Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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A small continuation of yesterdays discussion about the Police, force and cooperation. First of all, I DO NOT believe that “all cops are bad.” I know far too many of them, work with too many of them and even am related to enough of them to know that the vast majority of them are just like you and I, have the same concerns as you and I, and want the same things as you and I. I would say that I was even a bit surprised at the candor with which they will express those things when they feel safe enough to do so.

The problem comes in when tempers, lack of knowledge and confidence meet up with attitude and a failure to regard that both sides involved in a tête-à-tête have Constitutional duties and responsibilities to insure that rights are maintained and respected. In my view, neither side involved in the Indiana incident took those responsibilities and duties to heart. I also do not believe that maintaining his silence would have changed the outcome in any way. Yes, the man should have been cooperative, and could have gotten out. I suspect that he was what they were looking for in the first place, but be that as it may, the entire situation could have been avoided had he exited the vehicle.

d007d02e5ff1276b8c22ac64ca2622cdThe bigger issue to me is our response. Virtually NOBODY has asked the simple question, was or should this action allowed under the 4th Amendment? Isn’t the real question here? And if such an action is allowed under the 4th, why would it be so? Is it reasonable to assume that the Framers believed that a person who had committed no infraction, no crime and was not the primary subject of a stop could be challenged and ordered by police to respond to their commands with no viable threat (I’m sorry he reached into the bag, but there was no reaction when he reached into his pockets – the Police had to understand that there was no real imminent threat) and then forcibly remove him from the vehicle? The right of the people to be secure in their persons…

Based on the evidence we have seen, I believe that the police could have – and indeed should have handled this much differently. I understand that there may be exculpatory evidence that we have not seen. I accept that there may have been some reason that they needed to confront him. But – and this is important – it is equally as possible that there MAY NOT HAVE BEEN any reason to do so. If we accept the Police version simply because “they are the police,” we fall into the trap of the Authority Bias, which is as dangerous to our liberty as putting a crown on the head of our leaders would be.

By the by, here is a story out of Vermont, which speaks to what I said. Even being silent, even knowing your rights my not be enough in the face of DETERMINED AND WILLFUL IGNORANCE AND EVEN PREVARICATION by an individual who has been entrusted with our liberty and decides to abuse that trust. Again, this guy is an exception to the rule. But… that is why we have rules…

What I want for you to take from all of this today is simply this old chestnut from the ancient Greeks:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?*

The answer is: We do. It IS our job to support and defend the Constitution by raising reasonable, intelligent, knowledgeable and proper objections to potential abuses by authority figures, Police, Political or military. If we don’t do it, who will? The Police should understand that, and be prepared to accept that any reasonable questioning of their authority is not personal, but Constitutional. If they aren’t willing to accept that, then they shouldn’t be Police. If we aren’t willing to accept that, we shouldn’t be citizens, we should be subjects.



3733*Literally, “Who guards the guards themselves?” It s most closely associated with the political philosophy of Plato himself, and expresses the idea that power unchecked is power abused.


Posted on October 9, 2014, in 4th Amendment, News & Notes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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