Fixing The Cop Problem

 Take any group of people and make it known that even when they do something criminal, they will be held less responsible for the doing of it – and what do you suppose is likely to happen?

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  Well duh!

Why aren’t we holding cops to a higher standard?

by Eric Peters |

How to Stop Police Brutality

Image Credits: Chris Huggins / Flickr.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2)That we have a Cop Problem is obvious, but how to fix it, not so much.

The problem – a chunk of it, at any rate – derives from an overweening postmodern concern for the “safety” of cops to the detriment of those they (ahem) serve. Plus what’s known in the lawyer game as qualified or (worse) sovereign immunity. It means they get away with doing things that would ruin ordinary people who did exactly the same things.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)It’s a crazy idea.

If, that is, you don’t want to end up with a Cop Problem.

Take any group of people and make it known that even when they do something criminal, they will be held less responsible for the doing of it – and what do you suppose is likely to happen?

Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsBingo.

And, duh.

How about holding them – if they’re cops – more responsible?

A Handbook for Ranch Managers Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewApplying unto them a higher standard?

There is something ludicrous about the current dynamic – which (as an example) places exacting legal obligations – and repercussions – on the shoulders of ordinary citizens who possess a permit to carry a gun. If such a person so much as reveals the gun in a threatening manner it is brandishing – a felony and as serious as cancer. If an ordinary citizen fires that gun he had better be able to adduce compelling evidence that he did so under the most extreme duress, his own life in clear and present danger.

That he felt skeered won’t cut it.

Or, how about striking another person – including minor children? A parent who smacks a kid on the rump to discipline him opens himself up to child abuse prosecution. What happens when a cop body slams a minor child? It’s accepted. Or at least, tolerated.

It shouldn’t be.

Is there any sane reason why a lesser standard should be applied to cops? Who are after all trained and supposedly more able than ordinary folks to exercise judgment as well as restraint?

Does anyone, upon reflection, doubt that the chief reason (or one of them, at any rate) why we have a Cop Problem is precisely because less is demanded of cops than of ordinary folks when it comes to the exercise of judgment and restraint?

In economics, there are these things called incentives. You want more of something, you encourage it by incentivizing its manufacture and consumption. To get less, you discourage it – typically, by making whatever it is cost more.

It ought to cost cops more when they fail to exercise at least the judgment and restraint we expect of ordinary people; but most especially when they resort to violence unnecessarily or excessively.

We’d then get less unnecessary and excessive violence.

So, not just the normal criminal (and civil) consequences that an ordinary Joe would face in the event, say, of a reckless discharge of a firearm that ended up with some other person injured or dead. A more severe standard for those who enforce the laws.

For exactly that reason.

Cops are given the literal power of life and death over us; its exercise had better be justified beyond any shadow of a doubt. We have a Cop Problem because hardly a week (often, hardly a day) goes by without a video or some such cropping up that clearly shows unjustified exercise of this power. It is infuriating. More so, when the follow-up news story reveals – as it often does – that the offending officers were not placed in handcuffs and frog-marched to a cage, as any of us would have been given identical actions. This is social dynamite – and if an explosion is not wanted, someone had better throw water on the cordite.

Twenty years for the cop – when an ordinary citizens would get ten for the same offense. This would be a step in the right direction.

It would require amending the law, so that different (more severe) penalties would apply to those empowered by the law to use violence for other than purely defensive purposes. But sometimes, it is necessary to adjust the laws. (It is already the case that if a trained/professional fighter hits you, he opens himself to more serious consequences than a regular Joe who threw a punch would face.)

Personal liability would be another valuable reform.

If an ordinary person, as an example, drives his car in a reckless manner and ends up killing an innocent person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, his family can sue the pants off the guilty party, leaving him destitute. But when a cop does such a thing, he may never have to pay out a dime – although the county or city he worked for ends up paying out millions. Which of course is a malaprop, since counties and cities have no monies except for such as they mulct from the ordinary people who pay the taxes that finance the operation. Thus, the affront is doubled. The person responsible is not held responsible while the people who weren’t responsible are held responsible.

More social dynamite.

You might as well give your teenaged son a bottle of Jack Daniels, the keys to your Corvette – and let him know you’ll buy him a new one if he wrecks it.

Some professions require the individual to be insured; contractors, for example. Why not apply the principle to cops? If they behave prudently – responsibly – they have nothing to fear. But if not…

Which is as it ought to be.

These two measures alone, if enacted, would probably tamp down at least two-thirds of the current Cop Problem and restore a degree of sanity to the situation now sorely lacking.

Which, probably, is why it will never happen.


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The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)The Essence of Liberty Volume III: Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic. This is the volume that pulls it all together. With reference to Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s description of Murray Rothbard’s work, it is a “unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.” Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.

You might be interested in the other two volumes of this three volume set: The Essence of Liberty Volume I: Liberty and History and The Essence of Liberty Volume II: The Economics of Liberty

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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