Time to Abolish Government Police

ST. MARY'S COUNTY - 12/7/2008

By Trevor Bothwell - Reader Commentary

Editor’s Note: The article below does not in any way reflect the opinion of TBN or its staff and affiliates. TheBAYNET.com reported on this incident on Dec. 1. See link below. After reading the TBN story, Trevor Bothwell responded with this essay. TBN would like to know how you feel about Bothwell’s statement. Trevor Bothwell is a freelance writer in Maryland and host of the “Who’s Your Nanny?” blog.

Thankfully, a potentially deadly situation in Compton was averted Monday, Dec. 1, when the state’s attorney called off a Maryland State Police SWAT team before it killed another civilian who was threatening or harming no one.

The nutshell, according to TheBAYNET.com report, “High Drama Fizzles in Compton”: A woman allegedly calls police around 10:00 p.m. saying her son has been shot somewhere in the vicinity of her house. Police arrive at the house and see a woman alone holding a weapon. Police doubt the “viability of the call” based on the woman’s behavior but nevertheless proceed to erect a barricade around the property and evacuate nearby homes. Maryland State Police Special Tactical Assault Team Element (S.T.A.T.E.) “was to arrive on the scene at about 11:50 p.m.”

S.T.A.T.E. is synonymous with SWAT, but you have to love the sheer audacity on display here. I guess “SWAT” just doesn't adequately convey the feeling that the government is ubiquitous, ready to meddle in virtually every aspect of our lives.

It’s unclear in the report whether or not the police paramilitary unit made it to the scene before the state’s attorney called off this standoff on grounds that there was no crime, but it really makes one wonder what little it takes these days before police reflexively dispatch their SWAT teams.

Even if you believe the state should have a monopoly on policing, SWAT units are only warranted under extreme circumstances like hostage or fugitive situations, or under similar circumstances where there is an immediate threat to innocent life -- like when a gunman takes up position on a roof across from an elementary school. In other words, the SWAT team itself should not be the primary threat when it arrives on the scene.

For all the terrible decisions made by government law enforcement agents, the state’s attorney clearly made the right call during this incident. Unfortunately, however, it’s highly likely that he only rendered this judgment due to eerily similar events two years ago this month, when Maryland state and local police murdered Jamie Dean after needlessly escalating a standoff to the point where they could justify shooting an innocent man.

Thanks primarily to the “war on drugs” and the arrival of “homeland security” departments across the country after 9/11, the number of paramilitary police units has not only risen dramatically across the U.S. since the 1980s, but they have been called upon much more frequently in recent years. And instead of being used to protect civilians, they are today being used primarily on civilians.

As the fallout from the tragic Dean episode and the P.G. County police department’s unprovoked attack this past summer on Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo indicates, public police agencies are almost never held accountable for immoral, unilateral, violent attacks on their innocent, nonviolent targets.

Until taxpaying hosts rid themselves of the statist parasites known as government police and instead take responsibility for protecting themselves by either acquiring arms or hiring private security firms that actually have an incentive to keep their customers alive, innocent civilians will continue to find themselves enemies of the state.