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By Dan Carlson
Prairie Ponderings 

What's Happening in Policing?

 

Police are being scrutinized, vilified and persecuted with intensity I don’t recall seeing before in my lifetime.

The media have crafted a narrative that would have us believe cops are on the hunt for people of color, resulting in increased calls for police reforms, accountability and oversight.

Accountability and oversight have always been present in every police department I’ve associated with. I’ve hung out with cops, ridden on patrols with cops, been invited to shoot qualification rounds with cops, and befriended many police officers in my day. Why? Because I admire them.

Imagine going to a job every day not being certain you would return to your family after your shift. Think about understanding the next call could land you in the fistfight of your life. Or how about having to be out and on the job helping people when the rest of the town or county has a snow day during a blizzard? It takes a special person to put on a badge each day and head out the door. And in the last year, thousands (yes thousands) of men and women in law enforcement have decided it’s just not worth it anymore and resigned or retired early.

Now we’re seeing increased calls to defund or outright abolish police. I heard a poll on a podcast over the weekend which claimed 36 percent of millennials surveyed want to abolish the police – not just defund them, abolish.

Another poll commissioned by Skeptic Magazine found 44 percent of respondents who identify as “liberal” sincerely believed police shoot about 1,000 unarmed black men each year. The actual number is about 27, but that’s also misleading because “unarmed” doesn’t mean “posed no threat”. For example, someone shot while trying to run over a state trooper is still classified as unarmed, as is someone reaching for a weapon not on their person.

The U.S. House has passed the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021”, which now goes to the Senate. This bill restricts the use of no-knock warrants and chokeholds; establishes a national registry to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct ( a registry of “bad” cops); lowers the criminal intent standard from willful to knowing or reckless to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct, and limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer (makes it easier for anyone to sue an individual officer for perceived wrongs). Those are just a few of the bill’s provisions, others of which allow the federal government to withhold federal funds from law enforcement departments that fail to adopt federal suggestions. Finally, it directs the Department of Justice to create uniform accreditation standards for law enforcement agencies and LEOs to complete federally approved training on racial profiling and implicit bias.

Where is all this leading? Well, in places where police have had funding cut already there have been dramatic increases in crime. Surprise! And I predict (really going out on a limb here) that in places experiencing shortages of police officers you will also see an increase in crime, along with officer retention and recruitment decline. As crime increases and criminals become more impudent, you’ll see citizens and communities demand somebody do something. And that something will be a call to replace local law enforcement with a federal police force that’s federally funded, federally trained and federally supervised. Federal police? What could go wrong? Then again, we no longer teach our young people the history of such things as the gestapo.

 

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