Who are they?
Cops are just people, like everyone else, who have been given the task of enforcing the laws made by the State legislature. The authority which cops assume is not theirs actually, but rather belongs to the laws and those who made them – legally, cops are subject to the same exact laws as regular citizens and have no actual authority over other citizens themselves. Sure, they have fancy uniforms and guns, but that just gives them the means to hurt you, not the right.
What do they do?
The primary job of the police force is to protect property, not people. This is a common misconception and a deliberate one. Next time you see that motto “serve and protect,” ask yourself whom they are really protecting – why is that phrase so ambiguous? The State is a private corporation and the Police Department is a subsidiary, the purpose of which is to protect corporate property, thus the property of the State and its partners. They function as a private military meant to enforce laws for the corporate State, it’s why they’re called the “Force.”
In the corporate State, the Police Department is meant to function as a league of watchdogs, not officials, who are subject to all of the same laws as the rest of the citizenry. The idea is that willing citizens can prove their worth to society (i.e. their corporate owners) by policing criminal activity – that “cops are the only good citizens” myth. We’ve all seen the grade school propaganda showing us Officer Friendly catching the bad guy and throwing them in jail for stealing all of the candy or something. And then, as we got older, they adapted to our sensibilities on television where they solve murder mysteries and catch rapists and the good cops bring the bad cops to justice. The theory is that the police will be reasonable and honest, that their single goal is to bring criminals to justice and that they will also hold one another accountable for crimes of corruption. That is the theory.
Because the cops are here to “serve and protect” corporate property, rather than natural citizens, they have a very clear bias in regards to who they target as lawbreakers and who they casually ignore. Their motivation is money, because that is the State’s motivation and the State is their corporate employer. Now, legally, the only difference between your average citizen and the cops is a concealed weapon and a uniform and, legally, a cop with a gun is the same as any citizen with a gun. This means if a cop shoots someone for being black on a sidewalk, they are subject to be charged with a hate crime/attempted murder (or, you know, murder). If they beat down a peaceful protester with one of those shiny batons, they should be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. According to the theory, cops should hold themselves and one another accountable for their legal transgressions because, aside from their access to a fucking arsenal, they are legally on equal footing with us lowly commoners. This, however, is not the case. Because they are the only citizens with the official legal right to enforce the State’s laws, they can choose which cases they will and will not ignore, which criminals they can let slide and which laws they can get away with breaking. By giving them guns, bulletproof vests, tanks and, in some places in the US now, even drones, the State is equipping the cops with enough firepower to make their legal authority of little importance because their physical power to dominate and destroy is menacing – they are a military force. It doesn’t matter how much authority they technically have on paper if they have fucking tanks. The power to dominate is a power which they absolutely use and abuse. Often. The theory highlights a difference between good cops and bad cops, but this is a fallacy. There are no good cops because being a cop is bad – being a cop implies a rigid belief in an oppressive power structure that benefits a very small minority and which uses terror tactics to keep the rest of us in line.
What happens if a cop approaches me?
When a cop approaches, for any reason, you should ask why they are stopping you or if you are being detained (one implies the other, usually) before answering any questions. If they answer “yes, you are being detained” or otherwise explain that you have been stopped for suspicion of some crime (they are always pretty vague), ask them if you are being charged with a crime and, if so, what. You should know that you are not required to give them any information at all unless you are being detained. You should also know that, no matter what, when a cop stops you on the street, you do not have your ID on hand. If you are detained, in the state of Florida, the only information you are legally required to give is your name, birth date, and address. Any other information they can look up for themselves. Do not volunteer it. These things are important for two reasons: 1) you are showing the cop that you know your rights. Often police officers will approach people with a condescending air of asserting their imaginary authority and people will fall in line because the cop is intimidating and because they do not know their rights. You have the right not to answer a cop’s questions – exercise it. 2) By exercising your rights, you are outwardly not acknowledging the cop’s authority over you – that is, you are not allowing them to exert authority over you – and this is extremely important because it knocks them the fuck off their high horses, empowers you as a free agent, and makes the cop look (and feel) a little silly when they walk away having failed to arrest a potential criminal. Cops aren’t used to defeat because they are overpowered and have obnoxious State backing. Taking them down a couple of notches on the individual level every now and then is the very least we can do to empower ourselves in a corporate State which allots us very little power of our own.
What’s the alternative?
Mutual aid. If my car gets broken into, I don’t call the cops. In all reality, I’d probably suspect them first. If my house is robbed, I ask my neighbors if they saw anything. My only encounters with the police are against my will, as I’m sure yours are too. Think about it – when was the last time you heard about a bike getting stolen or a house broken into and a police report was filled out and then nothing came of it? How many murderers and rapists get caught every year in proportion to how many there actually are? What good is it to rely on the cops when we know that their interests differ from ours? The alternative to a police state is a community which protects the well-being of the the people in it on their own terms. Everybody can police crime, it only requires calling it out when you see it and making it known to the community. Where the police sell their fellow citizens out to the State, a solid and free community would rather call out and communally deal with people whose crimes endanger the livelihood or well-being of others and of the community at large.