I am ambivalent about the police. At the core, police enforce the government’s laws. For example, they enforce laws against assault and murder. This is a good thing. But they also enforce laws against selling “loose” cigarettes and unlicensed burritos.
Police catch rapists and burglars. But they also shut down lemonade stands and seize the cash deposits of immigrant business owners.
Police run toward crazed gunmen when others are running away. Police have also used their batons against labor organizers, suffragettes and civil rights protesters.
Police, as instruments of state power, have all the contradictions of state power. At their best they are heroes. At their worst they are jackbooted thugs. In between they daily enforce the dull yet pervasive oppression of the bureaucratic state.
The libertarian view is not so much opposed to police per se, as it is opposed to the paternalistic Big Brother state that has lost track of the core mission of government — protecting natural rights — and insinuated itself into all parts of our lives. Restore the state to its proper role and police would at the same time be restored to their proper role.
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