The Growth of the American Police State

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Stefan Kløvning
MAY 8, 2019

Among the many violations of the rights to life, liberty, and property Americans have experienced in later decades, the increasing degree of police brutality has played an especially scarring role. Every year, over a thousand people are killed by the police, and every single day there are new victims who lose their lives or get raped, beaten, tortured, or robbed by police officers. Congress and the courts have been complicit in this development, allowing the vast majority of cops accused of misconduct go without punishment or financial liabilities and providing them with increasingly larger budgets and more powerful military equipment. Looking at the bigger picture of police brutality in the United States, one may recognize commonalities with more totalitarian and repressive States like Russia and China, and that may be where the US is approaching if it does not soon change its course. In this article, I’ll attempt to diagnose how widespread the issue of police brutality is in the United States based on relevant research and stories, delineate some theories of how it came to be, as well as make a couple suggestions of what could be done to slow or perhaps even reverse this trend.

No Duty to Serve and Protect

If the police were ever intended to serve and protect the populace, they’ve at this point strayed far from that purpose. In at least two judgments by the Supreme Court (DeShaney vs. Winnebago and Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales), as well as various local cases (i.e. Warren v. District of Columbia, etc. [1]), cops were deemed to be under no obligation to protect citizens even if the threats were apparent. Professor Darren L. Hutchinson of University of Florida School of Law proclaims that

Neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur. Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.

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