Perspectives: An open letter to law enforcement

OPINION – Will Rogers once said: “A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth.”

I thought of that when a friend of mine who works closely with a local police agency recently told me that I’m not very popular with many of our boys in blue. They worry that I’m leading people to believe that we are headed for a police state. For the record, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

If my pointing out the approaching police state troubles you, it’s probably because you recognize the growing divide between the state and the people. The problem isn’t you or your ability to do your job. The problem is in how the state is using laws and law enforcement to consolidate its power over the people.

Having said that, I wish to make perfectly clear that we do not yet live in a full-blown police state. But there are several trends that make it obvious that we are moving in the direction of one.

We are losing the protection of natural rights that have protected us from abusive power since ancient times. We are searched without warrants, denied the right to defend ourselves, and forced to provide evidence against ourselves.

Our local police are becoming increasingly militarized as the state declares war against everything it wishes to control. Asset forfeiture laws allow authorities to confiscate property from the citizenry without a shred of evidence that a crime has been committed.

Right now the United States imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than China, Russia, Rwanda, Iran, or Afghanistan. According to the FBI, law enforcement agencies throughout America arrest roughly 15 million people each year. Here’s the kicker, if the violent crime rate has been falling since 1993, why are jails and prisons so full?

The answer is because of an unchecked expansion of state power. Thanks to the growing tendency to solve every societal problem by passing new laws, the threat of government punishment has been greatly increased.

Police are sent forth to enforce countless laws that don’t involve one person causing harm to another but are simply offenses to the state and its rules. Even a relatively free state like Utah still enacts approximately 500 new laws each and every year.

We are choking to death on laws that make nearly every facet of our lives a police matter. The policymakers are the ones who perpetuate the notion that all problems must be solved by organized violence. The greater accountability is on their shoulders. Still, you play a key role in this situation.

There is a question that I must ask you in all sincerity: Is there any law politicians could enact that you wouldn’t enforce?

If your answer is “no” then we have a serious problem. It goes far beyond the boilerplate responses of “if you don’t like a law, work to get it changed.” An individual acting under state authority who would enforce any and all edicts enacted by the political class risks becoming a tool for tyranny.

History’s greatest triumphs of despotism were done under the color of law. The men who rounded up Jews, or sent people to the gulag, or spied on the East German citizenry were not wild-eyed monsters. They were often decent men, whose loyalty to the state and devotion to duty allowed them to enforce the laws no matter what their conscience might say.

They allowed themselves to be seduced into adherence to authority rather than adherence to what is right.

In our time, law enforcement is becoming increasingly preoccupied with what is “legal” instead of what is right.

The sight of police in Watertown, Mass., yanking innocent people out of their homes at gunpoint was bad enough. As was the Aurora, Colo., officers pointing guns in the faces of children and handcuffing 40 innocent motorists while searching for a robbery suspect. In both instances, the actions of law enforcement were deemed legal.

Anyone who dismisses such overkill as isolated incidents is either being naïve or willfully blind. The state is becoming far too comfortable with the use of organized violence against innocent people.

What would you do to guard against this? Would you ever refuse to engage in such tactics? Or would you follow orders and offer the standard “officer safety” justifications of your superiors?

I have nothing against you personally. My personal encounters with law enforcement have been as positive as they’ve been few. The people I know in law enforcement are good individuals. They take their oaths seriously and do their jobs with great dedication to the protection of individual rights. I wish there were more like them.

The idea of limited government and protection of personal rights is no more deluded or utopian than the dangerous belief that legal is the same thing as right.

 

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Perspectives Police State Letter

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41 Comments

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten December 26, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I must agree… Knowing the “local police agency” all too well, the inner workings etc. The “good” officers who took the oath to PROTECT that citizens are fewer and fewer with every passing year. The comes to the plate, the “tools” the ones who will enforce any law that is enacted, even if it is not right. I KNOW first hand of the illegal searches. I know of a young man who was stopped and searched repeatedly and no contraband was ever found in his vehicle or on his person. I know for a FACT that there are quotas on citations for certain officers, I know that performance is based on numbers ie; arrests, citations,cases closed (whether or not they were solved) etc. It truly is becoming an “us against them” state!

