Community or Citezen Law Enforcement (CLE)
After the numerous cases of police abuse and alleged police abuse including allegations of racism, unnecessary use of force, cover-ups and police corruption we need to rethink policing in the United States of America. Most police are honest and hardworking, much of it do to sensationalism of the press and biased political organizations but some of it is deserved because a few bad police make everyone look bad. There is a bigger issue though. Giant police forces are often not focused on what the community needs, unaccountable when there is a problem and often have to low of a presence and to long of a response time. There must be a better way? “Community law enforcement” might be the answer.
We tend to rely on “standard government law enforcement” (SGLE) being city police, county sheriff, state police, and federal agencies. These tent to be unelected (other than one sheriff per county), bureaucratic, political, unresponsive, and intrusive when not needed but really around when you do need them. This is not the fault of the members but the size and structure.
For hundreds of years in America we had “watchmen” in cities and towns. These were typically volunteers who patrolled the streets in groups to deter criminal activity and provide law enforcement. Later communities would often elect their own sheriff or marshals these could be paid or unpaid and have little or no prerequisites other than the faith of the community that elected them. Today these have given way to commissioners and chiefs who are bureaucrats appointed by politicians and isolated from the public.
Today, many jurisdictions have “reserve police officers” witch range from unsworn volunteers to full functioning paid police that are not in the union. These are still government law enforcement that increase presence but fall prey to many of the same problems as SGLE
Some jurisdiction officially authorize other forms of community law enforcement like the San Francisco “Patrol Special Police” these are private citizens, locally appointed, armed and sworn as officers, but are paid and accountable directly to the local businesses and the community ; The Virginia “Special Conservators of the Peace” who are private police hired by HOA or business associations. These groups typically have the authority of government police, and similar training if not the same but are heavily scrutinized by the unions, press, politicians and police but loved by their communities.
Law enforcement unions and organizations have corrupted this. These organizations donate millions of dollars to political campaigns to establish and maintain their monopolies. They claim that professional law enforcement that is often controlled by unelected and unaccountable government bureaucrats are superior and more accountable. While they are better funded they are not more accountable. Many may have honorable goals but they are often not serving the best interests of the communities. They tend to be politically biased and apathetic to the citizens. They are often hostile to community volunteers and “good sumeritains” that try to help the community.
Community Law Enforcement (CLE)
NOTE: This is Just a concept and was written from a Federal implementation view, but could be modified for state, county or city implementation.
One alternative is “community law enforcement” (CLE) (not to be confused with community policing). Much like the watchmen of old this being a group(s) of private citizens who want to make their community a better and safer place. CLE is similar to a “neighborhood watch” or the “Guardian Angels” of New York City. These groups allow for high visibility and high presence in a limited area. It would allow communities to get the amount of policing they want/need while decreasing burdens to tax payers and providing SGLE with on the ground intelligence, extra manpower, and cooperation.
CLE is responsive, in touch, approachable and accountable to the community; unlike SGLE that are brought in from across a vast jurisdiction or the outside to patrol areas they have no connection with, in situation they may not understand, and without local consent. This is especially needed in high crime areas like inner cities. Community law enforcement (CLE) should be laired, divers, inclusive, and with few barriers to entry. SGLE is absolutely essential and should work in conjunction with CLEs providing support, oversight and training.
CLE should be confined to small areas like “neighborhood watch” but like the “Guardian Angels” they should be visible, be a deterrent and be willing to intervene. Unlike these groups CLEs should have complete “good sumeritain” protections while increased responsibility and oversight.
Good sumeritain protections: This provide an assumption that they were acting in the best interest of the community and give immunity from prosecution and lawsuit unless it can be proven that their actions were negligent or a willful violation of the law.
Increased responsibility: CLEs like law enforcement should have a duty to respond if to protect people of property from criminal acts. Not only must they be held to account for failing to help but penalties for abusing their position to commit crimes like extortion, theft, violence, threats of violence, distribution of controlled substance, etc. should dealt with severely and carry additional charges. Being rude or insensitive to citizens should be grounds for suspension and sensitivity training.
Oversight: CLEs and SGLEs should work together and treat each other with respect, but in the end SGLEs have final say in all law enforcement situations. CLE groups must be willing to meet with SGLEs at the request of SGLEs and be subject to interviews and credential validation at the request of SGLE. This is to ensure cooperation, prevent corruption and prevent impersonation.
Regulation: CLEs should have little or no regulation from state and local governments but should be regulated by individual neighborhood organizations (a resident or business association like an HOA). This organization must allow all members to vote and determine who should be able to be in the CLE, whether or not they will be paid, what they can enforce, what type of equipment is allowed, any training that is required and what they will wear to make them easily identifiable (uniform) . All vote must be cast anonymously but counted publicly. Any attempt to change votes by threat, intimidation, bribery or other dishonest action should be a crime punishable by no more than 1 year imprisonment in addition to any charges relating to threats or violence.
Restriction on State and Local Government (not resident or business association)
Membership: Anyone who is not currently on probation or parole should have the opportunity to join, although people who are not legally allowed to carry firearms should not be allowed to hold a leadership position. The group should be allowed to refuse membership if they feel someone is of low moral corrector, has violence or anger issues, or is not of sound mind this standard should be subjective and not legally appealable except by vote of the community represented. Individuals with physical disabilities or otherwise not suitable to patrol should be assigned alternative duties if available.
Lack of training should not be a barrier to entry. Most people understand that attacking others, theft, and destruction of property are not legal. Rudimentary enforcement of these principles, (like a bouncer at a bar) can be done under the supervision of others and without training. CLEs may only hold a suspect until SGLE arrive, they must then follow any instructions issued by SGLE.
Uniform: The state or local government may designate what is required to make the CLE easily identifiable. This can be anything from a vest or ball cap to full BDU type uniform, but they can’t make it cost prohibitive or mandate where they are purchased from.
Personal protection device (PPD): Although CLEs should be encouraged to carry PPDs similar to SGLE they should be allowed to carry and use any weapon they as a citizen are legally allowed to possess (even without official training) although training is encouraged and individuals could still be responsible for negligence and cannot brandish a weapon without good cause. No lethal weapons like “buck shot” that can’t be accurately controlled. CCL should be required for pistols whether or not they are concealed and membership in a CLE should be considered a valid reason to be issued a CCL in any state.
Training: Training should be provided by SGLE or appropriate state authorities to allow additional authority to CLEs for example the ability to make traffic stops, write parking tickets, issue citations, transport suspects or conduct private investigations (may require PI license). Because, CLEs get their duties directly from the local residents they should be given special authority to handle local issues of concern like parking, truancy, littering, loitering, begging, curfews, underage drinking, and trespassing. These are basic rites of communities that no outside force should be able to deny and authority to impose penalties and issue barments should be supported.
Use of Force: UOF training is recommended but should not be mandatory. CLEs should be treated like SGLEs but with the but with the good sumeritain standard in place, although they could still be accountable for attacking someone who was not aggressive, shooting someone who was unarmed or intentionally striking an unarmed suspect in the head. It is the individuals responsibility to understand and use reasonable force.