An Associated Press news article by reporter Mark Stevenson describes the actions of soldiers of the Mexican Army. The story, which I read in the Denver Post November 7th edition, relates how power drug cartels are engaging in extortion of local farmers in addition to profiting from the manufacture and sale of illegal narcotics. Farmers who must pass through the roadways to harvest their crops of limes and avocados are stopped by the gangs at armed roadblocks. After assessing their cargo, or counting their cattle, the farmers are charged extortion prices for the privilege of moving through the roadblock with no shots being fired.
Meanwhile, nearby, soldiers also wait and watch as the transactions take place. Their job is not to do surveillance, conduct raids, arrest gangsters, or protect the farmers. Their job is to be a presence to discourage violence among rival cartels. In some areas, the soldiers have been surrounded by locals and gangs to the extent that supplies must be brought in by helicopter. The criminal enterprise operating in front of them is of little concern in the army’s policy of non-aggression.
If it seems shocking that in the undeveloped country within the sovereign nation of Mexico that criminal elements are in control and the nation’s armed guardians are kept at a distance so as not to disturb them, you get a vision of what happens when policing stands aside passively. Think it could not happen in the USA? It has and it is.
Headline: June 2020, Seattle Police abandon their East Street Precinct after days of clashing with protestors. Thinking it was some sort of trap, some protest leaders were cautious at first, then began creating the Capitol Hill Police Free Zone which was initially described as a safe and peaceful area where police didn’t bother to return. By the end of the month, CNN was reporting multiple shootings, two of them fatal in this peaceful utopian law enforcement-free six square block area of Seattle. An anonymous resident in that neighborhood said it was really good for a week, then turned into a militant cult. Residents had to deal with all of the problems they claimed the police shouldn’t be handling. The result was actually more violence against black people, where the crux of the accusation about policing was police violence against black people.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant issued a statement demanding defunding of police while, in the same document, demanding that Seattle PD fully investigate the police free zone’s homicides and be held accountable to bring the killers to justice. Thanks, council member Sawant, now that we’re clear on that. Meanwhile, fire and EMS services were still welcome. But fire and EMS rely on police officers to make sure a scene is safe and remains safe for other first responders, especially at scenes of violent crimes. By July the zone was restored to reality as police moved in to stop the violence.
In March, a murder occurred inside the police-free zone in Minneapolis in the area where George Floyd died. Activists set up a phalanx of checkpoints verifying that persons who wanted to enter the formerly public area are not police officers. Even as police attempted to enter the area to investigate the shooting, they encountered resistance and the victim, Imaz Wright, was dead before they arrived. The area is still subject to spates of gunfire and requires armed escorts of some who enter, but is still labeled as a place of peace, love, and contemplation. Just keep your head down.
Philadelphia recently declared a return to third-world traffic conditions by barring police from enforcing most traffic laws. If you’re expecting headlights, taillights, brakes, and safe speeds without the possibility of red lights flashing in the rearview mirror, just wait for your car insurance rates to be the canary in the coal mine. More crashes, more claims, higher premiums. Since kidnappers, robbers, burglars, drug dealers, and absconders no longer have to worry about being stopped, watch the crime rate creep up, too.
Let’s just call these examples of the Mexican Model of Standby Policing. If you see this trend creeping into your town, make your voice known. We need the police.