St. Martinville Police are looking to expand their use of the “Blue Lives Matter” law that the State of Louisiana passed in May of last year. Other states are now following the lead and passing similar laws of their own.

This trend has been happening for some time now, “hate crime” laws being contorted into protecting a special victim class — the police.

Typically hate crime laws only cover race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. Note — nowhere does it say, “occupation.” But since this particular occupation happens to be employed by the same vertically integrated legal monopoly which employs those who pass the laws, police tend to have a little extra sway.

On top of that, police unions lobby legislatures in order to resist any kind of reform that the public wants, and also to push for the expansion of the already vastly overgrown series of legal privileges enjoyed by members of the enforcement arm of the state.

The whole “separation of powers” is much more myth than reality. The state is a monopolistic institution, so naturally the different branches, being populated by people who are networked in the real world, may very well collude with one another and against the citizenry, and they oftentimes have every incentive to do so.

For police that entails (1) lobbying to expand their legal privileges through the passage of laws, and (2) colluding with prosecutors or judges after the fact in order to insulate themselves from criminal or financial liabilities, meaning they are afforded either de facto impunity or a judicial affirmation of a law from (1) thus resulting in a legal precedent.

In this way the boundaries of police power are constantly trying to expand at the margins through the application of force and subsequent validation of that force as having been lawful according to conflict-of-interest ridden legal proceedings hinging on powers the state granted itself.

Police are a unique special interest group because they interface with the public in ways which oftentimes entail activities that, if a citizen were to do them to another citizen, would be regarded as armed extortion (ticketing), or aggravated assault & kidnapping (arrest), or trespassing/breaking & entering/aggravated assault/kidnapping (SWAT raid), or worse.

That statement isn’t meant to indict the police with “inflammatory language” (or perhaps language lacking the usual politically motivated euphemisms), but to point out the asymmetry in how the law, as a matter of fact, views police agents vs. citizens. And this asymmetry is also broadly recognized and viewed as necessary by some threshold segment of the population.

What it means though is that because any of these sorts of interactions pit police privileges against citizen rights, any law which expands police privileges necessarily contracts citizen rights. One cannot grow without the other shrinking.

In the case of this “Blue Lives Matter” law, while resisting arrest can already potentially be charged as a felony, the additional “hate crime” element can result in consecutive sentences or additional fines. I assume also that this would entail the prosecutor demonstrating that the defendant’s intent was motivated on account of “hatred” for police in general.

If you’ve ever been called a “cop-hater” for opposing security monopolies or for arguing that a particular instance of police aggression constituted an abuse of power then it’s easy to see how reflexively these additional charges are bound to be levied against anyone who finds themselves in the unfortunate position of interacting with one of the state’s armed enforcers.

“Resisting arrest” is, of course, a catch-all charge notorious for being used to retaliate against any insufficiently submissive serfs, and it’s also used as a means of protecting officers in cases where they were clearly acting unlawfully by allowing them to issue the narrative that the victim was the assailant. In fact, there have been cases in which people are charged with resisting arrest where the original arrest was initiated for…resisting arrest. Orwellian gibberish? Of course, but since when do things have to make sense?

With this added “hate crime” element it’s clear that the additional charges will likely be generously applied, at the very least, in cases involving confrontations arising out of open political dissent, such as during protests or filming police for accountability reasons.

In the article above, St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert of Louisiana said, “We need the police and the public to work together. The policemen have a job. The public has the job of helping the police. And if someone happens to be involved in criminal activity. Let the courts handle it. Don’t resist physically.”

How, exactly, are police and the public “working together” when the vast majority of police activity is geared towards generating “revenue” for the state, i.e., pilfering the public?

Not surprisingly, revenue generation seems to be the most worthy pursuit in the eyes of police, although those whom they allegedly “serve” seem to think otherwise. Every time there is a marijuana bust, for example, there’s always plenty of comments saying, “why don’t they go out and arrest rapists and murderers instead??”

