by Josh Guckert
As she was leaving the party (where a fight had broken out), she was stopped by a police officer. Having no knowledge of what had happened, she stated her desire not to talk to the officer. After walking away, two other officers told Colvin to stop and attempted to arrest her, before eventually holding her down on the ground as a K-9 police dog appeared on the scene. The dog took no mercy on the young woman as it attacked her leg, leading to her needing 40 stitches to repair some of the damage. One of the wounds is so deep that it may necessitate plastic surgery.
As more attention is brought to abuses of police power across the country, this may be one of the more serious. While Ms. Colvin was not mortally wounded, this imposition of power by police surely left a mark not only on her leg but also on her mind. Any time that she, or any of her friends or relatives, sees an officer from now on, they will likely be taken back to that fateful night.
All of this is a symptom of police forces across the country being over-stocked with artillery for which there is really no good reason to ever be deployed. As police stations continue to arm themselves with more serious weapons, the citizenry feels more and more threatened. Such armaments lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: citizens feel like their government doesn’t trust them, leading to unrest in communities; this unrest necessitates police intervention, where the chance of misunderstandings increases the likelihood of an overreaction; such an overreaction creates even more distrust between the citizenry and the police.
In order to create a more trustworthy relationship between police and citizens, the police must be demilitarized. Following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police reactions in the aftermath prompted serious scrutiny from American leaders, and rightfully so.
As with so many other civil liberties issues, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took the lead with his opinion piece in Time Magazine in August 2014.
The days of the friendly neighborhood cop who walks the block and is beloved by all seems at this point like ancient history. Today, we are far too much more akin to the faceless, nameless dark figures armed with riot shields who are prepared at any moment to use lethal force. Such an issue leads to neither an ideal relationship between police and citizens, nor a safer environment for ourselves and our neighbors. It feels as if today, so many Americans feel not that the police are here to protect them, but rather that police are here to harm them.
If we wish to return to those days of old, when Americans could trust in those in blue, Police must be held accountable and taught how to enforce the laws in a different way. Departments should be kept as local as possible. Efforts should be made to ensure that those who patrol certain neighborhoods are in fact members of those same neighborhoods. And lastly, as has been stated, governments should not give to police departments tools which are disproportionate to the crimes being investigated. When all of these steps are taken, we will truly have the opportunity to be a society which values justice and liberty over discipline and obedience.
about the author: Josh Guckert is a 23-year-old law student at the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 and was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. He is a 2013 graduate of Cato University, hosted by the Cato Institute, and was first drawn to the ideas of liberty by reading 1984, Brave New World and The Conscience of a Conservative.