I’ve not carried a badge, and the public trust that accompanying it, for more than two decades, but I stay abreast of the law and issues important to effective and professional policing. We all should, for we all have an intimate and personal stake in law and order and the rule of law. I normally post a more conventionally education-focused article on Mondays, but in light of recent developments and the upcoming holiday, I’ll seek to educate in a slightly different way.
Our liberties are being attacked by self-imagined elites, cruel, inhuman, vicious, self-righteous and stupid people, yet they project these vile qualities on decent, Normal Americans, people who seek, mostly, to be left alone. They seek to overturn the rule of law, and with it, individual liberty. The focus of this article: do the police have the power to fail, even refuse to enforce unconstitutional, unlawful, or simply stupid laws? We first visit Jim Treacher at PJ Media:
Some say Andrew Cuomo is the worst governor in the United States, but I strongly disagree. Andrew Cuomo is the worst human being in the United States, if not the entire world.
The list of stupid things this absolute failure of a man has said and done in 2020 is too long for a mere blog post, but you can now add this complete lunacy. Bernadette Hogan, NY Post:
‘Gov. Andrew Cuomo is having a hard time getting sheriffs across the state on board with enforcing his 10-person limit on Thanksgiving dinners — his latest effort to suppress the Empire State’s rising coronavirus rate.
‘I don’t believe as a law enforcement officer you have a right to pick and choose what laws you will enforce,’ Cuomo told reporters Wednesday during an Albany-based press conference.
But a slew of upstate sheriffs have already declared they won’t be checking up on gatherings come Turkey Day, arguing limited resources and other public safety priorities trump ‘counting cars’ in driveways and ‘investigating’ how much turkey and dressing a household may purchase.’ [skip]
Cuomo keeps ranting about ‘the law,’ but his edicts aren’t laws. That’s not how laws work. He’s not a dictator. He can’t just ban Thanksgiving by fiat and expect everybody to sieg heil.
And he says the cops’ refusal to enforce his imbecilic decree is ‘frightening to democracy’ and ‘a violation of constitutional duty.’ Well, if this wannabe third-world thug wants to bring up the United States Constitution, how does the Fourth Amendment factor into this? Has Cuomo read that one? Is there a coloring book we can give him to explain how it works?
Let us also take a trip across Flyover Country to the Left Coast with Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker:
Sheriffs in five Southern California counties with a total population of 17.25 million people — equivalent to the fifth most populous state — are defying that state’s governor. They will not arrest people for violating the statewide curfew that Governor Gavin Newsom has imposed starting today, apparently on the belief that the virus wakes up and goes out at 10 P.M.
Bill Melugin of KTTV, Fox 11 in Los Angeles (hat tip: Breitbart) contacted them about enforcing the statewide curfew:
Newsom has lost all credibility for restricting activity in the name of suppressing the spread of COVID. He was caught and exposed flouting his own ridiculous strictures on eating in restaurants (put your mask back on between bites of food). Public exposure of his mask-less attendance at a party full of lobbyists at one of the fanciest restaurants in the world with no social distancing was bad enough. But his subsequent lying, smirking non-apology apology may well be the death knell for his political career.Other sheriffs in Northern California, including Sacramento County, where the governor now lives, are also refusing to enforce the curfew.
Newsom is facing an existing recall effort, with a deadline of March 17, 2021 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures. In practice, because some signatures will be challenged, at least 1,700,000 signatures will be required to get the recall election on the ballot.
These are encouraging developments, and particularly if Kamala Harris is crowned president by media/D/S/C acclamation, we will be seeing a great deal more of this kind of “resistance.” Americans are free women and men; they won’t allow mental and moral Lilliputians to harry and rule them, not for long, anyway. Let us therefore, gentle readers, review the facts. You won’t get them from the self-imagined elite.
In every state, the police are sworn to enforce the law. There are, however, enshrined in law, and if not there, well understood and long practiced principles of the common law and police policy and procedure. While the police are theoretically sworn to enforce every law, they absolutely cannot—it’s impossible. The sheer body of local, state and federal law is such no one can possibly know the existence, let alone the text, elements and procedures relating to every crime. It is, in our bizarre legal universe, virtually impossible to leave one’s home at any time without committing some kind of crime. More and more, even staying home presents the same risks.
Consider patrol officers, the police with who most people have contact. Their activities are tightly controlled. They are expected to handle calls for service of all kinds, which often leaves them no time at all for proactive law enforcement. Even agencies that are not being actively defunded or systematically attacked and suppressed find officers doing little or no proactive work, which includes actively seeking out the most active and dangerous criminals, particularly if they are members of a currently favored D/S/C sponsored/favored victim/grievance group. It’s not only more dangerous than ever to their lives, because thugs know they can get away with just about anything, it’s intensely dangerous to their careers, their families, and their ability to make an honest, middle-class living.
