Americans Need to Reinvent our Police Departments: How Do We Do It?

Thom plus logo Our Founders had it right: control the guys with guns.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, our nation's Founders put our military in a box, which has prevented a military coup for over 240 years.

We have to do the same today with our police.

While the Supreme Court today is deciding whether to reevaluate "Qualified Immunity" for police officers, cities across America are considering how to reinvent their police departments.

Minneapolis is leading this charge, with one suggestion being to eliminate the police altogether and replace them with a community-based "public safety" service.

This is a great start, and at the very least cities should require 100% of their police to be residents of their communities and emphasize public safety.

But there are other vital steps communities should consider.

All across America, we need police oversight boards that are independent of police departments, complete with subpoena and indictment powers, and that can impartially rule on police actions and matters.

We also need the leadership of police departments, the top authority, what we now call the Chief of Police, to be an elected civilian who's main responsibility is to protect the community, not the cops.

When the Founders sat down to write the Constitution, they had a big debate over whether America should have a standing army during times of peace. They had that debate because armies had a nasty habit of overthrowing elected governments, all the way back to the time of the Greeks.

Our Founders didn't want an armed military under the control of a military official, because they knew how badly that could turn out.

As James Madison told the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787, "A standing military force...will not long be safe companions to liberty. ... Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

So, our Founders wrote in the Constitution that the chief executive of the military and armed forces had to be an elected civilian, the president, who could be replaced by the civilian voters every four years.

They also time-limited military appropriations to a maximum of 2 years to force Congress every session to re-evaluate the military.

But the military coups that our Founders feared have now been undertaken at the level of our cities by another armed force: our police.

That same constitutional principle - that the head of the armed force, the ultimate authority to which they must daily answer, should be an elected civilian - is needed for oversight of police in America.

Additionally, funding for police needs to come under regular scrutiny.

When it came to the army in 1787, the Framers of the Constitution said explicitly that Congress must, every two years, reevaluate the entire military appropriation from top to bottom. It is the only place in the entire Constitution where the ability of Congress to appropriate and spend money is time-limited.

They wrote in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, that Congress only had the power: "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years..."

Similarly, police departments should have their entire budgets, from top to bottom, reevaluated by their communities every two years and subject to complete control by their elected officials.

The power to carry and use weapons, and employ violence in general, is one that has been limited in the United States since our founding when it comes to the military.

We need to extend that idea to police, so that citizens nationwide are protected from what are now clearly far too many out-of-control police departments.



Anony Mole's picture
Anony Mole 2 years 50 weeks ago


Every locale shall support the local police, county and state police with a racially balanced lottery. Those selected must donate 5 years of their life to law enforcement. All 20-23 year olds, male & female, will all be ellibible. You serve 5 years after which you are awarded a four year college fund (G1 style), or can remain in the force of you so choose -- depending on available slots -- new applicants taking priority.

That should solve the Power-Hungry applicant bias.

Cameras are worn at all times, fully connected and immediately recorded into the cloud. As a cop you MUST be on your best behavior. Failure to do so risks your four year tuition.

I could go on...

whatabout's picture
whatabout 2 years 50 weeks ago

Perhaps it would be a better question to ask, what political party is in charge of the cities where these outbreaks are most virulent.

Minneapolis which is rapidly descending into the lokes of Portland and Seattle being the most recent.

In Minneapolis, the democrats have been in full charge of the city council and the mayor's office since 1974 and both of those entities have full 100% control over the police department and all of its actions. Their current police chief is a progressive black man preceded by a lesbian chief of police. The progressive sheriff is an openly gay man.

Clearly the problem originates with the leadership and hopefully, the voters in cities that suffer the same progressive leadership realize the errors come election day.

Simple research shows Antifa's strong presence in that city and one of its leaders is none other than Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine's own son Linwood "Woody" Kaine.

Daddy and mommy must be so proud.

Time to go on what is wrong with Portland. Seattle has already been covered in the video Seattle is Dying.

