Would Society Be Better Off If There Were No Police?

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The role of law enforcement used to be pretty clearly understood from the perspective of the public they were entrusted to protect, the criminals who tried to hide from them and the public servants themselves. Growing up, police officers were admired and respected and could more or less be counted on in times of danger. It was common advice given out to children not too long ago if they were lost to “find a police officer”. The understanding was that a police officer would know what to do and take care of you or the situation in some way appropriate to the time. Not that they were baby sitters, but that these officers held a trust with the public that was based on mutual respect, the responsibility of their job and to some extent, dependence on one another for a peaceful coexistence.

Flash forward to today and the smiling, benevolent (to those who were innocent) peace officer is long gone. You are more likely to see a person dressed in military gear, steroids coursing through their veins, shaved head and barking orders than you are to see a smiling face if you have trouble. Why do I have this opinion of law enforcement now? Maybe it is the culmination of too many stories of abuse, of too many videos of misconduct by these same police officers who were supposed to serve and protect. Now, a law enforcement officer isn’t someone to trust or turn to if you are threatened. More often a law enforcement officer is someone to watch carefully or else you could be tasered, beaten to death , strangled until you pass out, or they could wind up practicing their boxing moves on you.

How did we come to this point?

Do we really need police that beat children with clubs?

Do we really need police that beat children with clubs?

Some may say I am generalizing in a way that misses out on all the good things that police officers do. You might say that I am only focusing on a few bad apples and this could hurt the overall image of police who really are trying to maintain that trust that we depended on not too long ago. My argument to that point is that it isn’t me smashing people’s faces in. It isn’t anyone I know that can get away with beating up a senior citizen for jaywalking, or stealing their money, kicking them in the head while they are hand-cuffed or killing them in some instances. It is these bad apples supposedly that are giving our police and sheriff departments a bad name and I think that the blame has to fall squarely at their feet. If the police are really good, then these bad apples should have been dealt with and the problems should be going away, not getting worse, right?

I discussed the militarization of our police forces in a few articles on the Prepper Journal. Most recently it was in conjunction with the government giving away military MRAP vehicles to police forces and my opinion that militarization of police is a dangerous slope. They aren’t the military and they aren’t supposed to be viewing us as the enemy. You take all the examples of abuses of power, militarization and a prevailing attitude by a growing number that regular civilians are there to be brutalized by police if they have a bad day and I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without them. Would we as a society be in a better place with no police and we had to depend on ourselves and our neighbors for security?

According to an article on NPR, an Oregon town had to step in and become their own police due to budget cut-backs. The reason why this volunteer force formed has nothing apparently to do with any abuse, but the very fact that the jobs that police had been doing are now being taken care of by regular civilians could be a sign of what may be possible in other locations.

In the small town of Merlin, members of the North Valley Community Watch Responder Team sit in a classroom in a civic building. At the whiteboard is Ken Selig, a 33-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. Faced with being laid off, he retired.

Today, he’s preparing the volunteers for a training exercise. They’re practicing how to search a building where an intruder may be hiding.

When it’s time for the drill, team members cautiously maneuver down the hallway, searching room by room with unloaded guns drawn.

“Neighborhood watch!” they shout. “Police are on their way! Show us your hands!”

Selig says the cutbacks left a vacuum. Soon, he and other concerned neighbors formed the community watch.

“So we started to train,” Selig says. “I used the same lesson plans, the same things that when I taught at the academy.”

The group began taking those lessons into the community, something that made a difference to resident Jeff Bailey. Awhile back, Bailey noticed a tarp hiding something way back on a neighbor’s forested land.

“We didn’t know if it was a stolen car being hidden,” Bailey says. “We didn’t know if it was somebody living up there, maybe somebody cooking drugs.”

The sheriff’s department was contacted but didn’t respond, so residents called the Community Watch Responder Team. Members confronted the squatters, advised them that they were trespassing, and they left.

Do we really need to pay people to beat us up?

The people in this town are in a sense acting out of need. They have no money for additional police officers so volunteers have taken the responsibility into their own hands; in this case, with training from retired police. What is missing here? I will be honest and say that these civilians could suffer from a lack of training. Just like full-time police, they could make bad judgment choices and you could have the same type of bad apple that needs to abuse people to feel superior. Could these volunteers beat you up just as easily as the cops in the examples above? Yes, but I don’t think it would happen.


Sitting peacefully? How about some pepper spray in your face?

I believe that police officers today have a sense of entitlement, just like so many in our society. They feel that their badge entitles them to a higher level of respect than a regular citizen even though police are regular citizens too. I think that they look down on the people they are supposed to work for. Instead of restraint, I think they are trained to control the situation with force as the first line of response and that these police officers are also trained that it is better to shoot someone “for their own safety” than it is to take the time to figure out what is going on first.

