swat team

Here’s some jumbled up thoughts for you this Labor Day Weekend

 

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday to celebrate the American Labor movement.  As it turns out my great Aunts were part of the Great Sit Down Strike of 1937, so that explains a bit of my lefty leanings.  Many people will spend Labor Day with their local police departments after a DUI arrest, it turns out that in our area it is much more likely that you will spend time with the Bull Valley Police Department (statistically) than other departments for reasons I don’t understand.

Which brings me to a topic that I don’t often see written about, except here.  Are the police, and the justice system more hassle than they are worth?  I know, radical concept.  Let’s see if I can walk you through it and see what you think.

Police Departments were first formed in London, as an alternative to the military being the police.  The thought was, when the military came into ‘take care of a problem” back in those days, you could usually count their effectiveness with dead bodies and severed limbs of rioters or gang members.  Because that was thought to be a bit uncivilized they invented police departments.  Police would wear blue rather than military red to try to distinguish themselves from the police.  It is interesting that the police of today now try to look MORE like the military.

But what do the police departments accomplish?  Well, they make us wear seatbelts, stop at stop signs and slow down out driving.  They keep us safe, except of course for the times when they are the problem:

Here’s a video clip of the police harassing someone because that’s what the police do.

Nobody ever asks do we have too many police.  Our local budget for the police at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is 29 million dollars.  And the 400 or more Sheriff’s Deputies do not include the 27 other entities that have law enforcement officers in our county.  In our county if you call the police they come.  Sometimes they come 5 or 10 at a time.  It is not really a matter of having too few officers.

But, do they really help?  Let’s talk about the average case, not the extreme case.  The average cop interaction with the police is a seat belt ticket.  What was accomplished?  I was safer?  What did it cost me?  $65-$320 depending on which court costs were added. Where would we be without seatbelt/speeding/stop sign tickets?  Arguably richer, but what was gained by having the police stop me?

Let’s look at the extreme case.  Without the police we could imagine that there would be gangs who stopped cars on the highway and take $500 payments from them to allow them on their way.  Compare that with roadside safety checks. A municipality will collect a $500 administrative fee (using the police) if a persons license is suspended because at some point they didn’t have insurance. This payment is taken regardless of whether the person knew about the suspension.  Do the $500 payments being taken from the driver differ, from the point of the driver?  In either case he is out the $500 bucks.

Lastly, while it’s hard for a whitey like me to explain, without police there would be fewer “persons of color” expected by the police to “Respect Ma Authority.”  And fewer things for the people of Ferguson to protest or riot against.

If we didn’t have police would the world be all that different?  The answer is of course yes.  The landlords and the rich corporations wouldn’t have an essentially free force to remove people from their property, they would have to hire their own thugs, and you could argue they would be more brutal.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day.  I wonder when we will have a Police Day?

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He is one of those lawyers.