Via Wonkette comes this report of a speech given by NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday in which he boasted: “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”
I’m going to keep beating this drum until people start listening: our police departments are not the military, and they are not supposed to look at the rest of us as mere “civilians.”
Police officers are themselves “civilians.” They are civilians that have been given a special dispensation to detain others, under certain limited circumstances, and bind them over to the legal system if they are suspected of having committed a crime. They are civilians that have been given a special dispensation to use the minimal level of necessary force – and only if absolutely necessary – to prevent others from being hurt and to effect arrests. They are civilians that are supposed to have been trained to be able to exercise these special dispensations wisely, appropriately, and reasonably. But they still and always remain – at the end of the day – civilians . . . just like everybody else.
Only bad things can result from American politicians thinking the way L’il Mikey Bloomberg thinks. When an American politician thinks the police force is his own private army, then the police start thinking of American citizens as their own private “insurgents.”
And that kind of thinking has got to stop.