Should police be considered to be soldiers? Does the Constitution limit or even abolish state police forces?Submitted by JimRaynor on Sat, 08/09/2014 - 18:07
Can a nation call itself free if a sizable force of armed thugs are "policing" everyone else? We know that police regularly violate our Constitutional rights. But is the police institution itself a violation of the Constitution? I looked through the Constitution to see if I could find anything that would suggest that.
The first issue I came up with - Does the "keep troops" clause forbid states from keeping police forces?
Article 1, Section 10 forbids the states from a list of things, including keeping troops without the consent of Congress.
"No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay."
Do police forces qualify as troops under the Keep Troops clause? A police force, instituted by a state, keeps a sizable contingent of armed, costumed "officers" who patrol the land as if they occupied it. The institution keeps an armory and a fully militarized swat team. More recently, a large array of militarized gear and tactics have found their way into these police forces. Some might say they aren't soldiers because they are police and the two fulfill different roles. Does it really matter that they are called police and not troops? Or if their stated goal is to "protect and serve"? They function the same way as troops occupying a nation. This is particularly true now with the increasing militarization of all police forces, and the addition of military grade weapons, MRAPs, MCATs, grenade launchers, drones, and helicopters. None of these things are needed for the goal of peace keeping. To top it all off, we know that police have no obligation to protect you whatsoever. So how can we call them peacekeepers if they have no obligation to keep the peace?
Most of us here know that police did not exist at the founding of the US. The first police force came in New York in the mid 1860s, and didn't really take off in other states until a decade or two later. Which is around the time of the Posse Comitatus Act (1878). How can governments occupy and subjugate their people if those people will not accept soldiers enforcing the will of the state? Just call them police!
I have searched the internet and could find NO mention of this argument, so perhaps it's a novel argument. Or perhaps I'm completely wrong on the Constitutional grounds. Or perhaps Congress has already addressed this issue a long time ago by giving consent for the states to "keep troops". (The clause itself says the states are forbidden from keeping troops without consent of Congress). If Congress hasn't though, it would be interesting if the issue was pushed. I can see Congress quickly passing such a resolution due to overwhelming support for police by a sleeping public and a very gratified legislation, who rely on police to enforce their schemes to pillage and plunder their constituents. But if Congress were to pass such a law giving consent for states to "keep troops", wouldn't VERY revealing as to the intention of a police force? That alone could wake up a lot of people.
The second issue I found as to the unconstitutionality of the police force is more narrowly tailored t SWAT teams, and the disturbing rise of SWAT raids. Are SWAT raids on private homes are a violation of the Third Amendment's prohibition to quartering of troops? I believe that, even if you don't consider my first argument that your average police officer should be considered a soldier, the argument that a SWAT member is a soldier with a different name is perhaps more convincing. SWAT teams use rifles, sometimes automatic weapons which (are prohibited to civilians), they use flashbang grenades, they wear very similar body armor as soldiers, and use the same tactics. The raids they conduct often get people killed.
Some years ago, I went and did a search on this issue to see if anyone had written about it already, and only found one single article about it. That is, until this lawsuit occurred this year: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/06/does-the-constitu...
"Florida homeowner Deborah Franz was outraged after she said a SWAT team used her home to gain a tactical advantage — without her permission and without notifying her — during a six-hour standoff with her neighbor this weekend."
Ever since then, there have been an explosion of articles on this topic. But I have not seen very much talk in Libertarian circles about it. It is my belief that the Third Amendment absolutely protects a person's home from SWAT teams, even teams who have a warrant. The right to be free of troop quartering is not conditioned on a warrant or probable cause. The purpose of the amendment is to keep troops, their tactics, and their militarized mentality of hunting for an "enemy" out of a free person's private home. Military raids have no place in a free and civil society.
I'm interested to hear people's thoughts on these two theories.