De-Funding The Police Is The Answer

Photo Credit - Boston Globe

Defunding the police is a large part of the answer to the murder-by-cop, civil unrest, and issues that society is facing today.

End Qualified Immunity

This legal principle stems from the Anglo-Saxon courts circa 1000 A.D. When a court handed down a judgement (named a Doom), there were two methods of appeal. The defendant could charge the Judge (Doomsman) with “falsehood”, or the defendant could challenge the Champion of the Court to combat. The appeal process went through the Church until it ended up in the King’s Court. However, this appeal did not work in the King’s Court as their word was considered infallible. In essence, the King was never wrong, in the same way that Agents of the Government can never be wrong in modern Qualified Immunity.

English Common Law adopted this provision in 1607 in a Lord Coke: Floyd v. Barker. However, Qualified Immunity was meant to protect the Judge in a royal court from a judge controlled by a royal rival. In essence, protecting one section of the government from another section of the government.

Qualified immunity was then bastardized over the next 400 years into what we see today. Do you know how many judges, police officers, and prosecutors are found guilty of crimes related to their jobs after invoking qualified immunity?

Former Charles County Judge Robert C. Nalley plead guilty to civil rights violations for electrocuting a pro se defendant because he was reading a prepared statement against the direction of the Judge. Former Judge Nalley did not invoke qualified immunity.

The Cato Institute has a great compendium of how qualified immunity applies to police officers. Cases include a police officer that attempted to shoot a family pet and instead shot a 10 year-old child in the leg, performed warrantless searches for medical records, harassed a DUI suspect for 2 hours in their home, stealing $225,000 in cash and rare coins that were outside the scope of a search warrant, just to name a few.

There is a difference between qualified immunity for LEGAL actions taken by the police, judges, prosecutors, and legislators, and ILLEGAL actions made during the course of their duties. Qualified immunity as it stands does not differentiate between the two.

Once qualified immunity is ended, we already have the legal framework for civil and criminal actions against those law enforcement officers that would act outside the bounds of their job. Title 18 U.S. Code § 242 of the Civil Rights Act allows for lawsuits against the government for deprivation of rights under the color of law.

When justifying the Patriot Act, warrantless searches, and court ordering a defendant to turn over encryption keys, the government refrain is “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Let’s apply that talking point to the government as well, if law enforcement has nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Defund the Police

Yes, defund every police department across the country. Fire the police officers, put their equipment into storage, nullify their union contract, and stop daily operations.

Fund the Sheriff

The position of Sheriff, much like qualified immunity, also comes from Common Law. Their authority is derived straight from the State Constitution and allows them to operate as an independent entity. The “Police” Department is run by a Police Chief, appointed by politicians and accountable to those politicians. Whatever your opinion of them, Brunswick Police Chief Milt Frech, Frederick Police Chief Patrick Grossman, Thurmont Police Chief Gregory Eyler, and Mt. Airy Police Chief Douglas Reitz are directly accountable to the Mayor and Council of their respective towns. They are not directly accountable to the voters of their jurisdiction.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Department is directly accountable to the citizens they protect. Every four years, we elect the Sheriff that we want administering the department. The issues of policing become campaign and political issues. The county gets to vote on how they want Law Enforcement to operate.

If Kavonte Duckett was not bloviating at his protest, he has every right to run for Sheriff, put his name on a ballot, and present his vision of law enforcement in the county. If 50.1% of the voters agree with his ideals, then those become our ideals. That’s how elections work.

Recruitment Standards and Training

Police recruitment standards today are atrocious. Not so much at the entry level to get into the academy, but in the maintenance of the standards. Require ongoing training in de-escalation, negotiation, civil rights and liberties, firearm proficiency, and martial arts. Danny Farrar, CEO of SoldierFit, offered any law enforcement officer 3 months of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training for free. Every department in Maryland should have signed up already.

I can personally speak to the issues of civil rights and liberties. Just last November, I was falsely detained by a Maryland State Trooper. A Frederick County Sheriff Deputy told the Trooper outright that his actions against me were false imprisonment and illegal. The Trooper apologized. The entire incident was recorded. Anyone with the ability to shoot you in cold blood and claim “qualified immunity” should understand the legal requirement for detaining or arresting someone.

End Militarization

The mentality of “us versus them” works when you are fighting communists and terrorists. It does not work when applied to US citizens. No-knock raids, performed by officers decked out in tactical gear, talking like they are about to raid Bin-Laden’s compound, has no place in policing. In rare and sparse instances, such a response is required.

What threat did Duncan Lemp actually pose to any officer knocking on his door? Is cryptocurrency, computer programming, and legally owned Maryland-compliant firearms a threat to a peaceful society? Do any of the above warrant murdering someone sleeping in their bed? Montgomery County’s silence on Duncan Lemp is deafening. Where is the body camera footage? If it truly exonerated the department, why has every PIA request for the video been denied?

This is the same tactic the ATF employed when they raided the Branch Davidians in Waco, and a question posed during the congressional inquiry. If David Koresh was such a safety hazard, why did the ATF not arrest him during his weekly trips into town? Instead, they laid siege. The ATF wanted a fight, and they got one, and 80 people died.

Duty to Protect

A little talked about aspect about law enforcement is that they have no duty to protect, no duty to act when witnessing a crime, and no duty to protect individual citizens from harm. In Warren v. District of Columbia, a woman called the police to stop a home invasion. She was subsequently kidnapped, raped, and tortured for 14 hours. The police officers did not adequately respond to the calls, the woman was being raped while police were on site.

If we are going to hand over our rights to self-defense through gun bans and arbitrary restrictions on firearm ownership/possession, then our law enforcement officers should also be duty-bound to protect us from crime.

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