Modern policing today is a far cry from its inception. Here in 2016, our day-to-day life is far beyond the wildest dreams of the people tasked with trying to create a force that is supposed to prevent crime, and keep the citizenry safe. Our police today have evolved, and miss many of their fundamental goals. But I would assert this is not because police are evil or inept, but because their institutions have been flawed since there very beginning. So let’s examine some history.
We first need to familiarize ourselves with an individual named Sir Robert Peel. Robert Peel was a prominent statesman with many positions held, including that of serving as prime minister not once. but twice. He also passed rounds of legislation that have earned him places in the history books. But not for Libertarian reasons. What we are going to focus on today in regards to Robert and his career are what has led to the development of modern policing. Namely, the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 and its results.
This bill was not popular to begin with. People generally did not like the established constabulary or night watchmen. Much like as if you were to raise the argument of private policing vs modern policing, people did not like the idea because they did not like the thought of arming large groups of individuals on behalf of the state. They feared it would be used to suppress protest (like our police) and be used to support a military dictatorship. (Ours has been militarized itself.) It was also a concern that police being deployed in such a fashion were nothing more than a future occupation force on behalf of the state waiting to happen. At the time, France had the best known police force on the globe, and the thought of doing anything like the French was disdained by the Brits due to recent geopolitical action. People were also in opposition to the idea because they felt security was their right to manage, and not the responsibility of the state. The act did pass however, and a new paradigm began. One that many suffer under today.
The first police forces, also nicknamed “Bobbies” or “Peelers” at that time, hit the streets of London on Sept 29, 1829. The police were not to be presented as a military arm, so they were given bluecoats instead of redcoats and were not armed with muskets but wooden batons. They were also given different head-gear specifically to advance this perception. One needed to be 20-27 years of age with no record of crime and be at least 5’7. It was also required that the individuals in question were to be in a good state of physical fitness. It was also required that one could read and write.
Within the organization of the “New Police,” a familiar hierarchy was borrowed from that of the military. It was intended that ranking officers be promoted from within the organization on basis of merit, or the incentives that were set from within. The uniformed constable on the street tasked with “crime prevention” was designed to have little authority on a personal level. I’ll touch more on this a little later. When the new police hit the streets, they were not well received and viewed as intrusive and unofficial, and were often teased. But that perception later changed.
Peel made two strategic appointments as commissioners, and this is where we get to the meat of the article. One of the appointed was former Army Colonel Charles Rowan, and the other an Irish Barrister known as Richard Mayne. After appointing these individuals on the basis of strong leadership skills, the new task of policing rolled forward with developing training and operations for the new policing paradigm. From this task evolved into what is known today as “Peel’s Principle’s”, and these were issued to all new officers coming on the force in 1829, and this has been taken forward as the blueprint for modern policing.
We are going to examine this blueprint and identify all of its flaws to illustrate that although it can be perceived that the intent of modern policing is for the security of the individual, it lacks the ability to do so on the basis of its structuring and the tools provided to the officers. This does not take the character of the police officer into question because we are examining the effectiveness of the institution as a whole and not the positive/negative choices a given officer may make in a given situation. I’m also going to note here as well that the inception of Peel’s “New Police” was a publicly funded venture, and despite all argument, funding for policing came through taxation.
Peel’s Principles of Modern Law Enforcement
- The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment.
- The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.
- The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect.
- The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.
- The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
- The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to achieve police objectives; and police should use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
- The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.
- The police should always direct their actions toward their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.
- The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
Now let’s examine these one at a time. Starting with point 1. This gives police a role, a manifestation, and a purpose. This is where we have our first performative contradiction. Police are funded by theft via taxation. That means if you are being protected from crime, you must first be victim of the crime of theft. People are confused by this point because they don’t see taxation as theft nor do the see police outright robbing people, although they do that too through civil asset forfeiture, but I digress. This states that policing is to serve as an alternative force external to the military, but a force none the less. This forces the state to create another institution that operates off of force, seeing as how public opinion at the time was strongly against the use of military in both roles. This also opens a paradigm of judicial punishment on behalf of the state, creating a stronger monopoly on law. Now the state operates policing in the field, the courts, the judges, and the punishment end of the paradigm to include jails and prisons.
I stated that police started out, and have continued to be publicly funded. This also means that police lack the ability to truly gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. They are not funded by their ability to provide quality security services to people at competitive pricing. They are funded by taxation, so that means that public opinion of their efforts do not matter. All that matters for police in this regard is the state’s willingness to provide them with perpetual funding. As mentioned this creates a strong monopoly on law, enforcement, and punishment, which means that the people in opposition to this paradigm for fear of an occupation force were correct. Police based on this task are granted the authority to use force against the public if need be, free from consequence so long as they follow the edicts of their hierarchy.
Moving on to point number 2. This point recognizes that public opinion of police is a critical point. If people generally like the police and think they are a positive presence in the community, they will be more apt to cooperate with police in any and all matters, especially if it appears to be having an impact on the greater good. Image was recognized as a critical point in 1829. Think on that for a moment. This also infers that all police operations need to be in accordance to this perception for the advancement of the department’s effectiveness within the community. Ever notice how police are not fond of evidence that incriminates them, and it has a tendency to disappear? These negative incentives are perpetuated right here from the beginning to secure positive image at all costs, as a foundational operational standard.
