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Turning Americans into Snitches for the Police State: 'See Something, Say Something' and Community Policing

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"There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn't the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors."--Professor Robert Gellately

If you see something suspicious, says the Department of Homeland Security, say something about it to the police, call it in to a government hotline, or report it using a convenient app on your smart phone.

(If you're a whistleblower wanting to snitch on government wrongdoing, however, forget about it--the government doesn't take kindly to having its dirty deeds publicized and, God forbid, being made to account for them.)

For more than a decade now, the DHS has plastered its "See Something, Say Something" campaign on the walls of metro stations, on billboards, on coffee cup sleeves, at the Super Bowl, even on television monitors in the Statue of Liberty. Now colleges, universities and even football teams and sporting arenas are lining up for grants to participate in the program.

This is what is commonly referred to as community policing. Yet while community policing and federal programs such as "See Something, Say Something" are sold to the public as patriotic attempts to be on guard against those who would harm us, they are little more than totalitarian tactics dressed up and repackaged for a more modern audience as well-intentioned appeals to law and order and security.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own policing.

After all, the police can't be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren't enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States?

The answer is simpler than it seems: You persuade the citizenry to be your eyes and ears. You hype them up on color-coded "Terror alerts," keep them in the dark about the distinctions between actual threats and staged "training" drills so that all crises seem real, desensitize them to the sight of militarized police walking their streets, acclimatize them to being surveilled "for their own good," and then indoctrinate them into thinking that they are the only ones who can save the nation from another 9/11.

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As historian Robert Gellately points out, a Nazi order requires at least some willing collaborators to succeed. In other words, this is how you turn a people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other.

It's a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other and shadowy forces from outside the country, they're incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home--namely, the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.

"Community-Oriented Policing" is a Department of Justice program designed to foster partnerships between police agencies and members of the community. Unfortunately, these programs are not making America any safer. Instead, they're turning us into a legalistic, intolerant, squealing, bystander nation content to report a so-called violation to the cops and then turn a blind eye to the ensuing tragedies.

Apart from the sheer idiocy of arresting people for such harmless "crimes" as raising pet chickens, letting their kids walk to the park alone, peeling the bark off a tree, holding prayer meetings in their backyard and living off the grid, there's also the unfortunate fact that once the police are called in, with their ramped up protocols, battlefield mindset, militarized weapons, uniforms and equipment, and war zone tactics, it's a process that near impossible to turn back and one that too often ends in tragedy for all those involved.

Nevertheless, in much the same way the old African proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" was used to make the case for an all-encompassing government program of social welfare, the DHS and the DOJ are attempting to make the case that it takes a nation to catch a terrorist.

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To this end, the Justice Department identifies five distinct "partners" in the community policing scheme: law enforcement and other government agencies, community members and groups, nonprofits, churches and service providers, private businesses and the media.

Together, these groups are supposed to "identify" community concerns, "engage" the community in achieving specific goals, serve as "powerful" partners with the government, and add their "considerable resources" to the government's already massive arsenal of technology and intelligence. The mainstream media's role, long recognized as being a mouthpiece for the government, is formally recognized as "publicizing" services from government or community agencies or new laws or codes that will be enforced, as well as shaping public perceptions of the police, crime problems, and fear of crime.

Amazingly, the Justice Department guidelines sound as if they were taken from a Nazi guide on how to rule a nation. "Germans not only watched out for 'crimes' and other deviations" of fellow German citizens, Gellately writes, "but they watched each other."

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)

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