'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

28 January 2013

We Are The Police And The Police Is Us

With Angus healing and time on my hands whilst I tend to him I need to get back into the fight. I've been mulling this one over for a few days now.

The current gun control, armed teachers and guards in schools, etc. argument misses an important point. Who are the police and what is their primary function?

It is commonly accepted within police circles that Sir Robert Peel is the father of modern policing. He incorporated the principals by which all western police organizations adhere (or at least pay lip service to). Here are the Nine Principals Of Policing as laid out by Peel (emphasis mine):
  1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

  2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

  3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

  4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

  5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

  6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

  7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence

  8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

  9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
Let's set aside the basic mission of the police for a moment and concentrate on who is ultimately responsible for the safety of persons and property here in America. If you read those Nine principals what I hope strikes you is the idea that our very concept of law enforcement and self defense, aside from residing in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, rests largely on these ideas, primarily number 7 that I have highlighted. Let's read that again.

The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence. 

I always get such a warm feeling when I read those words. It's a very large concept for such an innocuous sentence. What Peel was saying is that every citizen is responsible for the enforcement of our laws. Ok. Let's go back to those principals and see what they say about duties and mission.

If we are the police and the police is us then it stands to reason that we are not only responsible for doing our duty to the whole, that is the nation state, by defending it and those weaker citizens who can't defend themselves but also to defend ourselves. It's not just a right, it's the duty of every citizen.

Let's go a step further. In addition to "We are the police and the police is us" I'd add "We are the military and the military is us". We have a Citizen Military including Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard). Throw in that Citizen Militia the Second Amendment talks about and we see that the tools of democracy are supposed to be right where the founders wanted them and the Constitution envisioned them. In the capable grip of the citizenry. We're talking about Weapons here, not the right to protest or speak or even to vote for the representative of our choice. The means of defense of country and self reside where they always have. In the hands of The People. By statutory and customary authority.

Back to the mission of the police and even the military. What are they supposed to do really? They are supposed to prevent crime and disorder in the case of the police and to defend the nation and our vital interests abroad in the case of the military. Note there's no mention of defense of the individual. It's accepted that defense of the whole does in fact render defense to the individual from widespread harm whether from internal or external forces but that's macro. What of the micro? On the individual scale both the founders and those who have shaped our society envisioned that the individual citizen was responsible for their own safety and that of their immediate family and community. Read through Posse Comitatus (Common Law). Here's the money quote;
Posse comitatus is the common law or statute law authority of a County Sheriff or other law officer to conscript any able-bodied man to assist him in keeping the peace or to pursue and arrest a felon, similar to the concept of the Hue and Cry". Originally found in English common law, it is generally obsolete; however, it survives in the United States, where it is the law enforcement equivalent of summoning the militia for military purposes.

Nothing extraordinary in any of that of you're an American. The concept of a Posse and assisting a police officer is ingrained in our collective psyches. I've used it myself in my police career without hesitation. Again "We are the Police and the police is us". Talk to Sheriff David Clarke if you think that idea is dead. That's a man I both understand and would work for in a hot second.

The courts, including the Supreme Court, have recognized that the police have no duty to protect the individual. Go back to the police mission as outlined by Peel. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder. The conclusion is both inescapable and obvious. We are individually responsible for our own safety.

What then of guns, the tools of personal protection. If we are indeed the police and the military it stands to reason that the tools available to them are the very tools that must be available to us. We cannot separate the citizen from the cop or soldier because we are them and they are us.

Yet we hear a constant drumbeat of "Only the police and military should have X guns and Y accessories". Ok fine. I'll stipulate that for the sake of argument. All that does is strengthen the Second Amendment argument against Infringement because, as I believe I've written once or twice here, We Are Them. We are the Police and We are the military. We. Us. American Citizens. The sure and certain road to tyranny and a true police state is abrogating this concept and that is precisely what the left is currently trying to do. Make the police and military separate entities from the general citizenry. Us versus Them. Here's proof. In virtually every piece of gun control legislation put forth post 1968 there's a provision exempting active and/or retired law enforcement. It's just another trick to try and divide one group of citizens from another. 

