By David Tulis
A police cheerleader group in Chattanooga is trying to raise up to F$65,000 to buy a simulator for six police departments and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department.
The simulator received heavy media coverage during the annual fundraising luncheon Oct. 20 of the Aegis Law Enforcement Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. Print and TV reporters gushed about its realism and the nerve-wracking anxiety they felt as they simulated potentially violent encounters like those occasionally faced by police.
Roy Exum, for example, says there is a “critical need” for law enforcement agencies to have the simulator available full time. The device is “finest teaching tool in law enforcement today. It can present over 500 scenarios and, with the gun in your hand, you have milliseconds to decide whether you shoot or don’t shoot.”
The simulator, however, brings dangers the former banker and 11-year CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce may wish to consider.
The danger is that it increases the direction of militarization of police and subtracts from efforts to de-escalate the warlike operation of policing.
➤ The simulator trains the officer to consider every encounter as the occasion of his death.
➤ It focuses his senses upon personal safety and furthers his existing conviction that he must have a hair trigger sensitivity for what has become a police brutality mantra and excuse — “personal safety.” Innumerable slayings by officers are defended under this rubric.
➤ It heightens his sense of danger, and in the excitement of the drill in which he is killed and in which he may accidentally kill innocent people, his mission is not to respect constitutional rights and be serviceable in keeping the peace, but survival.
“Please, put a price on the life of a police officer,” chides Mr. Exum the columnist. “[W]hat is that worth? Any taxpayer can see that if we put our law-enforcement heroes in a masterfully-simulated session, it could and will save that officer’s life.”
Beyond the physical and mental awareness the simulator brings the officer, the device and its heavy use may:
➤ Further increase the divide between officers and the people.
➤ Shift the presumption of locale in the officer’s mind from Chattanooga to the Mideast. It will convert streetside, sidewalk and front-door interactions into confrontations like those that occur on the streets of a U.S.-occupied city in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
The simulator shifts the officer’s thinking from that of civilian encounter to that of a battlefield .
Police as violence escalators
In an interview, Tom Edd Wilson, for a decade the CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, says the simulator will reduce the danger police pose to members of the innocent public.
“Every situation is a life and death situation,” avers Mr. Wilson, head of Aegis and its only paid staff member. “He doesn’t know what is going to happen. But this training helps him understand — through training — that the person he’s confronting on the screen may not have a weapon and in fact may not pull a weapon. And it teaches him he doesn’t need to overreact. It teaches him to be more careful, to look at his surroundings, the person, to see how they’re acting. So to me it’s just the opposite. It will not increase gun violence, it will decrease police shootings.”
Mr. Wilson may have a point, and I am willing to hear him out. But security state and police state contexts appear to enhance crime and violence rather than reduce it. Treating citizens as criminals creates criminals, almost by definition.
For example, Philadelphia’s John Paul Jones middle school was typical of a police state internment camp. What follows is a from John Whitehead, a constitutional attorney from the Rutherford Institute.
“By middle school,” reports The Atlantic, most of these students “have witnessed more violence than most Americans who didn’t serve in a war ever will.”
According to investigative reporters Jeff Deeney, “School police officers patrolled the building at John Paul Jones, and children were routinely submitted to scans with metal detecting wands. All the windows were covered in metal grating and one room that held computers even had thick iron prison bars on its exterior ***. Every day *** [police] would set up a perimeter of police officers on the blocks around the school, and those police were there to protect neighbors from the children, not to protect the children from the neighborhood.”
In other words, John Paul Jones, one of the city’s most dangerous schools, was a perfect example of the school-to-prison, police state apparatus at work among the nation’s youngest and most impressionable citizens.
When management of John Paul Jones was taken over by a charter school that opted to de-escalate the police state presence, stripping away the metal detectors and barred windows, local police protested. In fact, they showed up wearing Kevlar vests. Nevertheless, school officials remained determined to do away with institutional control and surveillance, as well as aggressive security guards, and focus on noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution with an emphasis on student empowerment, relationship building and anger management.
The result: a 90% drop in serious incidents — drug sales, weapons, assaults, rapes — in one year alone. As one fifth-grader remarked on the changes, “There are no more fights. There are no more police. That’s better for the community.” [End of quoted material]
Fewer armed cops, fewer killings
The proposed Chattanooga simulator ignores the benefits of de-escalation, demilitarization, a desire to restore constitutional government to the people, to spare people the danger of police encounters and the continuing harassment of their free movement and innocent use of private property such as automobiles and houses.
Policing used to be a function of the people themselves. In the first 50 years of the republic, abuses of the kind we see routinely today were unknown. The professionalization of policing rose parallel to that of the progressive welfare state, and in its absolutism rose with the warfare state. The Iraq invasion, as many reports the last two years suggest, consolidated city police and sheriff’s departments as military organizations operating, as it were, under orders of occupation with the people kept to strict subjection and, even, humiliation.
The ideals of constitutional government have proven impotent to stop it, but they sharply contradict this trend, and point the way toward a restoration of lost liberties. Under constitutional government, the rights of members of the public are sacrosanct, and police forcing themselves upon members of the public are always respectful and protective, acting under probable cause or a warrant.
The road back isn’t a way back to what was in that relationship between the people of Tennessee and its government and, thirdly, the state itself. There is no way back.
Trends that will allow for greater liberty in the long term are the development of Christianity and the concepts of Christian liberty and charity, the sharing economy on the Internet, cop accountability in videography, the breakup of legacy cartels such as public schools and, finally, conflict stirred within the state by militaristic Islam, which we can expect will create a state of internal warfare, as that now existing in Great Britain and other collapsed Western democracies that have yielded to immigrant invasions.
If anything, militaristic Islam will exacerbate the police state and calls for its secular absolutism and surveillance as a means of enhancing security amid a “mass casualty” context. But beyond that, the undoing of policing appears to be part of a larger post nation-state trend.
— David Tulis hosts a talk show weekdays in Chattanooga from 9 to 11 a.m. on 1240 AM Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. “Support this site and my radio station on the real airwaves in Chattanooga, on your smartphone via the TuneIn radio app, or online at Hotnewstalkradio.com. You back me by patronizing my advertisers with specific reference to me. Even better, encourage independent media by having me run commercials for your business. Also, buy me a coffee at the tip jar.”
Interview with Tom Edd Wilson, Nov. 2, 2015, AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio
Roy Exum, “Do You Shoot Or Not?” Chattanoogan.com, Oct. 20, 2015. http://www.chattanoogan.com/2015/10/20/310777/Roy-Exum-Do-You-Shoot-Or-Not.aspx
Roy Exum, “The Policeman’s Prayer,” Chattanoogan.com, Oct. 21, 2015. www.chattanoogan.com/2015/10/21/310841/Roy-Exum-The-Policemans-Prayer.aspx
John Whitehead, “Public School Students Are the New Inmates in the American Police State,” Sept. 7, 2015, Future of Freedom Foundation website. http://fff.org/explore-freedom/article/public-school-students-are-the-new-inmates-in-the-american-police-state/