The militarized Police State has been inching toward using private mercenary groups for law enforcement for some time. Most attempts have failed spectacularly when the public gets wind of it. However, a clever new strategy to achieve this goal was recently deployed and it may appeal to some.
This past September, I wrote an article “Blackwater-like contractor seeks to legalize private police in the U.S.“which exposed how “private security” firms were being subcontracted for police raids. Outrage ensued. This followed a bungled attempt in 2009 to introduce the private foreign-owned American Police Force to Harding, Montana.
It seems the public has an aversion to large paramilitary contractors sweeping in and claiming police powers. Enter the small, independent, rugged, righteous citizen on patrol. A vigilante of peace. Ah, yes, this is the angle the establishment is now using to get private police accepted on the streets.
The Washington Post ran a carefully crafted article yesterday; “Private police carry guns and make arrests, and their ranks are swelling“:
The stop was routine police work, except for one fact: Youlen is not a Manassas officer. The citation came courtesy of the private force he created that, until recently, he called the “Manassas Junction Police Department.”
He is its chief and sole officer.
He is a force of one.
And he is not alone. Like more and more Virginians, Youlen gained his police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. The number of “special conservators of the peace” — or SCOPs, as they are known — has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records.
The very next sentence is where the deception occurs:
The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places.
Do you see what they did there? Very subtle. The Washington Post conflated “private police” for law enforcement with private security for private property. Big difference. It’s the same confusion shared by TPM and TIME.
In theory, I agree completely with the common-law origins of these “special conservators of the peace” (SCOPS) which allows citizens to use necessary force to protect private establishments or make a citizen’s arrests when obvious crimes are underway.
I know many free-market libertarians who believe private firms would be more accountable than police are now. That may be true if we had laws that reflect the Constitution or a free market of laws, but since violence will be used against someone selling loose cigarettes on the street, or to detain people at “black sites” these private entities could easily be bribed into bad behavior.
Why do I have visions of judges selling innocent children into private prisons flashing through my mind? Or mercenary firms stealing from people because they’re empowered by loose civil forfeiture laws? Or refusing to turn over their records because they claim private corporate status, like Massachusetts SWAT recently did?
The troubling example given by The Washington Post about where these entities are being increasingly used is for code enforcement.
Most SCOPs patrol corporate campuses, work for neighborhood associations or perform code enforcement for counties or cities, but Youlen has pushed the model further by creating his own “department” and turning policing into an enterprise. He contracts his services to nine apartment and housing communities in the Manassas area. That’s up from one in 2012.
This is where their deliberate confusion gets dangerous. Corporate campuses and neighborhood associations are private property. They’re free to hire private security.
Using armed mercenaries for code enforcement is unfathomably dangerous. Especially since more people are realizing that building and zoning codes are displacing property rights at a blazing speed. What happens when a private security guard protects his property against a private zoning soldier?
It is true that municipalities are increasingly hiring private police and firms to be petty rule enforcers. However, they usually are some power-tripping geek in a polo shirt as seen in a recent clash with Adam Kokesh.
What happens to Adam and other citizen activists when this guy is carrying an assault rifle and has the same arbitrary arrest powers as current police?
Of note, the paramilitary private police from my above-mentioned article, Lear, also failed to identify themselves. At least our police are still required by law to identify themselves because any thug with a gun and a uniform can abuse, steal from, and kidnap people otherwise.
If we allow the police to be privatized to enforce our overreaching laws, to be empowered by warrantless surveillance, civil forfeiture, detention and arrest powers and perhaps for-profit arrest quotas, it’s not difficult to imagine where all this is all headed.
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