Is it really that much of a mystery? Police departments are funded through taxation which means they get “revenue” regardless of the quality of their “services.” As a result, of course they’re going to prioritize the enforcement of laws which enhance revenue generation, such as writing tickets or waging the lucrative drug war in order to reap assets through civil forfeiture laws. They have no financial incentive to restructure their priorities because taxpayers are unable to hit them in the only place they’d listen: their wallets.

So why should the public “work together” with police in its predatory activities upon the public? The only identifiable reason is so citizens can try to avoid any escalation potentially resulting in serious injury, prison sentences, or death.

Additionally, it is convenient that Chief Herbert asserts that the public “has a job of helping the police” while only saying that the police “have a job” — correctly leaving out “to help the public” because police have no legal obligation to protect citizens (see Warren v Colombia, among others). Apparently any citizen being targeted for police aggression, aggravated assault, and kidnapping has an obligation to assist police in the matter to ensure that police aren’t placed in harm’s way. In other words, it’s citizens who are expected to “protect and serve” police by becoming accomplices in their own abuse, whereas police are under no legal obligation to “protect and serve” citizens.

As per usual though we are assured that the “courts will handle it” — implying that any and all police aggression, even if it clearly flies in the face of the state’s presumed legal authority, should be dutifully submitted to in the hopes that the conflict-of-interest ridden courts will later act on behalf of the victim. Resistance of even a modest sort is automatically criminal regardless of the threat level being posed to the citizen.

When pushing this kind of “reasoning” police always frame the discussion by conjuring images of hardened criminals who are attacking officers in order to avoid being brought to justice. Yet in reality these cases lie at the fringes whereas the vast majority seem to involve an individual resisting unwarranted aggression in a confrontation that was entirely avoidable. Alternatively, they may have simply failed to instantly prostrate themselves according to the officer’s unilateral whims.

In fact, while the overall homicide rate in the U.S. is 4.5 per 100,000 people, the police victimization rate is 4.6 deaths per 100,000. Males in the U.S. actually have a victimization rate of 6.6 deaths per 100,000, so being an officer is not as dangerous overall as just being a male living in the U.S. Despite how the supposed “War on Police” is portrayed, being an officer is not any more perilous than just being a citizen, although just being a citizen, at least in interactions with police, can prove to be quite treacherous.

The police-against-citizen homicide rate in the U.S. is 134 Americans per 100,000 officers, which is 30 times the overall homicide rate, and means police represent about 1 out of 360 members of the population but commit 1 out of 12 of all the killings.[1]

According to FBI homicide statistics from 2013, blacks, who are often cited for having significantly higher homicide rates, committed 2,698 homicides in the United States.[2] At 12.3% of the population, that comes out to a homicide rate of 6.8 Americans per 100,000 blacks. Those who are the most vocal defenders of the police tend to cite the black homicide rate whenever there’s a national news story about a black person getting killed by police, and yet the overall police-against-citizen homicide rate is 20 times higher than that.

Granted, “homicide” is broken down into “justified” and “unjustified,” and defenders of these statistics are quick to assume that the vast majority are cases involving the former, yet the media focus on individual instances always leaves out the bigger picture. As a result, people don’t “see the forest for the trees.”

The direct result of the territorial legal monopolies known as states, and their associated enforcement arms, is that conflicts of interest and active collusion within the politician-prosecutor-judge-police complex will tend towards the expansion of police privileges and the enhanced ability of police to insulate themselves from criminal and financial liabilities in order to avoid any consequences for their actions.

This does not mean to say that there aren’t cases which swing the other way in favor of a citizen who may have genuinely been the assailant, but in the big picture view the legal/financial risk assumed by an officer is artificially diminished simply as a systemic consequence of territorial legal monopolies and their inherent conflicts of interest. The greater that police legal privileges grow and citizen rights shrink, all things being equal, the more there will be an upward pressure on police-against-citizen homicides and unwarranted police aggression in general.

