions.

    • CombatMissionary

      IMHO, the real problem is the breakdown of the nuclear family and a lack of civics education.

      • Notice that the breakdown of the family occurred first… then the civics classes were gradually phased out.

        • It’s almost like all that poetic nonsense about the family being the smallest unit of civilization, and the cradle of greatness, had a point….

          Nah, that’s too crazy!

    • Regrettably, as Eve has already eaten of that fruit, the real problem is beyond our ability to address it.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Um, this crowd is perfectly willing to address a lot of sticky problems.

      There may be some knee-jerk harshing on police because of nearly 40 years of culture, but most people here seem to respect law abiding police and wish that it was easier for them to do the things that we believe cops are supposed to do.

      Knowingly arresting the wrong person, sodomizing arrestees with a broom handle, accept bribes, deal drugs and pulling people over for “obstructed view” because of a parking tag or air freshener ( are NOT what cops are supposed to do, but it’s what cops have been doing over the last 60 years.

      • Actually, other than the obstructed view ticket, police have been doing that for a LOT longer than the last 60 years. It is just more prevalent at various times and places than others.

        • William O. B'Livion

          It used to be (and still is in some countries) that what we call “corruption” or “police brutality” is called “normal behavior”.

          A friend of mine was in Palestine when the Abu Grhaib thing broke. One of the Palestinian Muslims he was working with commented “If that’s the sort of thing that gets you guys upset you can’t be that bad”–the implication being that what we considered horrible torture was better than what they normally expected from their government.

          I’ve been reading Kratman’s “A State of Disobedience”. It’s been a very painful read for me because that sort of stuff *does* happen, and people *are* that brutal.

          We have come a long way. We’re not where we should be, but again that’s because our leaders (on both all sides) tend to be sociopaths who are more than happy playing tribe on tribe.

      • What actually concerns me more is the number of cops playing Gangbusters in a way that is a hazard to anything breakable in the vicinity, people especially. Corruption and thuggery, rather like the poor, we will have with us always. We want to fight it, but some is inevitable. The idiocy attendant on The Drug War ™ is completely avoidable, if we can just get the busybodies to admit that they aren’t doing any good when they have hysterics over drug use.

        Yes, junkies are sad, wasted people. Yes, it would be nice of we could save them from themselves. But the consequences of trying are awful, and it doesn’t seem to do much good.

        Maybe I’m naive, but I think we could avoid a lot of “Heavily armed police broke into a home on West Main Street, thinking it was an address on East Main Street, where there is supposedly a meth lab.”.
        Furthermore, The Drug War ™ started the business of asset forfeiture, which is the Sheriff of Nottingham all over again, but without the tights. It also started the pattern of police departments getting hand-me-down military equipment suitable for a D-Day reenactment. (I suppose there are time when a police department might actually need an ACP, and a couple of dozen assault rifles. But once they have them they tend to start looking for ways to use them, and Oops! there they go doing a dynamic entry raid on the VFW poker game.

        And, just for the record, any drug law enforcement effort that results in a single chronic pain patient being unable to get strong painkillers is barbaric.

        • William O. B'Livion

          (I suppose there are time when a police department might actually need an ACP, and a couple of dozen assault rifles.

          The problem isn’t that they *have* an APC, it’s that they *want* to use it.

          As for “Assault rifles”, shame on you for buying in to the emotionally laden language.

          Rifles like the AK and the AR15 are the way they are because they are *easier* to shoot and more reliable. The military versions are not “full auto”, they are “select fire” which means they have a 3 position switch. Off, Bang and Happy. Civilians are allowed to own these things (after paying the appropriate taxes), and their deployment by the Police isn’t the problem. Now, other than SWAT teams (we’re back to the War on Some Drugs f*king things up) there is *no* use for Full Auto in policing, but I have yet to see a story where the problem was a police department setting up a M249[1] and hosing down a crowd.

          The problem isn’t the equipment. The problem isn’t them dressing up in camouflage BDUs. The problem is them *thinking it’s appropriate*.

          When you have people *protesting* something there is always the possibility of hotheads and/or deliberate agitators inflaming passions and things getting out of hand. In the past (prior to the 1960s) this was met with truncheons, dogs, water cannons and grapeshot.

          There is a huge difference between “peaceably assembled” and “rioting”. The first needs to be protected with force of arms. The second needs to be met with it.

          Just so we’re clear–you have the right to gather together with your fellow citizens and march down the street saying any damn fool thing you want, and the police *should* be there to protect you from other idiots getting violent.

          But you do NOT have the right to throw anything more physically more damaging than flower petals or words, and the second you do your fellow citizens, through their appointed proxies, have the right to protect their city and their society. As I said in another forum, had I been in charge of Ferguson I’d have had the fire department use water cannons to soak those protestors TO THE BONE the second a rock or bottle was thrown. Not with “direct water”, but with indirect–literally make it rain on their parade.

          But police certainly have a requirement for rifles and there is no practical difference between an AR15 and a Ruger Mini-14 (, other than the AR is more reliable and is easier to handle.

          In many larger cities the police has become an occupying militia, and that’s *wrong*, but the APCs and the Cammo BDUs are symptoms of a larger problem, not the problem itself.

          [1] If you want to argue that Police don’t need belt fed weapons and anti-aircraft guns you’ll get no argument from me.

  8. Unfortunately my experience with police officers in the last fifteen years in my area have not been pleasant. From police officers that put on their flashing lights to just go through red lights, to drive-by shootings done by police officers in bad areas, those are only a few of the cases that has happened here.

    In my personal case a police officer refused to take my complaint because he knew the guy. And this particular guy towed cars for the police. He was not police but did favors for them, this particular man got away with stalking, abuse of elders, drug dealing, etc. I am seeing more of us versus them attitudes in the police.

    The police should be an integral part of the community. They should be the next door neighbor or even the guy or gal that says hello to you in the morning. They have become separate from the community and are essentially another military– The military and the police have separate missions… When police became militarized, it is one of the first steps towards a private army for some megalomaniac.

    • Funny story about the difference between police and the military. During the Watts riots, some Marines were sent to help the LAPD. A police officer was going up to this house and he told the Marines with him to “cover him” The Marines started laying down full auto covering fire into the house. That term means a different thing to Marines than it does to the police.

      We have The Posse Comitatus Act for several good reasons.

      • The Other Sean

        I believe that was in the wider-scale LA riots following the Rodney King incident, not during the Watt riots of 1965.

        • Sorry, no. The National Guard was eventually called out for the Rodney King riots. They were not issued ammunition or magazines (famous picture of Guardsmen standing duty with their hands covering the empty magazine wells of their weapons), and did nothing more useful than hand their (fully automatic) weapons over to the rioters when they were threatened. Very sad.

          • Not much you can do when the National Guard is not allowed to have bullets. Suicide mission imho.

            • I would happily contribute to the defense fund of any Guardsperson charged with refusing to follow such orders.

              Not that such charges are needed for punishment of intelligence.

              • Professor Badness

                But look at what happens when an American citizen joins Al-queda or ISIS. They are shot by American troops and that opens a huge can of legal worms.
                How much worse is it if an American soldier shoots an American citizen while in America? That’s the kind of legal battle no politician wants to get into.
                So, instead they make it look like they are doing something by sending troops, but take their ammo in an effort to avoid the legal repercussions. The politicians don’t care what actually happens to the people on the street, as long as they or their party gets re-elected.

          • The Other Sean

            They called up several thousand active-duty Marines and Army to reinforce the National Guard, as well.

      • YEP made me laugh Sam

    • CombatMissionary

      Yes, a huge part of it is that the people don’t have enough local control. A lot of police have to enforce policy at the whim of a mayor because the Chief is an appointee. Sheriffs tend to not have as many problems with this because they know they can be voted out by the communities they protect.

      • A Sheriff is given a lot more power than a police Chief because of that very reason. The Sheriffs I knew personally were well-known in the community and were liked. They were part of the community and not above it.

        • Interesting Note: In many of the Western States, law is held in trust by the Sheriff of the County. He is the embodiment of law in his county, which is why some Sheriff’s have been able to throw out FEDS from their counties– without repercussions.

        • CombatMissionary

          Perhaps a simple way to fix things is for cities to change their charters and make Chief of Police an elected position?

          • CombatMissionary

            You know, as part of a larger plan. No ONE thing will be a panacea.

          • The prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case did it to rally support and keep his job.

          • Not going to happen– Mayors, council members, etc. etc. Having control over that position is a lot of power.

            • CombatMissionary

              Oh, well. While I’m at it, I want a pony… 😀

              • I want a winged, palomino pony.

                • I want the magical self-cleaning stable.

                • CombatMissionary

                  And now the inevitable argument starts about which is better, a winged horse with a rainbow tail because they’re pretty or a winged unicorn because they’re handy in combat. Great. 😉

                  • I would rather have a winged Pegasus with an AK-47 in combat than a winged unicorn.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Katherine Kerr had a character trying to fight an army while riding a dragon (a non-firebreathing one).

                      Obviously he couldn’t use a sword and his arrows (no guns) went off-target thanks to the wind generated by the dragon’s wings.

                      About the only advantage the dragon gave was that the enemy’s horses were afraid of it.

                      Of course, there was the problem that the good guys’ horses were afraid of the dragon. [Very Big Grin]

              • I want a checking account that like the widow of Zarephath’s jar of flour and jug of olive oil will never be empty until other provision is available.

                • CombatMissionary

                  I want a 1969 Dodge Charger RT with a supercharged 528 Hemi, built-in KITT computer, self-driving capability, machine guns that pop up out of the fenders like the Tim Burton Batmobile, Turbo Boost capability, self-healing components, steering wheel and brakes that change the car’s velocity while the car is in mid-air, color-changing paint and never needs refueling.

                  • As my granddaddy used to say, “People in Hell want ice water.” 😎

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Yeah, although my wish is more along the lines of, “People in Hell want a water park next to the ice cream shop with a fully-stocked sun hat and ray-ban stand.” LOL

                  • I’m thinking your other hand will fill up first, but if it doesn’t, could I trade a couple beers for a ride in that beast?

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Honestly, the plan is to sell rides in it for $5 each until I have the money to develop a 3-D printer the size of my house that will turn garbage into copies of that car. Then, after the red states throw off the chains of leftists, anyone who joins the conservative revolution in the Republic of Leave Us the H*** Alone will get one for free. 😀

                    • Wouldn’t it be easier to throw off the chains if everybody already had one? I’ll bring my own garbage for you to convert. 🙂

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Excellent point. We’ll have to get right on that!

                    • Love to help, but I’m already knee-deep in making a pile of garbage back into a 65 Mustang.

                • I want access to The Library. No, not the one in the Borges story, the one from the movies about The Librarian (you know, where Bob Newhart gets his first fight scene?) I’m probably more likely to be a 5’8″, 36-26-36 by Groundhog Day. 😛

                  • These won’t quite get you there, but they will get you a heck of a lot closer.

                    The rest is just a judicious application of dieting and silicone.

                    By the way, can I borrow your library card?

                  • I haven’t seen the movies, only cruised through while one was showing and pausing long enough to figure, Not one I’ve seen and can join in progress, looks as if it might be interesting, what’s is called and maybe it will show up when I can catch it from the start.

                    OTOH, the franchise is apparently being turned into an ongoing series on one of the Turner channels — I think TBS — starting this Sunday evening, starring John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane and (at least judging by credits at ) Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart. Its executive producers have Leverage, The Patriot and Independence Day on their resumes, so it looks interesting.

      • William O. B'Livion

        A lot of police have to enforce policy at the whim of a mayor because the Chief is an appointee.

        No, they do not.

        • CombatMissionary

          Well, I should clarify. They are placed in the position of doing what’s right and protecting their livelihood. That’s the wrong position to place any public servant in.

          • William O. B'Livion

            It is the job of the Chief of Police to have a moral backbone too. If your local elected officials are not making that a priority, then…

            Frankly this is in part why our political system is so f*ked up. We elect amoral boobs to city/county positions and they work their way up.

