Top cop Fred Fletcher sees the purpose of the city’s police department as securing the safety of Chattanoogans.
This interest in safety is opposite the interest that citizens on patrol once had something different — in justice.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1250 AM 101.1 FM
The word cop is short for “citizen on patrol,” a term from the days when peacekeeping belonged to the people and not the state, from the time before professionalized military groups such as Chattanooga Police Department. Chattanooga got an early start in professional policing, its department having started in 1852.
The idea of the original cop is not that the citizen is an enforcer of laws. Instead, he pursues criminals after a crime is committed. He secures scenes, gathers evidence, brings the perp before a magistrate — after a crime is committed. His pursuit is the work of the court, to haul malefactors to bar. The cop of yore keeps peace, does not enforce laws nor commercial laws. He appreciates the liberty of the public, and is harmless to any innocent person acting innocently at home or traveling in the marketplace.
‘Be and feel safe’
Evidence of Chief Fletcher’s interest in safety are evident in many places, including his Twitter feed.
➤ Showing a photograph of an empty room with stored goods such as computers and file cabinets, he says, “Demolition Day begins for construction of Real Time Intelligence Center. Proud of our aggressive pursuit of technology to keep all safe,” (Nov. 16). This center will use predictive software to let police pounce on streets or areas predicted to be the place of the next crime. Woe to the young black man who innocently happens to be on that public street that hour. A swarm of officers will descend on him, harass him absent probable cause, and terrify him into resisting arrest or self-incriminating comments.
➤ “Happy to spend my evening w/ local Latino leaders, pastors, neighbors & friends helping all BE and FEEL safe,” he says in a post with Spanish-speaking residents.
➤ Fear, however, controls the minds of many, many Chattanoogans, according to interviews with members of the public and people such as Franklin McCallie, a racial healer in the city.
In two criminal proceedings, I’ve examined closely, officers perjured themselves against Hanson Melvin and Rochelle Gelpin, whom they arrested without probable cause (kidnapped), taking them downtown in cuffs, booking and jailing them. Officers David Campbell and Jeff Rahn got a pass from district attorney Neal Pinkston for one instance each of misdemeanor perjury, and one instance each of felony perjury.
They remain under the slight shadow of internal affairs complaints filed by their victims.
➤ Mr. Fletcher joins in the popular conservative theory of the cop as defender of freedom. On Veterans Day, Chief Fletcher opines, “Because of brave, courageous men & women who’ve served our country we possess the most precious gift: freedom” (Nov. 11). To believe that soldiers live and die to give us “freedom” is a progressive fantasy of our day fading as 350 years of political and economic centralization falters under its own weight of blood, treasure and debt.
Safety, security invite absolute state
Mr. Fletcher’s interest safety (prevention of future crime), and only secondarily justice (punishing past crime)
Biblically, civil government concerns itself with justice. The law of God is negative in application, rather than using compulsion and prescription to bring about good. In the Hebrew confederation, the court, the judge and magistrate comprise the task of what today is the state. The job of the court was actual, past crime.
The modern state rejects biblical limits on the role of the magistrate. Its view toward safety looks to prevent and regulate future crime. Its interest is control, and so it must have total knowledge, total presence, total power.
Its idea entails the state’s controlling and regulating all people as prospective criminals with the pretended view of preventing crime, making crime nearly impossible
The modern state controls future criminal by regulation of all people, even the innocent. In contrast, a biblical state leaves the people at liberty, and prosecutes actual malefactors only.
The older legal framework in America was common law. Under common law, there was no enforcement action if there was not a corpus delicti. The word corpus delecti refers to a physical evidence of a crime — a burned-out house suggesting arson, a dead body suggesting murder, a bleeding, weeping woman telling of rape, equipment reported stolen seized in another person’s dwelling. Under common law, if there was no physical injury or body, there is no crime.
Today the modern state with a system of positive law has criminalized all kinds of harmless activities and forms of inaction as crimes without any injury being required. It has criminalized the free use of the public right of way, as in the Jay Hirsch case in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., convincing a jury of Mr. Hirsch’s peers that his legal freedom is criminal.