  • Sagemoon December 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

    “The idea of limited government and protection of personal rights is no more deluded or utopian than the dangerous belief that legal is the same thing as right.” Amen!

  • Donald Page December 26, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I totally agree with you , yes there are some good officers but there is lot of them that hide behind there badge, they over step the law, I use to be on the force in another state and when I was going through my training it was about protecting the constitutional rights and protect and serve, now its your guilty automatically and everyone is a criminal,, you are very right that we will eventually lose all our rights if we don’t stand up and take a stand

  • Kolby Traveller December 26, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Great Article! I am glad that Mr. Hyde is pointing this out in such a public forum. It is disturbing to me as well that police all over the country ( though especially disturbing to me that it is happening in St. George) are becoming more and more militarized and using more and more force to impose the will of the State on the People.

  • Kristin Schwiermann December 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Some of the problem her is not making an example of those higher crimes…..If the prisons are so full maybe is the string of rapists and drug addicts murderers and thieves!…Castrate, shoot, cut off their hands….whatever it takes, our crime in the US would go down. The get a free meal, room, tv and a gym to work out in…..Stop catering to criminal!…..

  • Misty December 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Great article….thank you. Totally agree with you….We are losing “America”. We need to stop feeling bad for criminals and give them what is truly deserved by the crime! We let child molesters and rapists back out on the streets to do it again over and over….Start publicly “taking care of them” and I bet we see crime drop! Let the punishment match the crime — the man who killed his stepson in Layton should know the fear of death is coming to him – QUICKLY – stop wasting our tax dollar by letting them sit there and get three meals a day. The man who shook an infant to death in Layton should be shaken until dead…..anyone molesting a child should be an automatic BYE BYE sentence….they don’t need oxygen!

  • Giuseppe December 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

    You have made accusations that you do not support with fact in your article. If you could please respond and point me in the right direction so I can research you accusations. Such as:
    Asset forfeiture laws ~ Why would the driver not disclose where the cash came from or which specific church it was going too. Our cash laws are such so criminals can’t transport large amounts of cash. I would like to see a follow up to this article and be informed if A. the driver returned to make a rightful claim to the cash and B. How did he happen upon so much money. My bet is he doesn’t return to make a lawful claim on the money.
    Offenses of the state ~ Really? They man accused of smoke was trying to be rudely defiant. Action creates reaction. If he would have answered the questions he would have been on his merry way. What is the harm in asking if he was smoking or if he had a been using TRAX? What is the history of this TRAX station? Have there been car break ins at that parking lot? Is there an unusual amount of police presents because of high crime rate in that area? Did someone call to complain about someone smoking at the stop? Really need more info than some young punk kid taking and editing video. You can not look at that small clip and determine all the factors.
    Watertown Mass: They were looking for a man that randomly killed and injured innocent people. He was on the loose. Please show interviews of ALL the home owners who’s homes were searched and let us see their response to the police action. I am a combat vet and what the bombers did in Boston was an act of war. Thank God they pursued that little weasel until they found him. regardless of how many people feel like their rights might have been violated at least he didn’t get away and make an escape and live to kill another day.
    Aurora, Colo. Pointing guns at innocent children? yes they did, it was a CHILD that committed the crime. The police have no idea if the CHILD WITH THE GUN had any accomplices. That’s why they come out of the building with their hands up, until they are cleared they could be suspects. You clearly have no concept of a police officers duties and responsibility. Your perception would change if one of the children leaving the building pulled a gun and started shooting the other children leaving the building. In which case he/she could shoot 4 or 5 more children before a police officer could raise his weapon, acquire the hostile target and return fire.
    You sir need to show a little respect and perhaps walk in another person shoes before condemning the Police State. I look forward to the follow up on the cash, the history of the TRAX station crimes and please tell me how we should have perused the Boston Bombers.

    • Bryan Hyde December 26, 2013 at 10:52 am

      To prevent wasting your time or my own, I’ll need you to answer this question first: Can government do anything it pleases to accomplish its goals?
      .
      Yes or no?
      .
      If your answer is “no” then we can have a discussion of what the upper limits of government are or should be in a free society.
      .
      If your answer is “yes” then I’ll leave you to continue polishing the boots of whatever authority figure is standing before you.