            • CombatMissionary

              I agree, that’s a huge problem. The system (government overall) at the lowest level rewards those who can increase efficiency; in the middle, those who can avoid departmental liability; at the top, those who play politics. Nowhere in there does it specify the need for a moral backbone.

    • There was one police officer assigned to the area around one of the local universities who regularly would use his lights so he could force people out of his way, ignore traffic lights and drive fast. It became a joke among the students, and certainly did nothing to create respect for the police in general.

      I have met a couple corrupt officers over the years, never a pleasent thing. For the most part, thankfully, the people in law enforcement that I have known or dealt with have been hard working and very caring.

      • I wouldn’t say this officer was corrupt although we do have some here of course. BUT because of the “attitude” and the us vs. them mentality, everyone in this cop’s mind is a criminal or a potential criminal except his “friends.”

    • Sounds like LVMPD or Clark Co. Sheriff’s Dept.

      • I’ve had ambulances barrel past me headed out of Wenatchee, them going at least twenty over the speed limit… and fifteen minutes later you pass them on the side of the road, sharing coffee with the ambulance from the next area over.

        Of course, I’m a bit homicidal about those drivers who don’t use their sirens until they’re up behind someone, too. I don’t know if they had the lights on before that, but they didn’t have the siren on until they were way too close, and turned it off afterwards. (Don’t know if the lights also went off, they went around a corner, but the driver seriously should’ve been charged with causing a road hazard. I wasn’t the only car that suddenly jerked a bit erratically.)

      • Part of the examples– the other was in Carson City–

    • My pet position is that there is nothing the police do that cannot be done better and at reduced cost by multiple private agencies. A cocommitant destruction of the cancers of “qualified immunity” and asset forfeiture would likely result by such a free market application.

      • Perhaps. If I recall correctly, the history of private police forces os not a nice one.

        • That’s why I said multiple. The honest competition of the free market has a negative impact on such practices. I do mean multiple not a choice for jurisdictions. I mean truly private not just a private company contracted to the state. Its never been tried before.

          • Sure it has, every time there’s a gang war.

            • I was unaware the the residents had contracted with the gangs. Thanks for that bit of information. It really is the fault of the locals then. The police should interfere with the execution of a legal contract of this type then, why do they?

              • I was unaware the the residents had contracted with the gangs.

                Do you seriously believe gangs are 100% imported and have no contact or contracts with the locals?

                For that matter, does being a member of a “competing agency” disqualify one from having a say in who is contracted?

                Who is THAT enforced by?

                In the US, we hold that it is not a legal contract– because the gangs do not have the right to privately enforce their version of justice, regardless of how much local support they have.
                Barring that baseline law– which, of course, must be barred if law enforcement is a contractual affair– the question of a legal contract depends entirely on the local gangs enforcement agencies.

                If they say being in their area is entering a contract, well, why should YOU get to say that it isn’t?

                • Have the residents said that they have contracted with the gangs? I know that when I lived on 28th street in Las Vegas I had no contract with the local gang. I do know that police response was measured in hours. Even though it was only a 20 minute walk to the station. Have you ever lived in such a place? I would have been overjoyed to be able to contact with an agency for emergency response and have the choice to cancel that contract for poor performance. Contracts are enforceable. That is the basis of the market and the whole damn point of government, any government.

                  • Have the residents said that they have contracted with the gangs?

                    You are aware that would be admitting a serious crime, right?

                    That said, you can look at the response when career criminals die as a result of their crimes; their community supports them. That you, personally, did not contract with a gang– why does that invalidate the agreements they have with members and supporters?

                    Contracts are enforceable.

                    By whom? You already established it couldn’t be done by the gov’t, because you specifically disallowed the gov’t contracting out enforcement– it’s entirely private.

                    The gangs– sorry, competing agencies– are to do it. They are specifically not bound by location, so there’s the additional issue of there not being a uniform set of rules– however poorly enforced– at all.

                    • You seem to be stuck on the idea the only possibility of enforcement is street level. The real enforcement the punishment comes from the judge. This is especially true in white collar crime like contractual law. But don’t let me interfere with your blinkered ideas which have brought us to this point. Any hope must come from change. I’ve pitched my idea, you pitch yours.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Sir, IMO the comment “your blinkered ideas” is just another way of accusing Foxfier of “having a closed mind”.

                      In my book, that means that your mind is closed to any ideas that contradict your “brilliant solution”.

                      IMO Foxfier should ignore anything you might say on this subject.

                      I know that I’m going to ignore anything you might say on this subject.

                    • In re: the comment “your blinkered ideas”

                      Thet thar is troll-talk, fella. We don’ much hold with isin’ thet kinda language to another Hun.

                      You want to use thet kinda language ’round heah, y’all better smile when you say it.

                    • You are right. You and her won’t concede a solution that does not concentrate power in the hands of unaccountable state employees and I will not countenance a solution that does not diffuse power away from said state.

                    • You and her won’t concede a solution that does not concentrate power in the hands of unaccountable state employees …

                      False assertion. I wager they would readily accept a solution concentrating power in the hands of accountable state employees, and that you would object to such concentration of power in unaccountable bodies, public or private.

                      Correctly stating a problem is typically the most critical part to its resolution. Avoiding such fallacies as excluded middle and ad hominem arguments also helps.

                      I venture to suggest you hold the opinion that no state body could possibly be accountable, while they doubt any private institution providing such service would likely be less accountable than the current public institutions to which you object. That would seem the appropriate ground for your argument.

                    • Who are the police accountable to?
                      Who could hold them accountable?
                      If the police are the sole investigative agency, who can reasonably be expected to investigate them?

                      With my private solution, they could at least hold each other accountable to a certain extent. I think market forces covering insurance would be an additional lever. I would think an uninsured agency wouldn’t be allowed to operate. This is all I got

                    • Who are the police accountable to?
                      They are accountable to the politically superior agencies, such as the commissioner, the mayor, the city council, and to duly brought suit for abuse of authority.

                      Who could hold them accountable?
                      See above. See also your own supposition of private agencies which could be granted legal authority to investigate the police.

                      If the police are the sole investigative agency, who can reasonably be expected to investigate them?
                      This is a tautological argument duly appended to your ongoing list of logical fallacies perpetrated.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Good statement of the positions.

                      To add on, I want a more accountable public policing agency. I really doubt that the private policing agencies would be more accountable than what we have now and that there would be other problems with the private agencies than “accountability”.

                    • Probably, but I know that instead I’ll keep looking for an actual argument for his solution, or at least an answer to an objection.

                    • You seem to be stuck on the idea the only possibility of enforcement is street level. The real enforcement the punishment comes from the judge.

                      No, because the “street level” is required in order for what the judge does to have any effect.

                      It takes law-making, law-enforcing and law-enterpreting in the three legged chair of having laws. Without the others, none of them do anything.

                      But don’t let me interfere with your blinkered ideas which have brought us to this point.

                      You have yet to answer a single objection or counter-argument, and already have to devolve into informing me of why I am wrong– while not being able to explain why you are right.

                      You’ve cut off half of an argument in order to try to counter it, and made a lot of emotional appeals. When do you actually start answering the really obvious problems that others point out?

                    • Really? What is a judge gonna do without anybody enforcing the orders?

                      I am dubious about the advisability of making Justice an acknowledged luxury good, available for those who can afford it. That may be the de facto situation, but should it be de jure?

                      What about the person on a budget who simply pays a gun hand to redress harm done?

                    • The judges order would be fulfilled by the private agency contracted to bring the crime to trial.
                      About the gun hand, I don’t know. What do we do now?
                      About the poor again I don’t know, but they rarely get justice now so are they any worse off?

                    • Crime to trial? What crime? You wrote of breach of contract. What if your broken contract was with the investigative agency, charging them with accepting a pay-off from a higher bidder?

                    • RES,

                      There is also the court of public opinion.

                      Would you counteract with a company known to not uphold their end of agreements?

                    • Public opinion? The court holding forth in Ferguson, the court that was on the verge of convicting the Duke Lacrosse team?

                      Not really a fan of it. Too often it has resorted to Judge Lynch and parades involving tar, feathers and rails.

                      I regularly contract with companies known to not uphold their contracts, as I know of NO company with a record of 100% performance. Do you know of any?

                    • So, you’re saying to contract with the agency who has the best PR agency?

                    • Wayne,

                      So! We have no personal responsibility in doing due diligence on background of those we do business with.

                      Today, You want to buy a chainsaw what brand do you go with?

                    • Ah, but your response specified “Public Opinion”, not “personal research”. “Public Opinion” can always be driven by good PR; there are any number of superior products that are no longer available because their inferior competition had better PR.

                      Ultimately, the ability of any liberty-minded system to protect the freedoms of its citizens comes down to a balance between the design of the system and the education and selfishness of the people for whom the system was designed. You, and other AC proponents, appear to believe that if your system were proposed, that the vast majority of people would be as self-analytical, self-protective, cynical and yet trusting in the will of others to follow the rules, and non-power-seeking as yourselves seem to be, from your arguments. That is, of course, assuming that you don’t actually want to promote such a system simply because it would vastly increase the chances to take advantage of the gullibility of others.

                      I, and I believe others who are arguing against your proposals, believe that 80-90% of humans are gullible, not merely self-interested but self-centered, horribly lacking in rationality, and not willing to put forth the effort to research every single interaction they have with the various vendors with which they do business, despite their PR ability, and generally only willing to do the minimum to get by in the world. Another 5-10% are predators and power-mongers who will prey on the 80-90%, and/or use some of them to force others to do their bidding, building a power base any way they can. We believe that a well-designed system, encompassing the whole of the People, with some designated as decision-makers, is a better long-term solution to protecting the 80-90% from the 5-10% predators. The system originally designed for this country was a good one, albeit with some flaws, but over time it has been eroded, and will need a long process of cleaning up, but it can be done, if the remaining 5-10% can be convinced to pull in the same direction.

                    • Oh, by the way, who wants this soapbox next?

                    • RES,


                      How is that any different than what you can do today.

                    • Swatting? That’s not what I proposed; what I described was more equivalent to putting a contract on a person. Swatting is already illegal and nothing in what is proposed seems likely to prevent it.

                      What safeguards would the privatization proposal offer against abuse? If they have authority to arrest, whence would that authority come? How about subpoena authority, crime scene investigation, compelling witness testimony and other aspects of case building?

                      How would such private enterprises handle disturbance of the peace, such as domestic violence, street fights, riots and extortion?

                      I have seen much handwavium about such privatization but am unconvinced of its effectiveness. The Devil is in the details and those details are appallingly few.

                      The flaws in our current system are at least known and (generally) manageable. Switching to the proposed alternatives bodes to be no better.

                    • RES,

                      What you ask is beyond the scope of a reply in the comments of this blog. I will provide links to some of the literature that addresses these concerns.




                      Wether or not this answers your concerns to your satisfaction is up to you.


                    • And unless you can quantify or at least explain how there will be benefits, you have no way to decide if they outweigh the cost of the disruption required to change it.

                    • Honestly this time I have to argue that a lack of court’s ability to assert its authority can be troublesome.


                      In a popular quotation that is believed to be apocryphal, President Andrew Jackson reportedly responded: “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” This derives from Jackson’s comments on the case in a letter to John Coffee, “…the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate,” (that is, the Court’s opinion because it had no power to enforce its edict).

                    • You (not you personally, a generic you) know there have been times and places in the US where gangs and the police were either one and the same or allies. And we are probably the most ‘rule of law’ country in history.

                      No, that doesn’t really have anything to do with either your or jselvy’s arguments, it is just that I immediately thought of Chicago during the prohibition and Boston in the 1800’s

                    • I know in various times and places in Northern California, the local gangs were there because the official enforcement was… um… lacking.

                      They were better than what they replaced, but both would be looked at with entirely rational horror from a modern perspective!

