The police have become a colonial army in virtually every city in the United States. With 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S., they constitute a greater danger than they serve as protection. In 2008, 12,501 local police departments with the equivalent of at least one full-time officer were operating in the U.S. Also in that year, local police departments had about 593,000 full-time employees, including 461,000 sworn officers. About 60% of all state and local sworn personnel were local police officers. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 75% of local police officers in 2007 were employed by police departments that authorized the use of “conducted energy devices” — such as tasers — up from 47% in 2003. Sixty-one percent of local police departments regularly used video cameras in patrol cars during 2007, compared to 55% in 2003. There were about 71,000 in-car cameras in use during 2007, compared to 49,000 in 2003.1
Police “apprehensions” have resulted in 150,000 to over 200,000 Stop-and-Frisk tactics in only the city of New York so far this year, with over 85% of those stopped being Hispanics and African Americans.2 Until the people of this country realize what is happening with the impact of the police on our communities, there will continue to be a level of repression, illegal surveillance and imprisonment unlike anything seen in the rest of the world.
Police who murder are placed on “paid administrative leave” and permitted to obtain the services of their unions and their attorneys before independent investigations can be initiated by district attorneys or other non-internal police agencies. (Just imagine being sent on a paid vacation as a benefit of having killed someone – the victim’s family doesn’t get a paid vacation – only the killer cop gets one!) The police have months to assemble their stories (or versions of the killing) before the rest of the community even hears what occurred. After a crime, the police deliver their version of the facts to the media. That “story” is accepted as gospel.
Since it is currently a crime for anyone but the police to videotape or record the murder scene until the police have come to an agreed upon description of what they say had occurred, the police have dictatorial power over the facts in American “justice.” It is widely believed that the police plant evidence into crime scenes, such as the guns, incendiary devices and drugs allegedly used during the commission of the crime. The public is not allowed to view the aftermath of the scene until the police issue their reports and hold their press conferences.
At the site of an accident or crime scene, they use their authority to stop traffic for countless hours when they deem it is necessary. For example, on 680, a major thoroughfare through the Bay Area when an officer/shooting had occurred, traffic was held up for nine hours affecting thousands of people.
Another example relates to the funerals of police officers killed in action. Public funds are used for grandiose funeral parades with thousands of officers involved.
They repeat the mantra “Our officers are trained to use whatever force is reasonable and necessary to effect an arrest or eliminate a threat” to justify whatever atrocities the police commit, as if merely uttering those words makes it so. Thus, in what can be characterized as self-serving, tautological nonsense, police acquit themselves of any misconduct by being their own judges, juries and executioners. Vallejo police, for example, have killed a citizen every month for the last 5 months – all of the murders deemed “reasonable and necessary.”
San Francisco, with almost twice the number of police officers as San Jose, is party to twice as many killings a year as our neighbors to the south. One out of three black men in the United States is in prison or on parole. We arrest and imprison more citizens percentage-wise in our country than anywhere in the world.
And yet, the daily newspapers cite one police chief after another, claiming that if we just had more money to hire additional street thugs to police us, we would be safer. Sure, and taxing billionaires would be bad for poor people because we know how generous and caring slime like the Koch brothers can be.
C’mon people, learn to think critically, and read between the lines. Fewer police will result in fewer murders, crimes and racism. We can protect ourselves better without their invasion of our communities. A limited number of police, available to handle violent, gang, Mafia and Congressional-related crime, is much preferable to the standing armies that now inhabit our cities.
- Bureau of Justice Statistics [↩]
- Goldstein, Joseph, “Street Stops in New York Fall as Unease Over Tactic Grows“, New York Times, August 3, 2012 [↩]