“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times.”
These hard times require the rise of strong men. But now the tables have been turned. The police have now become the weak men creating hard times. The new league of strong men will be those with the courage to police the police themselves.
In a lot of ways policing has always been corrupt. But, in other ways, historically, police had a stronger code of ethics. Now, for the most part, cops blindly uphold outdated laws. It is no longer a matter of protecting and serving, but a matter of blind allegiance to law and order and obediently following the chain of command out of fear of the thin blue line. This weak, offense-minded policing has created hard times through aggressive overreach and oppressive extortion.
As Doctor Robert Higgs definitively stated, “The whole Good Cop/Bad Cop question can be disposed of decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appear to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) A cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) Many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) Therefore every cop has to agree to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. Therefore, there are no good cops.”
There must be a way to get the cart back in front of the horse of moral policing. There is. But it will take a complete overhaul of the policing system as we know it.
Replace offense-minded policing with defense-minded policing
“We don’t so much solve our problems as we outgrow them. We add capacities and experiences that eventually make us bigger than the problems.” ~Carl Jung
The reason why top-down “leadership” (without checks and balances) ultimately fails can be summed up in two words: entrenched power. And it can be further summed up in the following quote by Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This can be seen in both groups and individuals holding too much power. As Lincoln profoundly challenged, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
As it stands, offense-minded policing gives police way too much power. Both liberals and conservatives can agree that cops have too much overreaching power, especially when it leads to them acting as judge, jury, and executioner in the street.
The solution is to base the entire foundation of policing upon a defense-minded philosophy of policing. A firefighter defends the public from fire. That’s their job. Police should defend people and property from violence. That should be their job. But the current system of police overreach leads to extortion, civil asset forfeiture, and quota-junkie cops who oppress their communities through the enforcement of petty crimes, using bloated, offense-minded policing strategies based upon outdated and unjust laws.
Defense-minded policing must remain the core philosophy if a police force is intent on remaining a moral institution. As such, most laws on the books must be either updated or eradicated. This isn’t optional. Bad laws must change, and the thin blue line reinforcing them must be dashed. Otherwise, the neo-cop cannot emerge. They would just be suffocated by the justice system that they work for. And they would still fall victim to Doctor Higgs’ premises (see above quote). A good, moral, defense-minded neo-cop cannot act as such if he/she is forced to enforce outdated, immoral, and wicked laws.
Deeper more extensive training is desperately needed
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” ~Harry S. Truman
People on both the left and the right of the political divide can agree on this one. Cops are ill-trained. Plain and simple. Something must be done about this grievous state of affairs. It begins with aptitude: physical, mental, and psychological. The standard must be high because police will be holding the life and death of the people in their hands on a daily basis. Here are six recommendations for how to train candidates to become defense-minded rather than offense-minded police…
First: A recruit should not take on a job if they are unwilling to face its pressures, and they should be disqualified if they prove that they are unable to handle its pressures. Also (extremely important) they should be held to a higher IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient) than they are currently being held to.
Second: Recruits should be trained on how to deescalate rather than escalate tense situations (possibly even training in The Art of Fighting Without Fighting). This seems like a no-brainer. But unchecked power tends to lead to ego-trips which tends to lead to a Cartman-like “respect my authoritah!” mindset which leads to the escalation of trivial situations into deadly ones.
Third: Recruits should be thoroughly trained in hand-to-hand combat and how to disarm violent people using deadly force only as a last resort. Training in the use of firearms is important but should be secondary to all other forms of defense. Tackle first, taze second, shoot-not-to-kill third, shoot-to-kill last, and only ever in defense of others first and oneself last (the opposite of the scared, hyper-militarized, offense-minded policing, and the opposite of the “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset of the overreaching cop acting like judge-jury-executioner).
Fourth: Recruits should be trained on how to hold other officers accountable and should be rewarded, rather than shunned, for doing so (the opposite of the thin blue line). Also, recruits should be trained on how to spot and ignore outdated, immoral, unjust, and wicked laws and how to focus more on enforcing updated, moral, just, and honorable laws until the law books can be thoroughly updated.
Fifth: Recruits should be required to go through a long (considerably longer than the measly five months, which is the average for most police academies) and highly demanding police academy that highlights the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological demands of defense-minded policing as listed above. Furthermore on psychological demands, recruits should be trained in how to recognize and reconcile the psychological effects of perceived power as cautioned by the Stanford Prison Experiment.
The Rise of the Neo-cop
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” ~Arthur Ashe
The Neo-cop rises above the pettiness of offense-minded policing by embracing defense-minded policing. Armed with solid, ethical and intelligent training on how to deescalate hostile situations, the Neo-cop is equipped to adapt and overcome with a defense-first, violence-as-last-resort mindset. Sure, defense-minded policing is more challenging, riskier, less comfortable, and more dangerous, but that’s the nature of courage. Courage is being afraid and then getting the job done anyway. The defense-minded Neo-cop is the personification of courage under fire, which requires them to hold both their peers and themselves to a higher standard than perhaps any other job.
The beauty of being a defense-minded Neo-cop, despite the challenges, is that they won’t need to be overreaching in their duties. They can keep it simple yet effective. Defend the community against any and all forms of violence. That’s it. No need to write petty citations. No need to fill jails with petty criminals committing petty crimes. No need to set speed traps. No need to pad the wallets of judges and lawyers through “legal” extortion and civil asset forfeiture. No need to harass innocent citizens. No need to continue the failed war on drugs. No need to chase after the dangling carrot that the typical quota-junkie cop chases after. No need to worry about the thin blue line, because everyone would be trained and rewarded in police accountability at all costs.
The Neo-cop is a cop that the community can respect rather than fear. A true hero of the community –physically, intellectually, and psychologically equipped to protect and serve. They act in good conscience and with moral intent. They are compassionate and empathetic to the plight of every citizen, good or bad. They seek to be strong men and women, despite hard times. In short: they put the “peace” in peace officer.
As Thomas Merton said, “Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”