Hello, 911?

I wrote a lengthy draft yesterday about why defunding the police was a bad idea, built around three basic themes:

  • The current mood of the nation is such that we should be blaming every cop for the actions of a minority of officers that have broken the trust the public has given the force, which is remarkable and/or ironic in some measure.
  • Problems with police departments may spark from the actions of an individual cop but ultimately, the fix for these types of problems by fixing the leadership of a police departments, the people that either can’t or won’t enforce the rules (and moral guidance) of the force. Professionals do not always act professionally – regardless of industry – but if they are held accountable and take responsibility for their mistakes, it is a system that can work.
  • If our cities cut funding to the police department, and thereby putting cops’ lives more at risk, why on earth should they keep coming to work?

Then I saw Minneapolis wants to disband their police force and I scrapped the entire post because, it seemed that a city is actually opting for my worst case scenario. On purpose. Because… yeah…

For clarity, yes, I support the police. Yes, I live in a blue state – how dare I break party lines?! – but I’m a registered independent so I tend to evaluate the person, not the party as anyone that has read my blog over the last couple of decades can attest to. While I do tend to back the liberal agenda when it comes to social and religious freedoms and I am not a fan of the majority of Danger Yam’s decisions and actions, I also grew up in Reagan’s America which means I tend to be conservative when it comes to business, money, and law enforcement. I know: color me purple or something.

Humans are generally OK mammals but when you take away all sense of oversight, the bit of our society where they know they are going to be held responsible for their actions, then they completely suck. As was original noted as The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory this behavior was first proven in gaming but the theory can actually be retroactively applied over the entire history of the human race.

The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

Beyond gaming, this theory applied to the early days of online communities, through the BBS days, back through WWII and WWI, where leaders didn’t think they had to answer for their actions no matter how horrible, and ultimately back to the creation of most religions which introduces a supernatural being that will smite you for not following the religion. It goes on and on. Essentially a lack of responsibility will lead people to behave badly the majority of the time.

So? The point is that if the cops walkout for a day, strike for a while, or quit en masse, society as a whole is pretty well fucked.

Think of it this way: you have a problem that requires you get some help, so you call 911. If the cops have quit entirely, I’m expecting there will be no answer, so you’re on your own. If the cops are replaced by a “non-violent replacement,” which is it sounded like Minneapolis was thinking – or something that Sawant would suggest in Seattle – here is how I expect that call would go:

“This is 911, what is the nature of your emergency?”
‘I need help! I was just stabbed and the robber is still in the house!’
“That’s horrible! Can she or he hear you?
‘I don’t know! I’m bleeding all over the floor!’
“OK. We’ll get an ambulance on the way. You should see if you can light an aromatherapy candle, something that has lavender – that will calm down you and the intruder.”

Of course, then there’s the other side of the spectrum:

“This is 911, what is the nature of your emergency?”
‘I need help! I was just stabbed and the robber is still in the house but I exercised my second amendment rights and shot’em. Don’t know if I got them but I did unload a clip so I may have gotten, um, a couple of other things. Or people. Or the neighbors next door.’
“That’s horrible! How did you do?”
‘I don’t know! I’m bleeding all over the floor!’
“OK. We’ll get an ambulance on the way. You should be ready to report yourself to the town hall tomorrow, seeing as you likely shot someone.”

Who enforces the laws if the police don’t? Honor system? Neighbor-driven regulation? Gods help us all, if the only way to get something resolved is through the legal system. “Yes, your honor, I was stopped at a traffic light and the defendant’s car scrapped along my passenger door as he pulled near. When I got out to see the damage, he also got out and pointed a hand gun at me, until I got back in my car and drove away. I’m suing him so I can get the accident investigated and get his insurance information, so I can submit a claim.” Yeah, that’s a world I want to live in.

