Another Democratic Crisis

And I mean democratic with a little ‘d.’ Over the last week, several items crossed the transom that all share a common theme:

  1. The Pittsburgh police chief unilaterally decided that he would ignore City Council legislation to stop pulling drivers over for eight minor offenses, in part because he believes it would demoralize police officers.
  2. 74 Illinois sheriffs have stated they won’t enforce the Illinois ban on assault weapons.
  3. Multiple op-ed pieces recognizing that little concrete action has resulted from the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Essentially, multiple police forces (#NotAll…) have decided that they should no longer be under civilian control. We’ve witnessed multiple NYPD revolts against Democratic mayors over the years (that’s how Giuliani came to power). In 2020, Portsmouth, VA police drove political opponents who wanted to shift money from the police to other services out of office.

Meanwhile, during contract negotiations, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association is firing off hyperbole about how “We do not want to be Seattle, New York City, Minnesota, or any other community where crime and violent crime continues to spiral out of control”: I suppose this makes him a moderate.

As some asshole with a blog noted a couple of years ago (boldface added):

This is partly a result of a failure of governance:

What has been made clear over the last couple of weeks is that, in many cities, there has been a complete loss of control by ‘civilian’ authorities over local security forces. I put ‘civilian’ in quotes because the police are supposed to be civilians, even if many of them act as if they were occupying military forces. Sure, #NotAllCities, but if you look at many cities, such as New York, Seattle, or Philadelphia, the most charitable interpretation of events is that police are ignoring elected officials.

The inability to control local and state internal security forces means there is an unelected and unaccountable branch of government, with a near monopoly on violence. It has its own ideology, and because it does not have to respond to voters–that is, their fellow citizens–they are free to pursue their own ideology, even at the expense of those they govern.

As I noted last week, the creation of this unaccountable branch of government occurred in many places, including those dominated by Democrats.

I have no idea if or when things will blow up again–individual catalysts are hard, if not impossible, to predict. But Democrats need to get their supposedly civilian police forces under control, at least in the places where they are trying to do so. So far, they haven’t been successful.

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5 Responses to Another Democratic Crisis

  1. Myself says:

    Someone trying to take control of the police force might be putting his life on the line, putting himself in serious danger.

  2. During the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, OR, mayor Ted Wheeler (a demo-crat) condemned on national news the behavior of federal agents….who were using basically the same tactics the municipal police had been using before and after the feds were in town (unnamed, generically uniformed officers using physical violence against mostly peaceful protesters; loading them into unmarked vans; assaulting bystanders and medical personnel).

    Ted “needed” the police to protect him from those same peaceful protestors who would protest outside his office & condo because he refused to rein in the bad behavior of the aforementioned police. He got re-elected so the will dance continues…

    To the fiscally concerned, I point out that local police is the largest line item (usually ~20-30%) of total municipal expenditures around here. Wanna save money on property taxes? The fastest way to do that is cut police spending.

  3. adameran
    adameran says:

    This is one of the consequences of right-wing politics. They can’t get their policies by popular vote, so they discount the value of public goods and public entities, and encourage dissent, no matter how illegitimate.


  4. Lenny Dee says:

    Oregon Sheriffs not enforcing gun laws

  5. EB says:

    Black Lives Matter has had little impact on actual policy because that was not its goal, nor was it structured to have policy impact. BLM is basically a witenssing and messaging campaign. The impressive results in the realm of police reform and criminal justice reform in general, in some states, have been the results of other groups’ work with Black and liberal elected officials.

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