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Dispelling Law Enforcement Misconceptions

Over the last few weeks, we have all heard every pundit's opinion on how to fix law enforcement, and we have all seen our fair share of off the cuff law enforcement related posts.  The naysayers, the Monday morning quarterbacks, the agenda-driven politicians, and the political hacks rarely all have anything intelligent or experienced, to say on the matter.  This is usually where a professional in the given field in question would stand up and make some public statements explaining the issues at hand knowledgeably.  The issue we have is that the average law enforcement department or agency directly forbids that type of action by its officers.  If you don't believe me, ask Greg Anderson what happened after he publicly made a statement attempting to shine a light and educate people on some of the issues, he got fired by his brass.  After all the unrest following a tragic death in police custody, we now have an entire movement devoted to police "reform" (aka defunding) and a brand new batch of people who want to talk about law enforcement as if they know anything about it.  Law enforcement is unlike any other profession in the USA, no other job comes even remotely close to the issues the average law enforcement officer (LEO) deals with on a daily basis, this starts at the issues with training and continues all the way to political issues in the current climate and how that affects the daily job.

One such set of opinions comes from Ben Shapiro, who has always been pretty decently researched on political, philosophical, religious, and other various topics which he presents in writing, on his show and lectures.  I listen to Shapiro's daily podcast on my drive to work at times and have similar opinions on many topics.  One topic which he consistently gets wrong is literally anything having to do with law enforcement, especially how or why an LEO would act a certain way or not.  He has no training in violence that is very clear to anyone who has, and his ignorance on the topic comes out each and every time.  That does not mean he's wrong on other topics, he should just stick to the things he understands well and leave topics like law enforcement to educated and experienced sources he can reference.  He does say he has many LEO friends, I don't know if that's accurate as if he did they'd quickly tell him he's talking out of his ass on the law enforcement related topics and should either educate himself or to stop.  Hell, come for a ridealong a few times, you'll see the issues first hand and be able to easily pick up the first-hand experience, while limited, still would be something to reference rather than what his current level of law enforcement experience is, zero.  In a recent episode of Joe Rogan's podcast where he interviews Ben Shapiro, Ben goes into a few points which he cites as being needed to change the way law enforcement conducts itself and various related concepts.

Ben's first point, correctly explained, was that more police equals less crime.  There are several studies out there like "More COPS, less Crime" (Princeton 2018, Source), "Less Prison, More Police, Less Crime" (National Institute of Justice 2019, Youtube Source), and "Police Office Staffing" (Purdue 2007, Source), although this one showed a negative correlation of less police more crime, contrasting against the others which showed more police, less crime.  He went on to explain that there are no studies or objective data which showed that less LEOs meant lower crime, the opposite has always been true.  The fact that society needs stability in order to thrive is directly correlated.  That stability comes from more police officers in heavy minority areas, never less.  That is the easiest way to solve the majority of issues that plague the historically violent communities of minorities in the urban sections of the US.

The second topic of contention is the issue of Qualified Immunity (QI) being "too broad", QI roughly means “Qualified immunity balances two important interests—the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.” If you are so inclined you can do some reading on the various court decisions on QI, but they are heavily weighed down in legalese and may be difficult to understand.  QI is not "too broad" as there is no consistent way of predicting LEO-citizen interactions across the board if there was this wouldn't even be a point of argument.

I found the above illustration (Reuters Source) showing that the percentage in yellow were lawsuits filed against officers for excessive force where they were not covered by QI during certain year periods.  You may be thinking to yourself that QI only covers the use of force, but that's not true.  LEO's are covered by 42 U.S. Code § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights, which is the original QI,  which states: "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia."  Pay close attention to "the deprivation of any rights" part of this section, which literally means what it says, that any LEO is subject to liability for said deprivation of any rights.  What does "any" mean here though? Does it mean every time any LEO comes into contact with any citizen for any reason then that citizen's rights are immediately deprived, and therefore said LEO is immediately liable for any damages?

The answer is yes, and no.  The fact is that case law precedence has been developed over the course of evolution of the criminal justice system, along with the evolution of how police departments throughout the US conduct themselves, and that is further complicated by various states pushing different laws restricting LEOs actions.  What does all of this mean for those who want to discuss QI? Simple, the moment you remove QI protections from law enforcement officers, and I mean truly remove any such protections afforded by US 42, 1983, you immediately push the profession of the LEO into chaos.  First and foremost, any interaction any LEO would have with a person normally would come to an end the way we understand them to exist right now, as every single interaction is a possible lawsuit that LEO would have to personally fight in court, outside of department lawyers, outside of FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) or union representation, outside of any help from anyone, out of pocket directly.  This should scare the majority of intelligent LEO's directly off the job immediately.  There will be lawyers who subpoena officer's citizens contact records and then file multiple suits against that single officer for various reasons, literally punishment by process becomes reality.  Imagine being sued by a hundred people at once, individually without any union or department helping you? Just showing up for court would be a full-time job and if you were to find a lawyer to take this on for you they would cost more than you make in several years.  The LE job immediately stops being what it is today, which is exactly why arguing against QI is extremely shortsighted.

