Becoming informed about the American system of local law enforcement and the forces arrayed to nationalize local police is insufficient without action. It is as if you see that a cloudburst has filled your street with water, and it will begin to come into your garage and then your living room if you do nothing.
You may study the effects of water, the damage that water can do to rugs and drywall, even your freedom to live in your home, but what good is it if you do nothing with that knowledge? What good is that knowledge if you do not learn how to stop the flooding and begin the task of doing so?
So it is with the ongoing transformation of our system of local police, that is beholden to local citizens, into a national police force beholden to the federal government. If you have read this magazine, you understand the problem. But what do you do about it?
Since the local police merely reflect a desire of local citizens to maintain a local government and law-enforcement agency, the solution begins with you and like-minded citizens in your local area.
Restoring and preserving local control over your local police means that hard decisions must be made by your city council and county government as to how much law enforcement local citizens really want and are willing to pay for in local budgets. Outside money brings outside control.
Maintaining local control over your local police department means educating as many other citizens as you can about the problem of the federal government nationalizing our local police and how citizens have a responsibility to prevent this from happening. Such educational efforts are especially necessary for informing your local officials and community opinion molders. This special issue of The New American would make an excellent educational tool for this purpose.
Although you and a group of like-minded citizens may be able to accomplish much along the lines just discussed above, you can greatly multiply your effectiveness by joining a “Support Your Local Police — and Keep Them Independent!” (SYLP) committee and becoming part of a nationwide network of such committees under the organizational leadership of The John Birch Society. If there is no SYLP committee in your area, contact the Birch Society field coordinator for your area at 1-800-JBS-USA1 and learn how a committee can be started up.
As part of such a committee, you will be able to implement the national SYLP educational initiatives in your community using professionally produced educational tools. You will also be helped to expand your educational reach, aiming at your state legislators and congressmen. Many of these elected officials do not realize the danger represented by federal subsidizing, training, and regulating of local police departments and the resultant long-range problems for freedom.
The Founding Fathers wisely refrained from granting local law-enforcement power to the federal government. In accordance with the 10th Amendment, local law-enforcement power is reserved to the states and local government. Seen in this light, the fight to preserve the independence of our local police is an essential part of the larger fight to preserve the Constitution and secure our God-given rights from usurpation by a tyrannical federal government.
It will be up to you and your SYLP committee to:
• Help your community and county resist the temptation to accept federal government funding for, and power over, your local police and sheriff, regardless of the crisis;
• Help your community oppose existing or proposed police review boards, because they have the potential to hamper local law enforcement by replacing police management by elected officials with police management by unaccountable, appointed officials;
• Help your community influence the county sheriff to interpose between the federal government’s attempts to enforce unconstitutional laws and local citizens;
• Help influence state legislators to nullify all federal programs that subsidize, train, regulate, and otherwise tend to nationalize your local police; and
• Help change the political climate in your community and local area so that congressmen are nominated and elected who will vote to stop the funding of all federal programs that would lead to the nationalization of local police.
Finally, help your Support Your Local Police committee to establish as close a relationship between the community and your police as possible. A separation in many cities has occurred producing a “them and us” mentality among the citizens and the police. You are all neighbors, including the police who serve you. Let them see that you appreciate them, and you will be amazed at the change in community attitude it will produce. This will serve as a platform for moving a “Support Your Local Police — and Keep Them Independent!” agenda forward rapidly.
Arthur R. Thompson is chief executive officer of The John Birch Society.
The above article appears in our "Police Under Fire" special report. (Click on the image to download a PDF of the full report.)