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30


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 30, June 15, 1997

Toward a Police Reform Movement -- Part One

By L. Neil Smith
lneil@lneilsmith.org

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

THE PROBLEM

         Every day we hear of some act of brutality carried out by federal, state, or local "law enforcement" against individuals or groups whose only crime was the exercise of their unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights. "Policemen" at every level of government have become, more than any mere military organization, the "standing army" hated and feared by America's Founders.
         There are many reasons for this, among them a failure on the part of those Founders to provide for proper enforcement of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. Much of today's freedom movement (consisting of Libertarians, "Constitutionalists", and even a growing number of "liberals") is attempting to identify the root causes of America's ills.
         As long as the causes of a problem are being addressed, there's nothing wrong with ameliorating symptoms, as well. You may get a CAT-scan to see why you suffer migraines, but you also take an aspirin. Accordingly, I suggest the following steps -- many of which I've considered for decades -- to begin treating the symptoms by which we know we've all begun living in a police state.
         Any one of these measures (or all of them together), may be pursued by concerned individuals and groups who find them interesting -- without regard to their political ideology -- as conventional legislation, as constitutional or charter amendments, as initiated referenda, or as a part of settlements in lawsuits.

SOME ANSWERS

         First, there being no provision in the United States Constitution for a national police force of any kind -- and in compliance with the 9th and 10th Amendments -- all federal "law enforcement" agencies must be abolished and their present and former employees subjected to legal scrutiny of their current and past activities. As "interim" measures, these agencies and their employees will be forbidden to carry or employ weapons of any kind, and will be permitted to operate at all only under close supervision by local police.
         All military weapons, vehicles, and aircraft presently in use by these agencies will be surrendered for distribution to the populace who paid for them.
         Independent civilian review boards will be established to insure that federal conduct remains fully consistent with the Bill of Rights. No pleas of secrecy or "national security" will be permitted to impede their investigations. Any willful misunderstanding, for political purposes, of any article of the Bill of Rights on the part of any elected or appointed official will be considered evidence of an intention to commit a crime against the Constitution.

LOCAL POLICE

         All police officers at state, county, and local levels of government will be required to wear uniforms on duty and be forbidden to act in a professional capacity when off duty, or wearing civilian clothing. All uniforms must bear individual name patches and badge numbers easily legible from a distance of fifty yards, and it will be unlawful to cover or obscure them in any way. It will also be unlawful for police officers to conceal their facial features with any sort of helmet or mask, or to wear camouflaged or military-style clothing.
         All vehicles employed by local police must be clearly marked and readily identifiable, with highly-visible registration numbers. Agencies at every level of government will be forbidden the use of helicopters which, in recent years, have increasingly become an instrument of state terrorism and statist oppression.
         Police officers may not possess, carry, or employ any weapon prohibited to civilians, nor carry a weapon of any kind off duty, concealed or otherwise, until laws at every level of government forbidding civilians to do so in exactly the same manner have been repealed. Bullet resistant clothing and equipment, which seem only to have engendered an increasingly contemptuous disregard for the lives, property, and rights of civilians, will be strictly forbidden.
         To avoid conflict of interest and prevent over-zealous enforcement of statues and ordinances, all fines and traffic revenues will be divided equally among the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International (provided they adopt a view of the Bill of Rights which is consistent from article to article), and state Libertarian parties, provided they send nothing to the national Libertarian Party until its own internal corruption has been eliminated.
         Handcuffs or other restraining devices may not be used on those arrested for nonviolent crimes, especially for purposes of public display. Arresting officials will be held fully and individually responsible under civil and criminal law for any humiliation to which arrestees later proved innocent are subjected.
         In "seige" situations (which may not be initiated merely because someone expresses a wish to be left alone, locks himself in his house, or possesses weapons) authorities will be prohibited from interrupting telephone or other utilities, or from restricting free access by the media to the subjects of the operation.

A NEWER COVENANT

         Individual officers of both the military and police will be required to prove themselves all over again by publicly taking an oath to uphold, defend, and enforce, without reservation, every separate article of the Bill of Rights. Any police officer or member of the military who refuses to obey an order which, in good faith, he or she considers to be unconstitutional or unlawful will receive executive clemency and, should the order prove to have been unconstitutional or unlawful, promotion and reinstatement to full pay and benefits.

[TO BE CONTINUED]


L. Neil Smith, a Life Member of the National Rifle Association for 24 years, is the award-winning author of The Probability Broach, Pallas, Henry Martyn, and many other novels, as well as publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, available free by e-mail subscription or at http://www.webleyweb.com/tle/. His own site, the "Webley Page" is at http://www.lneilsmith.org//


Food For Thought By John Taylor JohnNo6@erols.com

'Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority. Firearms and ammunition found in a Jew's possession will be forfeited to the government without compensation. ... Whoever willfully or negligently violates the provisions ... will be punished with imprisonment and a fine. In especially severe cases of deliberate violations, the punishment is imprisonment in a penitentiary for up to five years.' -- German Minister of the Interior, "Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons", 11 November 1938

'Individuals subject to this [Lautenberg domestic violence] disability should immediately lawfully dispose of their firearms and ammunition. We recommend that such persons relinquish their firearms and ammunition to a third party, such as their attorney, to their local police agency, or a Federal firearms dealer. The continued possession of firearms or ammunition by persons under this disability is a violation of law and may subject the possessor to criminal penalties. In addition, such firearms and ammunition are subject to seizure and forfeiture.' -- "Open Letter From The Director, Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco And Firearms"


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