Support Our Police, Even When We Must Constructively Criticize Them

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/01/09/support-our-police-even-when-we-must-constructively-criticize-them/

January 9th marks the annual National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day all across America to show law enforcement officers that our citizens recognize the difficult and sometimes impossible career they have chosen, in public service to us all.

When given a choice between supporting our law enforcement officers or anti-police groups like Black Lives Matter and activists like Colin Kaepernick, I support our law enforcement officers every time.  Our Founding Fathers established our republic on constitutional republican values to achieve a limited and effective government to secure our natural rights, which include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Our Constitution’s limited and enumerated powers for the federal government, coupled with division of powers between the federal, state, and local governments, was intended to prevent America from descending into lawless anarchy or an authoritarian police state.  I oppose the anti-police incidents where people refuse to serve cops in restaurants and social media users celebrate the murder of police officers.  I believe that law enforcement is a valid and necessary function of government and local government is the best entity to be responsible for it.  

I also support the John Birch Society’s project to preserve local (municipal) control over law enforcement in America.  Police departments that rely on the federal, state and even consolidated regional governments for funding and other tangible and intangible resources have less accountability to the communities that they are responsible for serving and protecting.  The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution clearly states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  I believe that federal grants to state and local law enforcement represent an unconstitutional use of our federal tax dollars and should be eliminated to help our republic cope with its $20.5 Trillion federal debt burden as well as ensure local law enforcement remains independent from the federal government. 

I support law enforcement as a valid function of government and I believe that there needs to be a healthy level of respect for law enforcement by our communities and citizens to ensure lower crime rates.  However, I believe that it is possible to support law enforcement and our local police while expressing concern and constructive criticism over their performance and operating practices.  Police departments cleared 59.4% of murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 45.6% of violent crimes, and 18.4% of property crimes in 2016 by arrest or exceptional means according to the FBI, which is much lower than I would have expected.  I would like to see the police unions and administration address this immediately in order to promote greater respect for law enforcement.

The law enforcement sector employed nearly 1 million people in 2016, of which over 650,000 serve as sworn law enforcement officers.  Law enforcement spending in America by state and local governments totaled $105 Billion in 2015.  Before we pour more resources into police departments to boost crime clearance rates, we should take an honest look at police operations.  For example, do we really need police officers directing traffic on construction projects in Massachusetts instead of civilian flagmen?  Chip Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxation pointed out that it was a big job benefit for the police unions, particularly since Massachusetts is the only state that still extensively uses police details at construction projects.  The Beacon Hill Institute referred to it as an “entitlement program by which police officers supplement their base salaries.”  Massachusetts should reduce the use of police details and redirect those police resources towards solving violent crimes and property crimes.

Another police operating process in need of reform is traffic enforcement.  Nearly all Americans should agree on traffic regulations and enforcement actions based on safety considerations, as opposed to serving to boost the revenue of a city, town, county or state.  Police should spend less time on speed traps and meeting their traffic ticket quotas and more time solving violent crimes and property crimes.  In order to reduce accident rates, reprioritize police resources towards solving crimes against persons and property, and foster greater respect between law enforcement and civilians, traffic enforcement should be in line with the following principles promoted by the National Motorists Association:

  • Traffic safety through sound engineering and real driver training such as setting speed limits at their safest levels and through driver education programs that emphasize early advanced driving-skill development
  • Traffic laws that are fairly written and reasonably enforced
  • Freedom from arbitrary traffic stops and unwarranted searches/seizures
  • Freedom from invasive surveillance schemes like GPS tracking, red light cameras, and bulk data collection/retention of license plates
  • Full due process for motorists
  • Reasonable highway user fees for maintaining and improving highways, not for financing non-highway projects (and no automatically increasing gas taxes)
  • Motorists’ rights that keep pace with technological advances

On Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, I reiterate my support and appreciation of our law enforcement professionals.  However, I also believe crime clearance statistics need significant improvement and I believe that we need to reallocate police resources towards pursuing violent and property crimes.  Perhaps a respected public figure like Kyle Reyes of Law Enforcement Today could take up the mantle of proactively advocating for prudent reforms to police operating practices that are in line with constitutionally republican values that will help his organization achieve its goal of earning greater respect for law enforcement professionals from America’s citizenry.

 

Joshua Norman lives in Auburndale and serves as Ward 4 Chairman of the Newton Republican City Committee.  See his previous New Boston Post Columns here

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