Saturday, March 10, 2007
Police Abuse: Sovereign Immunity Protects the Abusers
Police abuse is a national problem with officers over stepping their bounds and deliberately doing harm to the people that they have sworn to protect. The country doesn't need more police officers. It needs to set a higher standard for the officers to meet. They need to have a clear understanding of the law and their role in society, so they can protect without infringing on Civil Rights. However, it is not only ignorance of the public’s rights that causes abusive situations, but the officers attempting to secure their jobs by inflating the crime statistics and personal satisfaction of having power over others that are the root causes of the abuse. With statewide budget cuts, every government job is at risk. However by inflating the crime statistics with unjustified arrests and unreasonable traffic stops, they insure the law enforcement system will be immune to pay cuts and lay offs. In addition, individual officers have learned that they won’t be held responsible for their actions. Most officers are ethical and honorable. But there are those who intentionally inflict harm on those in our society they see as vulnerable. They also target those who have lifestyles or points of view that differ from their own.
The cases of abuse, misconduct and bigotry are increasing expediently, because no one in the government willing to address the root cause. One only has to Google--police abuse or police abuse of power to learn how severe the problem has become. Officers get away with it because they can. Victims can sue the law enforcement agencies but the individual officers are never held accountable for the harm they cause. Sovereign Immunity is the legal doctrine that states the sovereign or government and its agents cannot be legally prosecuted for harm they cause. By definition, Sovereign means monarch, the ruler or permanent head of a state, especially a king or queen. Law enforcement officials are neither; they are public servants, not public masters. However, instead of serving and protecting society, they are rapidly become a bigger threat to the public than the criminal element. At least with the criminal element, you can defend yourself without additional criminal charges being added. To merely touch an officer is to be guilty of a crime, yet they are capable of searching your person and property if they have the faintest suspicion you have possibly broken a law. They no longer need proof a crime, just the mere illusion is enough to support a search. They feel entitled to harass and intimidate those they find objectionable because of lifestyle, political affiliation, religion or skin color.
In addition, the abusive actions of law enforcement does not make the public safer. When an officer is actively involved in harassing an individual or group, they are not available to do the job they were hired to do. It adds to the response time, which could be the difference between life and death for the victim of an actual crime.
The changes need to happen on every level--local, state and federal by holding law enforcement responsible for their actions. Either by executive order or legislative initiative, the Sovereign Immunity needs to be rescinded and the individual officers held responsible for their actions. It would not only force the abusers to take personal responsibility for their actions, but it would give the ethical officers the reason to break through the blue wall and expose the abuses. Instead of depleting the law enforcement ranks, it would open the opportunities to officers who are willing to work within their legal limits.
In addition, independent civilian review boards with the enough power to be effective need to be set up in every community. With the existing systems, a person has to file a complaint with the very people who did them harm. Frequently, those who attempt to file complaints are threatened and harassed into silence.
Thirdly, local authorities need to be pressured into investigating the current abuse cases and following up with the appropriate disciplinary actions and retribution for the damage done to individual.
Also, public service campaigns that inform the public of their rights and responsibilities will do much to eliminate confusion and help the public understand what they need to do when confronted with an officer in order to remain safe. A well informed person is more capable of dealing with an abuse situation. By knowing their rights, they can not only prevent the situation from escalating, but also save themselves legal entanglements and remove most excuses officers use to detain individuals.
Individuals should be compensated for their pain not only by the law enforcement agency, but the individual officers as well. If the abusive officers and all those who protect them can loose their homes, cars and everything they have worked for, they will have more of an incentive to follow the rules.
The public has to also stay involved by reporting abuses, filing complaints with the Attorney General of your state, and speaking out in the media. With the popularity of cell phones with cameras, it is very easy to document the abuse and share it with the world, thereby exposing the abusive officers in a way that cannot be disputed. How many more people have to be harmed or killed before the abuse of power is addressed? Civil rights are not optional, yet they frequently ignored and those who are different or weaker become victims to bigotry and ignorance.
Theresa Chaze has been described as the woman who plays with dragons, especially the dragons of the mind. She leads her readers to magical realms and others worlds. Her work is based on her philosophy that all peoples can live together in peace as long as we come from respect, not only for ourselves but those who follow different paths or beliefs. Her work has been compared to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey with an adult version of Harry Potter mixed in. Theresa Chaze's major works so far include the first two novels of the Dragon Clan Trilogy and a free fantasy ebook called, Sisters, Mother, Daughters. March 1, 2007, she released an Ebook of Shadows called, Out of the Shadows and into the light; it can only be purchased from her site. Her screenplay, Never Can Say Good-bye, is one of the 2006 winners of the Gloria Film Festival. She publishes an ezine called, Messages From the Universe, which is available on her site www.theresachaze.com.