If the modern tools of the police and military are withheld from the People and given only to the select then we have created a system of three classes; Armed, Unarmed and the Elite upon whom no law is enforceable. That's a path to servitude for the majority. Even omitting hot button words like slavery, tyranny, socialism and the like we're still left with one inescapable conclusion. If the People are no longer the police and the military and they are no longer us then loss of essential liberties to those who can wield such force will follow like night after day. Pretending otherwise is either lying or Three Monkeying.

Finally I'd like to remind the "We must do something now" crowd of the last of Sir Robert Peels Principals. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it. If that is the standard we hold our police to, and I fervently hope it still is, then I submit that end result we are looking for is the absence (or at least diminution) of crime and acts of violence against the whole of society and not to simply do something, even if it's wrong, in the vain hope we'll hit the right target. Yes, the individual is largely left to his or her own devices but as long as they have the lawful right to defend themselves and the needed tools then we as a free and democratic society have done all that we can. All that we should. Good policing is quiet policing.

It's been proven time and again that gun bans neither reduce nor eliminate criminality but placing the means and trust for defense in the hands of the citizenry does. The current gun ban call put forth by Dianne Feinstein is a case in point. The rules of logic and intent still apply. If the fix doesn't actually work and demonstrably won't be widely obeyed there must be another reason it's being put forth. Incompetence or malicious intent. It's either disingenuous or it's nefarious. Criminals by definition do not obey the law. Legislation like this serves only to further sever the already tenuous link between the free citizenry and those who see the Constitution as a nuisance. Between those actively advocating for a police state and those opposed. Between Liberty and Tyranny. It really is just that simple. If the politicians on the left and their enablers really wanted a solution to crime and violence they'd loudly remind us of our duties as citizens and then step back and let us get on with it. Really, we've already gone past the point where the politicians are us and we are them else we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

We are the police and the police is us. Such a simple and beautiful concept. That's what this whole argument really boils down to in my view. Either we are the arbiters of our own fates or we are not. Are we individually sovereign or are we not? That's the only real question that needs to be asked and answered. The rest is a smokescreen, a way to get the camel's nose under the tent and that is the imminent danger. Because sure as hell, once he gets that first taste there's nothing on earth that will get him back out again short of force. I'm still hoping we can avoid that. I really, really am.

I love Peel's Nine Principals. I used to read them constantly at work to remind me of what my job was all about. The connection between me and those I served. Between the cop on the beat and the Minute Man at home. The concept and willingness isn't dead it's just been forgotten by those who damn well should know better. Don't ever forget my friends, we are all Citizen with all those rights and duties incumbent on us. Don't give an inch. Find your inner cop, your inner soldier, your warrior spirit, and defend!



Rev. Paul said...

You've just said what may be the finest exposition on this topic I've ever read.

My hat's off to you, sir.

Six said...

Thanks Rev!

Anonymous said...

Six, Your usual articulate self at its finest! Such a simple concept, personal responsibility and mutual aid, that is so foreign to so many of our fellow citizens. regards, Alemaster

Anonymous said...

Nicely done there Six.

Old NFO said...

Well said, one of the more cogent monographs I've seen in a LONG time on law enforcement!

Six said...

Thanks Alemaster. Lessons we had better remember and quickly I fear.

Many thanks Anon.

Thank you NFO. I'm still waiting for the hate mail on this one!

OldAFSarge said...

Brilliant Six! I've directed my readers to come on over. This is a "must read".

jib said...

Interesting article, quite enjoyed it. You might be interested to know that we actually have a citizen posse in our community/county and I know quite a few of the members.

Six said...

Thanks Sarge!

It's a growing concept jib. As long as it doesn't turn into a good ol boy's club I support it.

Buck Pennington said...

In re Feinstein... "It's either disingenuous or it's nefarious."

While one should NEVER underestimate the extent of ignorance I kinda fall down on the latter. That said, can I have BOTH?

A very well-written piece, Six.

Suldog said...

Came here from The Ol' AF Sarge. Glad he sent me! Well-reasoned and true.

Six said...

Thanks Buck. You may very well be right, it's some of both. Feinstein cannot be trusted, either for her competence or her honesty. She used to be one of my senators and I am so glad she's not any more!

Many thanks Suldog and Welcome. We're glad to have you here. Any friend of Sarge is a friend of ours :)