The bottom line is that anytime you put someone in authority, it takes a responsible and mature person to wield that authority in a way that is going to reflect well on themselves and their position. When you have the responsibility to carry a gun and a taser combined with the legal authority to shoot and detain anyone, you must be held to a much higher standard. We have too many police officers who for a number of reasons aren’t able to do their jobs without resorting to abuse and violence. The result from these increasingly frequent actions is a society that trusts the people who are supposed to be bastions of honor less, and fears them as ruthless gangs with the blessing of the state more. These police are the new thugs of society.

If we were more responsible for taking care of ourselves I think this could have the dual benefit of making the people of society act nicer to one another and need police officers less. Should we go back to the Wild West days and handle everything with a gun fight? No. But, I don’t think we need police busting down doors, punching women in the face and threatening to kill the citizens they have sworn to protect either. It is just that the culture is so much more disrespectful now you say. Again, that isn’t any excuse to submit to this type of abuse from authority. I would rather get in a fight with my neighbor than have a police officer punch me for jaywalking. Maybe if my neighbor and I shared responsibility to make sure our neighborhood was safe, we would get along better.

What does any of this have to do with Prepping?

I have said before that prepping is a lifestyle that people choose to live. This lifestyle is evidenced by taking steps to protect your family from any number of threats out there. Some people are preparing for natural disasters. Others are preparing for government tyranny or an economic collapse. Still others are prepping for a pandemic outbreak. All of these situations have the potential for extreme circumstances. In some of these extreme circumstances we have seen in the past, police curtail civil liberties and the worst examples of this would be martial law. In any situation, if the people who are supposed to maintain law and order are no worse than the gangs you might face in their absence what would you do?

It may be in our future that we get a chance to see how this works. If our economy collapses as some fear there will be more police layoffs. In Detroit a city that is already beyond broken, the police chief knows that an armed responsible citizenry is more valuable (and more realistic) than a ton of police officers. Chief James Craig said “Arm yourselves, and criminals will think twice about attacking you.” Could this apply to you in your neighborhood one day? Will we see a time when we are responsible for taking care of our family’s and our neighborhoods because the police simply can’t or we as a society get so fed up we say enough. Will we all be better off (not considering the emergency) without the police?

What do you think?

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  • obxster

    If I wanted to be an career criminal what better option than to be a police officer? Despite all the abuses and incompetence they are never seriously disciplined and actually get away with murder.

  • J-Prepared

    I will agree with you that Police Brutality is wrong. When officials in positions that they are abuse their power it is necessary to deal with the situation quickly and decisively so that other in the same position will not be willing to abuse their power as well, assuming that is we are talking about Police in America. It may be necessary for civilians to call on their elected officials to handle the situation, since that is their job after all right? To represent their constituents wants. The question I would pose to you is why have Police Officers over the years changed from the admired officials to the ” more likely to see a person dressed in military gear, steroids coursing through their veins, shaved head and barking orders?” Which is a very large assumption about the overall Police Force. If you believe that the Police in today’s world have changed it must be for a reason right? The old saying of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it is still around right? Maybe the Police have changed because they have needed to change based on their requirements. For example think about the amount of gangs that are in America today vs. the amount 20 years ago. With the invention of the internet and social media it is much easier for gang members to get their message out to others for recruitment and to also coordinate violence on the public. The amount of firearms that are available today are exponential compared with 20 years ago making it much easier for criminals to have much more advanced weapons then they did in the past. (And yes I am a component for civilians being armed, because you must be prepared to defend yourself at any moment against any threat). I would think that the Police have changed their training, appearance and operations based on the fact that our society as a whole is more violent today then it was in the past. They have had to change to keep up in the arms race with the criminals and enemies of the general public. Does some of their aggression carry over to those in the public that are gentile and it is not required…yes. Should it..no, which is why you must deal with those actions swiftly. Going back to the original article topic, I think a small town in Oregon can operate without a Police force. But do you think Dallas, Reno, Atlanta or St Louis could be maintained without a Police Force?

    • Thanks for your comments.

      Its a good question and I don’t have the answers, but I was thinking about this today. Have we as a society with our reliance on the authorities taking care of everything exacerbated the problem?

      When we no longer as a community deal with our problems, we delegate the responsibility to others. We have abdicated taking care of problems to others in the legal system. The courts, law enforcement, social services, the tax collector, the sheriff, school board, county commissioners and on and on. In this case, the others (police) seeing that we are unwilling to deal with the problem have a role. We gave them the responsibility to handle problems we didn’t want to deal with and that beast has grown over time to mutate into a militarized force.