Legend 2 years 50 weeks ago

The Police are armed like the military because we have allowed the general population to be armed like the military. The Semi auto rifle is as close to the military version as you can get, considering the military rarely uses full auto. Interesting part is a lot of the police promote this civilian weaponry.

My small town has military style gear, Drones, A mobile command center (super RV with ultra high tech gear inside). Police all seem to pump iron. Armed to the teeth on a normal daily basis. We have a Xmas Tree lighting ceremony every year where they display all of this. Not displayed for info, in use to watch the public light a tree!

A lot of unmarked cruisers patrol the area. Women have been pulled over by fake police cars, raped and murdered. But the police still employ a lot of unmarked cars. Some are literally hot rods. What is wrong with a Police presence. That slows traffic. They obviously want the revenue generated by speeding tickets. The real winner is the insurance company that jacks up your rates for 5 years if you get a speeding ticket.

I witnessed the local police roughing up a young girl pan handling with a sign. Obviously a kid down on her luck. They were both brutes manhandling this young girl. They had her hand cuffed and then literally threw her into the back seat of the cruiser. Then slammed the door and high fived. I called to complain. They would not take a complaint over the phone. Felt that I would be marked if I went in.

Legend 2 years 50 weeks ago

Wonder if Mexico will pay for it?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 2 years 50 weeks ago

So how do we dig out a big fat juicy tick so deeply burrowed into our body politic without further destroying the host? We might soon find out if that's even possible in a country where violence and self-inflicted misery is so commonplace and so glorified -- a natural-seeming trait of humans struggling to survive on a harsh and unforgiving planet, a potentially fatal malady out of which we can't seem to evolve.

A quick glance at the daily headlines in the Un-united States and around the world, or just the popular selection of "entertainment" on Netflix, drives the point home of just how fckd we really are as a stupid, dying species. Violence comes in many forms from police brutality in our smallest communities, as Legend lays out, to the irreversible destruction of our home planet. Why do we accept it? Why do we glorify it?

digdog's picture
digdog 2 years 50 weeks ago

Reforms will take a couple of years to decide on, implement, modify, and judge. Minneapolis may likely be a wacky experiment in Wild West Anarchy? Retail stores in many areas it's already Open Season for shoplifting and downright looting... No more armed police zooming around in patrol cars? Yeehaw! Can you imagine multiple break-ins happening every night all over town?

Gun sales have boomed, with a reported two million NEW gun owners first half 2020.. 1st Time gun owners who don't know much about guns. Last month broke the record for firearm sales. Online Video replays looting across the USA, and we have hordes of various White Confederates openly calling for a 2nd Civil War.. in this environment, somebody wants to de-militarize Police?

Police Abuse Of Power has been happening in ugly public view for over 50 years. Anyone got a good story to trade? I'm a fellow Oregonian.. our history has been terrible, in a supposedly liberal state and town. James Chasse was white, but his mental illness led to murder by Portland cops 14 years ago... The cop who beat him to death crushing 26 bones, left PDX and was promptly hired in another town. His documentary on YouTube: Alien Boy.

Eugene, home of The Oregon Ducks, is still paying settlements to 20+ women who were victims of Officer Magana and his friends on the Eugene force. Back around 2000, and for many years these cops raped women, in back seats of patrol cars, often at gunpoint. Yes the cops went to prison... but how could this happen in America? Reform is LONG overdue.. Its about time!

kathyinstpaul's picture
kathyinstpaul 2 years 50 weeks ago

An idea about wording: "defund the police" has conservatives accusing reformers of getting rid of police, even though it really means redirecting current police funding to less lethal and more effective measures. How about "re-fund the police" or "re-fund public safety"? Using the hyphen helps to understand the cops aren't going away, just that service to public safety is the goal and that is better for all of us. Thanks.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 2 years 50 weeks ago

Great pst @ #7! The wording is totally misleading, and giving DJT and his ilk a talking point because most people consider "defund" as gitting rid of police entirely.

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