AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FRIENDS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
By Chuck Baldwin
September 4, 2014
When I was a youngster, my dad told me, “Son, a policeman is your friend.” Through his jail and prison ministry, Dad became a personal friend of our county sheriff (two of them, as a matter of fact)--as well as scores of deputies and city police officers. For all of my life, I have taken Dad’s maxim to heart. In fact, for all of my teen years, law enforcement was my chosen profession. I wanted to go into law enforcement real bad. It took a divine call to Gospel ministry to change my plans.
Throughout my adult life, I have enjoyed the friendship of many peace officers. The county sheriff where I lived in Florida made me an honorary deputy sheriff. I still have the credentials to prove it. I count scores (and maybe hundreds) of law enforcement officers around the country as friends. In fact, there are scores of peace officers across the country that financially support my work. I have had kinfolk serve in various positions of law enforcement. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I have been a law and order guy all of my life.
I am as much of a red-blooded American patriot as one will find in this country. I believe in God, the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I believe in liberty, justice, and independence. I am a Christian and a pastor. Through my radio talk show and syndicated column, I have helped to elect many liberty-minded candidates to municipal, county, State, and federal offices. And, like Mike Huckabee who is a former pastor, I, too, ran for the office of President of the United States.
With the above said, it is extremely important that this letter be written, because so many honorable American traditions and customs are being radically and rapidly changed--including the philosophies, standard operating procedures, and rules of engagement of law enforcement. And the change is not for the better.
Let me just be blunt: ever since Ronald Reagan left office, both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations--along with both Republican and Democrat congresses--in Washington, D.C., are turning the United States of America into a giant Police State. And that means that our local and State police agencies are being transformed before our very eyes into the enforcement arm of this burgeoning Police State. And one of the biggest reasons for this growing threat to our liberties is that it seems that you--our local and State police officers and sheriff’s deputies--do not understand that you are the ones that are being used to create this nefarious Police State.
I am talking about otherwise honest and honorable men and women. I am talking about the friendly policeman, sheriff’s deputy, or State highway patrolman who lives across the street from us. I’m talking about the fellow Christian police officer we go to church with. It seems that the vast majority of you men and women in blue do not comprehend the way you are being used to create a Police State in our country. And until you awaken to this reality, nothing is going to be done to stop it.
The totalitarian regimes of history could not have succeeded in implementing their enslavements over the people without the submission and cooperation of the citizen-policemen within their countries. Nor can a Police State be constructed in America without your submission and cooperation. My concern is, the Police State is already being constructed in this country and most of you don’t seem to even realize it--or don’t want to realize it. In fact, some of you become angry with people like me when we try to warn the American people about it. This shows that you have already become acclimated and accepting of it.
Here is the problem: in today’s America, virtually every police agency and sheriff’s office is being dictated to, intimidated by, and bribed by the federal government. Much of the policies you operate under--and training you receive--comes straight out of the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Justice Department. If you are a police officer in a State or city that does not recognize the right of the people to keep and bear arms, you are already the enforcement arm of draconian, dictatorial government. You routinely put people in jail or prison for merely exercising the fundamental, God-given right to keep and BEAR arms. How can you live with yourself?
The concern that you, our friends and neighbors in law enforcement, are being turned into agents of oppression is very justified. The warning signs are ubiquitous.
I was told by a Marine Corps officer, who was there, that last year Marines at Twentynine Palms, California, were asked in a survey if they were ordered to turn their weapons on the American citizenry for the purpose of gun confiscation, would they comply with the order. Sixty-six percent of them said yes, they would. Two-thirds! When this same question was asked of Marines at Twentynine Palms back in the 90s, 26% of the Marines said yes. This is a very disturbing trend.
How many of you men and women of law enforcement would respond similarly? Again, in states such as California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut--and in cities such as New York and Chicago--this is already standard operating procedure. People are routinely arrested for merely possessing a firearm, with no harm being inflicted or even threatened. Plus, all it takes is for some kind of riot or “national emergency,” and the rest of the Bill of Rights immediately go out the window.
Look at Boston after the marathon bombing. The city was turned instantly into a Nazi-style Police State. People’s homes were invaded without warrant; people were manhandled; police dogs were turned loose on people without cause; guns by the hundreds were pointed at the people of Boston by police. No occupying military force in the world was any more efficient at locking down a large city as were the police agencies of the city of Boston and the State of Massachusetts.
Look what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. Regardless of whether the shooting of the young man was justified or not (along with everyone else, I am waiting for a proper and thorough investigation to provide an honest answer), the way police reacted to, what was at first, lawful protests, was unconscionable. Policemen training their firearms on innocent American citizens, including journalists, and threatening to blow their brains out is NOT acceptable behavior in a free society. Police agencies using military vehicles and military attack aircraft against American citizens is NOT acceptable behavior in a free society. Police-state tactics only served to exacerbate and inflame the situation in Ferguson, not alleviate it.
