Constitutional Policing vs. Making Cops Petty Tyrants

Communities run by leftist government CCP virus oppressors continue to turn their cops into petty tyrants. They create paternal and intrusive laws, and now “health” mandates, that invade what should be an adult’s decision (insert your pet peeve law here). This breeds animosity between normally law-abiding people and their police officers.

With the CCP virus mandates, we have two situations not good for cops. First, many people think officers are enforcing unlegislated CCP virus mandates when what they are doing is enforcing duly legislated laws. Second, some business owners are using the law (cops) to enforce their political views. People get angry when they see cops kicking people out of a store or even arresting someone for “not wearing a mask.” That’s not what’s happening.

To preface this discussion, during this current CCP virus craziness, we’ve seen cops respond to situations they wouldn’t be placed in, if not for politics. For example, should jurisdictions order cops to enforce, not legislated laws but, partisan mandates? I don’t think so.

If a man was playing with his child, both maskless, in a city park, I would not enforce a mask mandate. Yes, I would resign first. Oh, right, that’s easy for my retired cop butt to say. True, but if you look through my writing and actions, both active and retired, for over three decades, I’ve been consistent on this issue.

On the other hand, ethically, should business owners, clergy, or etc. use trespass laws as a backdoor to enforce the mandates? These are the incidents where constitutional cops may feel stuck. Businesses, associations, or houses of worship can have the police remove people who don’t comply with store policies for criminal trespass if they refuse to leave. Technically, that is consistent with my views both as a cop and a libertarian.

However, this can be truly mucky for officers because there are businesses taking advantage of the trespass laws to enforce leftist politicians’ political mask and vaccine mandates, they support. This is a true Catch-22 for cops. If cops oppose CCP virus mandates (not legislated laws), but they understand the valid nature of criminal trespass laws (legislated law), they must decide their actions based on their consciences and understanding.

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Speaking for myself, I oppose these strict mandates. So, even though I might feel a business is exploiting my authority, I also know a cop’s duty to enforce constitutional law. Here’s where I’d have to land, although I don’t rule out a good argument persuading me otherwise. While mandates are not legislated law, criminal trespass laws are constitutionally legitimate. But here’s the key: if people don’t like a law (like trespassing, as it stands), they can change it.

Perhaps legislatures, tired of the political exploitation, could amend trespass laws to ban people using them to accomplish political goals. Or, maybe turn enforcement in cases where political motivation is suspected into a civil and not criminal matter. How would that work? Who knows? I’m just thinking out loud for a way to keep cops clear of political manipulation. Plenty of other legal issues are civil.

Another area of law that turns cops into petty tyrants are government business licenses. They give the government an unfair political advantage and an opportunity to oppress. Business owners can support CCP virus mandates by misusing trespass laws. But if business owners opposed to mandates try to accomplish their political goals through dissent, the government can snatch their ability to earn a living.

The police exist to protect and serve to ensure the people’s ability to enjoy their lives, liberty, and to pursue their happiness. This is difficult when politicians, trespassing (pun intended) into areas the Constitution never intended, exploit the police for their own political gain.

I’m not saying I know what all cops should do under these circumstances. I’m not recommending or dissuading officers from any specific stance or action. However, I do recommend all law enforcement officers study the federal and their state constitutions carefully. And research “constitutional policing.”

There is an excellent and informative article online at the National Sheriff’s Association: Office of Sheriff. It provides a general history and the evolution of the sheriff’s office in America, which remains closely aligned with constitutional law enforcement. Do some research and then make your own call. One that will satisfy your conscience and be consistent with your oath.

And, timely, from the National Police Association (NPA), ask your politicians to “Take the Public Safety Pledge:

“I take the side of crime victims over criminals. I support law enforcement arresting, convicting and incarcerating criminals to make our communities safer.”

And let’s keep politics out of law enforcement. As long as law enforcement stays true to the constitutional law, there should be no need for political interference.

meet the author

Steve Pomper is a retired Seattle police officer. He's served as a field training officer and on the East Precinct Community Police Team. He's the author of four books, including "De-Policing America: A Street Cop's View of the Anti-Police State." He's also a contributor to the National Police Association.

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