Point 3 . 1829 psyops. If the majority of a given population are just normal people and live in a reasonable environment and have the ability to sustain themselves through employment or entrepreneurship, people will generally be peaceful. People still have conflicts and whatnot because people are people and life happens, but if “order” is present in society and not forced harshly on that society, people will go along with the eventual and perpetual edicts that will continue to follow. That means they will voluntarily work with law enforcement not only in obvious situation of a rights violation like rape or murder, but also the less obvious situations where the edict is held in higher regard than individual rights such as marijuana possession or selling a banned product. The whole drive and intent of this goal is to use the citizenry against itself through the guise of cooperation to help the state in the prosecution of individuals for whatever purpose.
Point 4. This point recognizes that police violently asserting their positions just to be doing it will reduce the quality of the policing image and the willingness of the community to cooperate with the police in any manner that enhances their effectiveness. Now keep in mind that police do not need public opinion to operate, as they receive their funding via taxation. But it does greatly reduce their ability to conduct investigations effectively if they can’t find a witness willing to talk, or a person who views their charges against another as a crime to begin with.
Point 5. This point is important, as there are some hidden meanings contained within. This demonstrates how the officer will project a positive image to the public for the only purpose of advancing whatever agenda the department has been tasked with through positive public opinion leading to domestic cooperation. This point outright says police do not need to care about public opinion at all (the opposite of free market alternatives and the hallmark of stagnant socialist institutions). It also provides the guise that the officer is to be impartial and ethical while serving in a multi-departmental operation that is a clear conflict of interest by any reasonable measure, seeing as how the state is all the departments involved with law from the officer on the street, to the prison cell and every position in between. Whether the officer is ethical or not at this point is null, the design of the system is not in the interest of the individual in any way shape or form, especially of one is expecting an impartial court, impartial judge, impartial investigation, or impartial agencies participating in law proceedings. The end of the point is poised in providing the perception that the officer is a good-hearted, kind, caring, and impartial ethical individual. For the purpose of garnering public support through positive image to enhance department’s effectiveness in achieving whatever goals are put forth to it as pointed out in points 2 and 3
Point 6. This should be a very obvious point. “Assert your authority by any means necessary.” Just because this point states that the most minimal amount of force required to solve a given situation should be employed, that doesn’t mean that police from the core of the inception of their institutions are nothing more than a state monopoly on violence. “If the subject won’t comply, use force.” Plain english.
Point 7. This point takes into account positive image perception acquired over the passage of time, and the illusion that good community relations will provide to a given department should the public remain convinced the police are a positive force. “We will select a special class of citizens to enforce the edicts of the state against the citizenry from the citizenry.” This is also telling because it means that as long as police are regarded in a positive light, they will be able to retain their effectiveness in their communities through gaining the trust of the citizens to help them advance whatever their given task is through cooperation.
Point 8. This is a polite way of telling police to stay in their role. The state has the function of all these other departments/authorities, and to assert the delegated authorities of these other institutions are damaging to the image and effectiveness of the department should the officer assert these state based privileges to his or her own ends. This is also another interesting point because in light of modern events, should a cop take the extra-judiciary action of killing a suspect that is presenting no threat, they are overstepping their role where they violate the very law they have sworn to uphold. And they do so at the detriment to the necessary image required to garner public support.
Point 9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them. Within this point lies the absolute failure that is modern policing. The solution to “crime” is forced punishment. This does absolutely nothing to address the causes of crime whatsoever. It’s just might makes right. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you have crime resulting from poverty, the application of force will do nothing to solve the poverty that is the systemic cause of the crime. If you have crime resulting from an individual who was abused their whole life and they are now violent, using violent force and placing them in a violent environment will do nothing to rehabilitate the individual, in fact it will just make them more violent.
Conclusion: The average person’s modern demand for policing is the mislead belief that police are the cause of security and peace. People generally like police because they believe that police “Keep them safe.” People think that if police were not present that chaos would ensue, but police do nothing to keep anyone safe. Sure they might execute someone who has opened fire in a public area, but so might a concealed carry holder. Police are not engaged in the protection of property. Police are not engaged in the security of the individual. Police aren’t even capable of judging their effectiveness in a given locality due to the fact of being tax funded institutions who lack knowledge of the local market demand for services like protection, nor do they need to care what public perception is beyond the quality of a positive image.
All of these edicts paint a very different picture from the local police officer tasked with the duty of protecting and serving. These edicts say uphold public image at all costs as a deficiency, in that perception is directly related to a reduction of police effectiveness via public cooperation. These edicts say outright that public opinion doesn’t matter and is of no concern to the officer, that the officer’s concerns are the directive of their department, and force is authorized to achieve these goals. They say that force used wisely will be accepted by the public and that the officer’s job will be viewed as a sacrifice to public service on the behalf of all, when the reality is that the officer is nothing more than a mere enforcer of the will of their departments and the authorities that the departments coordinate operations with. Modern Policing is nothing more than a wildly successful psyop created before the term psyop.
I can sum up everything about modern policing very simply. Perception > Protection.