      • Giuseppe December 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        Bryan, you don’t the right to ask me questions until you have answered mine. What is the Crime history at the TRAX station? Had someone called and complained? What does everyone that had been removed from their home in Boston have to say about the incident? Where did the $200K from SD come from and have they gone to court to prove it was legally obtained?
        I think you have had an enemy all your life and hope you one day find peace.

      • janie December 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm

        why not answer the questions? i fail to see any legitimate examples that pertain to stg.

    • Giuseppe Dumbass December 26, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Giuseppe – spoken like a true cop! Like most cops, you are far too stupid and dangerous to even waste time reasoning with. The scary thing is that you are the exact person that ends up with a badge. Take the money and make the person PROVE that he is innocent? Do you even hear yourself? You actually think that someone should be arrested for being “rudely defiant”. You are right that action creates reaction – thugs like you can only push citizens so far before you get what you deserve. Also – you may not have realized this because your skull is too thick, but they only caught the Boston Bomber AFTER they lifted the curfew and a PRIVATE CITIZEN noticed that the cover on his boat had been messed with and called the cops. Finally, I know this concept will be completely foreign to you, but you need to do your own research. Why should the author of this article follow up with additional information just because you are too stupid and too lazy to do it yourself?

      • Giuseppe December 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

        #1 I am not a cop. The US seizes almost 1 Billion dollars a year in illegal drug money. 1 BILLION! The law’s are set in place for a reason. If you are traveling with more than $10k you better be able to prove how you came about it, employment, inheritance, life insurance, sell of home, etc. It would not be that had to prove. And the couple that had $200k seized all they have to do is go before a judge and prove the money was legal. If you don’t like the law – fight to change it. If you don’t like the law makers run for office. I think this law is fair and it is pretty simple to abide by. Carry documentation for anything over $10k.

        • JPD December 27, 2013 at 11:46 am

          Bull. I should not have to prove I am innocent, or “prove” my money is my own. Whatever happened to real police work? What about innocent until PROVEN guilty.

          This is going on nationwide. Get off your lazy A$$ and check out the Tennessee state troopers that are STEALING from everyday people. Plus, it’s part of their job. They have quota’s for God’s sake! Currently in the news and lawsuits being filed by victims to get money back.

          LEO in this country are turning into the thugs for organized crime. Called Government.

          You are clueless.

      • Aaron Tippetts December 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm

        Ill give a specific example of countyasset forfieture that pertain directly to washington county. Vehicle forfeitures. Just take a drive out near purgatory jail, back in that industrial area and youll see an acre or two crammed full of vehicles stolen by the government to be sold at auction.

    • Roger Robinson December 26, 2013 at 11:24 am

      You have made and raised some good points and I look forward to the response from the writer? BTW a 2 war vet myself.

      • Giuseppe December 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        Roger, thank you for your service. And as vets I think we will forever abide by our oath.
        “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” There are 2 types of leaders, those that lead people to good and those that lead people to bad. I don’t think Brian has ever had his rights violated but he sure wants to champion a cause because he knows there are sheep out there that will follow him.

        • Giuseppe Dumbass December 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm

          Giuseppe, from your comments it is clear that you have no clue what the Constitution of the United States says. If you did, you would quickly recognize that you, and people like you, are direct enemies of the Constitution. Seriously, you should read through that document and then return and read some of the crap you have written above. The comments you have made place you comfortably in modern-day Russia or Nazi Germany.

  • Karl Hegbloom December 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I have written a number of articles concerning this subject. One is: http://karlhegbloom.blogspot.com/2012/07/integrity-accountability-and-resolving.html

  • Jason December 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Garbage. POs don’t legislate…they enforce laws that are passed.

    Those who allege ‘quotas’ site specific pandemic occourance.

    If you don’t like laws, the vote out legislators, or run yourself.

    POs do things other people cannot because they are inept, or will not because they are too afraid.

    Are there bad cops? Yep. But the number of bad people overshadow the number of bad cops by a myriad.

    • Steve MacFarlane December 26, 2013 at 11:25 am

      Jason,

      What law was Chief Lloyd Watkins of La Verkin enforcing when he hand-cuffed a 7 year old who was with his parents at the time?

