THE TRANSFORMING OF CIVILIAN POLICE AGENCIES INTO PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATIONS
By Jim R. Schwiesow
I truly value the mail that I receive from the old timers of law enforcement; they are a unique group of individuals. I used to love the profession and the people in it. When I entered into the profession 48 years ago it was a long suffering and put upon fraternity. The pay was rotten, the benefits nil, and appreciation seemed to be non-existent. Yet the people who filled the ranks were more dedicated and professional at that time than any other group of people in this nation.
Unfortunately I was a witness to a steady and progressive decline in the profession during the years that I was active in the law enforcement community. Ironically as the pay, benefits and other perks increased the professionalism seemed to decrease proportionally. And it seemed that every individual overblown local politician wanted a piece of the control over the internal affairs of the law enforcement agencies within their districts. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, civilian review boards and civil service boards came into being, and somewhat later there were unions to contend with. Then the government with its LEAA grants came upon the scene and law enforcement administrators gave away what little remained of their control of their agencies to the feds in exchange for the funds that tight fisted local politicos had, through the years, consistently and steadfastly refused to adequately provide.
Next, police professionals with law enforcement savvy who had progressed through the ranks were being passed over for administrative jobs, and agency or department heads were being selected by search committees, city councils and city administrators from college graduates with business or administration degrees. These over-educated and experience deficient administrators had no feel for the profession and not an ounce of the common sense and wisdom that police regulars acquire through long-time service. They were simply bean counters that ingratiated themselves with the local politicians by kissing their behinds. These new honchos hired grant writers and other civilians to go after more federal money, and thereby assured that their agencies would be forever bound to a dictatorial federal control. What they could and could not do in regard to hiring and firing, setting internal policies, and a host of other heretofore-autonomous prerogatives was now regulated by the fine print in the federal contracts that had been accepted in order to receive federal funding. The contracts were long term and binding, there was no backing out unless local governments were willing to pay back huge sums of money, and they were not so disposed or inclined.
Whereas a job well done by competent professionals used to be the best public relations tool that the law enforcement fraternity possessed, the new yuppie commanders now felt the need to implement public relations programs to sell their agencies to the public. Soon we had Officer Friendlys, McGruffs and Crime Pups everywhere. Community relation’s officers met with various civic and social groups to establish a warm and fuzzy feeling between law enforcement and the community. There were also programs to stroke the media. News conferences were regularly scheduled to share sensitive information on departmental activities. Soon it was necessary to satiate a newfound public desire for a blow-by-blow account of agency investigations and other activities. Ingratiating the agency with the media seemed to be more important than acquiring public backing by dedicated professional work. It used to be that actions spoke louder than words, but that seems to be no longer the case. And of course this was also another way to tap into federal money, and get back some of the taxes that had been forcibly extracted from local taxpayers. The feds were more than willing to pony up more of the taxpayers’ own money to support these public relations programs and to firm up their takeover of the heretofore exclusive rights of local law enforcement agencies.
The local politicians, who had control over law enforcement agency budgets, were becoming aware of these so called new found revenues and began salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the thought of tapping into the federal largesse of taxpayer monies. Soon law enforcement agencies, large and small, were crowding around the federal trough like hogs on a feeding frenzy. Local politicians made the acquisition of law enforcement grant monies a quest. Sheriff's and chiefs were pressured to bring in more and more federal dollars. If they were reluctant the politicians put the pressure on them by campaigning against them in local elections by suggesting that they were responsible for heavy local taxation by not bellying up to the federal trough. The people who are always, it seems, gullible when it come to taxes, ate it up. I doubt that they ever gave a thought to the fact that the money came from their own pockets whether it was funneled through the feds or through the local government. The prevalent thought was hallelujah; we’re getting free money!
