“It was a striking echo of the language in the Department of Justice report and the activists’ condemnations of the police following Freddie Gray’s death. Back then, the claims were of overly aggressive policing; now residents were pleading for police officers to get out of their cars, to earn their pay — to protect them,” NY Times.
Residents of Baltimore and their politicians demanded the enforcement of minor criminality and events that disturbed their peace. After the death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing riots, many insisted that law enforcement stop proactive efforts. Officers were surrounded by people recording arrests with their smartphones while shouting insults. Officers retreated from proactive policing.
Now, after an explosion of violence, everyone is begging police to return to aggressive policing. Retention and recruitment of officers in Baltimore and other cities is proving to be impossible.
Do communities get to decide the kind of law enforcement they want? If so, do they accept responsibility for the results? Jurisdictions choose to enforce or ignore laws based on what citizens want. That reality has always been part of our justice system.
I apply that logic to some high crime communities where critics charge police with heavy-handed, aggressive enforcement policies.
The article below from The Wall Street Journal is one of many documenting local law enforcement choosing to enforce some laws but not others. “The elected sheriffs say they are heeding the wishes of voters in the counties they serve.”
There has been endless criticism of law enforcement regarding traffic issues or the pursuit of marginal criminal cases.
But it’s the communities cops serve that demand enforcement of an endless array of minor crimes. Every community meeting I’ve been to included community leaders and politicians asking for the pursuit of drug laws or open liquor containers or loud and boisterous conduct that disturbs the peace. All of these meetings include requests for aggressive traffic enforcement.
But when things go south and the officer uses force, all hell breaks loose.
Newspapers, politicians and community leadership collectively demand enforcement of minor criminality. It’s not cops on the street making these decisions.
There is no such thing as an easy or safe stop. Officers would rather spend their time making quality arrests and being available for crimes in progress.
What Citizens Want
Many state that communities simply cannot decide the laws they want to be enforced; that’s the job of the legislative process.
Bull-droppings. When I ride my small, unlicensed four-wheel drive vehicle through my beautiful mountain state, I know I’m doing it illegally. Local cops don’t enforce the law. It’s what citizens want. My point is that cities and communities where there is friction between cops and citizens should take charge of their own destiny and decide for themselves which laws and modes of enforcement are in their best interest. They have a right to their opinions. We should respect their preferences.
There are endless calls for community policing. For those communities that want it, let it happen. If citizens want input, give it to them. Communities may be delusional as to enforcement but they have the right to their opinions.
But They Assume Responsibility
I’m tired of seeing cops harshly criticized for doing what communities ask them to do. It’s time for cities to take responsibility for crime control into their hands. If it results in more crime, then it’s on the politicians, newspaper editors and community leaders. Like Baltimore, they own it. It’s their problem.
It’s time to stop pretending that cops are there to solve the problems of the world. Don’t want marijuana possession enforced? Fine. Just don’t complain when people gather on the corners at night to smoke pot. Prosecutors throughout the country are stating that they won’t enforce lower level marijuana laws, so why are my thoughts so repulsive to so many?
Communities need to take control and responsibility for their own crime problems. This is criminology 101.
Cops are there as a stabilizing force and to respond to crimes in progress. Mandating enforcement in communities that don’t want it is a guaranteed criminological and public relations nightmare. It’s time to stop.
How Do We Do All This?
There will be a need to routinely survey the citizens in affected communities, see Crime in America.
We need real-time data from a cross-section of citizens to gauge what they want and how they want it done. We learned a long time ago that community leaders and politicians will ask but condemn when convenient. Weekly surveys from a reputable research institution will document how citizens feel, what they want, and how they want it done. It will be in writing for all to see. It won’t be open to interpretation by newspapers or anyone else. The survey needs to include police officer perceptions and suggestions.
Note the vast majority of communities don’t want change and don’t see the need to alter current police practices, so what I suggest will only involve select communities.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney, who unsuccessfully charged multiple police officers with homicide after the death of Freddie Gray, asked the city police to take action regarding drug use in the neighborhood Freddie Gray was operating in, NY Times. I don’t remember her saying this when all hell was breaking loose.
It’s time to get citizen input directly from the people involved. It’s time for communities to clearly articulate what they want. I’m not sure we can trust anyone to interpret the will of the community.
County sheriffs, prosecutors and other local officials in many rural areas are mounting resistance to gun-control measures moving through legislatures in Democratic-led states, reports the Wall Street Journal. The “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement has taken hold in more than 100 counties in several states, including New Mexico and Illinois. Local law-enforcement and county leaders say they won’t enforce new legislation that infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms. In New Mexico, 30 of 33 county sheriffs signed a letter pledging to not help enforce several gun-control measures supported by Democrats, according to the state’s sheriff association. The elected sheriffs say they are heeding the wishes of voters in the counties they serve.
Some call the battle a conservative version of the “sanctuary” resistance to the Trump administration’s illegal-immigration crackdown led by democratic mayors in cities like New York and Los Angeles. “If a state or city can become a sanctuary for illegal immigration, then we can become a sanctuary for Second Amendment rights,” said Quay County, N.M., Sheriff Russell Shafer. Despite the resistance, New Mexico Democrats are moving ahead with their bills. Legislation requiring background checks for most private gun sales was signed into law Friday but still faces opposition from Republicans in the state’s House of Representatives, who want to put the measure before voters next year. Democrats are also pushing a measure that would make it easier to confiscate weapons from people feared to be a safety threat. The state’s newly elected Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, supports the bills. She said the sheriffs’ resistance undermines public safety, and in recent tweets, mocked the rural revolt as “rogue sheriffs throwing a childish pity party.” In Illinois, about 60 counties have approved pro-Second Amendment resolutions, according to the Illinois State Rifle Association.
Article summation from The Crime Report.
See Crime in America for previous articles on this topic.
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