This is a Post from one of the writers on my Blogroll, Karl Denniger (redacted).
It is written by an American about an American situation.
I will leave it to you to decide to what extent his criticisms are appliciable here.
“Crime has been holding steady in Chicago in recent years. Through July, there have been 1,089 shootings in the city.”
The first problem is that the numbers are flat-out unacceptable in any year in any city in the U.S. Years of complacency by Chicago’s middle and upper classes have brought the crisis to their doorstep.
“Thugs, gangs and renegade groups run the streets and neighborhoods, intimidating and victimizing the decent citizens of this city. They go mostly unchallenged and unchecked by a totally demoralized police force that is dangerously understaffed and still out-gunned on the streets. The police force desperately needs manpower and both physical and leadership back-up. Officers confident that their authority is respected, their judgment is trusted, and their tools are equal to a dangerous and difficult job will produce better results than people who have been left hanging out to dry, while their colleagues are massacred.”
Uh, we’re forgetting what police officers are once again… and trying to ascribe to them some sort of “Superman” complex. I hate to disabuse [people] of [their] belief systems, but I am compelled to do so.
Let’s start with reality: There is no duty for the police to protect you. So says a long line of court cases. This is true even if the police have specific and actionable knowledge that you are at some sort of special risk!
Many people do not understand this: The police department’s primary job is to investigate crime. That is, once the crime happens the police department shows up, takes a report, and then attempts to identify the guilty party(s) and presents the evidence to the prosecutor, along with presenting the alleged bad guy(s) to the court system. That’s their job. That’s why you hire them. That’s what they do.
But in performing this job they have to contend with two things: The small percentage of the citizens who are thugs, and will do evil things – and the citizens, who the police needs as allies and advocates in their investigatory activities.
How do you get the second to happen? I’ll tell you how you don’t get it to happen.
You write a hundred thousand parking tickets for $50 each, and start booting people’s cars – after you removed all the parking meters – or turned them over to a private company [who] failed to reasonably maintain them, thereby making it impossible for someone to run into the post office for 2 minutes without risking a $50 ticket. You write lots of tickets for questionable traffic violations and falsely claim that they’re about “safety” when in fact they’re a raw revenue grab – and many of the offenses are in fact “driving while black.”
While upper-middle class people are inconvenienced by a bogus $100 ticket, a poor person who is barely getting by ends up shorting his kid’s diapers as a consequence. He is going to be permanently pissed at every cop from that day forward, instead of being mildly inconvenienced. When the police want that man’s help in the future in finding some thug, they’re going to get the middle finger in response – and that response is entirely and richly deserved.
You bust Joe’s brother – or best friend – for smoking a doobie. Joe’s brother was helping Joe pay the rent, because both Joe and his brother don’t have much money. Joe winds up eating cardboard for two weeks as a consequence, or even gets evicted – because his brother was arrested for a victimless crime. Oh yeah, and in order to catch Joe’s brother you had to snoop around and stick GPS devices on his car (recently ruled legal without a warrant!) to follow him around furtively much like a snake in the grass – or the Gestapo.
Then we add a dollop of corruption. Various sorts of scams all fall into this category, from politically-incentivised promotions, to outright bribes up and down city government. Chicago has this sort of thing down to a science.
But all of these things are corrosive to public trust – and yet that’s exactly what’s necessary if the hooligans are to be kept from taking over in times of stress. The police will never be able to suppress the criminal element with “mere force” – we have a near-police-state now in our major cities when it comes to these matters, and yet the environment deteriorates instead of improving. This corrosion is insidious and pervasive in our major cities. It doesn’t happen immediately; it takes decades. But we’ve spent 20, 30, even 40 years, intentionally destroying the public trust. And it shows. The police do not have the respect of the citizenry at large – they’ve forfeited it with their own acts. You need only see what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, where not only did the cops abandon the city some of them are alleged to have stolen automobiles on the way out of town!
No, what’s necessary is a different view. A view that both admits the lawful and proper role of the police and accepts that without cooperation of the citizens at large (which is not owed to the police department but instead must be earned) the police have no chance – and neither do the citizens. The underlying economic and social situation is not going to get better on its own. It’s going to get worse. A lot worse.
Attempting to “appeal to authority” is not going to work, and “staffing up” and acting like a military junta instead of a police department is only going to turn the local citizens into people who hate the cops. And that hatred, when unemployment turns to homelessness and hopelessness, is going to boil over with disastrous results. To fix this you need to do a number of things.
* Stop harassing motorists. Traffic enforcement has to stop being a revenue source. I’m talking about the incessant and intentional squeeze, the tricks and traps that are all-too-often part and parcel of traffic “enforcement.”
I can point to specific examples from my time in the Chicago area, including one intersection in Palatine where a right turn onto a two-way street is forbidden by a sign hidden behind a tree such that it is literally impossible to see until you have committed to the turn and thus have also committed the violation. Yes, I got a ticket there, and showed up in court with over fifty other people who had identical violations. The city thought it was cute, this was nothing other than a tax that was effectively extorted from me through intentional trickery by a man employed by the city wearing a badge and carrying a gun. It is not much of a stretch at all to say that I was quite literally – robbed at gunpoint.
* Cut the crap with “victimless” crimes. If you have to snoop around to find something that’s illegal because there’s nobody who will, or has complained – you are engaged in the acts of a police state.
Anyone who winds up on the wrong end of that is going to indelibly HATE you from that day forward. Is it worth it? 100 years of history says we can’t win that “War On Drugs”. But we can piss off huge numbers of citizens, most of them minorities. Now – about those folks who don’t “respect the law”… Gee, how did that happen? Did they watch their kid or best friend get hauled off in irons for smoking a joint? A lot of them did, and now they hate anyone wearing a police uniform. Pull your head out of the butt.
* Aggressively bust all the thugs. Rob a store-go to jail. Steal a car-go to jail. Pull a gun on someone-go to jail. Kick in someone’s door and invade their home-go to jail. If the homeowner doesn’t shoot you on the spot.
Use all the space we free up in the jails and courtrooms by leaving consensual adults alone – to lock up all the bad guys, for a long time. Right now there’s no space for them in the prisons, nor can we monitor them once released with our parole officers – they’re too busy keeping track of Joe who got busted for smoking that doobie.
Speaking of the “shoot you on the spot” thing: start encouraging the people at large to stop the sort of crap that these armed and dangerous thugs like to perpetrate. When seconds count Smith and Wesson will be there; the police will arrive five minutes late.
We must throw out the infantile model of “the people are under the cops as a baby is under his or her parents” and transition to a model of “you’re adults, you’re free to act as adults, and we both trust you to be adults and assist us in our job of identifying crooks when necessary. We also both believe in and support your right to stop the thugs on your own in lawful self-defense should it become necessary. And we will not only cease and desist from interfering with that right we will start encouraging you to exercise it.”
…Law Enforcement [needs to] respect the right of the people to self-defense – and to recognize that they need the common citizens more than the citizens need them…
For Chicago to achieve that, it’s Law Enforcement community is going to have to quit treating the citizens like infants, whom it can rob candy from any time it feels like it.