Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trust the police?

The Clarion Content has long been wary of the police. It is our great worry that rather than 'protect and serve', the attitudes of the American police forces, local and national, are now shaped by a mentality of 'enforce.' This get the bad guys before they get you, while seemingly a logical response to what is seen as the adversarial nature of police work, catches far too many innocents in the line of fire. It is rooted in the dog eat dog capitalist mentality of zero sum thinking, 'Your loss is my gain.' Police work does not have to be adversarial or a zero sum game. That mantra runs in contravention to the communitarian nature of 'Broken Windows,' style of policing. Broken Windows theory argues that the police are far more successful in preventing crime when the community perceives that they and the cops are working together.

Capitalism has other insidious effects on the cops, like teachers, most law enforcement officials are poorly paid relative to the society around them. Dentists, veterinarians, athletes and actors routinely make more than the police, to cite but a few examples. Worse, dealers of illegal narcotics also tend to make more money than them, leaving the cops very vulnerable to temptation.

Here are links to just a few of the negative policing stories the Clarion Content has come across in the last few weeks.

Here is a link to a story about a highly decorated Homeland Security officer, who was recently arrested in connection with possession and intent to distribute crystal methamphetamine.

Here is a link to a story in the LA Times describing years of corruption and incompetence in the LAPD's fingerprint lab. This diabolical and slipshod work has resulted in numerous convictions of the wrongly accused, as well as the inability to prosecute cases where the evidence has disappeared or been mishandled.

This is a link to a very sad story, where an Anaheim police officer in hot pursuit of four burglars shot and killed an innocent bystander at his own front door. The man killed was a twenty year-old newlywed who was roused by the possible intrusion into his home. The cops have admitted their tragic mistake.

This is a link to NPR story, passed to us by one of our local Durham readers, detailing the potential corruption that flows from seizing the property and possessions of dealers of illegal narcotics.

This is a link to a snippet which describes two seeming unconnected northern California police officers arrested in Tijuana, Mexico. Reading between the lines surely makes one think something larger might have been afoot.

This is a link to another story from Tijuana, Mexico, which is on the front lines of the drug war. More than 300 people have been killed in the city since September as part of the on-going violent struggle. The Mexican authorities have dismissed 500 cops as part of an investigation into police corruption. However, before you going looking down your nose at Mexico, dear reader, please note that a veteran police official and U.S. favorite was arrested as well, Javier Cardenas, the Mexican liaison to U.S. federal and local law enforcement agencies. Also arrested was the leading international cop in the area, Interpol's Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas.

Yet for all the populist criticism and questioning the police face, the Clarion Content is by no means certain that the world is ready for a police-less state. The very nature of capitalism makes it untenable. This is a link to a story about eleven different likely gang related homicides that have occurred in LA County in the last four days. Things may be screwed up for the cops, but do they mirror what is fucked up in modern society? Maybe the blame lies with us and the self-contradictory system we try jam them into?

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