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Dear God in Heaven, I am about ready to disband all law enforcement in America. I wish that was a joke. But I am now entertaining serious, serious thoughts about whether organized law enforcement is a net good to society.

I've been talking about overzealous policing, and my problems with it, in past blog posts. But I got a real revelation this weekend when I was linked to an article at Reason magazine, by Radley Balko, about a videotaped drug raid, which has aroused considerable furor on the internet.

The video upset me, but did not outrage me. That came later.

I found Balko's piece well-written and insightful, so I read some other pieces by him and perused his blog, The Agitator (I strongly recommend visiting it, especially if you have libertarian or anti-authority views). I downloaded and read his 103 page study, "Overkill: the rise of paramilitary police raids in America". I cannot recommend this study highly enough. Please, please read it. It may leave you shocked, furious, and on the brink of tears, as it did me, but it will be well worth your time.

This is not a matter of hating on cops. I realize that cops have a hard job, and that many of them are good people. But the kind of police work all too often being done in America is neither moral nor sane. While this article focuses on SWAT units (particularly their increasing use and prevalence), I have found almost all police forces to be increasingly possessed of the wrong attitude toward the role of police in society.

I am a straight, white male in his early 30s, who does not use drugs and has no criminal record. And this scares the living crap out of me. That should be extremely telling about what things are like for ethnic minorities, who are disproportionately affected by this situation.

Something is very badly wrong. I've kind of known it for a long time, in a vague and abstract way. It has been brought home to me in a very concrete way...I guess I should be glad it happened without having someone break down my door and shoot me. I need to do something, and I'm still working out what.

A final note: if you haven't seen or heard about the story of the young girl shot by police in Detroit, go read it. Tell people about it. Dissemination of information is one of the few tools readily accessible to anybody reading this...it won't cure anything, but it will help.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I found it rather fascinating that I didn't hear or read anything about this in the MSM, but stumbled across it in a blog where I'd been reading up on something else. It's like my mind can't quite process the situation, because I can't grasp how it happened. Sure, logically I can follow the chain of events, but I can't figure out the why.

The big why, as this post (I suck with links, so I'll just put it here: http://www.racialicious.com/2010/05/27/the-lady-is-a-tramp-aiyana-stanley-jones-at-the-altar-of-the-media/#more-8194) points out, has to do with the cameras rolling with the squad. We all know people do asinine things when cameras are rolling for them to be on tv; why would the police be any different? Why are we encouraging them to be Johny Wayne, or Chuck Norris, or any other overworn movie trope?
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