Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Protect and Serve. WHO?

     Why, the POLICE, of course!

Catastrophes, calamities, disasters, i.e., floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, even riots all produce interesting lessons. As a resident of Eureka, CA having just experienced the January 6.5 magnitude earthquake I was extremely interested in how the local support infrastructure worked to inform, protect and serve the local community. I tried the TV, radio – both AM and FM bands and basically found nothing relevant. If there were broadcasts on some emergency channel, I couldn't find them. Finally, after securing or satisfying myself that there were no immediate threats of any kind in my immediate neighborhood, I tried the Internet. What I learned is the stark fact that the general public are all on their own. That means you'd better be ready to fend for yourself. Suffer the kind of devastation experienced in Haiti and Chile and we'd find the police and fire departments overwhelmed. At the point the police began to think they might lose control, you will see them act like the New Orleans' police right after the Katrina hurricane disaster. You already see indications of this problem in the way policing is conducted today. Look at how the whole attitude and implementation has changed since 1970. The police are almost incapable of performing their “duties” unless they are backed up by a squad of anonymous, highly trained, militarized and equipped with the latest high powered guns, armor, armored vehicles, etc. You would think they were combating or fighting some sort of insurgency movement. The simple fact is, you cannot alienate a major segment of society and walk around free and unbothered. Couple that with a measured amount of paranoia and the general public begins to present a serious threat. You can see the results starting to come out in this discussion here: “Federal Probe into Post-Katrina Shootings by Police Widens.” (Picture: New Orleans, shot seven times IN THE BACK by police using an assault rifle.)

It is a common misconception that the police work for the people. They do not! They work for the people that supervise them. In the case of the Eureka Police Department, that is the City Council. They defer to that council regardless. In the case of the Sheriff's Department, even though the Sheriff is directly elected by the people and they can ostensibly vote him or her out every four years, that “department” answers to and defers to the County Supervisors. The Highway Patrol, CDF, Fish and Game, etc. all work for the Governor and state legislature. The policing agencies enforce their supervisor's laws on the general public. They serve and protect themselves. A good example of this is posted on the Humboldt Herald here: “Push back against cop assaults.”

The Eureka City Council passed a unanimous resolution to have the DA prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone that resists, actually the word is “assaults” the police. Are they going to pass a similar resolution for complete criminal prosecution for a police officer that assaults someone? I hardly think so.

Why is it that the Wednesday, March 17, 2010, Time-Standard newspaper does not have anything on this latest Eureka City Council resolution? How is the general public supposed to know about these kinds of actions if the paper does not report them?

This is a serious issue that needs serious consideration and NOT the knee-jerk simple-minded kind offered by the City Council in support of their servants. We certainly do not need in Humboldt County what happened post-Katrina in New Orleans.  Neither do we need the kind of “push back” enforced in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan that justifies the legal precedent that the police assault no one. Criminal assault is a criminal assault regardless of who commits the act. When it is done by the police it is a far more heinous crime and should be dealt accordingly; with the full force of the law.

[Picture source]


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