Depending upon your local or Federal locus, American police are a bulwark or an enemy. A war is being waged over who shall control them. The Founders set them under local control, a balance against potential national government tyranny. The Obama administration is busy with ‘Police Reform‘ that will subject local cops to Federal regulations; the Obamafolk are pledged to continue this without letup.
As this is written, some 17 cities are negotiating or subject to Federal Department of Justice police training and procedure regulations. More have already signed on; their cities are dependent upon Federal money. The practical root of this is a Federal takeover of local policing, right in line with the recent takeover of healthcare and the ongoing “Common Core” takeover of education. Life differs from Keokuk, Iowa through Jamestown, Virginia to Fresno, California but as this proceeds, all will be subject to procedures designed in Washington, D.C.
There is in political science, a principle named: “subsidiarity.” It states in essence, that all governing should be done as closely to the governed as possible. The point is to reduce those famous “unintended consequences” that government is so well known to be heir to.
The problem is that good government and good politics aren’t compatible very often. And you may guess which triumphs when they differ on some issue. So here, the locus of power determines where the regulations are made; never mind that they will not fit well as they travel increasing distances. Principles of good government are fine, but power politics are reality. Knowing that, the Founders made local police independent of national government, answerable instead, to local mayors and governors who were in turn, answerable to local voters. A great idea while it lasted …
The community organizer who is our President seems, with Al Sharpton, to be using street politics to further his police takeover with the Ferguson and New York Garner riots. As so often in these matters, the Left appears to have overreached with the murders of two New York cops laid at their door. Even hizzoner New York City MayorDeBlasio has had to request abeyance.
But reality is more attacks on cops and more cops defending themselves and overreacting out of fear, with more political opportunists using these events to further their causes. Wanna bet?
We aren’t able to determine from here whether the Feds will accomplish de facto control of local policing anytime sson. But we’ll bet on the transformation of American cops further away from the British Bobby model toward the German example. As the cops increasingly fear those they police, they will increasingly morph into oppressors. “That which I feared, has come upon me!” Policing a decreasingly law abiding society does that, whether or not the cops are centralized. And we can’t even blame the cops! What we will do, is fear them and with good cause. Fear abets violence, as we have just seen in New York.
Removing policy to remote Washington D.C. will turn the local cops into strangers, ‘them’ as opposed to ‘us.’ Their job is already difficult; adding that change is the wrong prescription.