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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lost Trust: Enforcement And Justice Are Politically Controlled

Aristotle commented more than 2,000 years ago, “Humans are political animals,” referring to man’s natural sense of community. Political interference is prompted by intentional self-serving groups seeking partisan advantage and personal ends. When officials receive a concealed benefit from this process, by definition, the benefit is a form of corruption.

British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850) was credited with the concept that the police depend on citizen cooperation in providing services in a democratic society. Thus, the detrimental aspects of police misconduct cannot be overstated. Likewise, it is impossible to ignore the corruptible effects of politics and political collusion upon the entire justice system.

American lawmakers, judges, and police officers are required to work hand-in-hand to protect the public and to defend the individual rights of citizens. Yet we know, this is not how the system operates.

Politics and law enforcement have always been closely associated in the United States. Yet, as government has become more and more controlled by the dole of private interests, huge corporations, and lobbyists, it has become less and less concerned about the freedom of those who do not contribute money to "grease the wheels" of election, re-election, and "business as usual."

Today, enforcement is governed by laws and statutes created by the government in its best interest. And, corruption like this can upset the delicate balance of liberty and justice afforded to the populace. Would the pledge hold as true today as when it was adopted in 1942? "... One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." I think not.

A huge blue wall exists separates the public from justice. This wall serves as a division and as a cloak that masks its true intentions. The people hold onto an illusion that law enforcement depends upon public assistance to function. Although this sounds good, and it is used as public relations by some departments to make people think equality still exists, the truth is, behind the wall, enforcement does not seek cooperation from the public; instead, they prefer people they are paid to serve keep their noses out of the system and allow them to be the sole investigator, judge, and jury.

Political affiliation and partisan support is far more important to law enforcement than serving equal justice. Why? Simply because the entire legal system is a business intended to generate funds to support and to benefit its own. Today, the party, the brotherhood, and the monetary contributions control the actions that serve the public. Livelihood for the "players" in this systematic game depends upon following orders and administering laws in manners that best serve their own political means.

To go against a party or to resist the protection afforded by the blue wall is to go against the system that put the individuals -- politicians, officers, judges, lawyers -- in their very jobs. Citizens have become so conditioned to this abuse that they willingly believe that laws and control exerted by the government stem from the desires of all the people. Many politically anesthetized citizens are no longer capable of opening their eyes to view the politics of a system now dedicated to serving the upper class, the chosen minority.

The facts show that people who receive more justice, more pardon, and more favorable treatment are those with the money, power, and influence to feed the system and, thus, to play the "real" game of public service. Politicization of criminal justice occurs as leaders seize opportunities to use criminal justice issues to enhance their own popularity, electability, or power. It is actually the political culture of a community that determines the style of law enforcement and the nature of departmental policy.

I used to be naive and think governments were fashioned in my interest. I was taught to respect authorities and never question their judgment. I was told doing so only resulted in more trouble. What my mentors didn't mention was that being a "sheep" to a system full of wolves bent on protecting their own species amounts to self-imposed, moral suicide. I refuse to concede my right to redress as I am being dragged to the ground in an unfair system that needs reform. I cannot fully believe in a system that contains cancers it ignores and refuses to snip away.

Now, the term public servant is loosely applied. Do officials consider the value of all life with equality and justice? Is the public served? You can answer that with your own intellect and experience. But, allow me to answer the questions from my experience and perspective. I have seen firsthand how lives and deeds are judged by the system.

People deemed worthy of service are first strained through the legislative sieve separating those who are believed to be "benefits to perpetuating the system" from "potential threats to perpetuating the system." Once strained, the system pours copious amounts of justice over those they favor and sprinkles sparse dashes of justice over the rest. In the eyes of the law, the severity of what you have done typically depends upon who you are, and who you are depends upon your political and social standing in the self-perpetuating community.

I have witnessed the vast indifference of the system to genuine problems, falsehoods told by officials while under oath, the presence of "bad apples" in key legal positions, flat-out refusals by enforcement officials to cooperate and to communicate with public demands, gross insensitivity by civil servants who blame inaction and lack of concern on insufficient resources, and the outright distrust of anyone judged to be unwilling to "go with the accepted political program."

Come election time, the glad hands of the office seekers press all common flesh, but upon taking office, they are withdrawn and extended only to those who offer favor. In essence, the politics perpetuates the rigid system of unfair representation.

Once in office, open lines of communication are non-existent because those in control prefer silence to getting involved. Doing "something" can prove detrimental to sustaining proper politics. When rare communication is achieved, what should be an open dialogue results in a monologue by those in charge fashioned to maintain order and strict control. It is anathema to question authority when you lack the resources to grease the machine. Your voice may echo but it seldom reaches a receptive ear.

Is it any wonder citizens have lost confidence in the integrity, reliability and general effectiveness of the system? In-depth analysis of the justice system has identified six different types of interference that may contain corruption. They are as follows:

* Hiring standards,

* Promotions and transfers,

* Discipline,

*Adequate budget,

* Fair enforcement of laws, and

* Work environment. 

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin bemoans low ethical standards and conduct by the nation's police officers. In terms of public trust for law enforcement, recent polls show that only 56 percent of people rated the police as having a high or very high ethical standard as compared with 84 percent for nurses.

I believe the justice system, itself, fares even worse. Rasmussen Report's survey of 1000 people conducted November 1-2, 2013 finds that 39% of  likely U.S. voters think most judges in their rulings try to make new law they like better. Only 33% believe most judges in their rulings follow the letter of the law. Nearly as many (28%) are not sure which is the case.

According to the Bureau, although studied and researched, the topic of police corruption, in large part, remains a mystery. At this point, they even question the plausibility of rooting out the problem. Effective policing would require perfection and unyielding ethics. It ultimately depends on each employee's own level of knowledge, rationality, and devotion to moral excellence.

The FBI states: "Anything less than perfect ethical conduct can be disastrous for a department, a community, and an entire nation. While officers are only human and will continue to make mistakes, ethical misconduct cannot be tolerated."

(Gallup Poll News, "Nurses Shine, Bankers Slump in Ethics Ratings," November 24, 2008,

Many qualities such as prudence, trust, effacement of self-interests, courage, intellectual honesty, and responsibility are vital to those serving a system so influenced by politics. Of course, great leadership is essential to insure coordination and to foster adherence to these qualities. The FBI warns...

"Those who strive to maintain a high standard of ethical conduct can serve as the key to prevent corruption and maintain the public's trust. Principled leaders do not act to protect their own egos, try to put on a good appearance without substance in their decisions or efforts, or attempt to intimidate those under them. Instead, principle-based executives who work with their subordinates can take an important step toward creating an ethical climate by developing an agenda that explains the moral purposes of the department."

(J. Conditt, Jr., "Institutional Integrity," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, November 2001, 18-23; and R. Hunter, "Officer Opinion on Police Misconduct,"  
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 15, 1999) 

Despite strong resistance and a formidable blue wall, we, the public, must demand a policy in existence that spells out an ethical mission of true justice -- not a haphazard application of the law or a promise dependent on satisfying the will of political friends. We must insist on strong and ethical leadership. And, we must require that agencies hire ethical people and appropriately deal with those on board who are not.

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