Police Safety Not More Important Than Citizen Rights

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Editor:

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

Comments

Robbin Flowers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Donald, Police are not there to protect the rights of citizens, that is what the court's are for. Police can do really what ever they want and if you try to stop them they will just get a search warrant because now you gave them probable cause by not cooperating. When they run your license "just because they see you" - that is because they are "Trolling" for trouble. These departments are fragmented and inner connected by the masonic system and if you have a special symbol on your car, your plate is not ran. It is my understanding that WE THE PEOPLE have a say in how we are policed in each community to some degree. This is of course based on the Mayor, Counsels and Policy and Procedures for each department. That is probably effected by how much money they receive from the Feds. The more Fed money = the more militarized the techniques involved in their community policing activities. This gets into the belief systems of the judges in any given community. The war on drugs and the ethical question: Either knowingly or knot, is any judge vested in the private prison system (or stock market) and benefited by locking someone away for a period of time?

The Criminal Justice System is just another twisted head of the wicked dragon.

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Donald Cline 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I beg to differ, Robbin. Refusing to cooperate with a demand to waive your rights is not probable cause. Even a police officer's "suspicion" that you have, or are about to, commit a crime does not rise to the level of probable cause. Merely seeing you is not sufficient probable cause to run your license plate, but if they want to they will follow you until they see you commit some minor traffic infraction for which they can cite you, and then they'll run your plate. Your suggestion there is some kind of "(M)asonic system" that has a bearing on whether they run your plate or not is pure horsepucky with regard to 99% of the police agencies in this country, though there are some very corrupt agencies, especially in the deep South and deeply-urbanized northeast, They get caught periodically, and cops go in the slammer. It has been my experience, and I have had some experience, that most corruption in the courts and the prosecutors is at the federal level, but most of it is not a bribery kind of corruption: It is a corruption of personal agenda trumping the law and especially the supreme Law. You can see a very sharply defined example of federal corruption in Eric Holder opening a Civil Rights investigation into the shooting, by a white officer, of a 300-lb. black teenager gang member with a rap sheet as long as your arm: That is a prime, glaring example of rummaging around looking for probable cause without having the probable cause in advance to do so. And it shows the kind of bias in himself he is looking for in the Ferguson officers: He didn't call for an investigation of even one of the last dozen or so black people who have murdered, raped, and/or maimed white victims. There is also agenda-driven corruption in the offices of some big-city State prosecutors, who try to enhance their resume of successful prosecutions by a process called "felony creep," where a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and told that if he doesn't plead guilty, they'll prosecute him for the felony version of the crime -- that's going on in Maricopa County right now today. As for kickbacks to judges from the highly profitable (and highly unconstitutional) private prison system, I'm sure there is some, but probably miniscule -- that would be a guaranteed career destruction if any defense attorney found out about it. I believe there are mostly good people in law enforcement and the courts and even in the legislature, but they are driven by ambition, and that always bends the rules somewhere. I've been fighting for the U.S. Constitution for 36 years, and I have never failed to find it to be true: If there is a method by which corruption can gain a foothold, it will exist sooner or later. It is a fundamental truth, which is why the U.S. Constitution every time, without exception, no excuses, is so vitally important.

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don evans 3 months, 2 weeks ago

" If they can’t stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen". And they are. They are quitting, retiring early in ever increasing numbers. Almost every major US City is currently understaffed with police officers. Why? They are not getting the applicants that they need. And the ones that they are getting most cannot pass the background investigation, the written, psychological or physical exams. To be a Cop in this current day and age, you might as well wear a sign on your uniform that says, call this number to sue me, make a complaint, define my duties and how I should do them. Then you have the political police administrative managers that will throw you under the public bus in a heart beat to please the special interest group flavor of the moment. I speak from 35 years as a LEO serving my fellow citizens, and thank God surviving all of the above. No way will I recommend to anyone to take on todays LEO role. Ever see the scifi movie Robo Cop. That is your Police Officer of the near future. And you know what, you will all let it happen. Bitch about them when they go out activated and respond to your calls for service. If I were still out there today, I would just drive around, smile, wave, take the longest route to any emergency call obeying all speed limits, traffic controls, making no independent decisions on my own, call a supervisor to respond on everything, and take a minimum of one hour to handle the most trivial of calls. That's what your going to get, and that's what you will deserve. Most problems will resolve themselves if given enough time before you arrive, no matter the outcome. You get to go home.

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Donald Cline 3 months, 2 weeks ago

You are exactly right, Don Evans, and first: I want to thank you for your service. Second, I'm glad you survived 35 years as an LEO, Third, what you describe is exactly the cynical, bitter opinion of a person who thinks his job is to "police a mass of human detritus" as you remark in your message below. It is easy to acquire that point of view when your faith in the decency of the average citizen is betrayed time and time again, as every police officer experiences. It's hard to accept the fact that human beings are humans first and icons of civic virtue second ... or third ... or fourth. But that is how it is, and that is how it has ever been. So the real problem becomes this: Should the officer be a "law enforcement officer:? Or should he be a "peace officer"? Should he be an extension of the policy of the Chief and the Mayor and whomever else, or should he recognize, honor, uphold and obey his oath of officer to defend the rights of the citizens as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the State Constitution? And now, the $64 question: Before you acquired your bitter summation of the human condition, have you ever read, investigated, and understood the plain English Consent of the Governed as conveyed by the Constitution of the United States? You know, that document that trumps the policies of your Chief and your Mayor and your Governor and your President?

