Something to Chew On: Law Enforcement Catch-22?

10
123

Here’s something to chew on.

Remember Arizona’s immigration law?  It was the one that apparently gave state law enforcement officials the ability to profile.  It was the hot news item for a long time and you still see a story pop up here and there.  I always thought I had a good handle on where I stood, but today I happened to think about it and started looking at it a little differently.

Those against the law typically argued that law enforcement officials would be instructed to profile people for immigration status.  The implication would be that they would be checking anyone of Hispanic heritage a lot more than any other ethnicity, which violates the idea that government is required to see everyone equally under the law.  Those in favor of the law said that it would only be enforcing federal law already on the books and that profiling is the only way to catch those breaking the law.

Here’s the thing: I think both arguments are correct.

People who commit crimes usually fit a certain profile.  An 80 year old woman usually doesn’t fit the description of a bank robber, so it’s probably not worth checking them out too much if a bank’s been broken into.  It’s perfectly reasonable to pay closer attention to the groups of people who usually commit certain crimes.  And yes, illegal Mexican immigrants are usually Mexicans.

But justice is supposed to be blind and everyone is supposed to have equal protection under the law.  Is it right for the government officials to seek out Mexicans near the border to question them on their immigration or citizenship status?  Is it right for any other group to be singled out that way?  If the government is truly supposed to treat everyone equally, I would say no, it’s not right.

So what are we supposed to do?  This isn’t just about immigration—you can apply this to many, many realms of law enforcement.  We know how to catch crooks, but the way we know how to should be illegal.  Do we break the law of the land for security or do we follow the law and have people break the law with impunity?  It’s a bit of a catch-22.

Or is it?  So many times we frame our thoughts around what the government can do to fix a problem, but here’s a case where it really doesn’t work.  So why not open up the available solutions?

Could private defense agencies, i.e. private police forces, be the answer?  They would not have to be connected to any government body; their services would be purchased by individuals or groups of individuals.  They would be free from the restrictions that a “just” government would have to impose upon itself.

Think about it.  Would it work better?  Would it turn out worse?  Give it an honest chance to try to see how private police forces would work.  Would several organizations designed to protect their customers’ rights result in chaos and violence or would they achieve a higher degree of order and peace than our current system does?  Why do you think that?

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
slappyjones2
Guest

What would their jurisdiction be? Would they patrol streets? If 3 houses on a block pay a certain police force, but the patrolling officer sees a criminal breaking into the fourth house, would they stop and arrest? If they did, does the owner of the fourth house owe them money? Who gives them the authority to arrest someone? Do they arrest anyone? Would having it privatized create bias toward their customers?

Rollo McFloogle
Guest
The jurisdiction would be to be the protector of whomever their clients are. If enough people want them to patrol the streets, I’m sure they would. As it stands with a government police force, outside of traffic law, any citizen can perform the duties of a police officer. If you see someone mugging someone, you would have the right to step in to stop it. You don’t need a badge from the government to protect your rights. If 3 houses on a block pay a certain police force, but the patrolling officer sees a criminal breaking into the fourth house,… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest
Everyone in business takes care of their best clients…In many criminal cases the officer’s testimony could be very important. What if the man who mugged you was an important client of the arresting officer? The constitution protects us against the government, would a private police force have a right to search and seizure? If not, why should I stop for a private citizen? If I rob a convenience store, I can run from a citizen. If I run from a police officer I can be charged with resisting arrest. If I see flashing lights in my rear view mirror, why… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
There would still be a court system. If these agencies operate in a free market, it would be in their best interest to run their businesses honestly. If they settle disputes dishonestly, then they’ll lose credibility. There could also be private accreditation organizations to police the police agencies. And right now there’s a government monopoly on the police and court systems. What happens when someone with a lot of political power is involved in a case? There probably wouldn’t be the right to search and seizure. That would likely have to be solved in a court case. You likely wouldn’t… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest
So if I murder someone, in your private police force world, that private police force can lock me up until my hearing? and anyone can start a police force and do the same thing with no jurisdiction? So if my neighbor steals my kid’s basketball, I can arrest that kid? Maybe I can lock him in my basement until I take him to a trial? What about noise violations? If my neighbor has a party and his music is extrememly loud. I knock on his door and ask him to turn it down, he doesn’t, can I fine him? Can… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
I’m going to answer these questions from a government-free point of view… So if I murder someone, in your private police force world, that private police force can lock me up until my hearing Yes if you’re being aggressive against someone. No if they’re simply charging you with the crime. and anyone can start a police force and do the same thing with no jurisdiction? So if my neighbor steals my kid’s basketball, I can arrest that kid? Maybe I can lock him in my basement until I take him to a trial? Sure, you can start a police force,… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest

Do you think a private police force would work better if local municipalities hired the force instead of individuals? Maybe then the private police companies would work hard to provide the best possible service at the lowest price? They would be given authority from the local government to arrest those who break their laws. If they’re doing an awful job, the people of the town would fire them.

What motivations do our current local police officers have to do a good job?

Rollo McFloogle
Guest

Private police forces hired by municipalities would certainly be better than our current system, but individuals purchasing it would be the best. What if someone decides they don’t want a police force? What if someone decides they don’t like a certain force that the local government hires? It’s like any other product or service.

If some competition is good, why not allow for more?

Steve
Guest
I’ve worked in law enforcement and I’m a staunch constitutional conservative. I’ve debated the issue of privatizing police with other cops. Originially I thought that private police would be a good thing as it would lead to companies competing to improve crime-fighting techniques, train personnel, and lower costs. But after some consideration, I think that police work must remain the responsibility of the government for the following reasons: 1. The Constitution burdens the executive branch with enforcing laws. 2. I think most people acknowledge the need for some government services and are content to pay taxes to fund them. Police… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
Thanks for the comment! You bring up some good points and I think I’m going to write a more general article about private police forces that will touch on the points you bring up but I will briefly respond to each point here. 1. Sure, that is true, but it is about federal law. Law can be localized to a single piece of property. 2. Actually, I’m one of the few people who don’t see the need for government, but that’s another story. It depends on how the system would work, though, with privatization. If individuals bought their own protection,… Read more »