Support Your Local Police and Keep Them Independent!

By:  Art Thompson
Support Your Local Police and Keep Them Independent!

Our system of local police, responsible to the local citizens, is unique in the world.

We are happy to send this special report to you as part of our Support Your Local Police campaign. Local police have long been in the frontline of the American justice system, working “To Protect and Serve” their local communities. Our system of local police, responsible to the local citizens, is unique in the world. Most countries have a system of national police whose first loyalty is to the national government.

Our system is one of the cornerstones of liberty.

America is great due to our system of liberty and the fact that our government is more localized and closer to the people, including police authority. In the United States, the power comes from the bottom up, from the people. Elsewhere it is more from the top down, from the bureaucrats, controlling nearly every aspect of the citizens’ lives, work, industry, and law enforcement.

Actually, the United States is one of the last countries, if not the last, to have widespread local police power instead of the types of national systems that exist elsewhere. No country can become totalitarian as long as the local citizens have direct responsibility for and control of local police departments. It is one of our essential checks and balances.

There are those who want to change our American system into something resembling the rest of the world. In the process, they want to remove responsibility from the citizens and the ability of the local police departments to answer to the local citizens through their city government, becoming nothing more than units in a national police force.

The freedom Americans enjoy is impossible without a system of local police. The John Birch Society (JBS) has always understood this concept and for almost 50 years has said: Support Your Local Police — and Keep Them Independent!

In the 1960s and into the 1970s, there was a war against the police by a variety of organizations and the national media. The issue was so intense that a former FBI official and chief of police of Salt Lake City, Cleon Skousen, wrote a book, The Communist Attack on U.S. Police, detailing the coordinated vicious campaign against law enforcement nationwide.

Police intelligence squads, congressional investigative committees, and The John Birch Society had already come to the same conclusion as Cleon Skousen, that the attack on police emanated from communist cadres and that the goal was a national police force — or, at the minimum, national control over local police. This was confirmed by research and documentaries produced by the Western Goals Foundation, which included on its board prominent national security experts such as Adm. Thomas Moorer, Gen. Lewis Walt, Gen. George S. Patton, III, and Congressman John Ashbrook. The foundation was founded and headed by Congressman Larry McDonald, a urologist from Georgia who was also president of The John Birch Society.

A widespread program of violence in the streets was perpetrated by the Left. Part of this program was a systematic strategy of committing acts of violence against the police. When the police would react, the media would take pictures that were then used to make the police look vicious and draconian. This set the stage for the Left’s call for federal control over police departments, as well as leftist-inspired local police review boards.

Review boards were appointed but wielded the power of elected officials. The Left was able to gain appointments on these boards and used them to curtail police activity and call into question the actions of the police departments as well as the individual policemen. It caused a great deal of second-guessing in the field when policemen had to make split-second decisions and lowered police morale overall. The boards usurped the responsibility of not only the city councils, but several other legitimate agencies as well.

Invented invectives were used as semantic weapons to turn the people against the police as part of this campaign. One of the invectives injected into the vernacular of the hippie generation was the term “pig,” meaning a police officer. Such terms and attitude among leftist youth organizations worked to separate the police from some elements of the local population, and to create a “them versus us” attitude. While the media did not use these terms, they did nothing to dispel the opinion.

When enough “evidence” was published in the media and enough adverse publicity broadcast, the communists — through their allies and front groups — put pressure on Congress, which led to the establishment of the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA).

Another major assault by the Left was the creation of the aforementioned civilian police review boards at the local level to destroy morale and the effectiveness of the working policemen. This twin assault — by the LEAA and local review boards — amounted to pressure from above and pressure from below.

Nationally, JBS members were finally successful in having the LEAA abolished, and many local civilian police review boards were either stopped before they got started or done away with where they existed. In some cases, the local battles were heated, and the effort gained huge media coverage. JBS members won the more heated campaigns despite the fact that more often than not the media favored the communist, pro-review board position. The controversy helped expose what was going on, even though the media outlets sought to portray the JBS as the villain.

Meanwhile, The John Birch Society, with its Support Your Local Police committees across the nation, was educating people about this war on the police and who was behind it. This was done with reprints, movies, filmstrips, articles, and speakers’ tours, reaching millions of people. “Support Your Local Police — and Keep Them Independent!” bumper stickers became a popular item.

