“How many bad apples does it take to spoil a bunch?” I asked.
From there, the conversation turned to the philosophical; absent our present justice and law enforcement system, how would we guarantee our safety from the evils of the world? This was as non-productive as may be imagined, and because my friend is a reasonable man, we agreed once again to disagree.
So I ask you, dear reader. How many bad apples does it take to spoil a bunch? How much infringement upon our rights, how much overstepping constitutional authority, how much outright brutality are we willing to tolerate from our designated protectors before it’s just not worth it any more?
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, firearms were confiscated by the New Orleans Police Department. This was an isolated incident, and the New Orleans PD does not represent American Law Enforcement in general. Most city police are dedicated and noble and would fight to protect the rights and lives of citizens.
During the Virginia Tech massacre, the equipped and trained officers did not enter Norris Hall until Cho had killed himself, frustrated by a barricade that students erected to keep him at bay. Officer safety is paramount, and it would have been dangerous for any one officer to enter the building in the presence of an active shooter without backup.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, tasked with preventing federal offenses related to firearms, encouraged firearms to be illegally sold and distributed to known criminals, resulting in the death of at least one Border Patrol agent and countless other human beings. But the present ATF is not representative of federal Law Enforcement agencies in general, and these abuses will die with that bureau.
In 1993, the FBI and the BATFE laid siege to and massacred a group of Seventh-Day Adventist heretics, for the crime of legally purchasing a variety of scary firearms. That was a different era, and the siege was the fault of Janet Reno, who is no longer Attorney General.
On May 5, 2011, officers from at least four Pima County police agencies unceremoniously executed Marine Corps veteran Jose Guerena, who has been found guilty of no crime, and whose work hours must have been well known to the police after their extensive investigation. But most of the United States is protected by better men than Pima County, whose officers may have done the right thing anyway, depending on the outcome of ongoing investigations.
Every day, more stories like this play out, all across the country. Men and women sworn to serve and protect the citizens of this nation instead trample their inalienable rights and flaunt their authority at gunpoint, frequently protected by the Blue Code of Silence, the existence of which cannot be denied. Still, these are isolated incidents, and do not represent the bulk of police in this country. The cops I shoot with are good people and we have pleasant conversation, you understand. It is unfortunate that a few bad examples give the rest a bad name.
What I do not see is this: noble men, worthy of their charge, refusing to break the oaths they swore to defend those who can’t defend themselves. What I do not see is a single example of a police department defying any order on moral, constitutional or legal grounds. I do not see a single example of cops behaving in a fashion befitting the honor they claim, honor I wish they would earn. Perhaps I am wrong; perhaps someone can show me an overwhelming number of counter-examples, and I will rejoice to see it. Until then I must view the police and all their activities with skepticism, and judge the merit of individual officers on a case-by-case basis.