The Kind of Cop We Need

My many thanks to Matt Bracken – an old friend with whom I only recently got in touch, and whose books I greatly enjoy – for this link.

In it, the author recounts his experiences in Kosovo as an UNMIK police officer, and his experiences are telling.

In postwar Kosovo, many tens of thousands of war refugees lived in the capital. Not enough jobs existed to support them all. Many of them became vendors in a sprawling, dirty bazaar. They supported their families by selling cheap Turkish and Pakistani housewares and trinkets. Under old Yugoslav law, which was still the legal standard, those vendors had to have permits. Few bothered to stand in line at a dilapidated government building to pay for a permit.

This officer – I’ll call him Joe – became infuriated every time he patrolled the bazaar. He’d find vendors without permits, then ticket and berate them. He’d make note of other illegal vendors so he could ticket them later. He’d even drive through the bazaar off-duty to spot illegal vendors for future targeting. He’d vent his anger about illegal vendors at us, which always made me laugh. I didn’t care the least bit about vendors without permits, and thought Joe would eventually get over it. I was wrong.

Joe got so mad at illegal vendors that he researched Yugoslav law. We had been advised not to do anything that violated the Bill of Rights, but officially Yugoslav law was still in effect. And Joe discovered he could use Yugoslav law to do something about those damn illegal vendors.

You can guess what happened next. The police went around and confiscated the goods from people who had just been through a nasty war, and who were trying to eek out a living by selling what few trinkets and goods they had available.

Because they didn’t have a permit.

Now, being a Kosovo vet, and having been deployed there just a few years after the author of this blog, I know about the corruption, the crime, etc. that goes on in Kosovo. I’ve seen smuggling of every good possible – from shoes, to tomatoes, to cattle, to firearms, to humans. I remember a chicken smuggling incident where some troops sat watching from atop of OP Thunder as chickens were offloaded from one truck to another – literally marched on a plank into the vehicle like some twisted chicken Bataan death march… So I understand.

However, what these petty tyrants did to people just trying to survive post-war was pretty repugnant.

I stayed back. Officer Joe, the illegal vendor hater, picked out an old man selling bananas. The old man, who looked about eighty but was probably younger, struggled to pick up boxes of bananas before the truck arrived. Officer Joe reached the old man’s stall, tore a box from the old man’s hands and threw it in the truck. The old man grabbed the next box. Joe fought it away.

I remember standing there in impotent frustration, thinking, So now we’re literally wrestling food away from old men. This is disgusting.

They did it, because they officially could.

But this was in a foreign land, right? It couldn’t happen here, right?

How many times do we hear about cops breaking up evil, dangerous lemonade stands, because the children didn’t have a permit to sell the drink? Illegal Children’s bake sales? Criminal Girl Scout cookie sales?

Given the ridiculous “we’re just following official orders” excuse, what makes you think that many of them won’t go around confiscating firearms?

Hence, the Second Amendment discussion.

The Founders didn’t include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights because they wanted to ensure we could all hunt and plink. They included it as a means of common defense – both against outside aggression and government tyranny – the kind of tyranny that includes breaking up a Girl Scout cookie sale, because the kids didn’t have a peddler’s license.

Now, the above statement is not a call to armed action against the police, so before any of you get bent out of shape here, you need to understand that. I’m not calling for armed conflict between police and ordinary citizens, because some idiot cop shut down a yard sale. I am calling for a fundamental understanding that power corrupts. It corrupts even people whom you wouldn’t think in a million years to be evil.

Power corrupts.

And the Second Amendment is a check on that power. I’ll defer to the author once again:

Our founding fathers were incredibly intelligent, insightful men. They knew an external threat of invasion could exist. And more importantly, they knew an internal threat of tyranny would always exist. They knew that even basically good guys like Joe can let their personal hatreds control their official actions. They knew that even Officer Chris Hernandez might maybe, once or twice, have a little nagging thought like, There should be an automatic death penalty for anyone who drives through a quiet neighborhood at 3 a.m. blaring gangster rap. They knew I better have threats over my head, to keep me from carrying out that death sentence.

The founding fathers knew guys like me and Joe need to be controlled. They wrote the 4th Amendment so we would have to follow rules when we took people’s property. And they wrote the 2nd Amendment so that if we ever decided not to care about citizens’ rights, the citizens could forcibly change our minds.

