Political systems should ideally operate in “bottom-upward” fashion to expertly help their citizens to defend their equal God-given rights from others’ aggression. In such systems, individual households are the most basic units of politics, as well as the Earthly seats of political power, and they delegate limited political power to larger jurisdictions, whose purpose is to serve (not rule) the smaller jurisdictions within themselves. And America’s political system has generally operated in this manner since its inception.
Sadly, people throughout history have too-often tried to turn such systems upside-down, pretending that the ultimate source of all political power is not the people but an Earthly oligarchy that rules over its subjects with kinglike powers. Those who prefer such “top-downward” government have sometimes attempted to obtain it through nationalizing local law-enforcement officers, thereby transforming their role from peace officers who help defend their neighbors’ rights to a virtual “standing army” who help subjugate their neighbors instead. America has endured such trends for several decades now—and not only trends to nationalize police officers, but also to militarize them, plus to keep them “dumbed-down” so that they’re less likely to question unlawful orders.
It would be wonderful to accurately declare such trends nonexistent in Provo but, sadly, Provo has not been entirely immune to them. As an example of this… Utah County law currently forbids people from hosting events of more than 250 people for more than 12 hours without obtaining political permission beforehand. When an organizer decided to host a rave in 2005 in Provo, he understood that he didn’t need a permit to do so because his event would last less than 12 hours. But Utah County’s sheriff at that time decided to enforce the law differently than what was actually “on the books”—and, rather than approaching this event organizer to ask him to please obtain an unneeded permit, he decided to respond instead by participating in an unannounced raid (which included both Provo police officers and a Provo-Orem SWAT team) to forcibly disperse partiers. Altogether, this constituted a needless show-of-force to enforce compliance with a nonexistent law, and this sheriff was justly sued for violating the U. S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
We don’t need Provo law-enforcement officers to needlessly respond to every infraction, no matter how minor, with a dazzling display of militaresque might. Such force should be reserved for rare occasions like hostage situations. By contrast, most crimes are best handled through peaceful due-process involving warrants, subpoenas, et cetera.
- Deseret News: “Did Utah County sheriff plan rave raid?” (2005 Oct 09)
- Wall Street Journal: “Rise of the Warrior Cop” (2013 Aug 07)
- The New American: “Militarized Police: The Standing Army the Founders Warned About” (2014 Feb 08)
- John Birch Society: “Local Police vs National Police” (2015 Sep 08)
- Learn Liberty: “History of Police Militarization with Prof Abby Hall” (2015 Dec 16)