Our front line defenders desperately need a narrower, more clearly defined mission based on maximizing freedom, eliminating injustice and projecting a posture of peace throughout the world.


Law enforcement often states their mission is “to get the bad guys off the streets”.  This is a good start, but it deserves a deeper analysis.  What is a “bad guy”?  When you take them off the streets, where do they go?  We are at a crossroads, knowing that we can no longer afford prisons that are too full and criminal convictions too much determined by race.  The police can’t do their job if society doesn’t define the mission clearly.  I believe that law in America exists to protect property and life from physical violence.  Legislators at all levels should work to reduce the number of laws the police have to enforce to just those things.   Police should have the time and resources to investigate crimes of violence, robbery, theft and fraud, and get those “bad guys” off the street.  

We have to change our expectations of a police force able to prevent crime and realize that their mission is better defined as catching criminals who have committed a crime.  As a society, we can’t afford to fund police departments to the extent they can be successful with the former, and we can’t maintain a free society if the police do not have the resources to do the latter.  This will require more detectives and fewer “cops on the beat”.  The best chance of preventing crime is private security working in conjunction with the public police.  Laws should be written and attitudes changed to encourage this approach.  

What a strange and terrible irony to see the police stand down when property is seized by thieves and looters right in front of them, as in the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, and also having witnessed them breaking down a door in Louisville without warning and killing Breonna Taylor in her own apartment.  The message seems to be, “we won’t protect you or your property, but we will attack you in your own home.” This is a clear message that police have become dysfunctional by the absence of any understanding what their mission is supposed to be.  Crimes against property are barely enforced, yet drug crimes seem to be the only crimes for which the police have any enthusiasm.  Could this be because the incentives are all in the favor of enforcing drug laws and so little incentivized at protecting property? 

Libertarians have from the beginning decried the abuses of police departments and the laws they are asked to enforce.  It has fallen on deaf ears.  In 1971, their first year, the Libertarian Party called for “the repeal of all ‘crimes without victims’ now incorporated in federal and state laws”.  The same platform declared itself opposed to ‘no-knock laws’”.  “We support full restitution for all loss suffered by persons arrested, indicted, tried, imprisoned, or otherwise injured in the course of criminal proceedings against them which do not result in their own conviction,” the LP proposed in 1976.  “Law enforcement agencies should be liable for this restitution unless malfeasance of the officials involved is proven, in which case they should be personally liable.”  Michigan Representative Justin Amash, the only Libertarian in Congress, literally wrote the bill that would eliminate qualified immunity.  As stated in the Reason Reader “Police Reform” edition, “Real change requires … reducing the opportunity for government agents to use violence against the public.  That means fewer laws to be enforced and less intrusive enforcement of those laws.  That’s a hard pill to swallow for ideologues who are committed to forcing people to do what they don’t want to do, or by forcibly stopping them from exercising their own preferences.”  Yes, that would apply to mandatory mask wearing, forced vaccinations, backyard chicken coops and raw milk Co-ops.

Jacob Sullum, a writer for Reason Magazine, published an article on June 5, 2020 which suggested 5 ways to curtail police violence and prevent more unnecessary deaths like George Floyd’s. 

1.)    Ban Chokeholds

2.)    Use de-escalation techniques before resorting to force.

3.)    Make it easier to fire bad cops.

4.)    Increase police transparency

5.)    Abolish Qualified Immunity

The Defund the Police movement, like most grass roots movements, can mean many things to many people.  Most do not mean that all police department budgets should be eliminated and police departments disbanded.  These people define defund as reducing police budgets and restricting the activities in which they’re involved.  Another article from the June 5th issue of Reason written by Scott Shackford called 3 Libertarian Tips for the #DefundPolice Movement listed the tips as follows:

1.)    If you don’t account for revenue from fines, fees and forfeiture, this can all backfire against the poor.

2.)    Police employee pension commitments are crushing your budgets.

3.)    What laws, regulations, and taxes are you willing to give up? In explanation, he says, “The police are being used to enforce a host of regulations that have fundamentally criminalized a lot of poorer people’s economic activities, entirely because the government isn’t getting a cut of the money.”  The Eric Garner death at the hands of New York cops and the conditions in Ferguson that led to the tremendous backlash after the death of Michael Brown are representative of the sort of disasters created by this “mission creep”. 

Finally, the war on terror applied to the home front and the militarization of police are insidious factors that must be dealt with in a firm and thorough manner.  The Pentagon’s 1033 program is out of control and should curtailed by Congress the same as any other budget item.  We must end the surveillance state and the police state.  Again quoting Reason, “This conveniently malleable approach to counterterrorism has been unconstitutional, costly, counterproductive, and inhumane at home just as it has abroad.”

Author: John Stewart

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