Indeed, New York City paid out $428 million over a five year period starting in 2009 for civil suits brought against the NYPD. Note — it’s not the individual officers who were liable, or even the NYPD, but the city, meaning that New Yorkers themselves were ultimately financially liable for the police abuse and were forced to subsidize it through taxation.[3] This kind of arrangement is common in the U.S.

To the contrary, private security firms can be held liable for any harm inflicted by their security personnel and so they purchase liability insurance to cover this risk. Firms cannot be competitive unless they take on the necessary insurance to deal with any potential poor judgment on the part of an employee, or an employee who never should have been hired in the first place. Excessive suits brought against a firm can result in bankruptcy thus effectively quarantining their bad behavior and filtering it out of the market. Overall, the priorities of private security firms must be in line with their customers’ desires because the contract between them is voluntary.[4]

This lies in stark contrast to the police privilege of “qualified immunity” which makes it virtually impossible to bring civil suits against individual officers in order to hold them financially liable.[5] Also, as the Supreme Court has shown, local government officials are immune and cannot be held liable for harm to citizens arising out of “isolated” bad hiring decisions.[6]

Thus, not only is police corruption and aggression subsidized by taxpayers, but the problems cannot be isolated and filtered out of the market. Instead, they metastasize into system-wide pandemics.

Interestingly, the “qualified immunity” doctrine roots back to the Civil Rights Act of 1871 which attempted to protect southern blacks from KKK violence, and since 1983 it’s been used to immunize government officials.[7]

Similarly, “hate crime” laws originated with the Civil Rights Act of 1968 in order to permit federal prosecution for crimes committed because of the victim’s, “race, color, religion or national origin.”[8] Now they are being transformed to identify police as a victim class in need of more protection, which is doubly ironic because the outcries over police abuse in recent years have been viewed by many Americans as a racial issue reminiscent of black protesters being blasted with high-pressure fire hoses by police during the Civil Rights era. Hence the aptly termed “Blue Lives Matter” laws.

Given the figures noted above — the police-against-citizen homicide rate of 134 Americans per 100,000 officers and the police committing 1 out of 12 of all killings — perhaps it’s understandable why Americans may be developing a “hate” for the police as a whole. Police are increasingly becoming viewed as a military occupation force and the “blowback” has come in the form of seemingly random ambushes on police in recent years, which itself has spurred the push for these “Blue Lives Matter” laws to begin with.

Yet one has to wonder why other professions are not similarly targeted for random ambushes. There haven’t been any string of attacks on doctors, directed assaults against engineers, or besieging of farmers across the U.S. These occupations emerge out of voluntary arrangements with consumers and thus consumers are more prone to view them favorably instead of with deep contempt. Nevertheless, as police attempt to expand their legal privileges in response to the malice coming from those over whom they claim sovereignty, these privileges will place an upward pressure on unwarranted police aggression and bring about a continuation of the cycle of escalation.

Some have suggested that the solution is to force police to carry personal insurance in an attempt to mimic the liability arrangements which arise out of private markets. For the same collusion oriented reasons argued above, however, even with such an arrangement the courts would be highly unlikely to award damages in an unbiased manner, and it’s possible that police unions would get involved, with financial liabilities ultimately being finagled back onto the taxpayer. In all, police privileges over the citizenry would still be in force meaning insurance liabilities would not resemble those arising out of the fundamentally different relationship between private security personnel and their customers, i.e., one which is based on voluntary contract.

The only viable solution may be to target the problem at the source and separate police budgets off from the rest of the government while making citizen payments to the severed police department voluntary. Any regulations on private security markets should be fully removed as well, and the state should be banned from attempting to contract out “private” police through existing budget structures. This would allow those citizens who want to keep funding the police force to do so while granting others the ability to put their money towards private security solutions of their choosing, or to allocate it away from security needs entirely and in any manner they please (like the rest of their assets). While police legal privileges of various kinds would still be in effect, this would at least make them more beholden to the citizenry.

