Posses

During the summer of 2020 many of America’s cities suffered riots.  What can we do to end the rioting? What long term solutions are possible that will bring an end to these episodic periods of racial and social mayhem?  What will bring a sense of real fulfillment and freedom to our black brothers and sisters?

It is an unfortunate fact that there is a high incidence of crime in many of our large urban centers, and police must deal with these crimes. I admire the police.  They do a dangerous and difficult job – often with little pay and less respect. Some small percentage of police officers are racists, and probably a few more are simply incompetent, but most of them do their jobs well and conscientiously. Rarely, but too often, an unarmed black is killed in a confrontation with police, usually accidentally, hardly ever on purpose. In a nation of three-hundred and thirty million people and tens of thousands of police civilian interactions, it normally happens less than ten times a year.  The officer involved may be black or white.  Each occurrence is a tragedy, but the aftermath is often worse.  

When a police officer kills a black man, truth is often the first casualty.  Agitators sometime like to portray the police as the chief threat to the lives of young black men, but that is blatantly false. In 2015 police killed 987 citizens across the United States. Whites were 50% — or 493 of those killed, and blacks were 26 percent – or 258.  Most victims of police shootings, white and black, were armed felons. Compare that number 258 to the approximately 6000 black murder victims that same year, the vast majority of whom were victims of black-on-black crime. This year, with a suppression of active policing and a failure to prosecute crime, the death rate has gone up sharply, and black citizens are the ones who are impacted most severely.

In the inner city, police are placed in situations where most African Americans are already convinced that the criminal justice system is skewed against them, and they regard police as the aggressors.  However, recent statistics show that police officers are actually at much greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks from police. But statistics be damned! Truth is sometimes far less important than perceptions.  Too many blacks are absolutely convinced that the police are their enemy

What can be done to change that?  As I considered this question, two thoughts came to mind. First, I thought of the   role of posses in our old frontier country. There was no large constabulary to protect citizens from the depredations of robber gangs.  Instead, as necessary, the local sheriff would deputize a sufficient number of locals to stand up to the badmen.  It usually worked.

Second, to buttress this memory from times past, recently I heard a news report that “Black Lives Matter” organizers are talking of establishing an armed militia in some cities to protect blacks from police. That news item gave me another thought.

Now, let me put these two thoughts together.  Let us organize our citizens to defend themselves.  

It is increasingly apparent that no police department is equipped to stand up to rioting and looting of the magnitude that we recently experienced.  With few exceptions, National Guard units are not trained to deal with civil unrest, and regular army and marines cannot be employed except as a last resort.  I believe the answer to our problem lies in enlisting civilians to protect themselves and their neighborhoods. 

Residents of our large cities could be recruited into companies of police auxiliaries that could be called to serve in times of emergency.  An auxiliary company would be centered in the neighborhood from which it was recruited.  In black neighborhoods the company would be black led and composed primarily of black citizens. Police auxiliaries would not carry lethal weapons, but they could patrol and protect neighborhoods and businesses as needed.  The regular police would continue to perform their regular functions.  In addition, they would provide tactical instruction to the auxiliaries, and a specially trained police officer could be integrated into each auxiliary company for purposes of liaison.I believe that many people would leap at the opportunity to serve their community in this way.  I am ninety-two years old, and I would gladly step forward to do my part (if they would have me).  I venture to say that my friends in our local senior center feel the same way.  I am convinced that citizens of color would also volunteer in large numbers. They are tired of seeing their neighborhoods trashed and businesses destroyed.

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