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Meria Heller 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Nary a day passes without some horrific story of the militarized police state we now live in. If you're IQ is too high, you won't get on the force. Giving surplus military gear to police ended "protect and serve" and now it's all law enforcement. This costs the taxpayer with every lawsuit, instead of the money coming out of the police budget/retirement plans. If that happened police would realize they work for us and treat people like equals. In California they just passed a law taking away your right to remain silent....stop and frisk? What happened to right to privacy? Swat teams for delivering warrants? What has happened to this country? Given the "leaders" we've had the past 20-30 years it's not hard to see how that violent disregard for the Constitution has whittled all the way down to the local cop....sad days indeed.

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Donald Cline 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Supreme Court ruling under discussion by the editor of the Roundup, in which the Court ruled police officers have no grounds to arrest someone for merely being in possession of a firearm in the absence of knowledge or probable cause to believe the holder of the gun is a prohibited possessor, was named "Serna" and he was a violent gang member felon. Ever notice, Meria, that Supreme Court rulings protecting our fundamental rights from the police, nearly ALWAYS are brought to the Court by CRIMINALS? Why? Well, it's in their self-interest of course, but that raises a very important question: If a law-abiding citizen is exercising his/her rights legally and properly (according to the plain English language of the U.S. Constitution) and he (or she) is accosted and mistreated by a law enforcement officer and a prosecutor and a Court for doing something he (or she) had a RIGHT to do, why doesn't that law-abiding citizen take the case to the Supreme Court?

THAT'S what happened to your right to privacy. The backbone of this country, the law-abiding hard-working middle class, GAVE OUR RIGHTS AWAY by default!

If you are not willing to fight tooth and nail to preserve your rights, you don't have any. Period.

I suggest a new perspective: In 1803, the Supreme Court ruled in Marbury v. Madison a law not pursuant to the U.S. Constitution is not defective merely from the moment of its discovery, but is null and void from the moment of its inception. Until about 1921, most Supreme Court cases were decided based on the U.S. Constitution, or existing law if they could be decided without reaching the Constitution. Along about 1920, under the leadership of Progressive (read "Marxist") President Woodrow Wilson, the Courts began ruling based on "case law," basing their decisions on prior rulings about the Constitution instead of the Constitution itself. I propose we, the people, start using Marbury v. Madison to strike down those defective court rulings (such as Wickard v. Filburn, for example) that violate the plain English language of the U.S, Constitution in the interest of some authoritarian legal system.

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don evans 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Police are only the reflection of the community they serve. You got better ideas on how to police a mass of human detritus. Do it yourself. Bitching about the cops while hiding out in your little white enclave in the foothills never having to really face the everyday day reality of the death, violence, in the real world. Should you ever run into such a situation, maybe you can engage your assailant's in an intellectual conversation about the error of their actions towards you and your possessions. Good luck with that.

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Donald Cline 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Cheap shot, Don. The whole purpose of the legal system is to protect the citizen from victimization by the criminal and from victimization by the system, because the average citizen is too busy making a living and living a life to devote the time and energy to developing warrior skills and the warrior mindset. All Meria wants, all most citizens want, is for the rough men to stand on the ramparts ready to do violence on their behalf, and not suffer victimization by those rough men. That's why we have a Constitution, and why you had a career. I really regret your experience made you bitter.

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don evans 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I am not bitter at all. Just disappointed that so many are so blind. What you rail about was a battle lost long ago, and you know it. The justice system as we know it today is not about the truth of the matter at hand. It's become just another government cog employment system. We are all told the judiciary is A-political, impartial, blind, and not based on economic class. Watch the news much? Tell them about the Constitution as your cell door slams shut.

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Robbin Flowers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Don, Donald, and Meria - OK, I have to make a narcissistic observation - YOU GUY'S ARE BLOWING MY MIND with this stuff you are writing! Woo Hoo!

"Why doesn't that law-abiding citizen take the case to the Supreme Court? Because the law is intentionally made to be very complicated, secondary to case law, layers of codes, statutes and regulations at every level - City, State and Federal.

I just represented myself and won a case as the plaintiff at The Superior Court of Arizona, and that was difficult enough. A lawyer wanted to charge me 10k to take the case. The amount of work and research that I had to do was ridiculous! The information is fragmented all over the place. I had to go specifically to the Law Library in Phoenix and pay for copies out of certain books. I could access the AZ Revised Statues from home computer and print out applicable statutes. I had to get specific court paperwork from the Law Library in Down Town Mesa. Before ending up in the Superior Court, I was in Justice Court several times over this case. So anyway, the legal system is rigged to push people to use Lawyers to represent them. This is very expensive. If the process was clarified and mainstreamed, more people could fight for their rights. Is it to the advantage of the government (the ruling class) to clarify the law? Or is it to their advantage to keep it complicated and steeped in archaic rules that override the US Constitution?

IS the right to privacy "The backbone of this country?" Interesting thought Donald, I think that has much truth to it, but what does it actually mean? We certainly have no privacy in this day and age, even "the law-abiding hard-working middle class." WE DID NOT GIVE AWAY OUR RIGHTS! They were taken from us by the Patriot Act via Bush, as codified by Obama. The question is what can we do to regain "privacy?" Where does the Constitution guarantee privacy? Privacy for whom? The secretive organizations working back channels, in dark markets, using dark money? If we don't have any privacy then why should they???

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