As a result of the work of local police officials, responsible citizens, and the JBS, the communists retreated. Since then Americans have been convinced by the media that communism is dead, so they have not been as vigilant as to what the Left has been doing. Over the past 20 years, the Left has done all it can behind the scenes to convince people of the need for more of a national police system, as opposed to local control.

In the name of a crisis, change can be made. As a result of bureaucrats wanting more power, there have been several crises that have been used to increase national control over our local police. The two most obvious have been the federal government’s so-called War on Drugs and War on Terror.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the main tactic used at the local level to try to nationalize the police was the establishment of civilian police review boards, which aimed at crippling and demoralizing the police. At the national level, the main attack came from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

Today the primary tactic being used to transform our law enforcement is the use of crises to outfit, train, and fund local police by the federal government. There is not now and never has been federal help that did not lead to federal control.

This has happened to local law-enforcement agencies. Local taxes still account for most of the budgets, but federal aid and mandates have usurped control over many of the policies and programs of local police and sheriff’s departments.

Another very dangerous aspect of federal help today is one of injecting political bias into the training of local police. There is an ongoing campaign to have the natural allies of our local police (ex-military personnel, religiously based citizens, constitutional-conscious political activists, JBS members, etc.) appear to be the enemies of the local police.

This is being accomplished through seminars and publications discussing possible domestic terrorism. While some of the information is sound, too much of it has a political slant that favors the Left and condemns the so-called Right.

The accompanying article details this problem and at first reading will seem incredulous. Keep in mind that there are people who have gone into the federal government who have a different agenda from the average American. These people have been masters at slanting the debate in their favor while appearing to want to help the police.

Part of the training of local police conducted by the federal government and/or leftist private entities has a tendency to drive a wedge between the natural allies within the body of local citizens and the local police. This in the long run will cause a gulf between the local people and their own police force.

You will see in the accompanying article that some of the very people who were the enemies of the local police in the 1970s are now friends of those disseminating information to police departments about potential threats from organizations across the country. Again, some of it is real, but too much of it is what is known as a sandwich smear: placing a legitimate organization or person between two unsavory ones to suggest to the reader that all three are problems.

The drive to nationalize the police is far more subtle than before. From behind the scenes, federal programs are being imposed on the states and local governments via the programs of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. In addition, the Obama administration is trying to establish a national police system by enlarging the U.S. Marshals Service into a “stability police” force. That term itself is ominous.

During President Obama’s campaign, he called for such a force in July 2008, saying: “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”

There are ample clips of this on YouTube to verify the statement. [see video below]

We have to not only question the growth of federal police power as a result of the foregoing, but also ask the question why the federal government has not lived up to its responsibility relative to our borders.

Increasing numbers of police have been killed lately partly due to the fact that illegal aliens are creating a problem with drug gangs. Criminal activity due to illegal aliens is high all across the board, making the job of the local police much more difficult. Once here, for all practical purposes, illegal aliens are given de facto sanctuary by the policies of the U.S. government. In addition, the bungled Justice Department program known as “Project Gunrunner” — sending guns across our border supposedly to catch drug lords — has been responsible for the deaths of law- enforcement personnel, with some of these guns coming back to our side of the border.

It is bad enough that local police function in a dangerous atmosphere, but to have it compounded by the policies of the federal government is unconscionable. It seems strange that these policies of the federal government help create the very problems that the local police have to solve, yet they pro- pose solutions and help to the local police that will ultimately lead to federal control over local police.

Ask yourself why and how it is that there is so much money and help avail- able when what we see is huge deficits in the federal government. Also, mailings are being sent out to police departments all over the country on a regular basis by leftist private organizations. It took a great deal of effort on our part to raise the necessary funds to send this out on a one-time basis. They do it regularly. Where does the money come from?

The following article [and accompanying sidebar article] on the attack against the natural allies of the police is important reading not only for the police, but for all citizens. If the police lose the support of the very people that would normally be behind them, it will only make their job that much more difficult.

We ask all police and citizens to keep an open, but discerning mind as to what is going on.

(Visit our "Support Your Local Police" action project web page for further information.)

(This article was first published in "To Protect and Serve," a special report published by The New American magazine in October 2011 and posted here with permission.)

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