Since true police professionals were in many cases no longer in charge of law enforcement agencies, and given the fact that police administrators had been frozen out of the hiring and firing process by restrictive civil service statutes, civilian boards, union grievance policies, and the continual meddling of county boards, city councils, and city administrators there began to be a noticeable decline in the quality of many of the rank and file. Professionalism slipped perceptively. To many it was now simply a job and little thought was given to the principles that had been so important to the officers of the past. Officers punched in and punched out of their shifts like factory workers. Many others were disgusted with the change in the profession and simply left the ranks and found their way to other vocations. The pursuit of benefits, wages and early retirement programs occupied the minds of those who stayed. They were being converted to a blue-collar worker’s mentality, and they saw the old ethics and the dedication of their predecessors as being tantamount to slavery to the profession. To be absolutely fair I have to concede that some of the slippage was tied to the general deterioration of society itself and to the newfound commitment to moral relevancy in the nation. Whatever the case, law enforcement officers were now ripe for an indoctrination that would transform them into tools of the federal bureaucracy.
The truth is that peace officers in the old days did not need fancy public relations programs to gain the confidence of the people who they served. The people understood that they were there to help them and to stand for them against those who would do them harm. They instinctively knew by the demeanor of their peace officers that their sole desire was to ensure that others would not violate the person, the property or the families of those for whom they were responsible. Peace officers in those days wanted the people of their communities to be free from tyranny. The last thing on their mind was to enforce tyranny upon the people whose interests they represented. They were of the people and for the people. We have come a million miles from those days and all of it in the wrong direction.
Rather than acting as servants of the people too many law enforcement officers in this day and age have become willing tools of a system that despotically oppresses freedom, and forces upon the people thousands of dictatorial decrees. The government bureaucracy that has seized absolute power in the country has also seized control of the law enforcement agencies of the land. And the rank and file thereof is used as soldier enforcers much in the way that the mafia used its soldiers to enforce the tyrannies of that order, coldly, cruelly, without conscience and with an iron fist. Law enforcement agencies all too often now employ brutal tactics in their service to the state. Please notice that I said service to the state, law enforcement officers no longer serve the people. Read on for an example of the corruption of a once fine fraternity.
In November a medically discharged United States Marine, Sergeant Derek Hale, was cold bloodedly murdered by a police undercover squad in Wilmington Delaware. The decorated veteran had traveled to Wilmington to participate in a Toys For Tots event, and while in the city he was also doing a favor for a friend by house sitting. He was thus involved and sitting on the front stoop minding his own business when a police death squad screeched up and in proper Gestapo fashion first tortured him mercilessly with multiple hits from a taser gun as he tried desperately to comply with shouted commands to put up his hands, and then executed him by pumping three .40 caliber bullets point blank into his chest. In a matter of minutes an unarmed man, who had committed no crime and who had served his country honorably in wartime, lay dead. Killed not by an enemy combatant but by a domestic death squad comprised of law enforcement officers who were carrying out the dictates of a totally depraved system. In order to understand the absolute viciousness and inhumanity of these police agents I urge readers to use the link provided for the full story. Death Squad in Delaware.
Recently, Greg Evensen, a NewsWithViews.com columnist has written an article Will you Stand, Fight, Hide or Surrender? In which, he candidly and accurately describes the utterly putrid state of the nation and the lateness of the hour. Greg is offering solutions. Something that we see very little of in our wanders through the many written articles in regard to the present corruptness of the nation.
We have a situation from which extrication is difficult. It will take courage, and Greg has courage. I have not met Greg personally, but I have corresponded with him a number of times. He is a former peace officer, and one of the old timers that I wrote about at the beginning of this article. He is a believing Christian, and we are friends and fellow travelers. And he is right in all that he has written.
© 2007 - Jim R. Schwiesow - All Rights Reserved
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Jim Schwiesow is a retired sheriff with 46 years of law enforcement service. He served with the Unites States Army with the occupation forces in post war Berlin, Germany, and has a total of nine years of military service, which includes six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
His law enforcement service includes: three years in the military police, fifteen years as an Iowa municipal police officer, and twenty-eight years as the duly elected sheriff of Sioux County, Iowa.
Jim has written a number of articles, which have been published in various professional law enforcement journals.
In a matter of minutes an unarmed man, who had committed no crime and who had served his country honorably in wartime, lay dead. Killed not by an enemy combatant but by a domestic death squad comprised of law enforcement officers who were carrying out the dictates of a totally depraved system.