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Funny story. I’ve had no less than four buddies who served LDS missions that came back at the end of said missions and told variations on the following happening to them personally:
                      Very nice car comes up and the passenger offers to take the missionaries to lunch. The senior companion says it’s OK. They go get a wonderful Italian lunch. The man treating the missionaries to lunch says, “If you ever need anything, let me know.” He then instructs the driver to drop the missionaries off wherever they need to go. After being dropped off, the junior companion asks, “What was that all about?”
                      “They’re in the Mob, but they know who we are and what we stand for, and they like having us in the community.” If I recall right, one went to Chicago, one went to New York, another was in Italy. I don’t recall where the others were.

                      One buddy even got mugged by a gang member. The gang member, a couple of days later, mysteriously wound up with broken knees.

                      Another couple of buddies went to LA, Anaheim, etc. and used to play basketball with the street gangs there. The Latino gangs like playing ball with the Mormons, apparently, and put a beat-down on anybody who messes with them. One of them even had the tallest, skinniest redheaded companion he’d ever seen, and they were in Compton! 😀

                      Funny, some gangs do enforce forms of local justice on the streets.

                    • Funny, some gangs do enforce forms of local justice on the streets.

                      My aunt, while she was a student nurse, was walked home every night after the midnight shift by several armed Black Panthers– some of whom would trade Vietnam stories with my uncle.
                      Apparently they really liked having a hospital that wouldn’t refuse to let them in for fear of being brutalized.

                      That’s the seductive thing about gangs and other tribal enforcement mechanisms– as long as you’re not one of their targets, they’re really nice.
                      Sometimes the subjects of a lynch mob really are guilty, and getting away with it.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Yes. Breakdown of the nuclear family is one of the causes of the breakdown of law and order, but often street gangs are formed due to a breakdown in the relationship between law enforcement and the community. When you can’t trust those who enforce the law to do it fairly, you’re going to see people protect themselves from their enemies by one means or another, and it’s usually not a very pretty sight.

                    • often street gangs are formed due to a breakdown in the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

                      Because I feel the need to state this obvious point, more than because I think you don’t know:
                      a break between the “community” and law enforcement can occur just as easily because said community profits due to a violation of the law, as because the law enforcement cannot be trusted to do its job.

                      For a slightly funny example, that 70s pop-culture fad for trucking communities organized to evade taxes and road-law enforcement. 😀

                      (Yes, I know the honest truckers just don’t want to waste time… I also know dishonest ones don’t wanna get caught. And “avoid getting caught” is always OK when you’re doing it. *grin*)

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Snowman, this is the Bandit… 😀

                    • “to evade taxes and road-law enforcement”

                      That isn’t a crime, that is a civic duty. 🙂

                    • Foxfier,

                      So your argument boils down to monopolies are good because they are more consistent and their is less confusion.

                      Yes freedom is messy, because if given a choice some might choose poorly.

                    • Delightful argument for Rule by Mob rather than Rule by Law, Josh, but it misidentifies the issue with being murdered on suspicion by a lynch mob. It’s not because of a lack of consistency and confusion, nor is it a dislike of “messy” freedom. I don’t share your trust in the mob when it comes to them protecting my freedoms over their desires.

                    • Foxfier,

                      You guys like to frame this debate in an either or false choice argument of submit to a single monolithic monopoly or mob rule and chaos. That those are the only choice we on my side try to explain that these are not the only choices that we can use sound free-market principles to build a system with choice and accountability. I guess because don’t realize your arguments are the same arguments used by socialist to try to discredit capitalism (free-markets).

                      You can’t have business just do what ever they want they just prey on the customers.

                    • Josh, you statist stooge, you just demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the challenge. It is not that we are wedded to an accountable statist monopoly, it is that we perceive a lack of specificity in your proposed solution.

                      When you ask a rider to change horses in midstream, you must first demonstrate you’re offering a superior — or at least viable — mount.

                      Mostly what we’re perceiving is a hobby horse.

                    • RES,

                      That’s because I’m not a micromanager and I’m proposing is a free-market solution to our problems.

                      If you want, I can give you a detailed break down of exactly how I think things should be handled / done, and demand everyone follow it to the letter. But here is the deal that is not how free-markets work. It doesn’t require what one person or central committee come up with all the answers.

                      And you want a guaranty that what we will build will be better than what we got now. That’s not how life works.

                      Certain things that will be tried will work and some things will not. But as long is no one is trying to force only one solution as the only solution then we can innovate improving on what does while discarding what doesn’t.

                      That is the beauty of free-market systems.

                    • Josh,
                      You have consistently demonstrated a lack of willingness to think things through, hand-waving problems away with your “free markets find solutions” wand.

                      I have not demanded “a guaranty that what we will build will be better than what we got now. That’s not how life works.” I have said you need to provide a reasonable explanation for how your proposed alternative will be at least as adequate as the present system.

                      Frankly, at this point you have so demonstrated an inability to seriously address the issue I have no interest in pursuing the discussion further. I was advocating free market solutions before ever you found your mother’s teat, and being lectured on free markets by somebody who thiks they are the solution to everything is no less tiresome than being told how great sex is by the newly deflowered.

                    • RES,

                      Do you really want me to replicate on Sarah blog in as abbreviated form as I can, Austrian Economics and How Free-market principles work to regulate competing interests.

                      Greater minds than mine have written whole books on this (Like: ), and I’m pretty sure Sarah doesn’t ‘to want me to write a book. Maybe if I get something edited down short enough it could be a guest blog post… hmmmm???…

                      The answer is free-markets but the details are beyond my ability to explain in a short comment.


                    • Actually, Josh, I was hoping you would recognize the distinction between a drum and a dead horse and stop pounding.

                      And that you would stop insulting the largely libertarian lot of us who don’t meet your standards for church membership. You have about as sympathetic to your views a group as exists outside of those already enlisted in your crusade and you repeatedly do your best to alienate us. The answer to your failure to convince folks is NOT yelling louder, nor repeating the same argument with slightly different words, nor accusing people of being statist tools for not agreeing that the Free Market can solve EVERYthing.

                      For one thing, the Free Market has consistently failed the basic task of establishing and maintaining free markets.

                    • RES,

                      When have called any one here a statist tool?

                      The last paragraph is factually wrong.

                      Free markets spring up where there is a demand. If they are not approved of by the government powers that be, they just get labeled a black or grey market.

                      You think you are right, and I think you are wrong on this. You present your arguments and I mine. You find my arguments respective I hate to tell you this but I find your guys to be so as well. But I don’t tell you not to make them.

                    • Markets spring up – free markets? Let’s take another look at Bosnia’s Arizona Market returning to Lessons at

                      As noted there is trade and then again there is the white slave trade and so it goes.

                    • Clark,

                      Slavery is all ready wrong.

                      You don’t need two laws to cover it.

                      If owning people is wrong them selling them is already covered.

                    • Wait — there is a law against slavery? And yet it exists, in spite of government opposition. I guess free markets are needed to eliminate the practice.

                    • Josh, I haven’t told you not to make your arguments, I have told you that you are moving people away from your position, that your arguments are being counterproductive.

                      The paragraph you declare factually wrong is factually correct. Black and grey markets are not free markets.

                    • RES,

                      A Catch 22 it is.

                      I’m not trying to get you guys to come over to my side, though that would be great.

                      As has been pointed out this is a spectators sport. I make these arguments for those undecideds on the sidelines.


                      And as to that last parting shot…

                      So! The only way for a Free-market to be legitimate is for it to be controlled and regulated by a government?

                    • So! The only way for a Free-market to be legitimate is for it to be controlled and regulated by a government?

                      No — you’ve demonstrated once again your customary perspicacity: a black or grey market is not free because it operates under governmental constraints. Else it would not be black nor grey.

                    • You guys like to frame this debate in an either or false choice argument of submit to a single monolithic monopoly or mob rule and chaos.

                      No, actually the guy who started it decided to frame it as “the magical power of competition will fix things so completely that I don’t even have to answer a single objection, or display familiarity with current reality or how it worked in the past.”

                      I guess because don’t realize your arguments are the same arguments used by socialist to try to discredit capitalism (free-markets).

                      Only your special notion of “free market” that includes both no enforcement agency or mechanism, and magically eternal Sacred Contracts. (Well, those contracts you agree with as acceptable… but have no enforcement mechanism for.)


                      Not going to respond to you again on this topic unless you manage to actually argue for what you’re supporting, instead of arguing against a strawman and spending most of your time telling people why they think such wrong things…which you never bother to show as wrong by anything other than assertion.

                    • Foxfier,

                      It’s called if you are known to not keep your word and I knowing this still inter into a contract with you then I deserve what happens. You think that there is no conseques for breaking a contract and there is it’s called no one will do business with you and there is know one going to force them to. You want to continue to do business within the community then you are going to need to stay a person in good standing.

                      You guys are so used to being able to turn to government you don’t know how to live without it.

                    • You want to continue to do business within the community then you are going to need to stay a person in good standing.

                      I can choose the grocery store, but I don’t know everyone who grows and processes my food. I can choose my pharmacy and my doctor, but I don’t know the people who make my medicine. I can research the vehicle before buying and chose my mechanic, but I don’t know the people who make the parts for my car.

                    • The magical wand of “everybody will know they cheat and stay away” doesn’t actually work. Your entire idea of ‘free market’ is built on perfect knowledge, and accusing those who point out problems of being blinded.

                      You’re projecting. It’s annoying.

                    • CACS & Foxfier,

                      No it is not.

                      One possible solution to the perceived problem:

                      What I do know is the solution to the problem of people having choices is not to limit those choices; that is slavery, but to make sure that the choices people can make are as wide as possible, that is freedom.

                    • Josh-
                      You’ve jumped into the strident, rationality free “yeah-huh!” zone again. Not going to engage you on it, because you can’t be bothered to even pay attention to what others have actually been saying for the last day or so on the topic.

                    • … can’t be bothered to even pay attention to what others have actually been saying for the last day or so …

                      Sorta undermines his own argument about public opinion and voluntary exchange, don’t he? Religious zealots can be like that. They are also prone to the fallacy of the excluded middle, such as viewing the world as a binary freedom/slave paradigm.

                    • 1) Don’t harm other people and 2) Respect their property

                      ( …3) That part of nature that you transform and make valuable becomes yours — serves as a definition of what is property…)

                      These are great principles. I may agree to these principles. You may agree to these principles. The problem is that history teaches us that not everyone agrees.

                      So you get to 4) A violation of these principles is an attempt to live at the expense of others and cannot be allowed.

                      How do you do that? The Arbitrator becomes the new government.

                      (I can’t help but think of what little I know of what arbitration has done to baseball.)

                      I suggest you read more history. Look at how people have actually behaved and treated each other. You seem to think that man can set up a system that makes him perfectible.

                    • I suggest you read more history. Look at how people have actually behaved and treated each other. You seem to think that man can set up a system that makes him perfectible.

                      Something I’ve noticed is that a lot of the no-govt solutions work very well if you can assume a very strong, very similar group ethic– we’re talking along the lines of “same discipline of monk, and not always then,” rather than “all go to the same church”– and above-modern-levels-of-intrusive-data-gathering knowledge.

                      They make wonderful sense because they are custom tailored for the type of person that made them– not “identical,” but “similar temptations, strengths and weaknesses.”

                      Think like in Witchfinder where one supporting character simply couldn’t grasp what his father found attractive about ‘having power,’ but through the entire person. Look at how often people here stand around tearing our hair out because someone SIMPLY CAN’T SEE what they’re walking right into!

                    • Has there ever been an anarchist society that worked?

                      Yes, many thousands of them. For their first million years or more, all humans lived as hunter-gatherers in small bands of equals, without hierarchy or authority. These are our ancestors. Anarchist societies must have been successful, otherwise none of us would be here. The state is only a few thousand years old, and it has taken that long for it to subdue the last anarchist societies, such as the San (Bushmen), the Pygmies and the Australian aborigines.