      • Simone March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

        He was doing what his parents obviously refused to do, disciplining him. That child was hitting him, throwing a fit and the “parents” we’re doing absolutely nothing to try and stop him.

    • Jon R. Cocktoasten December 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      OK, Captain Obvious… We all know that LEO do not legislate, that’s why we don’t call them legislators! There are a lot of Officers that will enforce any law passed, period! I don’t “allege” quotas, I KNOW for a fact. Last I knew of, the number for a Motor Officer was 115 per month. THAT IS A FACT!!! Wait, ok you may be on the right track… To the public, it was not a quota but a strong suggestion. LEO do things because they have taken an oath to do them and are getting paid to enforce the laws. To call the citizenry “inept” or “afraid” is “garbage”!!! Do you not think LEO are scared when they do their job??? Think again! They are very scared. Fear is a very good thing for a LEO to feel. Fear doesn’t get you killed, tombstone courage gets LEO killed! I would venture to say (using your words) the number of good people overshadow the number of good LEO by myriad! That being said, this is not a bash on the police thing, it is a police state thing. The government is exerting more and more power and influence over we the people and if we continue to do nothing about it, we WILL become a police state!

  • Retired Trooper December 26, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Not only is the Police But even our local Justice Court or should I say Money Court. I was in court with a family member when I saw this played out. A young female failed to move over for an Officer that was stopped on the side of the road.

    Both the female and the Officer said that he was stopped on the side of the road with his lights on. was not on a traffic stop having left the other person go. The female had to make right turn right just a little ways in front of the Officer. Officer is in his vehicle, so she passed him in the right lane and did not move over. He pulls out behind her and follows her into the parking lot she was going to and gave her a ticket.

    The Judge reads the rule in the law book and stated he was looking at the intent of the legislators on the law. And found her guilty and gave her 150. 00 find.

    The intent of the law was to protect the Officers on a traffic stop or a Motorist broken down out fixing a flat tire, or UDOT working on the road.

    If she had moved to left lane it is doubtful she could have signal 3 sec to move back to right lane and then 3 sec to make the turn and would have been given a citation for that by the same Officer.

    Justice was not served that day, just more money for the City.

    • Simone March 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

      No she could not have gone up one block to another parking lot and turned to come back giving her more then enough time to legally make the turn.

  • Liesa Swejkoski December 26, 2013 at 11:54 am

    “Our local police are becoming increasingly militarized as the state declares war against everything it wishes to control. Asset forfeiture laws allow authorities to confiscate property from the citizenry without a shred of evidence that a crime has been committed.” That actually happened to a gentleman in our stake. According to the ward clerk’s wife, (Who let this information slip) the accused man was among the most honest in his dealings, did humanitarian missions etc. He accused a local politician of wrong-doing and within weeks had his businesses seized. Yes, it could happen to you and me, too.

  • Blinded December 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Some residents are blind to corruption that may exist within their city government walls. Closed-door city meetings, decisions made and money spent without public input, inequality with code enforcement practices and a strong-arm police employed to put fear in its citizens. As bad as muslim dictatorships but claiming you are enjoying freedoms.

  • yolanda December 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I like that Bryan cites his own idiotic opinion pieces as evidence for his, again, idiotic opinion. Then when he does throw in a rare occurrence of police overstepping their bounds, it’s a story from another state. Talk about a pathetic attempt to stir up the community. I think Mr. Hyde got pulled over one too many times for traffic violations or something and got his panties in a knot. After all, the biggest complainers of the police are those that are committing the crimes and want to get off scott free. “Illegal searches”… Really? Buah ha ha! What a putz.

  • Doug Chambers December 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Well written Bryan, perhaps a little biased by your libertarian leanings, but I think not overly so. http://www.policeone.com/SWAT/articles/6693535-Calif-police-acquire-armored-vehicle-citizens-outraged/ What’s a police force to do? In today’s world they feel increasingly threatened by a criminal element in society evermore increasingly armed with weapons that out arm them compared to the police. They feel more threatened, so they build up their defenses. More, or less, it becomes a mini arms race. Perhaps it isn’t relevant, but now we have an Executive Branch that tends to enforce certain laws and ignore others. And a Judicial Branch that has become packed to back them up with their agenda. And, an electorate bent on being “takers,” rather than “makers.” Finally, the Legislative Branches are more concerned with what’s popular than with what is right. Regrettably, these trends will end in their inevitable conclusions.

