Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Police No Longer Work for You, Secret Chicago Interrogation Edition

That is the title of a not unreasonable piece admonishing Conservatives to resist a tendency to glorify the police force.  The author writes:
Without substantial reform, there is little we can do to fix this sad state of affairs in which police officers are flagrantly contemptuous of the law yet suffer no consequences. Police officers, like public school teachers, have strong unions; like public teacher unions, police unions often work for the benefit of their inept and inadequate members. The purpose of a union is generally not to make the world a better place but to enrich and insulate the people lucky enough to be a part of the union itself.
While I think that there has been an unreasonable, overreaction to certain recent police actions (e.g. that racism was the cause of the death of a strong-armed robber), that there are many fine, upstanding police officers, and that a police force is a necessary evil in any state; nonetheless, it is good to be reminded of the monopoly of force the state has over its citizens and that, as such, abuses of power which go unchecked strengthen that very monopoly.  (As well, one should also be wary of the Obama administration's recent militarization of the police force).  Police qua police are not saints; nor are soldiers.  Police and soldiers are public servants.

Here is another good article along the same vein.  Excerpt:
During the Great Depression, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia famously walked into a city welfare office to make an unannounced inspection and found one employee sprawled back in his chair, his feet on his desk, his hat on his head, and a sandwich in his hand. The mayor made an inquiry, and the welfare worker growled through his well-stuffed mouth that he was eating his lunch. LaGuardia strode over to him, knocked his hat off his startled head, and barked, “Stand up and take your hat off when you talk to a citizen!” To the reporter following him, he remarked, “There’s another son of a bitch who has no job.”
That always struck me as the perfect model of public-employee management. The city worker is the servant of the public, hired and paid by the public to do the job it appoints him to do. Citizens don’t work for government, but vice-versa—and in an age when public employees have better retirement packages than many of the taxpayers whose money funds them, that should be truer than ever. But in a world in which public employees have not only civil-service protection but also union protection—which even Franklin D. Roosevelt dismissed as a ridiculous idea—the opposite is ever more usually the case.

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