                      Oh really?

                    • OMG. No. This is all an invention of crazy Rousseunians. It’s like the great matriarchy, a perversion of the story of Eden. Humans lived in autarchic monarchies and strong men regimes. The rest is noble-savage eye-wash.

                    • That source left out those societies achieved their noble ends because they rode unicorns.

                    • Sarah,

                      You have a point about them over hyping that it was some type of paradise or utopia. Whether or not anyone would want to live under those condition is different than saying it is impossible or can’t be done. My point that it is possible, and just as sustainable as our current system that is falling apart.

                      I believe we are getting to the point where some of the inherent flaws in the old system and our natural tendency of looking to others to provide our sense of security can be over come.

                      The best so far that we have been able to do is down at the Minarchist level, which is still relying on others for your security. And make you dependent on those providing that service. (I’ll use dependent instead of slave from now on. 😉 )

                      I can live under a Minarchist Society if it makes everyone feel safer, I’m free no matter what.

                    • CACS

                      Not against government but against the belief that the State should hold a monopolistic control over the use of force.

                    • Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

                      Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

                      But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

                      Abraham Lincoln
                      November 19, 1863

                      Note: It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

                      Whatever you say about how much power was seized by the government under President Lincoln during the war that lead up to the battle that is cause of this speech, we would do well to remember this last line. The great American experiment is based on the belief that the government was subject to the people, not that the people were subject to government.

                    • CACS, Agreed!

                      I just wish the government (as an aggregated) believed it.


                    • And another thing, When you try to protect people from the wrong choices the only way to do that is to take the ability or the power to choose from them. This leads to:

                    • You talk about free-market hiring of protection from criminals. I start thinking about how the less than ethical have formed protection rackets.

                      Whatever system you use, if you are to have any rules in society, you still will come back to the question of who will make sure that the ones hired to enforce the rules follow the rules.

                      Sometimes the free market solution is not a higglety pigglety arrangement of independents. At one time Philadelphia had a system of independent fire companies. A company would only put out fires in houses or businesses that had subscribed to that company. This caused problems, as once a fire gets going in a city it becomes harder to put out. It was decided a single integrated system would be better for all.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      IIRC ancient Rome had a similar system of “independent fire-fighters”.

                      Apparently some of these groups were willing to start fires to drum up business.

                      Oh, one fiction book had such a group burning down the wrong person’s home.

                      IE he had the wealth/power to set the law on them and caught them in the act.

                      They had to leave Rome very very fast. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                    • CACS,

                      Some might not buy health insurance, so it has been decided that what is needed is universal healthcare.

                    • There is a difference. If don’t buy health insurance theoretically you pay. If your neighbor does not subscribe to a fire company, his house catches fire and this results in a major conflagration that takes your house as well you pay. I believe I was clear that the this was a primary reason for people choosing consolidation of services?

                    • CACS,

                      Why is the neighbor not responsible for any damages and harm caused, and making restitution there of.

                      Plus what is preventing the fire department from putting out the fire if it moves to your property. His home owners insurance is what you hope he has for quick recovery of your losses.

                      Or thinking outside of the box, what would keep some one from providing a restitution loan services. Then it would be no different than paying down on a mortgage credit card debt.

                      Instead we just feel the need to force everyone into what we think needs to happen.


                    • I have put forth situations that have happened, and the decisions that real people have subsequently made to address the problems.

                      Once a fire has become large enough to spread in a city it takes much more to put it out. (I mentioned that when I first described the situation, didn’t I?) Philadelphia started requiring the use of brick walls between row houses because of an early fire that gone out of control. Chicago also had its own issues with fire spreading.

                      The fact that the neighbor is responsible for the monetary damage still does not make you any less homeless for the moment nor does it replace family items. Forbid there should have been loss of life. If your neighbor isn’t paying for fire company protection, he might have chosen not to have homeowner’s insurance as well. What if the neighbor does not have the funds to swing a loan from a restitution service — particularly after loosing his own home?

                    • Look up the term “judgement-proof”: it means you are too broke to collect damages from, and we don’t have debtor’s prisons.

                    • See answer I gave lot CACS.

                      Plus an addendum of why not? Bankruptcy is legalized plunder/theft. And we wonder why people are under so much debt. It’s simple we removed the moral hazard by saying don’t worry if you get to far into the whole you can f*ck over your creditors.

                    • Bankruptcy is legalized plunder/theft“?

                      So, somebody who has lost all tangible property because a carpenter had driven a nail through an improvidently routed wiring conduit and whose insurance will barely cover their mortgage (property values having gone down because of living in a neighborhood of rugged individualists who only minimally maintain their properties) should do what? Suck it up and pay 120% of all future earnings (meager as they might be as a result of losing all tools in a disastrous fire) to settle damage to neighboring properties? Sounds likely a person in such straits could commit suicide and leave the neighbors uncompensated, or flee the territory for parts unknown.

                      Bankruptcy is shared risk, recognition that the lender assumes some portion of the borrower’s risk (that assumption of risk is a component of the interest charged) in the event that circumstances beyond the borrower’s control prevent repayment. Such circumstances, in the largely agrarian society in which the practice developed, might include early droughts, late hail storms, incapacitation due to illness at harvest and/or plagues of locusts.

                      Terming such exigencies “legalized plunder/theft” indicates an interesting perspective.

                    • Yah, I know holding people accountable for their actions radical.


                      If the home owner can show that the carpenter was at fault then make a claim against them. But it is their house did they not have the electrical inspected when they bought the house or after the work was done?

                      To the bankruptcy. Interest is the cost for using someone else money to buy something you want today instead of saving up for it and buying it later. The person in debt still has the moral obligation to pay it back in full.

                      This more of that pushing our personal responsibilities on to others.

                      Life happens, some times it sucks, but those around us are not morally responsible to try and make it suck less, if life isn’t going our way. If those around us do help out that is a bonus, and not to be expected as some type of implied obligation on their part.

                    • Still displaying lack of reading skills, there, Josh. I see no reason to respond in depth as you fail to demonstrate acceptance any moral responsibility to make and effort to understand what is said.

                    • RES,

                      As I stated earlier my response is not only for you but those reading the blog; so as to get both sides.

                    • That would explain your refusal to honestly engage points made against your arguments. You aren’t interested in engaging in exchange of thoughts, merely using this as a platform for proselytization.

                    • RES,

                      Isn’t that what Larry and Sarah do?

                      Me and you are never going on everything. Am I not supposed to say when I think you are getting it wrong?

                      Yes I want to get AC message out there, and the only way I know to do that is discuss it with people.

                      I like discussing things with you. You make me think, What I don’t like is if don’t get back exactly the answer you are looking for or addressed some point that has been brought in the discussion yet. I get my honesty and morals questioned.

                      My motivation is two fold I like having these discussions and those not participating in them might be motivated to look deeper into AC thought.

                      Nothing more nothing less.

                    • I’ve been following this thread the entire time. I have yet to read anything that even remotely defines what “AC thought” actually is. Your rambling comments leave me believing that you don’t know, or, alternatively, are unable to express what it is you’re talking about.

                    • Marty,

                      AC = Anarcho-Capitalism or Free-Market Anarchist.

                      “Brief explanation of anarcho capitalism

                      The free market is efficient and just.
                      People have the right to forcibly defend their property, and part of their property rights is the right to travel, to move goods about, and to make deals with those who are willing to make deals.
                      Freely competing groups without territorial monopoly can uphold justice and defend people. Enforcement should protect person and property, and not redistribute wealth, etc.
                      Anarcho Capitalists argue that private enterprise can provide law enforcement, and the market place can resolve disagreements about what the law is and what the law means.
                      Anarchists are not opposed to leaders and leadership, nor to law and laws – What anarchists oppose is that certain leaders should have a special privilege to use force, a privilege to coerce, to compel others to submit to their leadership, to use force in ways that would be impermissible for other people to use force. Anarchists favor there being more leaders, not no leaders – as many leaders as can find followers. Similarly, anarchists do not oppose law, but rather oppose the existence of any body of men with the power to make law by merely decreeing it to be law.




                      And your not wrong this conversation has roam about, and I am pretty horrible at communicating in the written word. I’m a work on it.

                    • Isn’t that what Larry and Sarah do?

                      In Sarah’s case? No.

                      She makes arguments, answers objections and generally acts to persuade people rationally– she doesn’t just yell that they’re wrong, X Y or Z solves every objection just because, and the only way you can think otherwise is because you hate or fear freedom.

                      She may point out that specific fears aren’t reasonable– but when she does, she gives actual reasons why. Not “it will just work,” but real world examples and logic that would work on someone who doesn’t already totally agree.

                    • Foxfier,

                      Don’t tell RES but I’ll work on better explanations on Austrian Economics and Free-market principles. About how they are the basis for all human interaction.

                    • If you really want to improve the sales pitch, head over to some Christian blogs like Wintery Knight’s place. Their whole thing is how to persuade people who don’t agree with 90% of your primary sources.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Foxfier, Sarah has called for an end to this conversation. (I just told Josh about Sarah’s request.)

                    • Wasn’t continuing the conversation, Paul, was suggesting where he could find examples to get what he wants.

                      I don’t *think* he’s big on religion, so it should be something different enough that he can see techniques….

                    • Foxfier,


                      Funny thing is I think the conversation had already turn away from a discussion of AC principles and on to the nature of how to have a discussion between people that agree on so much.

                      There are some points I want to make on this but they will have to wait till next time.


                      Thanks I’ll try to look into the other site, but this one keeps me pretty busy as it is.


                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Josh, Sarah has called for an end to this conversation.

                    • Josh,
                      I think I grasp your confusion here, which is the only reason I disregard the request to stop flogging.

                      It is not that I and others here do not understand Austrian Economics and Free-market principles, it is that we don’t think them implementable. Therefore you keep barking up the wrong tree. You are in the position of one trying to sell us all Mercedes who, when we reject that vehicle, assumes we like walking.

                      As Sarah has said, there is a good reason she (and I and many others here) be lower case libertarian but have rejected the Upper Case.

                      I now bid this topic adieu.

                    • Sarah and Larry do it on their own, bought and paid for, soapboxes.

                      If you don’t like having your honesty and morals questioned, stop asserting that anybody who doesn’t share your view is a willing slave, stop misrepresenting their arguments/questions, stop cherry-picking their points for the circumstance fitting most neatly to the answer you have cocked and loaded — in short, try honestly engaging with others rather than impugning their honesty and morals.

                      Try removing the beam from your own eye. ESPECIALLY when your arguments mostly consist of proclaiming your superior morality and adherence to freedom.

                    • For a fact: bought a house, hiring a known and respected person to do the inspection. Said inspection did not show a couple of problems — because to find them the integrity of the house would have had to be compromised. Have addressed them as we found them. The builder is no longer in the area, but by the time we purchased the house it had been though several owners, so that is moot.

                      Interest is charged to cover the various risks made by the party making a loan is, not just as a forfeiture because a person wants today what they do not yet have the capital acquired to purchase. It also involves a loaner. The loaner puts up capital to make money off it, part of why they are able to make the money is the risk they are taking.

                      Life happens, often beyond our control and beyond reasonable anticipation. You might take that into account yourself. You suggest we should all take responsibility for ourselves; we don’t disagree. But we are all subject to actions and circumstances that are beyond our control. You might look at why the various systems we have were put in place before you suggest they be abandoned.

                      You might consider that your suggestions ultimately will only work if the whole world takes them up, too much of what is on the market has been produced on a multi-national level.

                    • CACS,

                      OH, I understand this and at no point have I suggested that we could just flip a switch over to an AC society. Though I will admit not all of my brethren do.

                      But just because this is the best we can do now doesn’t mean I have to agree with it or condone it. It does mean that I have to live and work within it though.


                      I’m going to continue working toward my ideal; which, right now means spreading the word to them that needs the telling.

                      (Was the preachy overtones to much?)

