I was very disappointed to learn our esteemed editor of the Payson Roundup is what may politely be called “of the Authoritarian Persuasion.” I refer to his editorial “A mutant cockroach of a citizen’s right” Roundup, Aug. 26.
This is what happens when people are taught in the public school system from kindergarten on that “the State” is more powerful and more important than “the Citizen.” They are taught “Oh, yeah, you have rights”… but in reality, while Officer Friendly rummages through your person, house, papers, and effects looking for probable cause of wrongdoing, his perceived safety trumps your rights and you have nothing to say about it.
Has anyone ever pointed out to the officer that he is supposed to have probable cause before he starts rummaging?
While I respect the police for the monumentally difficult and dangerous job they do every day, no, their safety does not trump my rights. Their safety does not give them the authority to run my driver’s license when I am a merely a witness offering them information — that’s an unwarranted search.
No, their safety does not give them the right to “secure” my weapon when I have peacefully accepted their authority to give me a traffic ticket — that’s an unwarranted violation of my right to keep and bear arms and it makes me a “subject” in police parlance instead of a “citizen.”
And no, being a good citizen does not mean I should be willing to waive my rights in the interests of making the officer’s job easier — good citizens demand the authorities protect their rights.
Why do officers run the driver’s license or vehicle license of witnesses to a traffic violation without probable cause of their wrongdoing? Why do officers routinely run the serial number of a homeowner’s firearm when the homeowner has called the officers to check out a prowler? Why do officers insist on searching premises to ensure the safety of some individual living there when they have been given the hospital room number where the individual is recovering from surgery?
They do it because it makes them look efficient.
It doesn’t. It leaves the citizen feeling disgusted and wishing he hadn’t gotten involved. He probably won’t get involved next time.
Police officers need to be reminded that their job — their one, singular, absolutely only duty — is to protect the rights of the citizen. And no, their safety does not trump their duty. If they can’t stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.
Donald L. Cline