“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.” – MLK
It strikes me as somewhat disingenuous that provisions are made for conscientious objectors in the military but not for law enforcement.
No one can convince me that every cop believes that every law and their individual application are just – and yet how often do you hear of a cop or department taking such a stand?
How often does one testify against the bad apples and break the code of silence?
How often does one step forward and say the oath they took is to protect, serve, and uphold the Constitution, not act as para military force for corporations?
Surprisingly the Sheriff of Gallatin County Montana, Brian Gootkin, has done just that following concerns expressed by the Governor, Steve Bullock, centering around the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
A compact that ignores the obvious questions of jurisdiction, application, and that the EMAC was meant to address issues like “natural disasters and catastrophic events like 911”.
Gootkin in commenting states that as an elected official his priority and accountability is tied to those he serves, those who elected him, and “ I just don’t understand where we separated from the public. It really breaks my heart. We are not the enemy”.
Too begin with the EMAC isn’t nor should be it about becoming conscripts for corporate interests, and if broken hearts are to be healed then the time has come for law enforcement to divest themselves of the gang mentality they exhibit and remember that they are required to serve the public, to be conscientious in doing so, to uphold the law not violate it, to acknowledge that the “public” isn’t just some amorphous mass but composed of individual men, women, and children with the hopes, dreams, and aspirations common to all humanity – that a badge and gun doesn’t make anyone better than others, that they aren’t a permit to abuse and the public by definition is not the enemy.
In the military you either do as you’re told or you’re in deep trouble – with the increasing militarization of law enforcement it isn’t about ethics, it’s about doing exactly as you’re told and to hell with Constitutional guarantees.
It’s actually pretty simple – if you don’t want to be seen as the enemy don’t conduct yourself as one individually or departmentally – don’t frag unarmed civilians, don’t hose them with water cannons in sub freezing weather, don’t subject them to a barrage of rubber bullets, don’t kill or aggressively beat down unarmed “suspects”.
To wit, don’t become anarchists, law breakers, or a threat to the welfare of individuals while claiming others are.
Kudos to Sheriff Dave Mahoney of Dane County Wisconsin who acted in a conscientious and responsible manner.
It’s time for the good men and women of law enforcement to do likewise. It’s time to ask themselves how they would want their family members, loved ones, children, and neighbors to be treated?
Laws and how they are applied defines whether they are just or not, merely having been enacted does not make them moral, ethical, or an example of justice.