Detectives are specialists. In all but the smallest agencies, they are assigned specific types of crimes, such as crimes against persons, crimes against property, etc. Larger agencies specialize even further, depending on current needs, assigning detectives exclusively to rape, stalking, drug enforcement, etc. In my last police job, I was assigned to vehicle burglaries, so great was the problem, and also handled stalking cases. Specialist detectives have crushing caseloads. I always had at least 300 open cases; the responsibility to investigate—and solve—300 separate reports representing far more individual crimes. Because I was often involved with little known and seldom used laws relating to insurance, for example, prosecutors sometimes asked me about those laws rather than the other way around.
The point is simple; not only do the police not have the time, knowledge, and ability to make arrests or conduct investigations about every crime, they absolutely do not have the time, or authority, to make arrests for the dictatorial whims of thuggish politicians, whims which are certainly not in comparison with actual crimes, dangerous to the public. They are, however, uniquely dangerous to the police, particularly these days.
All professional cops know without the support of the public, they can’t do their jobs, and can’t survive. They do indeed have considerable discretion in enforcement, keeping in mind there is a clear difference between the reasonable and necessary exercise of professional discretion, and willful negligence. We absolutely want the police to have this discretion. If they did not, we would all be getting tickets for 36 in a 35 MPH zone, or changing lanes without activating a direction indicator for precisely 12.689 seconds. Imagine how steamed the public would be if jaywalking laws, or laws prohibiting spitting on the sidewalk were rigorously enforced. Competent officers won’t do that because they wouldn’t want another cop to do that to their mother or wife, and because they know better than to unnecessarily piss off the public. The know the difference between necessary and reasonable enforcement of the law and chickenshit, harassing malice and abuse of power.
Police officers, individually, as a shift, even as an agency, simply decline to enforce stupid laws, laws that make no sense, criminalize clearly lawful activities, laws written to “send a message,” or laws that are clearly unconstitutional. They don’t advertise it, don’t usually talk about about it among themselves, they merely employ common sense and courtesy, as well as self-preservation. Police officers are not lawyers, but they know as much, even more, about the Constitution as it relates to their jobs as most lawyers, and they deal with the Constitution every day. One area of the law they deal with every day, and despotic political dimwits like Cuomo and Newsom want them to violate, is the Fourth Amendment: search and seizure.
In order to make a lawful arrest, police officers must develop probable cause, which is facts or circumstances—evidence—that would convince a reasonable police officer a crime has been committed and a given person has committed it. How then, will an officer make a turkey arrest? Finding a number of vehicles parked along a residential street that might possibly suggest someone on that street might possibly be having Thanksgiving dinner with more than 10 people, do they go door to door, questioning everyone for blocks around? Try to barge in and make a head count? Stake out supermarkets and film women buying 25 pound turkeys and filling more than a single cart of groceries? Follow them home and stake out their homes waiting to count arriving Thanksgiving guests?
When the 11th guest walks through the front door, do they claim exigent circumstances—a potentially deadly emergency—that would serve as an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements, that would justify breaking down the door to seize evidence—the turkey—such desperados might destroy by eating it if they did not? Or do they cross every “T” and dot every “i” and spend several hours going through the process of obtaining a search warrant, a warrant any sane judge would not laugh, but scream out of his chambers, utterly destroying their reputation in the criminal justice system?
Or do they go undercover in restaurants, measuring the seconds involved and technique of diners as they cover and uncover their faces while drinking or taking bites of food? Are two successive bites without covering merely a misdemeanor or felony, or are felonies to be determined not by repetition but by spoon or fork content? Do the elements of the heinous crime against humanity require some combination of food and drink? Appetizers? Two scoops of ice cream on dessert like the notorious scourge of humanity, Donald Trump? How do they, on the witness stand, defend the idea the Coronavirus is benign until 2200, but deadly at 2200:01? Does that curfew offense become a felony the later one ignores it due to the increased certainty of killing others? It’s the science, after all, even if no one can cite what the “science” might actually be at any given moment. The police are smart enough to know about science, which they use every day.
Is this how we really want our police officers to spend their time? and ever dwindling resources?
Better yet, if officers are destroying democracy by declining to act as mindless storm troopers for would-be tyrants besotted with their own imagined omnipotence, should they not–every officer in the state of California–be applying for arrest warrants for Gavin Newsom and every smug corruptocrat dining at The French Laundry? Should New York Officers not have applied for arrest warrants for the Governor’s buffoonish talking head brother when he repeatedly defied his brother’s dictates and violated quarantine even as he pretended, on air, to be rigorously observing it?
There will always be a small number of public employees of all kinds who will seig heil, click the heels of their polished boots together, and do the bidding of those not worthy to shine the shoes of honest cops. But most know they’re citizens as well as police officers, voters as well as the enforcers of the law. They respect the public, and see their jobs as a vital public service and trust. They’re far too smart to be seen dragging grandma out of her home in cuffs for the “crime” of Thanksgiving dinner with her family. They’re far too moral to do something like that.
And so, gentle readers, we have learned a few lessons worthy of consideration and future study. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and when giving thanks, spare a moment for the honest and dedicated cops—that’s most of them–who really would, if necessary, take a bullet for you. People like Newsom and Cuomo despise you; no thanks for them are necessary, or fruitful.