When confronted with this scenario many are quick to ask questions like, “but who will protect the poor” or “how will chaos be avoided?”

There are 900,000 sworn officers in the U.S.,[9] meaning out of 324 million Americans police comprise 0.28% of the population.[10] The chances of an officer being in the vicinity of a crime and close enough to intervene are extremely low (on top of the fact that they have no legal obligation to protect citizens), and so there must already be other elements in the U.S. responsible for deterring crime.

One explanation is the prevalence not only of private firearm ownership but the documented use of those firearms to handle security threats. Americans use guns 2.5 million times per year in self-defense,[11] which includes merely brandishing a weapon, verbally referring to it, pointing it, firing warning shots, shooting it an offender, or shooting and actually wounding/killing the offender (the last category making up the smallest percentage of incidents).[12] This means that Americans use their firearms in these various ways about 6,850 times per day in self-defense, and overall firearms are used 80 times more to protect the lives of citizens than they are to take them.[13]

Yet while many police shootings garner public interest, private incidents essentially go unnoticed. The reason for this would likely be the same as to why private security personnel shootings do not regularly garner media attention: citizens have normal liabilities both legally and financially, and thus they will tend to avoid confrontation unless in self-defense and apply a tactic of restraint if possible. Self-defense is not typically viewed as lawlessness or a threat by other citizens (at least in comparison to police shootings).

One of the main deterrents against criminal elements then is not police presence but fear of the possibility of a prospective victim being armed and prepared to engage. And as of 2012, private security personnel outnumbered public police by three to one.[14] For those who may be too poor to afford security personnel, firms such as the Threat Management Center in Detroit, who mostly service corporate clients and wealthier neighborhoods, are already providing it for free to those who cannot afford it. In situations where a TMC client is close to poorer areas the patrols have the effect of automatically providing those places with deterrence against crime.[15] Even without charity private security in one area creates a veil of security in the surrounding area.

Beyond personnel, and private firearms which are widely affordable, the security industry in the U.S. includes alarm and surveillance equipment, monitoring, maintenance, private investigators, IT security, and an assortment of other related goods. As of 2012, annual private security industry spending in the U.S. totaled $282 billion, which is four times what the federal government spent on homeland security.[16]

With private security clearly in high demand and yet police killings of Americans maintaining extreme rates, the obvious interim solution is to make police funding voluntary in order to bring greater market pressures to bear on the conduct of police departments. And the poor are probably the ones burdened with the lion’s share of police aggression to begin with, so voluntary funding would allow more recent public sentiment in this regard to be expressed monetarily rather than through feeble attempts at superficial reform.

Another key aspect would be emergency police response services. As documented in a 1986 study on private security, Starrett City, a 153 acre apartment complex with 56 buildings and 5,881 apartment units situated in a high crime area of Brooklyn, had ~20,000 racially and ethnically diverse tenants with a median income of ~$24,000 in 1984 dollars. The study showed that it was one of the safest communities in the U.S. despite how bad the surrounding area was. Starrett City’s private security responded to ~94% of service calls, whereas NYPD responded to ~31% of calls in the 75th precinct in which they resided.[17] Clearly, the difference is one of incentives: private security depends for their income upon voluntary contracts which can be ended, police departments get funded through taxation essentially no matter what. They can afford to provide very low quality “services” at a much higher price without ever going bankrupt.

Beyond these functions, given that public police are traditionally viewed in an investigative capacity as well, the trend of the growing private investigation sector could serve to fill in any gaps which may be left if police were to struggle for funding, although currently investigative efforts are more lacking than people seem to realize. According to the 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics Victimization Survey, 46% percent of Americans did not report violent crimes to police with much of the reason being the belief that police would not or could not do anything to help.[18] In that same year the FBI reported that clearance rates for police (when an arrest is made and an individual is placed before a prosecutor) were at 47.4% for violent crimes.[19]

Because police can only react to crimes which are reported (the BJS data also included cases where police happened to be at the scene of the incident), this means that about 78% of violent crime in the U.S. had no government-enforced consequences. BJS data also indicated that 37% of property crimes were reported and FBI data put the clearance rates in that category at 20.2%, meaning about 93% of property crimes had no government-enforced consequences.

