Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Community Based Policing

Good idea?

From Fred on Everything:

Fred opines on the practicality of the community based policing idea, and why it doesn't work so well...
The police are terrible at hearts-and-minds just as soldiers are, and for the same reasons: They are incorrigibly authoritarian, clean-cut blue-collar believers in personal responsibility and self-discipline who find themselves shepherding anarchistic, often ethnically disparate people who don’t care about anything the cops believe. Drill instructors and hippies. The two come to hate each other.

When I rode some years back with the LAPD in bad neighborhoods, we stopped a car for some minor infraction. The cops were shaven-headed and hung with mace, night-sticks, cuffs and such, looking like martial Christmas trees. They leveled their guns at the car, then ordered the driver, a middle-class black man, to get out, step backward toward the cops with his hands in the air, and kneel to be searched for weapons. It was the worst possible approach to community relations.

On the other hand, a week before, a cop they knew had parked his cruiser on a street and had his head blown off by someone never caught. Brutality breeds brutality. It also breeds caution. A common phrase among the police is, “I’m going home tonight.” They will humiliate a citizen before they will take a round in the head. Given the choice, I would too.

I've often wondered about the solution to policing, under the theory that police are largely unneccesary and a huge waste of my money. Get rid of the drug laws? Of course, but in the neighborhoods Fred is referring to here, what would be the consequences of an elimination of regular patrols? Would the diversity (as Fred likes to call those of the darker skin tones), now unsupervised, take it's crime-ing to the 'burbs? Would the inner cities become war zones?

It's tempting to not care, but they're people too. Just some of them don't act like it.