Beyond that, there are several other things to consider, the fact that localities spend tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the span of years training and retaining LEOs.  All of that training has to do with liability protection rather than officer safety in many departments (especially larger departments), so the moment QI is removed all of that training vanishes as well since a police department does not need to show that an LEO was trained properly and how they were trained consistently with modern standards in court, we get less trained and capable LEOs, not more.  That also means literally anyone can be an LEO without any training at all because they are going to covering themselves legally, goodbye standards of the profession.  This is one of the reasons liability protections like QI exist for LEOs (and other government workers) today, it is an insurance policy against lawsuits, which would not exist if QI is removed.

The one reason which is glossed over in the removal of QI discussion is that the police department will become predatory in nature when dealing with lawsuits and potential liability.  If QI didn't exist, the department will do everything in its power to push all blame onto the individual officer, they will hire an even larger army of lawyers to do this because it will be much cheaper than fighting to protect the officer.  If you think this wouldn't happen look at private companies with non-unionized employees, this type of thing happens all the time.

The point is, QI cannot be messed with in any tangible way and if anything needs to be done, there needs to be more training for LEO's that's consistent nationally to a degree which can set some sort of standard of conduct in the most sued situations (like use of force), however, that is exceedingly difficult for the reasons I mentioned previously.  More training means less questionable conduct means fewer violations of rights, there will always be lawsuits against police officers, that will never change.  In my opinion, people talk about the removal or restriction of QI because they don't understand how it works in practice, much like asset forfeiture.

Ben doesn't like unions, any unions, and I agree that most unions are only designed to hurt the free market, retard growth, influence politicians, empower vested union members while taking advantage of new-member union workers.  The issue is for police departments, much like fire departments, there is an absolute necessity, nowadays more than ever.  Without a police union, officers would not have protections of a large union body fighting for the best possible contract for their members, they would be trampled on by their local/city governments if individual officers tried to negotiate each of their contracts, it would be chaos, and likely wouldn't end up making much money for the hard job any LEO does.  If you want an example look at starting pay in some southern states like Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, especially in the rural parts, some of those officers start off making less than your average Walmart employee in many places.

Unions like the FOP and other Benevolent Associations, provide legal assistance to officers who are sued and/or investigated by their departments or citizens.  This means that when an officer has action taken against them by a department they have a union to fight for them, sue their department for them, and that does not come out of the pocket of the officer who is usually fired and not receiving a check.  Imagine being fired from a job which has policies you followed and you were fired for some reason beyond your control, even though you did everything you were supposed to, do you believe you'd have tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, as well as, enough money saved to live off of for at least two years before your case gets to an arbitrator?  That's what a police union does well, better than most other unions in fact.  Also, imagine an officer being killed in the line of duty and their department and/or locality refuse to cover the funeral expenses, who would that fall on, the grieving family?  If you think this doesn't happen, it most certainly does, departments and city governments routinely try to get out of paying for these types of things, not only is a union needed for this type of situation, but they may even cover your family if you end up being killed on duty.  If an active officer gets injured in the line of duty, the union is there to fight for their rights, imagine taking on a city and police department by yourself, out of pocket?

One of the other things unions do, especially national unions like the FOP, they lobby in Washington D.C. for officer's rights.  The FOP was instrumental in the passage of HR218 aka. LEOSA, before that it wasn't allowed for officers to travel from one state to another state with a firearm, sometimes they weren't even allowed outside of their jurisdiction with a firearm (state dependant).  Obviously, constitutional carry would solve all of this, but that's a completely different article.

"Unions protect bad cops" is a line I've heard numerous times.  First and foremost, who determined these are "bad" LEOs? Were they charged with a crime? By whom? A radical leftist district attorney perhaps? An out of touch police top brass who disregarded and violated an officer's due process rights?  Show me these "bad cops" who committed a real crime which the union is protecting and fighting to get their job back and I'll show you an LEO who was the target of a witchhunt or politically motivated career assassination.  The uncomfortable fact is that LEOs deal with the worst in society and those types of people lie on LEOs for a living, you think a criminal wouldn't go out of their way to lie on an officer knowing full well it may get them in trouble and/or arrested while getting themselves off the hook? Especially in the current anti-police climate?  Then you must also understand that the moment that LEO goes out into the press to state their side of the issue they would have immediately violated a dozen departmental policies and would be fired for those violations if they ever got their jobs back in the first place.  Unions fill the gap, speaking on the behalf of these officers.  Unions fight for these officers who have their 1A rights violated and their due process rights circumvented. 