  • My Evil Twin December 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Well, I really hate to have to say this, but I’m afraid that Bryan has a lot of good points in this opinion column. There are things that are going on, that just should not be tolerated by the American people. Now I don’t like dope, and I’m not real fond of folks that use it. But the main reason that our jails and prisons are so overcrowded is because of the so called “War on Drugs.”
    The way the system is designed and used right now, there are hundreds, if not thousands of LEOs, not to mention politicians that have made their career on putting people in jail who are “only doing dope.” Sure, doing dope leads to other crimes! Why? Because the laws regarding drugs force drug use and sales underground, and leads to drug costs that force a doper to steal and rob to support his habit. It is insane.
    Also insane are the asset forfeiture laws. When a task force knows that their organization will profit with either cash or equipment from assets seized, it gives them a tremendous incentive to make a seizure, whether it is called for or not.
    If drugs were able to be obtained legally, taxed and controlled the way liquor is, then law enforcement could concentrate on busting folks who actually do something that hurts somebody. Driving under the influence, whether dope or booze would still be illegal. And there should not be any type of “diminished capacity” defense for acts committed while under the influence of anything.
    Now having said that, I would really like for Bryan to try to get some time doing some ride-a-longs with the LASO gang task force. They actually might extend him that courtesy if he would approach them from the angle of doing an article or series of articles on their job. I’d give Bryan less than a week in a gang car, before he would change a lot of his outlook on LEOs.
    Bryan, I know you claim to have “friends” that are LEOs, and I know you claim to be blaming the system rather than individual officers. Unfortunately, they way your articles read almost always show that you actually do hate cops.
    I don’t know if you hate them or not, but I can tell you this: It is a hell of a lot easier to sit on your duff behind a computer or a microphone, and badmouth cops, than it is to actually take part in what they do. You get the experience, then come back and spout your hate.

    • Roger Robinson December 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      A good suggestion for the writer of this article IMO.

    • Chris December 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Bryan’s long suit is talk not experience.

      • Ken December 27, 2013 at 4:30 pm

        That is a fact! His only experience is hiding behind his computer talking bunk. We all know the real world would crush him like a grape!

    • bUB December 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      well, the “war on drugs” is a lot like the “war on terror”. A lot of folks making lots of money have an interest to keep it going forever, one of those being the prison industry.

  • Tom December 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    “The foolish faith in authority is the enemy of the truth.”…….Albert Einstein.

  • bob December 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I think you should all shut your holes who in their right mind could possibly like a cop these days. They are such fony fake people who think they are above you. When they are actually the kids that got bullied in school who now they seek revenge. With law enforcement being as it is the hate for the police is going to continue to grow and people will escalate the way they tolerate the retarded rules those ignorant enough to enforce will be the targets period

  • Neil December 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Great piece Bryan. One of the things that I think greatly contributes to the problem, in St George specifically, is the huge difference between starting pay for police officers and what they make after a few years of “doing what they’re told.” There is a huge financial incentive for meeting one’s quota by locating a steady stream of “customers.”
    http://www.utahsright.com/salaries.php?query=&city=stgeorge_city&position=&order=&oType=&page=1

  • bUB December 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    If anything, we should try and find the comedic value in Brian’s goofy and over-generalizing articles. I don’t think your article stated any actual examples of this coming police state.

  • Aaron Tippetts December 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Exellent article. Good lively debate. Lets hope that communication is still effective for bringing about change. Otherwise its civil war.

  • Ryan White December 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    All this authored by a guy who thinks the Book of Mormon is true. It amazes me that folks around here can find a conspiracy in anything but their own beliefs.

  • Paul December 30, 2013 at 10:36 am

    “When law and morality contradict each other the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law” – Bastiat. (The Law) watch MA , FREEDOM AND GOVERNMENT on youtube. Watch INNOCENTS BETRAYED.

  • Paul December 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

    “When law and morality contradict each other the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law” – Bastiat (The Law). Watch MAN , FREEDOM AND GOVERNMENT on youtube. Watch INNOCENTS BETRAYED.

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