Saturday, February 15, 2014
Wherefore Art Thou Andy?
As we have watched our local "Andy Griffith" police departments turn into something more akin to Robocop, it is difficult to figure out why. The number of police officers intentionally murdered in the United States (excludes accidents, vehicular and otherwise) has remained roughly the same over the past 23 years, ending in 2013.
Perhaps it is because of the big gangs that they have to encounter, cartels from Mexico, etc. There haven't been any big drug busts, or interdiction of crime that comes to mind. I have never heard of some inner city gang lord being taken down. But, even if there were, that is more of a DEA, FBI or ICE role anyway and there has always been a quasi-military style attitude with these departments as far back as their institution.
Perhaps it is the threat of terrorism that has caused the change. The key word in that sentence is "threat," but those threats have not really materialized in the 12 years since 9-11 and do not account for the hostility the average citizen has encountered from the new militarized police departments. It does not account for the routine use of the Taser.
The actual numbers of murders (not per capita) in America has actually come down from its high in 1993 of 24,530. This is well before 9-11 and it has been on a steady decline all through that time period. In 2001, for instance, there were 16,037. In 2012 there were 14,827. Since 1993 total murders have been reduced by nearly 10,000 and it has not been from a better protected officer as officer deaths have remained constant.
School shootings, while sensational and tragic, have never ended by the police officer shooting the perpetrator, or the perpetrators shooting the police. The shooters usually end it themselves in the school without encouragement. These are not murders in the general sense anyway, they are revenge suicides. There is no intent of school shooters to take over anything, or demand ransom. They are there to commit suicide; these are the acts of deranged children lost in a world of video games and violent Hollywood movies.
This all begs the question: What are the police departments gearing up for?
Since 1960, when Andy Griffith ran his little Sheriff's department in Mayberry, there were only 179 million people in the United States accounting for 9,110 murders. In 2012 when there were 313 million people, there were 14, 827 murders. That's nearly double the population with roughly a 50% increase.
Police forensics and DNA testing have done more to reduce crime in the United States than any other factor. The chances of getting away with a violent murder in America are dramatically less than it was even 10 years ago. Why have these units not exploded with experts and budgets?
Crime is on the way down. Murders are on the way down. Vesting up and using Tasers have not changed the murder of police officers.
Statistics do not support the need for the changes in our police forces. The only thing that accounts for it is that they expect something very bad to take place. The question is do they intend on stopping it, or causing it?