Farewell to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Part II

In my previous article, I wrote about why I left the Sheriff’s Department and shared some of my good memories.

As I said, law enforcement is about dealing with people at their worst, during nights, weekends, and holidays, as well as in bad weather. It’s a rough, thankless business. I like having a regular schedule. I dislike dealing with the public. It’s much easier to deal with a recalcitrant computer.

However, here’s another reason I left: I couldn’t trust the Sheriff’s Department brass hats to back me up. At the risk of stating the obvious, law enforcement means that force has to be used sometimes. However, in these times, almost every use of force, or even of strong language, leads to howling about racism, brutality, and insensitivity, no matter what the circumstances. For brass hats and their political masters, the temptation is strong to sacrifice line personnel who, God forbid, use force without having twenty-twenty foresight. The mission of law enforcement agencies is no longer law enforcement; the mission is to avoid liability and bad press. It’s always easy for those in academia, politics, or the media, many of whom lack a law enforcement background, to be Monday-morning quarterbacks. Living in fear that any of my actions might result in the end of my career is not a good way to live. So I chose not to live that way.

Law enforcement personnel are human beings, not robots. Big surprise: Being tired, hot, hungry, thirsty, or cold may make it harder for law enforcement personnel to be perfect, which is what the public and the politicians want. Law enforcement personnel also don’t like being cursed at, spat at, assaulted, or shot at. If they think you’re endangering them, you’ll be the one being shot at or thumped.

Who knew?

Here’s how William Shakespeare put it in The Merchant of Venice:

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

If you poison us, do we not die?

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

While revenge is rightfully not part of the law enforcement credo, self-defense or defense of one’s partners certainly is. That has been forgotten by those who hate law enforcement. Law enforcement personnel been attacked with increasing frequency over the last few years. Personnel have been ambushed, assaulted, and executed. As Chief Brown of the Dallas Police Department said, society dumps all its problems on law enforcement.

In addition to dumping problems on law enforcement, many politicians like to bash law enforcement instead of considering their own roles in creating society’s problems through ill-considered legislation and regulation. To state the obvious, laws are created by politicians. The more laws and regulations there are, the more matters there are for law enforcement officers to investigate, to hand out citations, and to arrest. All of this leads to more interactions between the public and law enforcement. Some of these interactions, as we all know, end with shootings or other uses of force. Taxpayers are also on the hook for the overloaded courts, the overcrowded prisons, and the need for more and more and more lawyers, judges, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers.

So here’s a crazy idea to reduce public/law enforcement interactions and save money: Less laws!! Before political leaders pass some legislation, or regulatory agencies conjure up more rules, they should ask themselves whether the proposed legislation or rule is really about public safety, or is it about raising revenue or making some special interest group happy at the expense of everyone else?

One example is parking enforcement. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with ticketing or towing those who park on sidewalks or who block driveways or fire hydrants. However, residents of Los Angeles County know that Santa Monica’s parking enforcement is very aggressive. If someone is a few minutes over the time on a meter (a few minutes, not an hour!), is a whopper of a ticket really about public safety, or about raising revenue? The same question can be asked about speed cameras and red light cameras.

Next on the list: prohibition of drugs and commercial sex (prostitution). These should not be crimes at all. Let’s be honest: People want sex and drugs and alcohol. Prohibiting something that people want doesn’t magically make it go away; it simply drives it into the hands of criminals. We should have learned this from the stupidity of Prohibition. The temperance twerps who managed to ram through a Constitutional amendment that reduced freedom didn’t make the demand for alcohol go away. Instead, the demand for alcohol was satisfied by gangsters like the infamous Al Capone.

Nowadays, we have no shootings over the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol because it can be done openly. By contrast, we have the ferocious drug cartels who spread murder and anarchy throughout Mexico and the other Latin American countries, and to a lesser extent here – because drug manufacture, sale, and distribution is still illegal. That’s why I proudly voted for the legalization of marijuana in my home state of California.

For the record, I’ve never tried drugs and don’t intend to. I don’t think that trashing one’s mind and body is cool or spiritual. I simply note that prohibiting drugs doesn’t prevent drug use; instead, it wastes taxpayer money, endangers citizens and law enforcement personnel, and tromps on privacy and civil liberties. The drug war is a colossal failure and it is time for drugs – not just marijuana -- to be made legal nationwide.

The same goes for commercial sex (prostitution). Want to protect sex workers from kidnapping and abuse and squalid working conditions? Don’t engage in feminist or religious rants about sex. Don’t try to use the police to stop commercial sex. Instead, legalize it. Bring it into the light. Let brothels be set up by honest entrepreneurs who will be monitored by OSHA and other regulatory agencies. Maybe some brothels will be run by women. After all, Playboy was run by a woman, Christie Hefner, for over twenty years.

The demand for sex is a fundamental human drive; it’s not going to go away. Let us instead make it safe for the sex workers and for the customers. In a time of more and more automation and outsourcing, the legalization of commercial sex will provide an extra supply of jobs. Why bother with sex robots or dolls when you can get it on with a real person, legally, in a safe environment?

Why should I be a sworn law enforcement officer and risk my life, my freedom, and my career to interdict the sale of goods and services which should be legal? Why should I be a sworn law enforcement officer and risk my life, my freedom, and my career to meet ticket quotas which are about revenue-grubbing rather than public safety? No thanks to both. I’ll deal with computers instead.

Message to the public: The buck stops with the politicians. If you don’t like a law, don’t pick a fight with the law enforcement officer whose job it is to enforce that law. Doing so is a good way to end up thumped or Tasered or shot. If you don’t like a law, write to your politicians to modify the law or get rid of it entirely, and use social media to encourage others to do so. Donate to groups that share your beliefs. You might not be able to give much, but for these groups, every little bit helps. The real threat to liberty isn’t law enforcement officers. It’s their political masters.

Added 08-03-2018: Sovereign Man recently added an excellent post about how too many laws strangle free enterprise. Read it here.

For further reading:

Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces

Peter Schiff, The Real Crash

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