      Is this because of more gangs? I doubt it and according to the National Gang Center from 1996-2011 the number of gangs actually dropped slightly – http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis/Measuring-the-Extent-of-Gang-Problems#estimatednumbergangs

      If the police were tackling tougher crime against tougher criminals I might buy that they needed to get tougher. The reality is that they aren’t. According to the FBI, the number of officers killed per year has dropped in that same time period too so it isn’t that they need to armor up to keep from losing some war – http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/year.html

      The police are getting more out of control because obviously that is the environment that is perpetuated and promoted by law enforcement now. I wish we had lower crime statistics to warrant this, but we don’t. We do have increasingly violent behavior toward civilians and we need to stop this somehow. It isn’t ever acceptable to rationalize brutality because of unrelated circumstances. That is like saying you can’t blame the bully for beating up your daughter, because he was mad at his mom. It isn’t his fault.

      Maybe we would have some anarchy if the police left a city like Atlanta. Since we have had police in Atlanta since 1853, it might take us a while to acclimate and adjust to no police, but I think we could. Would it be nasty for a while? Maybe. Would we be better off in the long run if our society was responsible for dealing with our own problems? I think so.

      • J-Prepared

        Thanks for the update and info!

    • sixpack

      “They have had to change to keep up in the arms race with the criminals and enemies of the general public.”

      I don’t think anyone has a problem with that. The problem is police DO tend to feel thy are more important than the people they are sworn to protect. There is no reasonable excuse for the majority of the unprovoked brutality that we see from police today…NONE.

      Any rational person sees beating a pregnant woman in the face on the side of the road over a speeding ticket…if they DON’T, then they have no business in law enforcement. They have no business putting on that badge, if 11 year old girls, handcuffed in the back of their care “scares them.” If they are in fear for their life that much, they should be working in a warehouse or something—not toting a gun.

      The last thing I’d like to say, is “THE THIN BLUE LINE”. That makes EVERY officer who turns their heads, just as guilty as their colleague-perpetrator, so yes, the brush does get broader from there.

  • AZDevilDog

    Another good article that makes people think Pat. I don’t believe you are to far off. If at all. Even here in the “Wilds” of AZ (actually on the far outside edge of a huge metropolitan area) it is evident that the LEA’s feel that they are above us in the pecking order. If you see one of them in the small market down the road, they are neither friendly nor polite. Decked out in their get up with enough gizmos that it would put Batman to shame, they look at you like you are a parasite that shouldn’t be using the same air that they are using. A few weeks back I was riding home from work in the mountains, on the Harley, and I was told to detour several miles out of my way by a road block, manned by some of our county sheriff’s deputies. They were sporting fully auto M-16’s and angrily waving motorists down the side road. I pulled off the side of the road to adjust my gear and when I looked up they were hauling butt down a farm road around the field they were at. So I turned back down the highway on my normal way home. In the next five miles to the house I counted seven different patrol vehicles with anywhere from 1 to three officers with each, all armed with fully auto weapons. Come to find out they were looking for a burglary suspect who had reportedly fled through the hay fields. Seemed like a lot of over kill. But it was their attitude that surprised me the most. They were all acting like they had a serial killer cornered under the house. I drive by one of the county sub stations every day coming and going to work, it looks like a small army is stationed there. I understand that they are often put into harms way and don’t know if a traffic stop could end their lives, but to project that ego or fear or what ever it may be, onto every citizen is un-called for. I think you are on to something that makes a lot of sense. Keep up the good fight and thanks.

  • AlbertaBeef

    This article would pack a lot more credibility if the opening picture wasn’t such an obvious photoshop of a cop kicking a woman in the head. There are a lot of legitimate pictures of police abuse without making some up. It takes a perfecty well written article on a situation which is getting increasingly worse, and deflects it into doubt even before the opening paragraph.

    • Photoshop? Not in this case. This is a screen grab from a video taken of a police officer in Lincoln, RI named Edward Krawetz who was convicted of felony battery. If you want to see the video, you can click on the link below.


      Unfortunately, this is one of those legitimate pictures of police abuse you mentioned…


  • RW

    It’s high time we find some other viable alternatives to the present model of policing. If we do not and we continue as a nation down the present path of tyrannical unconstituional militarized police, we will eventually see a civil war erupt.

  • Duncan Idaho

    “You are more likely to see a person dressed in military gear, steroids
    coursing through their veins, shaved head and barking orders than you
    are to see a smiling face if you have trouble.”

    Wow, the very definition of hyperbole.

  • Steven Nelson

    Been detained for 11 hours st

  • Jerry

    No doubt if police just quit or stopped working thugs and criminals would be looting and killing in every part of America. Homeowners would protect their homes and probably over 1000 looters would meet lead every day. Those people who hate guns would be crying and screaming at the hoodlums as they had their way with women and wishing they had a cop to call. So as much as you might hate the law, consider what you would do without the police. Pray for our policemen and bless them as they try to keep order and us safe.

    • Jerry,

      I do agree policemen are important and when they are behaving morally they are a vital part of society. When they are acting like the thugs that we pay them to protect us from, what really is the purpose they serve? This article was about the degradation in respect and professionalism that some police have exhibited. Sure the title is a little dramatic, but so are the actions of a few which only serve to tarnish the reputation and respect we give the whole.


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