Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 438, October 7, 2007


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Toward a Police Reform Movement
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: the following article was written more than ten years ago, and appeared, in two parts, in TLE Number 30, June 15, 1997. I have not revised them here, except to combine them into a single piece. Those wishing to see the originals may find them at:

As desperate as the abusive police situation may be today, the warning signs were already plain, at least to me, a decade ago, four years before this century's "Reichstag Fire", the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, gave the government the excuse it needed to turn the entire country into a prison. I will be writing an update and followup article as soon as possible.


JUNE 15, 1997


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.


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.


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.


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.


The American people will have their privacy again, whether the government and government-chartered corporations want them to or not. In general, owing to an established pattern of abuse by police agencies and individual officers, all wiretaps, internet surveillance, and other invasions of individual privacy—or any procedure, including taxation, which requires disclosure of private financial information—will be forbidden. It was a grave mistake to grant such privileges to government in the first place. For the foreseeable future, the Fourth Amendment must be read as if the word "unreasonable" did not appear in it.

Given the unmistakable injunction of the Second Amendment, possession or use of any device for detecting personal weapons (whether by government at any level or by government-chartered corporations) will be illegal and severely punishable.

It is inappropriate for sovereign individuals to be sorted and tracked as if they were breeding livestock or government property. Understandably, there is no provision whatever for it to be found in the Constitution. Fingerprint records and other identification systems presently maintained by government or by government-chartered corporations must be destroyed and practices like fingerprinting, voiceprinting, and retinal photography strictly forbidden.


To individual members of the police and military, I say that the time for denial is over. If any of these proposed measures angers you, remember that Bill Clinton did it to you. Janet Reno did it to you. Louis Freeh did it to you. Larry Potts did it to you. Lon Horiuchi did it to you. And you let them do it. Until you can prove the contrary to the people you are sworn to protect and serve, you're no different than they are. You're the same as those who:

Firebombed and burned an entire neighborhood out of existence when one group of its residents was accused of nothing more serious than disturbing the peace;

Assassinated a harmless old man simply in order to steal his valuable real estate;

Shot a little boy and his dog to death, then blew his mother's head off with a telescopically-sighted high-powered rifle as she held her baby in her arms;

Illegally confined, terrorized, poison-gassed, and machinegunned dozens of innocent men, women—and 22 little children—in the church that was their home;

Tortured, intimidated, and attempted to dispose of political prisoners by denying them necessary and lawfully prescribed medication and proper medical assistance;

Threatened and confiscated evidence from independent investigators when they questioned the government's cover-up of an airliner crash that killed hundreds;

Viciously stomped helpless kittens to death underfoot in an attempt to frighten the innocent victims of a narcotics raid carried out at the wrong address;

And committed any of the hundreds of thousands of other brutal acts that have begun to transform a once free and noble country into a horror-filled dictatorship.


The Cold War is over. The War on Drugs was intended from the beginning to destroy the Constitution you swore to uphold and defend. Don't let socialists, elected by a minority, use your body and mind to force illegal, immoral, alien ideas on an unwilling populace. Your one goal must be to enforce the highest law of the land, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Indeed, that's the only possible justification for the existence of government.

Don't let deskbound, overpaid "superiors" tell you what the Bill of Rights means. Remember your oath. Don't let judges and lawyers—who only stand to benefit from the destruction of the Bill of Rights—tell you what it means, either. Do what most Americans haven't done for half a century. Think for yourself.

Ask yourself this question: if you were one of America's Founding Fathers and you'd just fought a successful revolution against the most powerful and heavy-handed government on Earth, and the last thing in the world you wanted for yourself or your children or your grandchildren was to stumble beneath the heels of its jackboots ever again, what would you want the Bill of Rights to mean?

And if the first act, under martial law, of that powerful, heavy-handed government had been to try to take your guns away, would you have written a Second Amendment to guarantee its "right" to own and carry weapons? Or would you have written it to forbid government from having anything to do with your guns?

I say again, it's time to end the War on Drugs. Think back: every dime ever spent on it has only made the problem worse, not better. Many decent individuals have come to believe that, from the outset, it was never meant as anything but a war against the people of the United States of America. It's time to end it, to abolish the DEA, FBI, ATF, and every other federal agency wihich is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and is for that reason alone, illegal.

My last proposal is that all hiring for these agencies cease immediately, and that individual officers who survive scrutiny of their past activities be made US marshals, given a new assignment—Bill of Rights enforcement—and be turned loose on politicians, bureaucrats, and judges, instead of the American people.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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