Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes.
– P.J. O’Rourke, “A Parliament of Whores”
Americans have long been accustomed to respect the police according to the Norman Rockwell portrait of the friendly, small-town peacekeeper. But those days have been gone for decades as the helpful revolver-carrying policeman of yore has been gradually replaced by a steroid-abusing, paramilitarized bully in black body armor with a bad attitude. Driven by an insatiable demand for revenue on the part of state and local governments, the police forces of America have been pillaging American private property like vandals sacking Rome; millions of dollars worth of private property has been seized without warrant and without any charges being filed under the cover of the drug war.
And the corruption and degradation of the American police increasingly comes with a body count. Only a few weeks ago, West Point graduate and military vet Erik Scott was murdered in public while shopping at Costco with his girlfriend by three Las Vegas police officers. Without offering any provocation or protest, he was Tasered, then shot seven times, four times in the back as he lay on the ground dying. His crime? He was a Concealed Carry Weapons license holder and was legally carrying a gun that he never brandished or even attempted to draw.
This police execution was carried out in the full view of many eyewitnesses and was recorded by several of Costco’s security cameras. Needless to say, the video footage as well as the hard drives were immediately confiscated by the police. The public has not been permitted access to any of it. The Las Vegas police are now claiming that the video footage, which only they have seen, is useless for the purposes of determining what happened. The lying blue line is in full throat, with the police captain telling transparent lies that are directly contradicted by witnesses and the dispatcher’s audiotape.
For decades, conservatives have attempted to excuse even lethal police abuses by arguing that the dangerous nature of the job and the stresses it entails somehow justify widespread criminal activity on the part of law enforcement officers. But this is a logically incoherent argument. Police work isn’t even among the 10 most dangerous occupations; it is 13 times less dangerous than working as a professional fisherman. And the wide rate at which police commit suicide, become alcoholics and get divorced is less indicative of a terribly stressful job than a sign that the job tends to attract psychologically troubled individuals.
In much the same way that those with mental problems are disproportionately attracted to the mental health fields, those who have problems with authority are disproportionately attracted to a profession that allows them to exert it over others.
This is not to say that all police are psychologically weak individuals predisposed to criminality. Anyone who lifts weights at a gym regularly is likely to know a few good men that serve the community well. The problem is that the fraternal code of silence corrupts those good men and prevents them from excising the criminal cancers from their midst.
Nothing this side of the second coming will bring Erick Scott back to life. But his murderers – one of whom has already gotten away with gunning down a member of the citizenry – must be brought to justice without the illicit protection of their “brother” officers. And more importantly, state governments across the country must immediately pass laws prohibiting a police department to seize evidence that is related to the possible misdeeds of one of its members. For as the ancients asked, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Americans, particularly conservatives who consider themselves pro-police, should recall Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim, “trust, but verify.” And they must never forget that the first prerequisite of a police state is the police.