This is why I say we need more cops like this guy. He gets it, and he has taken a long, hard look at himself and his actions in Kosovo.  He’s honest.

I know there are a ton of good law enforcement officers out there, so if you come here to yell at me about how I’m a cop hater, and how I don’t understand what it’s like to serve and sacrifice, I invite you to kindly shut your ignorant yap.

But I would love to hear from law enforcement officers out there. My question to you is the following: Realistically, and having taken a good look at yourself, would you see yourself following orders to disarm ordinary, law abiding citizens, because a law was passed?

Be honest with yourselves. Please.

15 responses

  1. In addition to once being a cop, I used to TEACH cops and wannabe cops at a Texas Junior College. One thing I always tried to stress was that cops must CONSTANTLY be on the lookout and avoid a “we vs. them” attitude toward the public. Cops generally see members of the public in very negative circumstances–either they are arresting someone or taking a report from someone who’s been wronged in some way…often with emotions high. That’s why it’s important for cops to cultivate friendships and social relationships with non-cops and spend at least some of their “down-time” with people other than other LEOs.

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  2. Nicki, this was great. You presented cogent ad salient thoughts in an easy-to-read and concise way.

    I have been reading your stuff for a while now, but had neglected to comment until today. I think you’re a pretty danged amazing American. Hat’s off to ya.

    Donald @ WR2A
    Long Live the Republic, indeed.

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    1. Donald, thank you. I’m glad you decided to comment; you make me blush.🙂 Please feel free to do so anytime.

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      1. Nicki,

        Feel free to do which one? Comment, or make you blush? Ha!

        No worries. I don’t really read many blogs, (my time is spent reading Second Amendment stuff), but the ones I do read I read for a reason. Yours has won my attention.

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        1. Heh. Both!🙂 I don’t blush often, but it happens.

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        2. And thank you again. You’re way kind!

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  3. I would also ask to hear from current members of the military, and their thoughts on being ordered to fire on the We the People, and could they do it, even though under direct order from a power hungry officer taking his orders from Washington.

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  4. […] Low-Information Voter’s Guide to Politics: CubeThe Kind of Cop We Need: LibertyZoneFailed Government: A Study of Futility: […]

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  5. airraid706@hotmail.com

    If so-called “assault riffles” are made illegal and are supposed to be confiscated, of course they should be confiscated. If they aren’t that would be against the law. We are a country of laws, not men, one of our founding fathers once said. When you don’t respect the rule of law, tyranny ensues. If someone illegally possesses other illegal items that they aren’t allowed to possess, those items are taken. The police will take cocaine from a drug dealer. They will take a full automatic weapon from someone, because fully automatic weapons are banned. Is your solution to murder the law abiding citizens by shooting them when they try to apply the law?

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  6. airraid706@hotmail.com

    Just to add one thing, this post contains the following question which contradicts itself: “would you see yourself following orders to disarm ordinary, law abiding citizens, because a law was passed?”

    If a law is passed banning so-called “assault riffles” and someone purchases an assault riffle, they broke the law. If a law bans the ownership of preexisting assault riffles, and someone still owns one after he is supposed to get rid of it, he has broken the law. Only criminals–not law abiding citizens–would be arrested or otherwise punished in the criminal justice system.

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    1. “There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all… One who breaks an unjust law must do it openly, lovingly…I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Justice… is it just to make common criminals out of law-abiding citizens, who are merely exercising their rights?

      I guess the question would be – would you follow orders and enforce unconstitutional, unjust laws?

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  7. Airraid, a law cannot be passed that overrides the constitution, and that would include banning rifles, weather semi automatic or single shot. Just because the federal govt is corrupt and finds illegal ways around the constitution, does not make them laws. If a law was passed that said you had to cut off your left hand, would you do it?

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  8. […] Nicki at the Liberty Zone has a thought provoking must read. […]

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  9. Nicki.. I’ve been a cop in NH for close to 11 years. I regularly tell people that I am the most Libertarian Cop they will ever meet. I have never once stopped someone for going 10 over the limit, even when I really really want to stop the car. I feel weird about plate light stops. Yet before I became a supervisor, I regularly had more car stops and arrests than most of my co-workers. I will NEVER help the feds to disarm people. Ever. I’ll turn in my badge first. And good luck taking my guns from me.

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    1. We definitely need more like you, Sir!

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