                    • (Was the preachy overtones to much?)

                      Unfortunately yes. If you want to sell your point of view you might work on your presentation. You might try considering how someone such as John Stossel manages to communicate and support his arguments.

                    • CACs,

                      There are two issues being conflated in your example.

                      1) Prevention of Fires

                      2) And the Recovering from damages.

                      Forcing your neighbor to pay for the fire department will not protect your property.

                      Fire departments are there to prevent the spread of fire. They can do this buy putting it out or controlling the burn so it doesn’t spread.

                      Forcing your neighbor to pay for fire department is not going to mean that if a fire starts at his house it could still spread to yours house , as their is no guaranties, that you will be able to recover expenses lost property.

                      I didn’t make myself clear the loans are made with a lean on future earnings where you agree to pay a certain amount out of your paycheck. Say you need $100,000 to cover liability harm you caused. Then you agree to pay back say $120,000 a 20% one time fee. No compounding interest and no debt slavery.

                      But for today what I recommend and is possible under our cure system is a volunteer fire department system and everyone should have home or renters insurance to cover personal liability and if they don’t they should still 100% liable. Do not need AC society for this.

                    • You are the one that made the suggestion that a solution to a neighbor not having subscribed to a fire company would be that the neighbor be financally responsible for the results …

                      Fire companies do not prevent fires.

                    • “At one time Philadelphia had a system of independent fire companies. A company would only put out fires in houses or businesses that had subscribed to that company. This caused problems, as once a fire gets going in a city it becomes harder to put out. It was decided a single integrated system would be better for all.”


                      This how I would deal with this problem.

                      A house catches fire the local fire department shows up and puts out the fire. After the fact the auditor comes a long and looks to see if the house was one of the ones to pay a small monthly fee (say $20) to the department, if not the the amount of the cost to putting out the fire (Say $10,000) is then billed to the owner of the house. How he pays this bill is up to the them.

                    • Suppose he refuses to pay on the grounds that the fire was set by the fire company as inducement to subscribe/object lesson to other non-subscribers. Suppose further that while he absolutely knows this to be true he has no proof admissible in court. Supposition of what such factual knowledge might derive from is left as an exercise for the reader.

                      On what do you base your presumption of a small monthly fee? Firefighting equipment is expensive to buy and maintain and firefighters need to maintain training and have living expenses served. What if the fire company goes bankrupt (legally plunders their subscribers, if you prefer)?

                      Don’t bother to respond — the questions are just to point out a few of the unaddressed assumptions in your response, and any additional response on your part will fall into the TL/DR file.

                    • RES,

                      This not based on assumptions but real life experience dealing with Volunteer Fire Departments.

                      Just because you don’t know the answer, I haven’t addressed an unvoiced concern of yours. I’m addressing those concerns that are voiced, unless you want me to try to address every possible concern or objection people might have in the comments of Sarah’s blog.


                    • “That’s because I’m not a micromanager ”

                      Pity, because the devil is in the details. Saying “Eat less and exercise more” is no good as a dieting plan; you need the details. So, too, here.

                      I note that the gang examples are strictly enforced by a societal code that acts as an overarching governmental function. A bit loosey-goosey, but certainly better than many anarchies the world has seen.

                    • I note that the gang examples are strictly enforced by a societal code that acts as an overarching governmental function. A bit loosey-goosey, but certainly better than many anarchies the world has seen.


                      There’s a reason that people form them rather than be at the mercy of the biggest thug around, and why they are later abandoned in favor of more accountable groups.

                    • William O. B'Livion


                      Just dropping this in the fire.

                    • WTF…

                      I’m going to continue reading but he lost me at , “It was not my intention to provide such a “tough nut to crack” by arguing the general case, claiming that a person who hires a hit man is not guilty of murder under libertarian principles.” proves he does understand that this would be a violation of a persons right to life under most libertarian principles that I’m aware of.

                    • “There’s a reason that people form them rather than be at the mercy of the biggest thug around,”

                      Sometimes you form them so that you are at the mercy of the biggest thug around — but as a condition of that, said thug has to ensure that none of the lesser thugs are a nuisance.

                    • Ah, but initially the biggest thug sees no reason to join. It’s only after he stops winning all the time that he has any reason to enter into the tradeoffs involved. (If they had foresight to realize that they wouldn’t always be young and strong, they wouldn’t be thugs.)

                    • ” You think that there is no conseques for breaking a contract and there is it’s called no one will do business with you and there is know one going to force them to. ”

                      People break contracts regularly and still manage to find people who do business with them.

                    • Yes,

                      But saying it happens doesn’t absolve you of your personal responsibility of due diligence. And a layer of rules and regs isn’t going to stop people from the fraud of misrepresenting themselves, but what it will do is give you a false sense of security and it is no longer your responsibility to know who you are doing business with.

                    • Actually some of the biggest thugs do have enough foresight to see that they won’t always be young and strong. Sometimes they don’t have to lose, they just have to realize that they will net more, or at least net a guaranteed plentiful amount at lesser risk, by running the protection racket and keeping all the smaller thugs away from the ‘sheep.’
                      Not all thugs are mentally challenged idiots; just most of them.

                    • In real life, yes.
                      In real life, though, folks have already accepted the progression from individual to sympathy-accountable group to formally accountable group…. for the ‘imagine no gov’t’ things to work, you’ve got to assume something like a really simplified group of teens or folks who have absolutely rejected all organizations until proven useful, or something.

                    • “Ah, but initially the biggest thug sees no reason to join.”

                      Of course he does. Everyone agrees to pay tribute in some form or another.

                    • That’s true if none of the smaller people are willing to organize a defense, too, and then he doesn’t share.

                      About the only place I’ve seen this work is unsupervised areas at school, and it doesn’t generally take long before people start joining sides. (if only because someone takes a strike of opportunity when the thug is busy with someone else)

                    • “Fire departments are there to prevent the spread of fire. They can do this buy putting it out or controlling the burn so it doesn’t spread.”

                      Since every city and practically every town in the US has enough common sense to have a fire department that puts out fires as soon as they are called; examples are somewhat limited* in that respect. But why don’t you go get a job next summer fighting wildfires, get back to us on how well controlling a burn works after the federal government has allowed it to grow to thousands of acres because it started in the wilderness (or simply on National Forest) and it is ‘natural’ and ‘fire is a good thing’. That is a very similar situation to a fire in a crowded city where you don’t put it out immediately because the first three houses to be immolated hadn’t paid for your services, by the time you get to the fourth house that did bother to pay.

                      *I almost have a real life example of this, where we started a fire while working that was only a rock throw from the town fire station, but because we were a couple hundred feet outside the city limits, they wouldn’t respond. Luckily we were able to keep it out of the creek draw (filled with powder dry brush) that ran through the center of town, and contain the fire to only about a half an acre until the rural fire dept. responded from twenty miles away. An old retired guy from town came up and helped us, and between the three of us we were able to keep it under control while only suffering mild burns and blisters, but we only did that because one side of the fire was a freshly harvested and disked field, and we were lucky enough that no wind came up.

                      Oh and when the rural fire truck arrived, it was from the department of State Lands, with the head honcho from the office driving it; because everybody else was already out on other fires and he was all that was available.

                    • Bearcat,

                      No need just look at Cali wildfires. No one wants to spend the money to clear out the underbrush from around their homes and neighborhoods so each year they burn down and even more money is spent fighting the fires than would have been spent clearing the brush out.

                    • You’re leaving out one essential factor: Many times, state and federal environmental regulations prohibit the homeowner from clearing the brush. Who pays then?

                    • If it state and federal land them the state should as a tax cost saving measure and they should pay the fire departments to do it if they are worried about them loosing revenue.

                      If we going to have taxes the lest they could do is spend it wisely. 🙂

                      Sorry tried to say that last part with a straight face.


                    • Mostly those regulations are imposed under the Endangered Species Act.

                      Your proposals generally fail to recognize the problems of items owned in common. They also generally fail to address unowned chattel, such as deer, feral hogs, dogs and cattle.

                    • RES,

                      I address the Commons.

                      If it is under the control of the state then it is the responsibility of state and Federal to spend our tax dollars well on it’s up keep. They can spend less money clearing brush or more fighting fires.

                      If there is no a State then who is going to prevent you and others from your community from clear the brush out around your homes and managing the commons for everyone’s benefit?

                    • Once again, Josh, you demonstrate a failure to comprehend what you read.

                      The specific situation referenced with California’s brush clearing regime was private property regulated by the state and federal government for the benefit of a common good — endangered species habitat. Your response fails to address that. You object that the State has no authority to so regulate. I agree. The State does not. This is an issue other than your failure to address the commons as represented by wildlife.

                      Saying you address the Commons is not quite the same as actually addressing the Commons. Your proposals still consist entirely of handwavium and claims of moral obligations.

                      I agree about moral obligations. If all men shared the same standards of moral obligation and held to those there would be no need for government.

                      If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

                    • Private property… commons ???

                      How is it protecting the wildlife’s habitat by allowing it and any of those poor endangered animal to burn up?

                      If they have assumed the authority stop needed work from being done then they have also assumed responsibility of taking care of it.

                      If it is a state or Federal controlled common interest not just owned to use some of their hard earned tax dollars to take care of the problem. I would prefer them to not wast tax doll doing so.

                    • As I assume the questions rhetorical I decline to expand the discussion. My time is more productively used explaining to neighborhood cats why they should not prey on birds.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Much easier job than convincing Josh of anything. [Evil Grin]

                    • I will admit to having a some what of a thick scull.

                      See I can be reasonable.


                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Which is why we still like you. [Smile]

                    • Clark E Myers

                      two oars in the water anyway

                    • Josh, I think the thread has reached the unproductive point. Kindly stop flogging the deceased equine, yes?

                    • The horse is pate. 😎

                    • It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, pushing up daisies, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It has gone to the Fields Elysian.

                      Why yes, I am a member in good* standing of the Dead Parrot Society.

                      *For certain values of “good” — may not apply in all states. Should not be used before operating heavy machinery.

                    • P.S.

                      Workmen’s comp want cover any but those hurt in the process doing there job. If the fire is out of there area they are not covered.

              • Read The Syndic by Cyril M. Kornbluth.

                Heck, read any everything by Cyril M. Kornbluth.

                Gutenberg loves you.

            • Mary,

              I’m going to go though and answer all the questions brought up in your example.

              But first off, unless this the very first time these groups have come into conflict there would already have been president on how to handle all of this.

              Things don’t just happen in a vacuum where you have to come up with solutions on the fly.

              And I guess everyone is just willing to go to war over everything and the fear of death isn’t a great motivator to come to some type of accommodation.

              And I will start from the same basic starting point two different legal codes living next to each other. Because if they are then they would already have come to some form of accommodation or they would have already went to war and only one of them would have serviced to be in effect within the community.

              • I note that if you introduce your scheme, there IS going to be a very first time. That’s what a precedent is.

                • Mary we already have common law in place will just scrap all of that start from zero.[sarc]

                  All we are suggesting is returning to that as the guide and stop layering criminal and civil laws on top of it making the application of the law such a mess. We already have a tradition of doing what I suggest all we have done is layer a bunch a stuff on top of it.

              • “And I will start from the same basic starting point two different legal codes living next to each other.”

                I thought the whole point was competing providers on the same turf? Because “move to a new provider” is what we got now.

                • Not competing legal codes, but competing services providers.

                  • Oh really? and who’s going to compel a service provider to enforce the law? All the law?

                    • Mary,

                      Do you need to be forced to not talk with your mouthful of food at the Christmas Party. If not why.

                      If someone gets drunk and out of hand…?

                      The principles of Conflict Communication and Resolution are universal and can be scaled up or down. Though we have lived in a relatively peaceful society that we have forgotten how to resolve conflict in our own lives. Our first response today is to call someone else and make it there problem, and if we don’t like how they solved the problem bitch about it.

                      The cops are out of control….

                      The governments out of control…


                    • P.S.

