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A Sheriff’s Department armored military SWAT vehicle enters a parking lot of a bar in Odessa, TX, disgorging uniformed officers armed with M-4 tactical rifles to take down armed and unarmed patrons in a parking lot and bar. Their violation? Opening a bar and “Violations of Social Distancing.”
An undercover “sting operation” at a hair and nail salon in Dallas County, Texas results in the arrest, speedy conviction, and the disproportionate and immediate sentencing of the female owner and mother of two children to jail. Her violation? Opening her salon to earn money to feed her kids and pay her rent. The woman is handcuffed and carted away to jail for refusing to apologize to the judicial activist judge for her “selfishness.” She is potentially exposed to COVID-19 while Dallas County frees over a thousand felons to fear that they might contract the virus.
In Fresno, California on Mother’s Day, police arrest patrons of a restaurant open in defiance of county health guidelines for “violations of social distancing” and blocking the doors preventing code enforcement and police from entering the establishment to cite the owner.
In Southern California, police and lifeguards chase down and arrest a defiant paddleboarder out in the bay for refusing to get out of the ocean in “violation of social distancing orders.”
In several states: California, Oregon, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York, Governors are shutting down their states for holiday activites and telling their citizens to report violations of mask, social distancing, and family gatherings to local enforcement.
What in the world is happening to law enforcement today?
Although it was forty-six years ago, I remember taking The Oath to become a police officer like it was yesterday:
“I do solemnly swear, that I will faithfully execute the duties of a police officer in the State of California, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this state, so help me God.”
For me and the vast majority of my brother and sister officers back then, police work was considered a “calling,” much like the priesthood, the fire department, volunteering for the military, or becoming a physician. We all took oaths and the vast majority of peace officers, firefighters, and military personnel sacrificed greatly, constantly exposing our minds and bodies to extreme levels of physical and emotional harm.
Many of us were injured, wounded and many made the “ultimate sacrifice” for others we didn’t even know upon the Alter of Freedom, defending the values expressed in The Oath. Others of us who were too traumatized by what they had so often witnessed, spared the enemy the trouble and in spontaneous or planned periods of extreme depression, took their own lives. You see, to most of us The Oath means something; it is never to be ignored, temporarily laid aside, mitigated by excusatory political rhetoric, or denied by obeying arbitrary, capricious, or emotional, politically-motivated orders or edicts.
The United States and the law enforcement community have now come to a Y in the road. Do we continue down the road of freedom and civil liberties, led by our patriots whose blood was spilled in paving over the atrocities of man such as slavery and the near eradication of Native Americans so that all men and women could live free and equal?
Or do we take a dangerous detour towards the dark evils of National Socialism and Fascism, where power-hungry, unethical, and morally corrupt politicians seek to control the masses using a pandemic and scare tactics promulgated by an equally corrupt media Progressive Left propaganda machine silencing truth and facts?
And now, what of law enforcement? What role does our community of men and women whose job has historically been to protect the “Rule of Law” take on?
When I came “on the job” as a young man, my role as a peace officer was rather simply explained to me by my wise and experienced colleagues.
“Always remember first that you are a peacekeeper. The heavy emphasis is on the word “peace.” There are the good people and the bad. You first figure out who the good people are and then you protect them from the bad. You are a sheepdog and they are the sheep. The sheepdog watches over his/her flock and protects them from the wolves. Remember that the sheep aren’t always very smart, so it’s going to be your job to protect them from themselves sometimes. You are a community caretaker so to speak. Never abuse or exploit your authority. Always remember your Oath.”
And I did. I like my Band of Brothers and Sisters were not without our flaws. We made honest mistakes, but always in good faith. We did not and do not abuse our law enforcement powers and authority. We kept and continued to keep faith with The Oath.
However, the badge is now becoming tarnished by the actions of a new brand of law enforcement administrators and line officers. Their actions are typified in the few examples I provided in the introduction of this article. They are the mindless puppets of ignorant and arrogant politicians seeking to control their citizens. This new breed of law enforcement officers practice “pandemic policing.” They have abandoned all common sense. They ask no probative questions of their masters and lack any independent, objective, fact, or science-based methodology to figure out how, why, or even if law enforcement should be involved in enforcing the thoughtless, emotionally-based orders and edicts of governors, mayors, county administrators, and municipal judges.
Are the directives, instructions, regulations, orders, and edicts of politicians constitutional, legally enforceable laws, or are they instead merely strongly suggested guidelines? That is certainly something our state and nation’s highest courts will soon have to decide.
I am reminded that the U.S. Supreme Court and the lower federal and state courts have repeatedly ruled that with respect to 1st and 4th Amendment civil rights of assembly, speech, seizures and searches, governments, and law enforcement officers, “must balance the governmental need against the intrusion upon the individual.”
The “governmental need,” refers to the seriousness of a circumstance and an imminent threat of harm, against the “intrusion,” or detention, arrest, and/or use of force upon the individual in depriving them of their civil liberties and freedom. In essence, the more serious the circumstance and the more imminent the risk; the more latitude governments and officers have to intrude upon a person’s freedoms.
However, conversely, the less serious and less imminent the risk, the less intrusive governments, and their police must be when encountering and confronting the citizen. The courts have ruled that this balance between seriousness, risk or harm and intrusion must be conducted using a factual, objective standard, rather than a subjective one.
So with COVID-19 and the current wave of “pandemic policing” being conducted throughout the nation, the salient question will most certainly be in courts of law and before triers of fact, “What was the factual, scientific, objective basis for many of the draconian orders and edicts that justified the detentions, arrests and/or uses of force?”
That’s right, the courts should rightfully demand that politicians and police factually, scientifically, and objectively justify their combined actions in affecting over-intrusive orders and edicts; as well as unnecessary and abusive detentions, citations, arrests, and uses of force upon their fellow citizens.
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