Sponsored Article

Abolish the Police? No, We Need for the "Drug Warriors" to Go Back to Being "Peace Officers"

By Richard Cowan

Newsweek AMPLIFY - Abolish the Police?

When I read that the Mayor of Minneapolis was booed off the stage at a rally when he said he opposed abolishing the city's police force, I was reminded of the 19th Century British Historian, Thomas Carlyle's description of Classical Liberalism (American Libertarianism) as "Anarchy plus a Constable."

Frankly, I think that talking about "abolishing" or "defunding'' the police simply delays making the difficult decisions that have to be made about the Drug War, and especially marijuana prohibition, and the other ways that the police have simply had all of society's problems dumped on them.

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:

"Americans by a 2-to-1 margin are more troubled by the actions of police in the killing of George Floyd than by violence at some protests, and an overwhelming majority, 80%, feel that the country is spiraling out of control."

Meanwhile back in the real world . . .

In the United States, law enforcement is essentially a local operation. "There are 17,985 U.S. police agencies in the United States which include City Police Departments, County Sheriff's Offices, State Police/Highway Patrol, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies."

If Minneapolis were to abolish its police department, there is nothing President Trump could do to stop it. On those rare occasions when a jurisdiction has "abolished" its local police agency, county and state-level law enforcement agencies have the authority to enforce the relevant laws. So as either a BogeyMan for the right, or as a pseudo-revolutionary slogan for the left, "abolishing" or "defunding" the police is just a distraction from the real problems. In fact, it might even make some of the problems worse. If a police department has its budget cut, it might well result in firing the youngest and most progressive (and most likely to be non-white) members being laid off first.

And it would do nothing to reform the policies or repeal the laws that are major sources of most of the conflicts between the police and minority communities, or the fact we expect the police to solve all our problems, like "domestic disputes", or helping the mentally ill, controlling obnoxious drunks, or quieting loud music, or comforting the bereaved, while investigating major and minor crimes, and arresting everyone who looks suspicious, especially black men in white neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo, New York, where is "white privilege" when you really need it? As an old white guy, I was amazed to see a gang of white police in heavy body armor push another old white guy, 75-year-old Martin Gugino, a longtime activist, who then fell to the ground, hitting his head on the sidewalk and bleeding profusely from his ear.

The very Conservative Washington Examiner posted the story with an amazing/appalling video.

Two of the police were charged with using "excessive force", and pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. They were released without bail. However, in some ways, the most disturbing part was what followed in the video. One of the police was going to stop and help Mr. Gugino, but was grabbed by another of his colleagues and urged forward, so an old (WHITE!!!) guy was left to bleed on the sidewalk. He is reportedly in "serious but stable condition."

Mr. Gugino is a well-known peace activist, but today President Trump Tweeted,

"Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75-year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?"

"He fell harder than he was pushed"? Well, at least the left hasn't been able to repeal the law of gravity.

That reminds of the movie, Ghostbusters:

"If there's something strange in you neighborhood,

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

If there's something weird and it don't look good,

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!"

So who are we gonna call?

Well, judging by this and the hundreds of other videos showing police violence against unarmed citizens, maybe we should keep Ghostbusters on speed dial.

Yesterday, "White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said Sunday a "few bad apples" are to blame for issues of police brutality and denied that there is any systemic racism in U.S. law enforcement agencies."

In keeping with that overworked cliche, the problems in law enforcement are simply too widespread for it to be just a few apples. It looks more like many bad orchards, and the apples don't fall very far from the trees, because they are doing exactly what we want them to do.

Indeed, the power of the police unions has institutionalized these problems. Craven politicians have avoided them for so long that they are simply accepted as normal. Derek Chauvin, who has been indicted for murdering George Floyd was the subject of 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department's Internal Affairs.

Of course, on television police dramas they protect the innocent and solve terrible crimes in approximately 47 minutes. No wonder we have unrealistic expectations for them.

In fact, over the last two centuries, we have continually dumped new and more complex problems on the police. The "Drug War" went from a slogan to global jihad, resulting in millions of arrests in America and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Mexico, and Colombia, and other countries. And it became the ideological excuse for ever-increasing budgets and power over the lives of Americans, with the burden falling most heavily on minorities.

In fact, we need for the "Drug Warriors" to go back to being "Peace Officers", and to minimize the use of force in the interactions between the police and the citizens. Frankly, I don't think we have any choice. The system is badly broken.

Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and co-founder of Real Tested CBD.

We may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Newsweek AMPLIFY participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.