Summary: Today’s post is a change of focus. Instead of discussing the evolution of the-America-that-once-was into New America (#NewAmerica), let’s talk about how to cope in it. What should you do when questioned by the police? You have identified yourself, and now the questions begin…
- Don’t talk without an attorney present.
- Fear police interrogations
- We’ve vulnerable because we’re all criminals.
- Fear the security services.
- A historical note.
- For More Information.
- Hollywood teaches us to love the security services.
(1) Don’t talk without an attorney present
The evolution of the-America-that-once-was into New America has changed almost every aspect of our society. But one aspect more than most. “Law enforcement” agencies have become the security services; less responsive to the public, serving shadowy masters, larger and better funded, more focused on political concerns than crime, far better armed, and more willing (even eager) to use force.
Here is some advice on dealing with them, a presentation by James Duane (professor at Regent Law School and former defense attorney) explaining why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police in a criminal matter without your attorney present (transcript here):
(2) Fear police interrogations
One of the few things police procedural shows on TV get right: people do confess during interrogations. It’s another reason not to talk to police without an attorney. People’s confidence that their superior will and intelligence will defeat non-violent questioning by police often falls before the advantages of police: the power of training, experience, and techniques.
Especially the techniques. It seems unlikely but the Reid interrogation methods produce confessions. They also produce a high rate of false confessions. For more about the Reid method, see this report from Cornell, and this by the Innocence Project with evidence from the streets.
Another reason to fear police interrogations: they will decide your guilt using subtle body language. Countless police magazines and training courses teach these methods (e.g., here). Unfortunately, a massive body of research shows that none of these work reliably. To learn why see this mild but exhaustive article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Often police will decide your guilt — stop the investigation and focus on nailing you — based on a coin toss.
(3) We’re vulnerable because we’re all criminals
If the police dig enough they have good odds of finding that you are a criminal, violating the countless laws and regulations — Federal, State, and local — that govern our lives. Many of these have draconian penalties (we love politicians who run as “tough on crime”). Here’s a look at the rate of new law and regulations from the Federal government: “Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register“, Maeve P. Carey, Congressional Research Service, 1 May 2013. Excerpt:
… the number of final rules published each year is generally in the range of 2,500 – 4,500 … The Federal Register provides documentation of the government’s regulatory and other actions, and some scholars, commentators, and public officials have used the total number of Federal Register pages each year as a measure for the total amount of regulatory activity.
See these articles for more information about the million-regulation New America:
- “Rough justice in America“, The Economist, 22 July 2010 — “Too many laws, too many prisoners. Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little”.
- “One nation, under too many laws“, Philip K. Howard, Washington Post, 12 December 2010.
- “Way Too Many Criminal Laws, Lawyers Tell Congress“, Blog of the Legal Times, 14 June 2013.
In The Federalist Papers #62 James Madison warned us about a government that has too many laws. Now his fears have come true.
It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
(4) Fear the security services: well-armed & eager to use violence
It’s no longer inner city minorities that need fear violence from the security police. During the past two decades they have become much better armed, and much more willing to use violence. These 3 books document this ugly trend in America.
- Radley Balko’s Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (2006).
- John T. Whitehead’s A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (2013).
- Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (2014).
(5) A historical note
A common rebuttal received when pointing to social trends is “such things are not new”. It’s a daft reply, but an effective means to minimize the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging unpleasant truths. Almost nothing is new in history. New America is a growth (perhaps cancerous) of traits deeply rooted in American history. Such as our law enforcement agencies’ long history of defending us from minor or even imaginary threats — and from reformers:
- union organizers,
- civil rights activists,
- peace movements,
- satanic cults,
- communists (even in the 1960s, when perhaps half of Party members wee FBI),
- fake child abuse “discovered” through recovered memories (which brought Janet Remo to fame & power),
- government-manufactured terrorist threats.
(6) For More Information
- How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic) — Militarizing the police.
- We are alone in the defense of the Republic.
- Look at the protests in Wisconsin to see how America has changed.
- Murder by police. If these incidents do not anger us, then what will?
- Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests.
- Police grow more powerful; the Republic slides another step into darkness. Can cellphone cameras save us?
(7) Hollywood teaches us to love the security services
Too bad these stories are fairy tales.