The thing that is lurking in the back of my mind is the same thing that pops up when I hear people say they don’t want any government without realizing what the government does for us, until it’s gone. “DOWN WITH THE FEDERAL!” and then you get a border skirmish followed by a bank crash which causes your company to shrink, so you end up fired and evicted. With the .gov in play, you have a dedicated force protecting your borders, the FDIC which was created to project debits at banks, unemployment for some weeks, and renters have a ton of protection that prevents insta-eviction even with cause. Without .gov, you are on your entirely on your own.

My hope is that the department leaders are force to enforce their rules/regulations and that the rank and file are able to weather the storm before someone throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Guess I should stock up on my aromatherapy candles anyway, eh?


7 thoughts on “Hello, 911?”

  1. “Humans are generally OK mammals but when you take away all sense of oversight, the bit of our society where they know they are going to be held responsible for their actions, then they completely suck.”

    Interestingly enough, this idea can be applied directly to police forces.

    1. …um, yes, as humans are in fact employed to be police offices, they would also be included by this statement.

      1. To clarify my previous comment, I mean that it could certainly be argued that the police themselves are a segment of society from which a sense of oversight and a sense of being held responsible for their actions has been taken away, and that is why we are now seeing literally hundreds of documented instances of excessive force against protestors over the past few weeks (a conservative lawyer has been documenting recorded instances on Twitter; last I checked a few days ago he was in the three hundreds), not to mention all of the fatal and nonfatal actions that have led to the protests in the first place.

        1. …right, which is also what I’m pointing out throughout the post:
          “Problems with police departments may spark from the actions of an individual cop but ultimately, the fix for these types of problems by fixing the leadership of a police departments, the people that either can’t or won’t enforce the rules (and moral guidance) of the force. Professionals do not always act professionally – regardless of industry – but if they are held accountable and take responsibility for their mistakes, it is a system that can work.”
          “My hope is that the department leaders are force to enforce their rules/regulations and that the rank and file are able to weather the storm before someone throws the baby out with the bathwater.”

          By “humans” I mean all of the people. We all think we’re some evolved animal creature that can self regulate our actions and follow the rules. We aren’t. Not yet, not in my lifetime – likely not in five lifetimes. Maybe it gets better each decade, but in my opinion, it’s been about the same for a century. In the last 20 years, we’ve become more aware of the “out of line” behavior with technology’s help and our “world view” has changed over time. Consider TV shows from the past like All in the Family or The Jeffersons or Three’s Company or Soap – these shows could not exist today because the humor is too offensive or not funny anymore. My point here is that humans are still breaking the law at a rate they always have and it shows no sign of lessening; I also theorize that if we remove the implied oversight that the police provide over the public, things would get much worse.

          Bottom line is that if any human in the US breaks the law, then that human should be held accountable. For doctor’s break procedures, there’s a review board. For a professor diddling a student, there’s the board of regents. If a gamer is spewing toxic hate, there is an enforcement team to take action. If a soldier goes AWOL or commits a war crime, there is a tribunal that will deliver punishment as needed. For rank and file police that break the law or procedures, there is an internal affairs department, a chain of command to drive accountability, and civilian input through the symbiotic government.

          If these “oversight groups” are not holding their people accountable, then they are as responsible for this problem as much as the individual people are, because they are allowing (or encouraging) this behavior to happen, whether it is professional or military or social or otherwise. That’s how you fix the police departments that need fixing, rather than defunding or disbanding.

  2. I think we are pretty much in agreement. Perhaps the word “defund” is confusing. I don’t think the people who want to “defund” the police want to replace their police departments with an ineffectual alternative. They simply recognize that the departments as they now exist have __deep__ problems. They want to overhaul the system by which we police ourselves.

    1. Yep, I think so. The challenge here, several days after it started, is that whoever coined the term and starting putting it on signs shot the idea in the foot, right at the start. Defund is possibly the worst word the movement could have used, short of using “abolish.” In simplest of definitions, “defund” means “remove all funding and support from” which laymen understand very well. So while the effort is still getting attention, 1/2 of it is spent with people yelling at the wind “THEY WANT TO GET RID OF THE POLICE!” or “GET RID OF THE POLICE” which makes it that much harder to get anything done.


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