                      If you haven’t please read up on Customary Law and how the validity of Law is held by the communities themselves. That those laws that communities find acceptable will be followed those that are unacceptable will not be. No matter what those in charge think the law should be.

                    • “Do you need to be forced to not talk with your mouthful of food at the Christmas Party. If not why.”

                      Given that I have seen people who do talk with their mouth full, moot point. All you need is one to make a problem.

      • I used to laugh at Panamanian politicians who had immunity in their own country. BY dang– we are seeing it now in our own country.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        If I’m speeding, how do I know that the “private agency” patrol car has the authority to ask me to stop or slow down?

        • That’s a good question. I don’t really have an answer. How do you know that the car pulling you over now is really a highway patrolman?

          • Uniforms, lights, and heavy enforcement against those who falsely claim to be a member when they are not.

            • So uniform, lights, badges and other accoutrement are the mark of the authority to issue correction. Why would a private agency not have these things? Imposters have these things, which is why single women driving alone are encouraged to contact dispatch if they are pulled over by an unmarked car. Price being the sole reason why the car is not marked.
              As far as uniforms go, I had one when I was a guard. Private company, private contract. Why would the trappings suddenly disappear?
              Your argument is specious.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            While there is the possible problem of somebody driving a fake cop car, the assumption is that anybody in a cop car has the authority to ask me to stop.

            By what authority do private agencies have to arrest, to question, etc people suspected of crimes?

            Of course, if there are multiple private agencies operating in an area, which private agency has more “authority” than another private agency?

            If I’m questioned by one private agency which decides that I’m not a suspect, what’s to stop the other private agencies from questioning me or even arresting me?

            It’s bad enough when a person can be found innocent by the local justice system but can be tried by the Feds for something related to the crime that the locals could not prove I was guilty of, but what happens when I have to deal with multiple private agencies all thinking that I committed a crime?

            The Police have, at best, the accepted (ie legitimate) authority to arrest, to question me, etc. That would be IMO lacking with private agencies like you are talking about.

            In addition, who pays for these private agencies? People who want the agencies to solve a crime against them? What happens to people who can’t afford to hire the private agencies? Or do the private agencies charge fees that are to be paid “for their protection” to everybody in the area that they are operating in? Does everybody have to pay each of the agencies operating in the area? What happens if a person refuses to pay these fees to one or more of the agencies?

            There are problems with the Police misusing their legitimate authority but IMO the solution is not to create multiple private agencies to do their job.

            • People already pay for a useless and abusive service, why could they not pay for a good one?
              Police powers all derive from the citizen. That is a basic tenet of Peel and the lynchpin of the republic. You have powers of arrest. What you do not have is the immunity from damages if you’re wrong. All institutional corruption derives from this. If there is no recourse for the citizen against a bad cop it produces the system we have now. This is unacceptable.
              The way I see it working is a citizen (who now pays significantly reduced taxes) contracts for emergency response. The investigative service he goes to investigates the crime and presents the evidence to a judge for a warrant (BTW this is what the police are supposed to do). If they convince the judge a warrant for arrest is issued. Legally the i’s are dotted due to concerns over suits of law from wrongly accused citizens. The warrant is executed (which is saying a lot with few words). The evidence is now presented in court to a new judge and is ruled on accordingly.
              If the contracting agency is incompetent or malicious they will lose their insurance or bond and may face charges themselves, something that almost never happens to cops.
              This is the only way I can see to divorce the various persons present in every trial. If you face charges, the only person in the courtroom not working for the state is you and maybe your lawyer, if you don’t have a public defender. Their worldview doesn’t often allow for the idea that the cop may be perjuring himself. Your own reaction to the idea of private criminal investigation give hope that any statement by a private investigator would be treated with the same skepticism as any other witness statement.

              • “Their worldview doesn’t often allow for the idea that the cop may be perjuring himself.”

                I don’t really agree with your idea, but this statement right here does give it a lot of merit. I have attended a very limited number of trials, but I have NEVER attended one where investigating or arresting officers did NOT perjure themselves. And the best case scenario simply involved the cases being thrown out. Never was the officer punished for this (in one particularly blatant case, where the officer repeatedly lied under oath, about facts that were in the radio transcripts that were already admitted into evidence, the judge did stand him up at the front of the courtroom and ream him out, but that was the extent of the consequences for an officer that had repeatedly been proven on numerous cases to lie) and in most cases the fact that the officer lied under oath was simply dismissed and everything that couldn’t be proven to be a lie was assumed to be the truth. And in the cases where the was no incontrovertible prove that they were lying (one of these I was present at the time of the incident and witnessed it) the officers word was accepted over all protestations to the contrary; because they are an officer of the law, and therefore are considered more trustworthy than a mere citizen.

                • I couldn’t come up with another solution that had any hope of ending this. When an agency investigates itself, the results are necessarily suspect. So “internal affairs” doesn’t work. Police are not punished for blatant perjury. You or I would get significant jail time for that magnitude of infraction.
                  If you got a way to divorce this incestuous relationship between the DA, the judge and the cops I’d love to read it

                  • That requires a premise that there must be a solution, and therefore if there is no other, this must be it.

                • CombatMissionary

                  A real quick solution is to write the law so as to allow anyone against whom charges were brought to file suit against the cop who perjures himself. Don’t allow for large damages, but bar the officers from ever serving in law enforcement again if found guilty of perjury, filing false reports, etc.

              • CombatMissionary

                I have to disagree with you there. Citizens are not paying for a useless and abusive service. There are useless and abusive cops, certainly. But if useless and abusive cops were the rule, we wouldn’t hear about police abuse and corruption, because the journalists would wind up dead, and it wouldn’t be news. We hear about problems with abusive cops and the militarization of police largely because it’s the exception, NOT the rule.

                Further, arrest powers, while derived from the citizenry, are codified and the only limiting factor is NOT damages. You can face criminal prosecution and wind up in jail for false arrest and/or kidnapping, depending on your state laws. Even cops don’t have unlimited arrest powers. When I went through the academy in the People’s Republic of California, we were authorized to arrest outside our jurisdiction for misdemeanors we personally witnessed, or if we had reason to believe a felony had been committed, but not for infractions or for misdemeanors we hadn’t witnessed personally. The law has probably changed some since then, but that was the gist of it. NOBODY has blanket arrest powers.

                That’s not to mention that some officers can and do abuse the power of the pen and perjure themselves, but were the exception. They also didn’t last very long, because you might get away with it today or tomorrow, but in a world with home video cameras (and cell phone cameras are everywhere now), eventually you’d get caught perjuring yourself somehow, and then NOBODY would hire you, because your testimony became useless in any trial forever after, because any minimally useful defense attorney could discredit you as a witness in about a tenth of a second. The power of hidden cameras and the internet is addressing this problem over time. We shouldn’t be so hasty to throw out our entire criminal justice system just because it has problems. That’s as short-sighted as people seeing some rich people abusing their wealth and demanding the free market be thrown out. Let’s fix the problems in the existing system, don’t lets throw it out and reinvent the wheel.

                • I agree with you on most points, our system is better than most in history and we shouldn’t throw it out unless we are sure we have a better one to replace it. On the other hand we do have problems and we need to work on fixing them, as you say, instead of reinventing the wheel.
                  From personal experience (and yes the plural of anecdote IS data, it is simply suspect data) the problem of officers lying is much more prevalent* than you assume, and no it doesn’t actually seem to adversely affect their career. Yes, defense lawyers do use this to attempt to discredit officers, however, many judges (and a fair number of private citizens, who comprise juries) assume that “officers of the law” are automatically more reliable than average citizens, and obviously more reliable than criminals, so if the officer is lying… well they are probably lying a lot less than the defendant or his witnesses; after all he has much less to gain by lying than they do. The fact he has little to nothing to lose by doing so is ignored.

                  *I have friends that are officers who I assume do not perjure themselves, I however have never attended a trial where they took the stand.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    Yeah. I think much could be accomplished with body cameras and by making requirements barring perjurers from working in law enforcement. “Oh, yeah, Frank? He lied on the stand, and the judge found out. He’s out of law enforcement for life.”
                    [COLD SHIVER]
                    “Note to self…”

                    • CM,

                      Can we hold the polititions to the same standards; though U might of just crossed over into “That’s Crazy Talk Land.”

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Would to G-d that felony convictions, perjury, tax evasion and corruption would be permanent bars to serving in ANY political capacity in our country!

                      Still, I guess the Democrat party has to find candidates somewhere! 😉

                    • My only problem with that is that the powers that be are constantly pushing more and more misdemeanors into felonies. I would venture to claim that most, if not all of the commenters here have committed multiple felonies, many without even realizing it. Just because only a few have been convicted, why should they be the only ones barred?

                    • CombatMissionary

                      I agree wholeheartedly, but see that as a separate issue, more under the realm of executive and federal overreach.

                    • I have a SF future I’m fooling about with. One of the future history steps is in the near future, they discover a way to actually detect lies. (Predicated on the way the brain uses different sections to tell the truth and to tell lies.) The effect of it is — enormous.

                    • Mary, have you read any Piper? One of his biggies is the viradicator (sp?). A lie detector that works. Simplifies legal proceedings something wonderful.

                    • Yes. EXACTLY like that.

                      I have heard complaints that the people are too nice in the Fuzzy books. It occurs to me that a millennia of such a detector would be plenty of time for microevolution. When you can’t get away with nuthin’, people are taught to not try, and those who can’t often end up in the evolution waste-heap.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Or people get smart enough to “play the rules” of society in order to not be placed in a verifier.

                    • More likely some will evolve to be immune.

                      No system is perfect.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


                      That’s what we been trying to tell you about your systems!!!!!!

                    • Paul,

                      “My” system doesn’t purport to be perfect or a utopia. You guys are the ones saying we need the system to protect us from ourselves. What my system does do is make the claim that you will be free in it. To live or die by the consequences of your actions; not at the whim of someone else.

                    • I guess it is my fault if I move into a neighborhood, the population changes over time, and a new neighbor decides that, being free not to buy insurance or a membership in the local fire company …

                      Years ago we lived in a neighborhood where a man kept pack of unruly dogs which he did not contain. This man liked to practice with his bullwhip in the street. To our advantage, there was an irate father, a large man, who went after him with a board when one of his kids was bitten. I hate to think what I or The Spouse would have done if it had happened to The Daughter, who was a toddler at the time.

                    • Much depends on how it evolves. I extrapolate that the usage will slowly spread outward in such a way that the target group will always be a small percentage of the population. Perhaps at first it will be used by witnesses in court who want to clear themselves, or a mental institution to verify that the person seeking admission is really suffering. Of course, once some witnesses use it, the pressure starts to build on others.

                      Or businessmen could voluntarily use to certify their businesses. Then perhaps the board of directors start requiring it. Then perhaps it’s required of businesses that are risky to human life.

                      You could have a libertarian society in which everyone is de facto required to make an annual “Confession of the Righteous Soul” under the verifier by the reluctance of everyone else to deal with someone who won’t verify that “I do not commit fraud” or the like.

                    • It is likely to be used, once proven effective & reliable, for official testimony by police and such witnesses. That serves multiple purposes, such as assurance against government corruption, establishment of the device in the public mind, etcetera.*

                      *etc. = I can’t think of any more at the moment but am sure there must be.

                    • I envision scenes, shortly after the invention, where someone is holding forth on his purported objections to it, and someone else invites him to sit under it to verify that those are his actual objections.

                    • People are too nice in the Fuzzy books? How does that square with Pappy Jack, who is basically Raylen Givens without the benefit of a badge?

              • +1

            • Paul,

              The flaw is you are giving these private security firms or the same extra authority that we give our current police forces.

              In an AC society these groups are not going to be going around randomly enforcing man made rules without individual parties involved.

              I right now work as a security guard, when I’m on property I’m the legal representative of the owner of the property with all of the rights of the property owner.

