(image by Rob Kall) DMCA
Police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be held financially accountable for their actions.--Law professor Joanna C. Schwartz (paraphrased)
If you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is never held accountable for violating your rights and his oath of office to serve and protect, never forced to make amends, never told that what he did was wrong, and never made to change his modus operandi, then you don't live in a constitutional republic.
You live in a police state.
It doesn't even matter that "crime is at historic lows and most cities are safer than they have been in generations, for residents and officers alike," as the New York Times reports.
What matters is whether you're going to make it through a police confrontation alive and with your health and freedoms intact. For a growing number of Americans, those confrontations do not end well.
Making matters worse, in the cop culture that is America today, the Bill of Rights doesn't amount to much. Unless, that is, it's the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), which protects police officers from being subjected to the kinds of debilitating indignities heaped upon the average citizen.
Most Americans, oblivious about their own rights, aren't even aware that police officers have their own Bill of Rights. Yet at the same time that our own protections against government abuses have been reduced to little more than historic window dressing, police officers accused of a crime are being given special due process rights and privileges not afforded to the average citizen.
In other words, the LEOBoR protects police officers from being treated as we are treated during criminal investigations: questioned unmercifully for hours on end, harassed, harangued, browbeaten, denied food, water and bathroom breaks, subjected to hostile interrogations, and left in the dark about our accusers and any charges and evidence against us.
Not only are officers given a 10-day "cooling-off period" during which they cannot be forced to make any statements about the incident, but when they are questioned, it must be "for a reasonable length of time, at a reasonable hour, by only one or two investigators (who must be fellow policemen), and with plenty of breaks for food and water."
Among the most common rights afforded police officers accused of wrongdoing are the right to be given a heads up about a complaint, have one's accusers identified, have the complaint reviewed by a hearing board made up of one's fellow officers, not be disciplined if more than 100 days have passed since the incident, and have one's salary, benefits, as well as the cost of the officer's attorney paid for by the police department.
It's a pretty sweet deal if you can get it, I suppose: protection from the courts, immunity from wrongdoing, paid leave while you're under investigation, and the assurance that you won't have to spend a dime of your own money in your defense. And yet these LEOBoR epitomize everything that is wrong with America today.
Once in a while, the system appears to work on the side of justice, and police officers engaged in wrongdoing are actually charged for abusing their authority and using excessive force against American citizens.
Yet even in these instances, it's still the American taxpayer who foots the bill.
For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees. If the six Baltimore police officers charged with the death of Freddie Gray are convicted, you can rest assured it will be the Baltimore taxpayers who feel the pinch.
New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $38 million every year to address charges of misconduct against NYPD officers. Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct.