On July 5, 2011, Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by police officers in Fullerton, California. No legal action was planned, and no local media outlets would touch the story — until local bloggers got involved. Their efforts resulted in the first murder charge against a police officer in Orange County history.
Traditional media no longer effectively serve their primary purpose as government watch dogs. The importance of keeping a camera handy and having the courage to record public officials cannot be overstated in these times.
If you see or record State officials (police officers, elected representatives, etc.) engaged in unethical, corrupt or destructive behavior, and local media won’t touch your story, consider Utah Liberty Alliance your resource for getting the word out.
The call for more police officers in East Salt Lake has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with politics.
District 6 City Council challenger Charlie Luke distributed a campaign flyer recently accusing Salt Lake City police of neglecting the East bench and concentrating operations on the West side. As a result, he contends, public safety there has been “seriously jeopardized” despite statistics demonstrating crime rates there are down.
This is obviously political peddling at its rankest, but there is so much else wrong with it. If East side residents are really concerned about safety, why would they look to the police? What do the police have to do with safety? Courts have ruled time and again that police officers do not have a legal duty to protect citizens. The function of a law enforcement officer is just that: to enforce the law. They will enforce the law even if it harms innocent people, even if it violates your rights, even if it makes no sense whatsoever.
A perusal of police misconduct statistics ought to be enough to deter most from seeking help at the hands of police. Police are more likely than the average citizen to commit physical and sexual assault. It makes sense, too. They are in a position of power, and power corrupts. They are less likely than the average citizen to be taken to court, less likely to be convicted, and received lighter sentences when they are convicted. Their “qualified immunity” shields them from liability for many of their actions.
East side residents who are serious about staying safe ought to pursue proven strategies and methods. They ought to be arming themselves. According to FBI figures, gun ownership is at an all-time high in the U.S. while violent crime is at an all-time low. Residents also ought to be instituting and improving neighborhood watch programs. These programs have proven to be one of the most effective and least expensive crime prevention strategies. Residents ought to ramp up surveillance systems, install adequate security lighting, post security notification signage, and organize safety education programs. They also ought to consider employing private security agencies to replace the police altogether. Such agencies do not have the State-privileged immunity of cops and are beholden to their customers for their conduct and performance.
It’s difficult to think outside the box of the State for those who have been raised in it, but when we do, we find a vast array of more effective and less expensive alternatives. When the safety of my family is threatened, I don’t want to rely on calling a man to my home who is armed to the teeth, has no responsibility to protect us, and is not likely to be punished if something goes wrong. I would rather use voluntary cooperation to develop and implement solutions that work.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute a police officer who shot and wounded an alleged car thief, even though the shooting was ruled “unjustified.”
Salt Lake City Police Officer Matthew Giles may have violated criminal statutes when he fired his rifle eight times, striking the teen driver in the arm and torso, but District Attorney Sim Gill said the case did not “present a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial.”
“We didn’t think we had either the quality or quantity of evidence that we could meet that burden,” Gill said Tuesday. “I refuse to waste the taxpayers’ dollars or waste the integrity of the office by filing charges that we know we may not be able to prove.”
After a lengthy review, the district attorney determined the car was probably at least 60 feet — and possibly as many as 100 feet — away from Giles when he started shooting or the driver was going much slower than witnesses said.
But while the shooting was deemed unjustified, Gill said his office had to apply a higher standard in deciding whether to file criminal charges against the officer.
“There were certain obstacles, evidentiary and factual obstacles, that created a burden we could not meet,” he said. “We had other officers who were there. We had [radio] traffic that was going on. It was a dynamic situation. When you go into a criminal trial, all those other components become part of it. The circle widens more.”
Translation: the State is above the law.
Reverse the roles in this situation. Suppose a civilian had shot a rifle 8 times at a police officer and claimed he “feared for his life” when his life was clearly not in danger (or even if it WAS in danger). Would he receive the same treatment as this “peace officer”? No criminal charges filed? No. He would most certainly be prosecuted by the State to the fullest extent of the law. But let’s be realistic: in all probability he would be dead now, deprived of the chance to even claim that he feared for his life.
Meanwhile, Officer Giles remains on paid leave – wasting the taxpayer dollars that Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill claims he is not wasting by declining to file criminal charges against a man who committed an obviously criminal act.
From Reason Magazine, something I couldn’t find being covered by local media:
Utah Park Ranger Steven Powers marked the 4th of July by pulling a woman over for driving too slowly, then yanking her out of her car and slapping on cuffs when the woman insisted on filming the stop with her phone.
Our team of (currently) five has been discussing our strategy and focus areas. For our strategy, we have decided to adopt a two-sided approach. Read more >>
One of the greatest threats to personal liberty can come from law enforcement officers. Contrary to popular belief, police officers have no obligation to protect individual citizens. Their job is to enforce the laws of the state, even when those laws are unjust or unconstitutional, even when they harm people or property, even when they violate individual rights. Experience has shown that police officers generally have more legal protection than everyone else. They are exempt from many laws, and when they do break the law, their punishments are generally petty compared to what anyone else would receive.
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posted in forum Incubator by Dallin Crump on August 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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