I lived on the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Police officers went door-to-door confiscating the firearms of law-abiding, innocent citizens in the aftermath of that storm. This was done while lawless gangs were allowed to freely roam the streets of the city inflicting merciless atrocities on vulnerable residents. And the State of Louisiana is one of our more gun-friendly states.
Look at what happens more and more frequently at routine traffic stops. My mother-in-law (who is in her eighties) was recently pulled over for a routine traffic stop here in Montana. (She must have been pulled over for driving too SLOW.) Two officers came out of the police car, and one of them was actually pointing his pistol at her head. Her vehicle was not suspected of having been part of a felony. They ran her plates. They knew who she was. To point a gun at a harmless, innocent senior citizen--who is suspected of no violent crime--is the mark of a burgeoning Police State.
Policemen training their weapons on the public has become almost routine nowadays. Even many minor incidents will often result in SWAT teams being deployed. In fact, Eastern Kentucky University professor Peter Kraska documents research showing, “There has been more than a 1,400% increase in the total number of police paramilitary deployments, or callouts, between 1980 and 2000. Today, an estimated 45,000 SWAT-team deployments are conducted yearly among those departments surveyed; in the early 1980s there was an average of about 3,000.”
See Kraska’s report: Militarization And Policing--It’s Relevance To 21st Century
Has violent crime increased 1,400 percent during that time? Not at all. In fact, for the last several years, violent crime has been decreasing to the point that currently it is at record lows. So, how can the need for SWAT teams increase by 1,400 percent? It is the result of Washington, D.C., deliberately militarizing our police agencies. Give them military equipment, weapons, training, etc., and they will start acting like soldiers not policemen.
It all begins with philosophy. The philosophy being drilled into police officers today is that of an “us versus them” mentality. In the eyes of a Police State, we are not citizens to be protected; we are enemy targets who are guilty until proven innocent. Plus, the phrase that we hear constantly repeated today by law enforcement personnel and spokesmen is “the safety of the officer.”
Wait a minute! The sworn duty of a police officer is to obey the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights), which is designed to protect the rights, liberties, and safely of the American people. The role of the police officer is to protect the safety of the public. Any man or woman who volunteers to put on a badge should be consciously willing to put his or her life on the line to protect the public. That’s what their job is all about. And no one forces them to take this risk; they take it of their own volition. Of course you men and women of law enforcement want to go home at the end of your shift. But so do the people of your community.
Policemen are not the only ones who face hostility and threats of violence. I have had my life threatened too many times to count. I have been shot at. (I’ve talked with several retired police officers who have told me that they never had to pull their gun during their entire career, nor were they ever fired at.) I have had my family threatened. And none of us wear Kevlar vests and helmets and can call backup with the push of a button (calling 911 is not the same as a policeman calling for back up--not even close).
If the safety of the officer is the primary duty of policemen, they should just shoot suspects on sight and eliminate the threat before it exists. And that is pretty much what they do in totalitarian countries. But this is America where the rule of law and the rights of the individual reign supreme. In a free country, people are judged to be innocent until proven guilty. Plus, the only lawful reason a police officer has to fire his weapon at someone is for the same reason that the rest of us can do so: for self-defense against an imminent threat to their (our) lives.
Over 5,000 American citizens have been shot and killed by police since 09/11/01. Based on official statistical data, we are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than we are by a terrorist. Currently, somewhere between 500-1,000 Americans are killed each year by policemen. By comparison, during 2012, 120 officers were killed in the line of duty.
“Despite far fewer officers dying in the line of duty compared with American citizens, police departments are not only increasing their use of protective and highly volatile gear, but are increasingly setting aside a portion of their budget to invest in new technology such as drones, night vision goggles, remote robots, surveillance cameras, license plate readers and armored vehicles that amount to unarmed tanks.”
See the report: U.S. Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11
Sadly, police agencies and county attorney’s offices have a dismal record of thoroughly investigating police shootings (or even police brutality charges). Mostly, the word of the officer is accepted almost without question. Plus, it is common knowledge that many officers carry “throw down” weapons to alleviate incrimination. Furthermore, police officers are seldom willing to testify against a fellow officer--even when they know the officer has committed a crime.
It is past time that independent, citizen review boards with full investigative capability and with authority to begin disciplinary measures are required for all police shootings. I further recommend that every citizen install surveillance cameras inside their vehicles. Any government that thinks it needs to closely monitor our every move should be closely monitored by us.