One exceedingly short-sighted idea of "police reform" is to set up a national database in which every officer who has ever had anything negative assessed against them would be documented so that an LEO cannot jump from department to department after they burned a bridge.  If the above quote bothers you, then you should immediately see how this can easily be abused.  That is before you realize such a database would have LEO's names, departments, probably other personal info listed in it, talk about an officer safety concern.  Beyond that who would determine the criteria for who gets added to this database? Who has the say? Who exactly and what exact circumstances would facilitate this?  What happens when an officer quits his job as an LEO and gets into a job in the private sector?  Ben had an entire discussion about terrorist watch lists and how its nearly impossible to get off one if you're on one, well how exactly would an LEO who was put on such a list inappropriately appeal this? How does the career-ending damage of being on this list ever get resolved if an LEO was put on it without cause? 

The fact is a national database of officers misdeeds wouldn't work for one specific and undeniable reason.  Internal Affairs units in nearly all departments (especially large urban departments) go out of their way to find something an officer did wrong in every investigation.  Don't believe me? Ask any LEO you know if they have experience with Internal Affairs and how they will find something wrong regardless of what they are investigating, that's the starting point for these units.  They also have a documented history of going after officers that rub the top brass the wrong way, finding absolutely anything they can on them in order to get them in trouble in some way.  Internal Affairs is the modern version of the brownshirts in the average police department, only they will use everything in their power to try to get any officer written up for anything.  These are the exact people you don't want responsible for adding LEOs to any list, especially not a national database. 

Just to point out something which people who suggest stupid ideas like national databases for LEOs miss or intentionally obfuscate, we already have them in the US, they are called court dockets.  If an LEO gets sued their names would be searchable in federal, state, or local court dockets.  If they were charged with a crime, the same thing.  These dockets are free for anyone to access, but an LEO has to actually be charged with something specific that broke the law, not some departmental policy.  There isn't an LEO in any department in the entire country that follows their department policies completely, it's literally impossible to do.  There are departments with multiple hundreds of policy points each with multiple tens of pages, no LEO should ever be expected to know every single line of every single policy, especially when the majority of them don't have any real application to the average LEOs daily job function.  But Internal Affairs can, and will, write you up for not following every single one of them to the letter.  These are not the arbiters of truth people believe them to be, they are politically motivated positions designed to undermine the working officer's morale, the end of the LE profession occurs if this is ever put into place. 

Joe Rogan made a point saying that "if you have 130 good cops and 12 bad cops, but the 130 cops don't do anything to stop the bad cops, then you have 142 bad cops."  Maybe he believes that officers see other officers planting drugs and just disregard it because of the blue wall of silence.  That's not only a myth, its unethical and highly illegal.  Not a single LEO would ever sit idle while another LEO breaks the law in front of them.  Not a single LEO wants to work with an unethical officer, with an officer who doesn't cherish the oath, with an officer who doesn't respect the badge and those who wore it before them.  The insinuation itself is directly insulting to the vast, overwhelming majority, of ethical officers. 

Another tidbit which people who say things like this do not understand, an officer cannot arrest another officer on the mere suspicion of doing something illegal, almost every single police department has a policy on this very specific situation, usually involving a written document detailing the allegations and that is submitted to a supervisor and up the chain of that department to be investigated by the proper unit or person within that department or another department so that there is impartiality.  Imagine a situation that would exist if any LEO could arrest any other LEO for perceived illegalities and the possible ramifications?  The mere idea of this is laughable, only someone who gets high constantly would think it's even remotely applicable.

One of the biggest issues which I see from those who want to discuss law enforcement changes or reforms is that they forget that LEOs have due process rights just like any other citizen in the US.  Beyond that, all officers are funded by taxpayer dollars, and as a taxpayer, you should want your investment to be protected, in this case, financial investment in those who were selected and swore an oath to serve and protect your community.  Why would any tax-paying citizen want their dollars to vanish into thin air the moment any LEO gets accused of something which can be completely disproved, and most often supported by statistics, body cameras, or otherwise, during an investigation all in the name of "reform" or some such nonsense?  When a citizen is accused of committing a crime, a citizen enjoys due process rights, which are developed specifically to stop various issues that stem from the denial of due process to the accused.  Why is this disregarded for LEOs? Why is due process constantly an afterthought for LEOs accused of something, usually being demonized in the media, slandered without any recourse at all (due to previously mentioned departmental policies), literally being judged guilty regardless of their, usually, clear innocence?  This is because politicians allow this type of thing and the brain dead mobs push for this, the political top brass wants a "win" at the price of any LEO's head, and they almost always get it.  This needs to be stopped and it needs to be stopped immediately.  LEOs need to be protected from immediately politically expedient lynching as it'll allow officers to do their jobs with some level of institutional integrity.  As of this post, that does not exist, and LEOs are the constant targets of knee jerk firings and investigations if they so much as breathe an independent, non-departmentally approved thought.