The Police State is here. It’s not coming. It’s not on its way. And, I would argue, it’s not anything new.
In the past, before every phone came with a hi-def camcorder, it was much easier for psycho cops to conceal their actions. Today, not so much.
Even so, that doesn’t mean we’re any safer from police misconduct. Cops have become emboldened with new toys, thicker gear and militant combat training that brainwashes them into believing there’s a terrorist hiding in every bush and creek bed.
And, of course, everyone — from the little old lady sitting on her front porch to the pre-teen walking home from school — is guilty until proven innocent.
It’s odd that most people think we still rely on police officers to keep us safe. But if this is true, why, then, do most people feel less safe with cops around?
The harsh truth is that the feel-good catchphrase “To Protect and Serve” emblazoned on every Crown Vic (or, these days, every MRAP) is a lie.
And, to be sure, it’s always been a lie.
Case after case (just three examples are Warren v. District of Columbia, Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Department and DeShaney v. Winnebago County), proves that police have never had a constitutional “special duty” to protect citizens from harm and thus are not liable when they fail to do so.
Thing is, even if they did have some special duty to protect all citizens, they couldn’t possibly do so. They can’t be everywhere at once. So to rely on the police for protection isn’t just naive… it’s dangerous.
When it comes down to it, you and you alone are responsible for the protection of yourself and your loved ones. [Which is, of course, why we take individual self-defense so seriously here at Laissez Faire. To see our latest initiative to keep you and your family safe, click here.]
Back in the day, when an individual’s character and moral compass was regarded with more esteem than his or her flamboyant personality, Americans understood this simple fact.
“Before the mid-1800s,” Peter Kasler writes in his article Police Have No Duty to Protect Individuals, “American and British citizens — even in large cities — were expected to protect themselves and each other. Indeed, they were legally required to pursue and attempt to apprehend criminals. The notion of a police force in those days was abhorrent in England and America, where liberals viewed it as a form of the dreaded ‘standing army.’”
(Sidenote: Kasler means “liberals” in the traditional sense of the word. Today, people with minds that work like our own are forced to call themselves “classical liberals” because the word has been co-opted by those who beg for more government, and often get it. Good and hard.)
It’s a sad state of affairs when publicly-protected criminals become a bigger threat to society than the private criminals. In 2014, for example, it was discovered that cops took more stuff from people than burglars did.
And anyone who uses social media wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the police beat more people up than criminals do, too.
“The ‘law and order’ conservatives and the ‘compassionate’ liberals stand silent,” author Paul Craig Roberts writes on his blog, “while police psychopaths brutalize children and grandmothers, murder double amputees in wheel chairs, break into the wrong homes, murder the family dogs, and terrify the occupants, pointing their automatic assault weapons in the faces of small children.”
Unfortunately, unless you move out of the country, sooner or later, you’re going to have a run-in with America’s best and brightest.
That’s why, today, you’re going to learn the most effective ways to deal with police, straight from the mouth of Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore police officer and current member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
“Few people understand,” Franklin writes on Alternet, “that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them.”
The more we understand and assert our rights (and videotape the interactions), the less cops will think it’s OK to abuse our rights in the name of their own egos.
As every scrawny high schooler knows all too well, the school bully only becomes more bold when the freaks and geeks cower in fear. (Yes, in this analogy, we are the freaks and geeks.)
So, without further ado, here’s Mr. Franklin (courtesy of Alternet), with 10 rules for dealing with cops.
10 Rules for Dealing with Cops, By a Cop
Few people understand that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them.
As a 33-year law enforcement veteran and former training commander with the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, I know how easy it is to intimidate citizens into answering incriminating questions or letting me search through their belongings.
This reality might make things easier for police looking to make an easy arrest, but it doesn’t always serve the interests of justice. That’s why I believe all citizens should understand how to protect their constitutional rights and make smart decisions when dealing with officers of the law.
Unfortunately, this important information has remained largely unavailable to the public, despite growing concerns about police misconduct and the excesses of the war on drugs.
