Honest observers in this country have to admit that we have a police problem that is increasingly growing more serious. While some of the stories that have come out about police brutality and police overreach have clearly been invented or exaggerated by the Left for the purposes of inflaming racial tensions and undermining American civic stability, there are nevertheless a large number of incidents in recent years which cannot simply be wishcast away.
The warrantless, no-knock, early morning, heavily-armed SWAT raid for even the most minor of things is becoming the norm all across America. Though many on the Right want to make excuses or attribute the increasing prevalence of these types of incidents to “a few bad apples,” the fact of the matter is that the “policing problem” is becoming obvious enough that concern about it is no longer confined to a few “fringe” libertarian or “anti-police” sites, but is being recognized by more mainstream conservative outlets. Police militarization, heavy-handedness, and bureaucratization are leading to a situation where America is beginning to look less and less like the land of the free, and more and more like an authoritarian police state.
This is apparent from the news we see coming out of Wisconsin about the “John Doe” investigations conducted by hyper-partisan opponents of Scott Walker. In a plain and obvious effort to silence and intimidate conservatives and other supporters of Scott Walker, Milwaukee district attorney John Chisholm used the extraordinary (and soon to be found unconstitutional) powers granted by declaring an investigation a “John Doe” case. “John Doe” investigations, under Wisconsin law, allow prosecutors to bypass the usual grand jury requirements, replacing empanelled citizens with a “supervising judge” (who, in this case, was also a hyper-partisan Democrat opponent of Scott Walker). The prosecutor is also allowed to keep targets of the investigation a secret, and said targets are restrained by gag orders from speaking to anyone – even friends or neighbors – about anything that has happened to them during the investigation. If this sounds like the perfect set up for a star chamber, then you know human nature better than many.
That is, of course, exactly what happened – and this is where the police come in. While pursuing this technically-legal-yet-grossly-immoral-and-unconstitutional investigation, the prosecutor’s office sent in heavily-armed SWAT teams, utilizing pre-dawn raids and helicopters, to roust several conservative supporters of Scott Walker in their own homes, pointing guns at them, scaring their children, defaming their reputations in front of their neighbors, seizing all of their financial and other personal records, and then ordering them not to talk about it to anyone on pain of imprisonment for “contempt of court.” The only reason we know about these raids is because one of the victims finally, and courageously, violated the unconstitutional gag order and broke the news wide open.
What could have been accomplished merely by sending in a couple of county sheriff’s deputies with a subpoena and a search warrant to politely knock on their doors and serve the paperwork was instead done in a way that was purposefully intended to be psychologically and physically intimidating. And much more dangerously, too. What if one of the victims – many of whom initially believed they were facing a (non-state initiated) criminal home invasion – had shot at the police thinking they were defending themselves from armed robbers, and were killed, or killed a police officer, as a result? These people were no threat to the police. They weren’t going to come out guns blazing should a deputy simply serve them papers. SWAT was there simply for the repression and intimidation factors, nothing more.
Some might ask why I am criticizing the police, when it is a petty, out-of-control prosecutor who was the cause of all of this. Yes and no, and I’ll get to the issue with the prosecutor in a moment. There is no issue of “a few bad apples” here. Entire police departments and sheriff’s offices signed off on these. The fact remains that each police officer who participated in one of these raids had a moral choice before him. He could do the right thing (which was, in this case, to not follow the orders given to him), or he could do the wrong thing – and they each chose to do the wrong thing. Yes, they may well have suffered repercussions for refusing these grossly unconstitutional orders. Yes, their jobs and their pensions might have been on the line. But you know what? What about the people whose lives they helped to turn upside down and nearly destroy? Don’t those folks count for anything? Cowardice and cupidity are no excuses for this. And the argument that they were “simply following orders” has not had any moral credibility since Nuremburg in 1945.
Read more at; http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/dunkin/150424