Interestingly, BJS data for motor vehicle theft reporting was much higher than any other category at 83.3%. This may be due to the victim expecting to recover their losses through private insurance.[20] Since victim reporting is the first step towards responding to offenses involving bodily harm or property theft, private insurance could grow to cover more aspects of human security and serve to incentivize victims to alert their providers.

Insurance companies could then hire private investigators and arrange, if possible, for monetary payment from the assailant. In cases where the offender is unwilling to negotiate, insurance companies could collaborate to create a uniform database where criminals’ information is publicly posted and threat ratings are assigned in order to facilitate social ostracism. The threat of such ostracism alone may provide enough pressure to eventually recoup significant losses on claim payouts. Insurance companies would also have a direct interest in helping clients achieve optimal security systems in order to avoid incidents altogether.

The differences between voluntarily funded private security and tax funded public police are striking. Perhaps the twisted mindset of public police seeing themselves as sovereign overlords with the supposed authority to bark orders at Americans and expect immediate compliance can be best captured in a quote from a December 2014 interview with Cleveland Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer in which he said, “I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it, and if you’re wrong you’re wrong, and if you’re right, then the courts will figure it out.”[21] This was following the incident in Cleveland where police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice based on nothing more than a tip from an anonymous phone call to emergency services. Rice was only given a second or two to respond to the alleged commands after police pulled up on him in a squad car and almost immediately opened fire.

What petty tyrants like Jeffrey Follmer “need to realize” is that you are not our masters and we are not your slaves. Nor do we appreciate being publicly threatened, presumably with lethal force, for failing to comply with whatever arbitrary whims happen to issue forth from one of the state’s armed enforcers.

With officers committing 1 out of 12 homicides it’s clear that the police themselves are the largest organized criminal threat within the United States. Use of these “hate crime” laws against Americans, who have every reason to harbor a deep resentment towards those who are openly colluding to further deprive them of the fundamental right to resist arrest or any other form of armed aggression, is unlikely to have the desired effect of pacifying people.

St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert said it best, “We don’t need the general public being murdered for no reason and we don’t need officers being murdered for no reason.”

Agreed. Since greater police privileges will lead to more unwarranted police aggression, which in turn may cause more of the same ambush-style “blowback” that largely motivated these laws to begin with, it’s better for everyone to not continue along this trajectory.

The solution is to deescalate in the most effective way possible — by allowing Americans to vote with their money and opt out of funding police.

SOURCES:

[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/is-america-facing-a-police-crisis-1469828089
[2] https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls
[3] http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/10/428-million-in-nypd-related-settlements-paid.html
[4] http://tmtfree.hd.free.fr/albums/files/TMTisFree/Documents/Economy/libertarianismo/tsapbb.pdf (pg 179)
[5] http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1861&context=student_scholarship (pg 20)
[6] See [4], pg 179 – 180
[7] See [5], pg 5 – 6
[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_crime_laws_in_the_United_States
[9] http://www.nleomf.org/facts/enforcement/
[10] http://www.census.gov/popclock/
[11] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/91da/afbf92d021f06426764e800a4e639a1c1116.pdf (pg 164)
[12] See [11], pg 185
[13] http://gunowners.org/fs0404.htm
[14] http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba763
[15] https://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/09/william-norman-grigg/call-the-anti-police/
[16] https://www.asisonline.org/Documents/ASIS%20IOFM%20Executive%20Summary%208.23.13.%20final.pdf
[17] See [4], pg 153 – 156
[18] https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf (pg 7)
[19] https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/clearances/main
[20] See [4], pg 53 – 54
[21] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.mx/entry/jeffrey-follmer-cleveland-browns_n_6330990