For this reason, I agreed to serve as a technical consultant for the important new film, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police.
The 40-minute docudrama aims to educate the public about basic legal and practical survival strategies for handling even the scariest police encounters. It was produced by the civil liberties group Flex Your Rights and is narrated by former federal judge and acclaimed Baltimore trial lawyer William “Billy” Murphy, Jr.
The opening scene portrays Darren, a young black man getting pulled over. He’s driving home from college. This is the fifth time he’s been pulled over in a year. Frustrated and scared, Darren immediately breaks Rule #1: Always Be Calm & Cool. Mouthing off to the officer, Darren aggressively exits the car and slams the door. The officer overreacts, dropping Darren with a taser shot to his chest.
Should the officer have tased Darren in that situation? Probably not. Would the officer likely be disciplined? No. But that’s not the main point of 10 Rules. The point is that the choices you make during the course of such encounters have a massive impact on whether it ends with a simple warning, a tasing — or worse. This is true even if you’ve done nothing illegal.
While being calm and cool is key to getting the best possible outcome, it’s not enough to keep police from violating your constitutional rights. For example, when the officer commandingly asks Darren “You’re not hiding any AK-47s in there? You don’t mind if I take a look?”, Darren gets tricked like most people do.
Intimidated and unaware of other options, he consents to the search. The officer carelessly dumps his bags, accidentally shattering Darren’s laptop on the asphalt. In another “what if” scenario, the officer finds a small amount of marijuana hidden away. While someone else might have left it there, Darren winds up getting arrested.
What few people understand, but police know all too well, is that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them. Unless they have strong evidence (i.e. probable cause) police need your permission to search your belongings or enter your home. The instant you grant them permission to invade your privacy, many of your legal protections go out the window and you’re left on the hook for anything illegal the police find, as well as any damage they cause in the process.
Of course, even if you know your basic rights, police officers are trained to shake your confidence. If you refuse a search, I might respond by threatening to call in a drug-sniffing dog and sternly reminding you that things will go much easier if you cooperate. Creating a sense of hopelessness for the suspect enables us to break down their defenses and gain compliance. In the film, we show several variations on these common threats, but the main lesson is that it doesn’t matter what the officer says; you still have to remain calm and protect your rights.
In today’s world of smartphone video, YouTube and Twitter, stories of police abuse travel fast, creating greater awareness of the problem of police misconduct. Unfortunately, this heightened awareness often serves to reinforce the notion that “cops can do whatever they want.” It’s true that much work remains to be done towards ensuring police accountability, but the very first step is to educate the public about basic constitutional rights.
Citizens who understand their rights are much less likely to experience negative outcomes, both on the street and in a court of law. Until each of us has the ability to protect our individual rights and recognize injustices against others, we’re not likely to accomplish much in the realm of broader policy reform.
I hope 10 Rules for Dealing with Police will be embraced by parents, teachers, activists, and even police departments as we work towards reducing the tension that too often characterizes the relationship between cops and the communities they serve.
Here are the ten rules featured in the film:
1. Always be calm and cool: a bad attitude guarantees a bad outcome.
2. Remain silent: what you don’t say can’t hurt you.
3. You have the right to refuse searches: saying no to searches can’t be held against you.
4. Don’t get tricked: remember, police are allowed to lie to you.
5. Determine if you’re free to go: police need evidence to detain you.
6. Don’t expose yourself: doing dumb stuff in public makes you an easy target.
7. Don’t run: they’ll catch you and make you regret it.
8. Never touch a cop: aggressive actions will only earn you a more aggressive response.
9. Report misconduct: be a good witness.
10. You don’t have to let them in: police need a warrant to enter your home.
[Ed. note: If you want to learn more about the film, 10 Rules For Dealing With the Police, click here. To learn more about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), click here. And, finally, if you want to learn insanely simple tricks to protect yourself when help isn’t on its way, click here.]
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today