A recent example of excessive use of force and the police-state mentality was prominently displayed in Boynton Beach, Florida. After questioning why the officers were ordering them around and starting to video-record the officers during a traffic stop, the policemen became enraged, began physically assaulting the young men, and one officer pointed his pistol at them threatening to immediately shoot them. Granted, the young men acted rudely and disrespectfully. But since when in America is cockiness and rudeness a potential death sentence?
But the worst part of the story came afterward when the chief of police issued a statement defending the conduct of the officers. Chief Jeffrey Katz viewed the video tape (recorded by a passenger in the car) and said the following: “When I watch this video, I don’t see a car full of young men who are behaving in a manner consistent with FEAR OF THE POLICE.” (Emphasis added)
See the report here:
Ladies and gentlemen, that is not the statement of an American peace officer; that is the statement of a Nazi Brown Shirt. This is what happens when Washington, D.C., turns our local and State law enforcement officers into quasi-military units from a national police force. The police chief and his officers were angry that the young men didn’t FEAR the police enough.
So, that’s it. We are supposed to FEAR the police? Really? Then, pray tell, who are the police supposed to fear? My father didn’t teach me to fear the police. He taught me to respect the police. And he taught me that the police were my friends. He did not teach me that I had to fear for my rights and my very life every time I’m pulled over for a traffic stop. And that’s not the way that Sheriff Cliff Arnold’s deputies behaved while I was growing up.
The Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department are all but forcing local and State police agencies to accept military equipment, tanks, attack helicopters, machine guns, and more. Last year alone, the Pentagon gave half a billion dollars of military gear to local police agencies. They are supplying suggested training procedures, complete with lists of the people whom they (Washington, D.C.) considers “dangerous.”
Most of the intelligence that police agencies receive comes from the DHS-Fusion centers. Reading these memos is like reading the propaganda being spewed out by the radical, ultra-left wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). And in truth, much of the information that the Fusion centers distribute are carbon copies of SPLC propaganda.
For example, when I first moved to Montana four years ago, a local police lieutenant sent a memo to the city’s police officers warning them about me. The memo accused me of things like being part of potentially dangerous militia groups, etc. He took words from off of my website and said they showed that I was an “extremist.” What words, you ask? Words like: Liberty Fellowship, Black Regiment Pastors, Patriot Businesses, etc. Where did the lieutenant get that idea? He didn’t know me from Job’s turkey. He got it through a DHS Fusion center memo.
I later had a lunch meeting with the police lieutenant in the presence of a retired police officer and tried to assure him as to my character and integrity. I even showed him my honorary sheriff’s deputy credentials. He admitted that he had not even read the content of my website and was merely going by the titles, which leads me to believe he may not have even logged onto the website at all but was merely taking the Fusion center report as “gospel.” And, no, as far as I know, he did not send out a retraction to his officers. Thankfully, I have had several policemen and sheriff’s deputies tell me personally how disgusted they were at the lieutenant’s unfounded character assassination against me and that they appreciate the work I am doing.
In fact, I have had countless police officers and sheriff’s deputies around the country write and tell me about similar memos they have received from DHS. I have even had deputies drive up to me and show me the memos they had received on the computers in their squad cars with the same kind of propaganda.
My friends in law enforcement, can you not see what is happening? Can you not see that you are being brainwashed into a police-state mentality where constitutional rights are seldom considered, especially in emergencies? All the feds must do is create some sort of national or local emergency and, presto, you become instruments of a Police State. Do you not see the trend?
By an overwhelming majority, your fellow citizens are NOT your enemies. We are your neighbors, fellow church members, etc. Are you going to let the machinations of would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., and even in your own State and community, turn the honorable profession of peace officer into an “us versus them” Gestapo-like Police State?
True story: here in Montana, a small town police officer, who is assigned to the traffic division, was asked to speak to a church group. Mostly, he gives out traffic citations for minor violations. As he began his remarks, he said, “I am a cop; I work every day among the dregs of society.” Really? People who get parking tickets and speeding tickets are the “dregs” of society? That, my friends, is the mark of an unfolding police-state mentality. And, remember, this is from the heart and lips of a professing Christian.
As honest and honorable as most of you men and women of law enforcement are, it is time that you come to grips with the fact that the current system emanating from Washington, D.C., controlling the attitudes, training, and tactics of police agencies is practically a carbon copy of history’s most notorious totalitarian regimes. And if the Nuremberg trials proved anything, they proved that “I was just following orders” is never justification for ignoring the greater moral laws of God and Nature.
My dad told me that the policeman is my friend. I would still like to believe that; but it behooves my friends in law enforcement to prove it to me by personally making up your minds to vehemently resist the current trend of militarizing your profession and of turning our once-free republic into a Police State. After all, you want us to be your friends, too, right?
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