In a society where violence is correctly condemned and criminalized we grant police the extraordinary power to violate their fellow citizens’ physical autonomy.
We carve out this exception to give police the ability to guard us from criminal threats to our security.
Instead, too often, we find that to invite police into your life is to shed the freedoms and security they ostensibly protect.
It used to be said — correctly — that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street.
- David Simon
Power corrupts which is why great power requires great accountability.
Instead the opposite is true. Police are able to employ brutal violence and intimidation for the pettiest of reasons to the most self-serving with little consquence.
The system which enables this lack of accountability should shock every “Land of the Free” American.
Though disproportionately employed against minorities the legal regime which enables these abuses can be pointed at anyone and anytime and undermines some of the most basic rights Americans, incorrectly, assume for themselves.
The right not to be killed.
The right not to have your property arbitrarily seized.
The right not to be arbitrarily arrested.
The right to Habeus Corpus.
The right to a fair trial.
Although it’s true that there are good cops and bad cops, it doesn’t matter; both good and bad cops operate inside of a bad system.
This system rewards abuse by allowing officers to enjoy the benefits of the illegal exercise of their power without a competing incentive to follow the law (like staying out of jail).
At the same time the system penalizes those exceptional officers who, despite incredible social pressure to conform to their tribe, blow the whistle on wrongdoing.
It is a great shame that many of those we’ve empowered to protect and to serve us instead brutalize and intimidate us.
It is a great shame that an officer of the law is the one least beholden to it.