Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Police can’t be blamed for lawlessness
On Your Right
A quick question to see if anyone out there is still in possession of even half their faculties. Who most needs the police and the protection of the laws?
It seems a tenet of faith on the left side of the aisle that laws and law enforcement exist for the protection of the rich and privileged, and the sooner they are swept into the dustbin of history, the better. This is not only damaging to the fabric of our nation and society, it is lunacy of the first order.
Wealth can see to its own defenses, secure behind gates and walls with discrete and ubiquitous private security to guard its well-manicured lawns. The middle class and especially the poor have no such recourse; they rely on the laws, the police and the courts to keep them from those who would do them harm. Which is why it is irony verging on crime that political leaders playing to minorities and the poor insist on portraying all these three as enemies of those they cultivate. Such actions will not only make it more difficult to maintain the peace, they will actually increase the probability that those they pretend to support will be victimized by criminals.
Following Baltimore, Maryland’s riots in 2015 over alleged “police brutality,” the mayor criticized the police force and a state district attorney promised police scalps to the mob. Subsequently, police patrols in many city neighborhoods became far lower key. The result? In 2017 the city saw its third record-high murder rate. Other types of violent crime also rose. From Ferguson, Missouri to Chicago, Illinois to Oakland, California and elsewhere across our fair land, similar results are seen.
Another example occurred just last week in a Baltimore suburb. Four teenagers were burglarizing homes when police officer Amy Caprio approached their vehicle. The driver, one Dawnta Harris, ran her over and killed her. Her lawyers now argue that officer Caprio’s death is her own fault: she “displayed aggression” by raising her weapon; Harris “accidently struck her” as he tried to get away. In this case however, there has been a public outcry against both the incident and the efforts of lawyers and the political class to paint it as another example of police “over-reaction.” Unfortunately but understandably, some elements of the pushback are tinged with violent language and outright hatred. Some in the community have apparently had enough of excuses and blaming of law enforcement for lawlessness.
The conclusion is straightforward: if the police are threatened with prosecution for doing their job or if they face immediate criticism from public officials for doing it, they will do less. The communities which will suffer disproportionately are those which can least afford to do so.
None of which is to say that there are not corrupt, vicious or incompetent police; there are, just as there are in any line of work. And when one is given a firearm by the government and a charge to keep the peace, it is important that those thus empowered are both retisent and their actions subject to review. But we must also recognize that these are men and women who have chosen to serve the community, protecting those who often cannot protect themselves and doing so at considerable risk to their own lives. Last year, 135 police men and women died on duty in our country; 46 were shot, ten more were struck by automobiles, 32 died in car and motorcycle crashes. One was stabbed to death. Of the 135, at least eight were killed in deliberate ambush attacks.
We walk a tightrope in America, a land founded on, and nurturing of, rebellion but also a land that respects the power and importance of private property and individuality. We need enough law and order to keep us reasonably safe, but less than required to turn us into a nation of Winston Smith clones. We don’t like out-of-control police because, be it 1968 Chicago or 1999 Seattle, the idea of those charged with enforcing public order violating that order themselves out of anger or politics is deeply disruptive. But out-of-control criminals are worse: they have denied the very foundation of civilized society, deciding that their wants or needs outweigh any other consideration, regardless of cost. They would burn down the world, if only to have a night’s warmth and a little entertainment. They are nihilism personified.
History is clear about the result when they are given preference over the forces of public order: there will be chaos, and it will first shred the lives of the poor and powerless. So in criticizing those who protect us, we should at least be temperate and attend fact, lest the least among us be left unprotected.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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