On KILTer: Hear ye citizenry, hear ye police, we need to talk

OPINION – In my now growing tenure as writer for this community, I often hear it said that unless I have walked a mile in the shoes of someone or some entity, I couldn’t possibly grasp their plight.

Can we please dismiss this logical fallacy for the heap of emotional drivel it is?

Last week, the community at large reacted rather loudly to the St. George Police Department’s well-equipped capabilities when it responded to a domestic disturbance with a showing of overwhelming force that was questionably appropriate for the situation.

Note that I say questionably.

I have immense faith in our law enforcement here locally and if they maintain that this response was necessary, I take them at their word.

But it was taken a little bit farther still by someone responding to a published Letter to the Editor of St. George News. In the comments section, one person commented with such articulation that I could reasonably infer he was either an officer himself, or was closely related to one in some way. He gave a great explanation of the response and implored people to just let the police do their jobs.

In other words, don’t question them?

Seriously?

The very hint of a situation in which the general public and press alike are implored to not question the police gives not only grave pause but also a reason to question them even more.

In this country the privilege of police power carries inherent accountability and anyone who says otherwise should definitely not be wearing a badge.

Furthermore, in this particular scenario, anyone who says that the incident and its subsequent public outcry was much ado about nothing has a limited understanding of history and implications that reasonably came to mind; i.e. when one recalls the showing of military force in public settings over history past, images of emerging totalitarian regimes are remembered, no?

There is simply no way around the fact that this appeared on all fronts to be less a police operation and more a military one.

And that scares people.

The safety of police officers being of supreme priority notwithstanding, they should understand that what the general public is weary of is even the hint of a police state.

In fact, believe it or not, most cops agree.

So why do we have an “us versus them” vibe here?

I would assert that it is mostly misunderstanding.

The police rightly feel themselves in a no-win situation here. If they do not respond well enough they get hammered. If they over respond, they get hammered.

But here is something you may not understand: Most of them can take it and understand it as part of their job.

And to those of them who can, I have this question: Are the lines between our uniformed police and our military becoming a little blurred?

Because if they are, we are heading in a very bad direction and I expect those of you who swore your oaths to step up and keep it from happening.

Are we heading down a road where it becomes eventual and matter-of-fact that a legislator sees that money can be saved by combining the operations of military and police – thereby dismantling yet another staple of our checks and balances as a free people by disavowing the Posse Comitatus Act? *

Those of us in the press corps and the broader citizenry are counting on you, our police force, and we stand at the ready to do our jobs; which is to support you in your most difficult jobs and hold you accountable to the supreme privilege of power you hold.

Spare me the “you can’t understand” argument and suck it up. Liberty requires a cohesive relationship between citizens and police. Autonomy is not a commodity the police are allowed or can afford.

And, neither is a hysterical and reactionary public that assumes the worst of our men and women in the line of duty.

I heard a caller on the Perspectives morning radio show suggest a citizens review board, much like cities across the nation have, be implemented in St. George; our growth appears to appreciate it.

If we are in an era here where situations mandate paramilitary police operations, then we are in an era where more accountability to the people needs to be in place.

Any takers?

See you out there.

 

*18 USC § 1385: Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

 

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

 

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9 Comments

  • dan August 22, 2012 at 9:15 am

    It doesn’t take much to realize that the response you give to a situation will greatly affect the outcome!

    i.e. you get hit with a water balloon you chase the other person with a bat they run and get gun and chase you and so on and so on

    I know how the officers feel as my father just retired after 40 yrs as an officer and my brother is one as well and while the crimes haven’t changed it’s sure funny how the attitudes of the public and police have, maybe everyone should take on the attiude of lets make these situations better insted of lets just end it.

  • Tyler August 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Times are scary, indeed. Things are a changing and the government never feels it necesary to clue in the publi, infact, to them, the less we know about what’s going on, the better. They know so much more than we, the people do, and to avoid mass populations to panic or create complete chaos, everything is hush hush and appropriatley tuned for the everyday media to shape our artificial realities. I was scared when Obama queitly passed the law where anyone deemed even thought to be a possible terrorist in this nation will be arrested and locked away with virtually no legal right. Times are scary…Open your minds…

  • Tyler August 22, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Yes, a citizens review board is definetely needed here. This city (if size matters) is plenty large enough, especially our metro population.

  • Curtis August 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I’m curious — other than police on occasion using military-style clothing and equipment — how is the line between police and military becoming blurred?
    Are the police being called upon to perform duties that should be left to the military?
    Was the domestic disturbance mentioned in the blog something the police should have ignored ?
    (I am more concerned with the military assuming responsibilities better left to civilian law enforcement, but that is beyond the control of SG police or SG elected officials)
    Are the police not longer under the control and direction of local elected authorities ?
    I am in total agreement that any agency — federal, state or local — that can deprive me of life, liberty or property must be subject to the most stringent scrutiny

  • Chance Wilson August 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I love how you and Brian Hyde love to bash the police and their supporters. It is beginning to look like you guys wanted to be police officers but could not cut it. Perhaps the physical standards were too tough or the background check? If you know better tactics than the current police chief why not sign up and make the changes you see fit.

    • Just an Observer August 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Chance,
      This remark is precisely what the author was referring to when he asked that emotional drivel such as this be avoided. But, to give the benefit of the doubt to you, will you at least be encouraged to learn what precisely a logical fallacy is and see if you still stand by your inflammatory and supercilious observation?

      As for the physical capabilities of the author, all I can say is…have you seen this guy in person?

      • Chance Wilson August 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm

        I know what a fallacy is. Unlike you I am well educated and served my country in the Marines. Also unlike you I respect the police and teachers. You small town conservitives are so far right you are leftists. I have lived in four states and I have never seen such disregard for public servants as I have in Utah. l am sorry for the cops and teachers that serve your family daily while you bash them for trying. I find it very interesting that in liberal communities people respected the police yet in conservative Utah they attack them. Thank you SGPD for keeping my grandchildren safe.

        • Just an Observer August 23, 2012 at 5:04 am

          Chance,

          “I know what a fallacy is”

          Apparently sir, you do not.

    • Bryan Hyde August 23, 2012 at 4:05 am

      My friends who are police officers would get a good chuckle out of your comment, Chance. I do tend to pick on folks who confuse respect for the uniform with worship of it. Adoration of symbols of state power is a form of modern idolatry. It also leads us away from freedom and towards authoritarian or totalitarian government. Should the day ever come when we find ourselves in full-blown despotism, no one will be able to say, “Why didn’t anyone warn us?”

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