              When on the bus going to or coming from I’m not randomly enforcing the property rights of those institutions I pass through. If I do it will be on my capacity as a private citizen.

              This how it works today and I see no reason that shouldn’t work this way under an AC society.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                And Heaven help the people who can’t afford to pay the fees for the Private Agencies.

                Josh, the problem is that there is no perfect solutions in this world and too many people seems to believe that the AC world will automatically be better than the current situation.

                In the past, we’ve tried talking with you about the problems of the AC world and you’ve had a tendency to ignore what we’ve said.

                I don’t really want to go into again the problems with your “oh-so-much-better AC world”. [Polite Smile]

                • Paul,

                  “And Heaven help the people who can’t afford to pay the fees for the Private Agencies.

                  It’s called the free-market; if there is a need or demand, someone will fill it at all price points. Not everyone shops at Dillard’s. Some people shop at Walmart.

                  And as Foxfier has pointed out you can always start your own if need be.


          • Which is why I don’t pull over for unmarked cop cars. I slow down, and drive to the nearest public place.

        • Paul,

          Why are you speeding don’tcha know that there is a law against that.

          Traffic laws give a false sense of security, because we expect everyone else to follow the rules we ourselves are not willing too.

          100 % liability for damages and harm caused.

          Speed of a vehicle should be taken into consideration on if you where acting recklessly (We can apply the reasonable man standard here.), and should be reflected in harsher penalties, if you do cause harm or damages.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Chuckle Chuckle

            As you no doubt realized, I was using the most common reason that civilians would deal with the police. [Smile]

            Still it brought to mind one scene in Turtledove’s World War series (alien Lizards interrupt WW2).

            The Fleet Lord has just learned that some of his people are becoming addicted to ginger.

            He assumes that just giving an order would stop the problem.

            Man alive was he proven wrong! [Very Very Big Grin]

  9. I would like a clarification on skandiarecluse’s comment “The corruption of police is a symptom of another problem you are ignoring” What is the real problem? I’m a retired probation officer and I see a whole lot of problems/symptoms. Starting with our concept of our criminal justice system or more correctly our lack of a concept. Foolish or ill-written laws and methodology of operation just to name a few. I would be interested in hearing the real problem. Note, I am not being sarcastic, only curious.

    • The problem is not the police.
      The problem is the growing number of people who refuse to obey the law. Compounded by over regulation (NYC high taxes on cigarettes.)
      War on drugs. The problem is not the police, it’s the people who refuse to obey the law. HIghway speed limits, driving while under the influence, not the police,

      Guns. The problem is not the police, or the gun, it’s the people who use guns to commit violent crime Choke holds, the problem is not the police using physical force to restrain a resistant suspect. The problem is an out of control local government that demands the police vigorously enforce a tax law because the corrupt politicians need the money to buy more votes.

      The problem is not the police. The problem is the 52% who demand that government give them preferential treatment in exchange for voting for the politicians who promise preferential treatment in exchange for votes.

      Ferguson, the problem is not the police.

      I could go on, but it would be a waste of time,

      • The Other Sean

        This specific case was not the police. The specific case in Ferguson wasn’t the police (although I’ve heard that the office should have called for backup before confronting two suspects, one of whom was significantly larger than himself).

        However, police behavior contributes to an attitude of hostility from the populace. No-knock warrants served for unpaid parking tickets, SWAT teams raiding the wrong addresses, cops not enforcing the law against their own, cops shooting pets, and arbitrary enforcement all serve to undermine confidence and trust in the police. Outright perjury is rampant based upon many reliable tales from reliable folks – including from former prosecutors! So yeah, the police are part of the problem.

        But they’re not alone. All of this is even worse when laws and regulations the police seek to enforce are considered wrong to start with. If unfairly applied, the problem is compounded. So politicians and bureaucrats are also culpable for this mess. And the American public who continue to elect the politicians and tolerate the bureaucrats.

        • He did call for backup but it hadn’t arrived before Mike Brown took offense to being questioned.

          • It’s irrelevant whether or not Wilson should have called for back-up. The initial “stop” wasn’t because of the robbery. It was telling two guys to get out of the middle of the street and back on the sidewalks where they belonged.

            If you have to call backup to do that, then something’s seriously wrong.

            It wasn’t until after the two guys were at Wilson’s vehicle that the officer realized they might be the robbery suspects, and I suspect that the question that set Brown off – a simple query about the origins of the box Brown was carrying – was a spur of the moment by Wilson.

          • The Other Sean

            You’re right, I’d forgotten for a moment that the incident started off because the perps were walking down the middle of the street – the cop didn’t realize at first that he was confronting a pair of criminals.

      • This is a classic response, as identified by Thomas Sowell, of redefining a problem. It is a distraction from an addressable problem to an unaddressable (because of magnitude and complexity) one.

        The answer is contained within the age-old question of how do you eat a whale.

      • Possibly, instead of a greater number who refuse to follow the law, it’s more idealization of the notion that following the law is for chumps?

        The guy who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest for selling individual cigs was publicly displaying this– standing in front of a store that was following the laws, and serially violating them. If he hadn’t announced that they wouldn’t be arresting him this time, and acted on it, he’d probably be right back there, doing it.

      • There is too much regulation. There is too much law. There are too many people in positions of authority that sincerely believe that they were placed upon Earth by divine Providence to tell others how to live.

        That said, IF we can get the public to see that police enforcement of so much petty regulation leads to oppression, then we have an entering wedge for the argument that the problem is the regulation.

        or not.

      • Try looking up the Ramparts Scandal.

      • It seems to me that the problem you are identifying is less people not obeying the law, but that too many laws have been passed that are not worth obeying.

        A law against selling single cigarettes? What mindless masturbating buttinski came up with THAT?

        People speeding; is the speed limit set low to please local residents, without taking actual safety issues into account? Is it set low to raise ticket revenue? People will tend to drive at a speed they perceive as safe. If a road is designed to be safe at 70mph, then it tended get used at 70mph both before and after the double nickel was passed.

        People will not obey a law they perceive to be simply there to push them around. And that’s not a flaw, that’s a feature.

        • One of the best reasons not to have laws that people perceive as being there to push them around is that they will disobey them, and avoid those who are enforcing them. That “bleeds over” to the laws that are essential, thus the rapidly spreading idea that you don’t cooperate with the cops because they will screw you over given a chance. Hard to catch real criminals if the community won’t talk to you.

          This is not a new phenomenon; during the period after the Norman Conquest, the records are filled with accounts of how the Sheriff and his men would raise the hue and cry after a criminal including murder, at which point everyone should render aid to catch the criminal. Instead, whole villages would tell them “we didn’t hear or see nothing.”

        • +1

        • CombatMissionary

          This thread is touching on a lot of problems with law enforcement. Like everything else, it’s complex. For law enforcement to be effective, I think it needs the following:
          1) A population willing to be bound by reasonable law, that supports good law enforcement.
          2) Locally controlled law enforcement, preferably with police chiefs and Sheriffs as elected positions.
          3) Leadership that focuses on community policing and professionalism.
          4) Transparency and a willingness to be held to a high standard.
          5) Permanent barring from working in law enforcement once an officer has perjured themselves or been found guilty of corruption.
          6) Locally controlled government that doesn’t intrude needlessly into the lives of citizens.
          7) Incorporation of civics into the school curriculum.
          8) Cooperative agreements with surrounding agencies.
          9) The department should be active, contributing members of the community outside of their law enforcement work. A small corps of full-time officers augmented by a larger number of reserve officers and/or deputies also encourages this.
          10) A willingness by government to keep offenders off the streets.
          11) Reasonable use of code enforcement and business licensing that fights the growth of red-light districts, businesses that cater to criminals and crime-ridden areas without making basic housing unaffordable.

          This is the formula for a happy community with a good relationship to their law enforcement community.

        • A law against selling single cigarettes? What mindless masturbating buttinski came up with THAT?

          It’s not a law against selling cigs. It’s a law against selling cigarettes and not paying the taxes on them.

          Same way that it’s not illegal to hire someone and pay cash, it’s illegal to evade employment taxes in any way you pay.

  10. Good post.

    I have known both good and bad cops, but what is extremely prevalent through both is what I term the “cop attitude”*. That is the arrogant authoritarian assumption that they are right, and an extremely negative reaction to anyone who questions or challenges that assumption. This attitude isn’t limited to cops, although that is the profession where it is the most prevalent in my experience, it can be found in practically any position with authority; our current President holds a very similar attitude.
    It is more because of this attitude than actual bad cops that I view law enforcement as a necessary evil, and while I like and am friends with members of the law enforcement on an individual basis, I do not ‘like’ them as a whole. The individuals I like tend to not have the attitude and be ‘good cops’, although even those individuals I deem ‘good cops’ break the laws. This is an indictment of our legal system and its current plethora of laws, with so many nonsensical and unnecessary ones on the books that even those in a position of enforcing those laws must break some in their everyday lives.

    Actually I am amazed at the limited quantity of bad cops, with the extreme reluctance to pursue criminal charges, or actually enforce appropriate sentences against such cops. This limited quantity of truly bad cops is, I believe, a sign that our society still has a long way to fall.

    *It was actually a family member that coined the phrase “cop attitude” but it has since become a commonly used phrase in some local circles to describe anyone with that attitude, whether they are a cop or not. It is actually surprising how high a percentage of those non-cops with said attitude have a law enforcement background.

  11. I had to look up the Ramparts Scandal to remind myself of which scandal it was. Oh my, yes.

    Coming from Philadelphia I was more accustomed to hearing about Police Officers being indicted on drug dealing and other related offenses. Tried to look up one from some years ago, involving the conviction of six officers serving in South Philadelphia, only to discover that six officers were indicted for robbing drug dealers only four months ago…sigh.

    Pay may be an issue for some police departments, but I believe there have been studies which indicate that you simply can’t pay enough to prevent some from giving into the lure of the very big bucks crime can offer. Character matters.

  12. When I get into debates with people about police, I like to refer back to Sir Robert Peel’s (*) Principles of Policing:

    1.To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
    2.To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
    3.To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
    4.To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
    5.To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
    6.To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
    7.To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
    8.To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
    9.To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

    I especially like to emphasize Number 7 for various points. First, the idea that police are “special” or should have “special” powers or privileges in their conduct. Or to refute the idea that I or any other civilian can’t enforce our laws but should “leave that to the police”.

    But I think that these principles are timeless and that our police forces have forgotten them as well as many other timeless principles of English Common Law.

    * – Sir Robert Peel founded London’s Metropolitan Police force. He is why London’s police were called “Bobbies” or “Peelers”.

    • I feel number seven is one of the most important one of your various points. When that idea breaks down, then a cop is a “stranger.” And stranger in many languages and cultures means “enemy” or “danger.” (even ours)

    • CombatMissionary

      Top notch. Why isn’t this taught in the police academies nowadays?

      • The Other Sean

        They’re too busy recruiting sociopathic thugs and training them to enforce the whims of the politicians and bureaucrats.

        • The Other Sean

          Not that all cops are like that. I’ve had neighbors and family friends who were cops, and they were perfectly nice people. But even a few of them I wouldn’t have wanted to encounter in a “professional” capacity, so to speak.

          • Bad apples and the problem of barrels applies. I want to post a portion of Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange here but have too little confidence of finding the specific moment to bother searching.

            • Saw that at a theater in 73. The scene in which Alex discovers the cops who are confronting him are his old droogies? Yes.

              • That’s the scene.

                I was living in Royal Oak, MI at the time. I used to drive home on I-75 where (around 16-mile Rd) there was a large bend around the back of a drive-in theatre showing that film … first night I went past there and realized what was on screen …

  13. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I did NOT need another story seed, but you went and gave me one anyway…

    • Muses think it hilarous to hand them out in abundance. Can’t be helped.

      My favorite incident was the time someone posted in a group,
      “Real writers can get story ideas from a grocery list.

      “Real writers can get story ideas from thinking of the possibility of getting story ideas from a grocery list.”

      • This could quickly get repetitive: “Real writers can get story ideas from read a comment about thinking about the possibility of getting story ideas from shopping lists”.

  14. Ooh, I’m guessing the waitress one is the lady who ran a cash-only cafe, and she was making deposits just below what would trigger official notice?

    Now I’m a little suspicious of the source a friend shared about that– I hadn’t heard anything about a family member being charged with drugs– it was supposed to be just because of the cash deposits. Assuming it’s the same case, of course, but how many waitresses are going to be depositing that much cash without a paper trail?

    Note: of course, people should have to be found guilty before everything is taken. Basic “secure in your property” thing. That said, waaaaay too many “defenders of liberty” have blackened the goal of actually protecting liberty by leaving out important things like “it isn’t totally unreasonable to think that’s a money laundering operation.”

    • Yes, but it’s also pretty easy to go to the cash-only restaurant during the lunch rush, count how much approximate cash business is being done, and see if it looks like the deposit record is reasonable.

      Heck, you can do your job while eating lunch! No problem!

      But this assumes that the financial LEO’s are actually interested in doing their job and investigating.

      • Doesn’t account for things that can be changed by effort– like tips.

        The guys who are supposed to look for tax cheats keep accusing folks with perishable harvests of illegally hiring kids based off of estimates that are based off of tests… that are like a third of what ACTUAL pickers can manage. End result that people can’t have their kids play with all the other pickers’ kids on the edge of the field, and many can’t afford to take the job because of child care costs.

  15. For instance, he points out that until a generation ago, domestic violence was not counted as a crime

    This sounded wrong, so I went and looked– the first laws specifically against violence inside of a marriage, in the US, were in the 18 hundreds. (1871 for a specific law, 1857 for a court case in Mass. recognizing marital rape)

    • Ayup — classic case of misinterpreting statistics. Similar to arguing that prior to 1985 no pitcher ever had a Quality Start, or no reliever earned a Save before 1969.

  16. I believe in the ungiven traffic ticket theory of police corruption; the counterpart to the broken window theory of policing. A cadet or rookie may start out with great intentions; he’d never . But soon he stops a fellow cop for a traffic citation or DWI. Either he has been made to understand that he is to give ‘professional courtesy’ to other officers or he will soon learn after he tickets him. Then he’s pressured into falsifying a little thing on the report so some bit of evidence won’t be thrown out, or making an anonymous pay-phone call to 911 so they can claim probable cause to search a crack-house. It may take years before he’s lying on the witness stand or shooting your dog or confiscating some landscapers hard-earned wad of cash to put in the dept’s asset forfeiture fund for new cool equipment… and if he had been stopped at the traffic ticket he wouldn’t have been first against the wall when the revolution came.

    • CombatMissionary

      Sadly, there’s a lot of truth to what you say. A police chief I once met was pulled over for speeding by one of his officers. As the officer hemmed and hawed, the Chief ordered the officer to give him a ticket. He then went in to the department and wrote himself a reprimand, placing it in his own file, and then issued an internal statement saying that he expected all his officers to take responsibility for their actions and he would be leading from the front, promising to do better in the future, if I recall correctly.

      Granted, as police chief, I don’t think he suffered a pay cut or anything. But THAT’S a guy I wouldn’t have minded working for.

      The funny thing is, when he was teaching one of our academy classes, he told us flat-out that he didn’t believe there was any young man or woman in America that hadn’t tried weed. This put me in the position of either falsely admitting to having smoked weed on the application for his department or stating the truth, knowing that it would probably cost me a job. He asked me flat-out in the interview if I had ever tried marijuana, and I told him no. I didn’t get the job.
      Oh, well, them’s the breaks. 😀

      • “The funny thing is, when he was teaching one of our academy classes, he told us flat-out that he didn’t believe there was any young man or woman in America that hadn’t tried weed.”

        I have heard this statement quite a few times. While I did try it as a teenager, I know any number of people that have never tried it, including some fairly rough characters. Making blanket statements like this just shows his lack of logical thinking.

        • CombatMissionary

          Yup. To be perfectly fair, I don’t KNOW that that was what kept me from getting the job, but I AM a paranoid, suspicious type.

        • I never did– didn’t even know what the skunk smell was until I went to Hempfest. (For the music. Really.)

          Also never got drunk, although my folks have been letting us try any drink they have since we were tiny.

          Was called a liar several times because of that, because “everyone knows” that “everybody” does it… although even in places where use is legal, it’s not a majority.

          • Yep, I knew a number of good Christians that never tried any; but it isn’t just religious people that abstain. I have a friend who is frankly a racist, bigoted a-hole, and not at all religious. He however never tried any drugs, and he was a drunk in his teens and early twenties, so he did have expierence with mind-altering substance use.

            Simply put, if you exclude breathing, not EVERYBODY does anything.

          • In my experience, while there are some things that almost everybody knows that are true (at least for everyday use) anything that you are TOLD ‘Everybody knows’ is absolutely certain to be unmitigated hogwash.

        • “He that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one.” — Edmund Burke

          It’s a good way to normalize your acts in your own eyes.

        • Yeah, I’ve never tried it, because I really like the way my brain works and I don’t want to risk even minor tinkering with it. But I’ve certainly been offered it, and I have no problem with other people smoking it.

        • Well, I’m certainly not a “rough character,” but *I* have never tried it. Not because I give a damn about it, but simply because I can’t stand the idea of smoking (For myself, that is. I have no problems with others smoking around me). For some reason, even though both my parents smoked all the time while I was growing up, the thought of doing it myself just makes me cringe.

          • Really? There’s something about inhalation of incandescent gasses that bothers you?

            • Heh. Actually, believe it or not, it’s the ashes and the handling of the cigarette (or joint, whichever you’re talking about at the time) that bothers me. I have never been able to unravel that particular irrational dislike, but since it doesn’t hurt me any, I don’t care about it enough to give it that much attention.

  17. CombatMissionary

    Yup. My Field Training Officer had a heck of a laugh when he found I didn’t know the smell of MJ. When he found out I grew up in the hills with no running water or electricity, he started calling me the Amish Mormon. 😀

    • But it does just smell like road-kill skunk….

      • Not all of it, but that IS why the “good stuff” is often referred to as skunk weed.

        • The variation is weird as heck. (I only encounter it secondhand, but between college campuses and local parks….) I have thankfully not encountered the roadkill skunk variety often, or perhaps am lacking the relevant odor receptor. But there’s this weird smell common to the park smokers that is remarkably like the odor of wet tree pollen in the car vents, and there’s this one other, rare, really nice smell that’s like… a cross between a good tree-leaf bonfire and tobacco without any of the nasty throat-catching bits, which I have been told is also marijuana.

      • I like Pamela Dean’s description in Tam Lin: “a rope dipped in burning sugar.”

    • Clark E Myers

      Encountered a Field Training Officer who cooped and shared a joint. It seemed a great injustice that the Union protected the officer but the trainee was probationary and left swinging in the wind despite arguing he was just going along with the community mores.

  18. BobtheRegisterredFool

    ‘Do not hire those who shouldn’t be’ has implications beyond affirmative action.

    Suppose those who should be hired are essentially a fixed fraction of the population. Then anything that increases the percentage that spends time doing police work past that will cause problems.

    One aspect is turnover rate. Turnover can be increased through fatalities and retirements. Retirements can be increased with medical issues, risks of medical issues, psychological stresses, and zero tolerance for defects.

    Another is significantly expanding the size of the force. One cause might be magical thinking about how the process works, I recall one dubious proposal to hire something like a million additional police. Another can be sliding into it without noticing for other reasons, like increased work.

    Keeping habitual offenders alive and on the streets can increase workload. Citizens or litigation expecting more labor intensive ways of stopping the violent, or capturing people might do so. Perhaps also the anecdote about CSI watching juries with unrealistic expectations.

  19. Clark E Myers

    Hiring is an interesting issue. When I knew about it most agencies made a conscious decision to balance door-kickers and peacemakers according to perceived local needs. Jim Cerillo on sorting those too eager and those too soft to do his job is an interesting example of sometimes it takes all kinds and some jobs it takes a special kind.

    A dated but no less useful discussion is from The Silent Language by Hall
    [Dr. Pournelle as I recall has referenced the work both in his day notes and the short writings in the anthologies with John Carr – useful in itself and especially useful to fen and writers]
    page 80 in which differences in the view of law, government and family between traditional Anglo and Hispanic in the same south- western physical community are “ludicrously tragic”.

    If it meets community standards I’m not sure it can be called individual corruption. I was once stalled in traffic in Chicago with a Florida license plate. My front bumper was a 5″ channel iron with front mounted trailer ball for spotting and launching and retrieving boats. The car in front hit reverse instead of drive and backed into me. The responding officer assumed I had been following too closely and was responsible for the damage to the lead car. As you might expect the responding police immediately solicited me for a bribe mentioning the out of state plate and significant damage would require them to take me into custody rather than writing me a ticket – the surrounding witnesses took great offense to the suggestion of a bribe – not the corruption but the wrong target – and were loud in announcing I wasn’t moving the other guy owed the bribe!

    Carol Moseley-Braun as Cook County Recorder was gatekeeper on a toll gate to government services. Folks who wanted a clear title any time but real soon now had to tip – mostly something trivial like a bottle of booze at the front window but the bribe depended on the magnitude of the deal being held up. During her Senatorial campaign there were issues of unreported income but it didn’t keep the machine candidate from winning.

    Mostly corruption runs from top to bottom and pervades a society. It’s not just a police problem. Police corruption may be a useful point of attack because though everybody has in fact chosen to tolerate those who do when it’s us when it’s us against them maybe we can hold them to a higher standard.

    Speaking of domestic violence I once knew a stone killer type who achieved the more or less perfect result in enforcing community standards. The perp would get drunk and deal with low self esteem by going home and beating on his wife who would call the law then plead to have it all dropped. It might have worked better because the corrupt? enforcer of community standards? white knight? really was a stone killer and so presented and known. On hearing the perp was drinking my friend picked out a chrome plated .45 GI bring back style and parked uphill from the drunkard’s home. Watching the drunkard arrive home and giving him a few minutes our hero? rolled downhill with the motor off and walked in the front door with some confidence there was crime maybe even a felony occurring. Cribbing a line from Jack Benny Now cut that out while pushing the chrome 45 between the perp’s eyes there was a road to Damascus radical conversion experience. No shots fired and the objective – which was of course to get the wife to stop wasting his time – was achieved.

    I knew a very good officer involved in an interesting case who didn’t shoot somebody dead but talked the situation down. Happens I reviewed the file for the defense so I had some perspective. I asked why didn’t you shoot him? I would have. He said he could have doubled his head count if he’d shot every time it would have been a righteous shoot – meaning openly and notoriously no questions asked righteous. He didn’t want to kill anybody. He’s a better man than I am but he took early retirement as the times changed.

    Myself I’m a right wrong type but I don’t expect the same behavior from honor shame types nor would I expect to persuade anyone else to my belief. I may have helped persuade a few to alter their behavior if not their beliefs.

    • …And he’s lucky he’s not dead or crippled.

      • Clark E Myers

        Well he is dead. No surprise it was violent.

        Then again the overwhelming majority of violent deaths among law enforcement types are accidents mostly vehicular. It’s common to imply more or less dishonestly that police deaths in the line of duty are from armed citizens but that runs IIRC to well under 100 a year maybe around 25 again IIRC while the police are indeed killing hundreds of citizens annually.

        It was a fairly short but interesting time the group was doing stakeouts. Much as a half a dozen or so incidents in the old west had their serial numbers filed off ad infinitum so too we see a few incidents in New York redone and moved around regularly.

  20. On phone…. missing people/serial killer thing, there is which is supposed to gather data. Like those “in case your kid goes missing” packs.

  21. Eleanor Skelton

    ^ I love this mostly for the Watchmen reference. You make a solid point.

  22. Pingback: The problem of policing | Something Fishy