by writer Michael Heise

The police aren’t making too many friends these days. It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by where some tragic and outrageous story doesn’t come out involving the cops somehow violating someone’s rights, or even killing them. But, no matter how much we see this behavior, no matter how frequent it becomes, there seems to be an army of ignorant, dependent, terrified people who will jump in to defend the police from any criticism, because, you know, they are heroes…. Next time you encounter somebody like that, show them this article, and if they still dismiss it, just move on. There’s plenty of people with eyes to see and ears to hear if you aren’t wasting your time with the willfully apathetic.

The following list wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work done by some alternative media outlets that tirelessly cover issues of police abuse, and show us just how common these violations are. If you aren’t aware of Cop BlockThe Free Thought ProjectCounter Current News, Police State USA,Raw StoryPhotography Is Not CrimeCop Watch, you should be.

Now, just why should we be skeptical of the police? Well where do I begin….

1. The Police Have No Duty To Protect You

It’s plastered right on the side of many police cruisers: “To Protect And to Serve”, but this serves as little more than a PR slogan for the public to feel more comfortable and trusting of the police. In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled in a case titled Warren Vs The District of Columbia that police do not have a constitutional duty to protect. Even when it comes to protection for a women who has a restraining order from a husband and is being attacked by said husband! Being stalked? No duty to protect. Locked away somewhere by an attacker. No duty to protect. Being raped? Well, you get the point, unfortunately. The court went as far as to say that “[t]he duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large, and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists.” Supporters of this verdict will tell you that it is because individuals are expected to protect themselves and their loved ones, which is true, but many states, such as New York and New Jersey, get in the way of that with their draconian gun laws. They effectively make people reliant on police, who then have no duty to oblige. A viscous cycle indeed.

2. Private Prisons Have “Lockup Quotas”

In 2011 Management & Training Corp threatened to sue the state of Arizona over a line in the contract between the two that required that the prison remain 97% full. The lawsuit threat was spurred after 3 murder convicts escaped from the prison, and the state found the prison to be “dysfunctional” and thus stopped sending inmates to the facility. The state caved and paid 3 million dollars in tax payer revenue to a prison that let 3 murderers escape from their facility in order to cover the losses created by the diverted prisoner population. This notion of “lockup quotas” or “guarenteed occupancy rates” has actually found to be a common practice after analyzing over 60 contracts between states and prisons, with some Arizona prisons having an expectation of 100% occupancy!

This could help to explain why even though crime has been consistently falling over the past 20 years, the U.S continues to maintain the world’s largest prison population as lawmakers have written laws to appease prison contracts instead of serving the people. There are more prisons than schools in this country. Think about that for a second.

3. Police Profit From Enforcing the War On Drugs

Did you know that when the police arrest somebody for a drug charge, even marijuana, they actually earn money? Yup, for any low level arrest, a department can make $153 per arrest in federal grants, called Byrne Grants. This totally changes the incentives for what police work is. When you combine this, with the fact that drugs are widely available, hugely demanded, very profitable, and in some states, marijuana is becoming legal, and the fact that there are lockup quotas, this makes the average citizen a fish to be baited into the system for profit, more then a master that is to be served. Then there is asset forfeiture, another very profitable revenue stream. This is where alleged drug dealers have their property stolen under the suspicion that they got that property from nasty drug money. It’s literally legal theft. It’s such an unsustainable method of revenue generation that many departments have a blanket opposition to legalized marijuana, despite its overwhelming medical potential in addition to the moral hazard of assuming what control over what people can do with their own bodies, that departments have even expressed that the stability of their budgets is dependent on this insane practice.

4. SWAT Teams Are Corporations, And Are Used VERY Commonly

In a 2014 report on police militarization, the ACLU was effectively told by Massachussets SWAT agencies, that they are private corporations, and thus are not subject to open records requests, and generally not obligated to answer to the public. The report went on to find that SWAT are overseen by LECs or Law Enforcement Councils made up of police chiefs in the surrounding area, and funded by these same departments. Somehow, even though it’s a police agency made up of police departments and police officers, these LECs were able to incorporate into 501(c)(3) status, granting them corporate privacy. In Massachusetts alone 240 of the existing 351 departments belong to these LECs, effectively creating a blanket of secrecy over SWAT and it’s operations.

This is met with a dramatic rise in the use of SWAT teams over the past 25 years. It is commonly thought that SWAT are used for hostage crises and other extreme situations, but more often than not, they are used for suspected drug raids. And as we have seen, they often get it tragically wrong. The methods used for a lot of these drug raids are overwhelmingly forceful using no knock, forced entry, flash grenades, and other excessive shows of force, even for $2 worth of marijuana. Some studies have shown that SWAT teams are called out as much as 40,000 times a year.

5. Police Can, And Do, Lie To The Public

Many people think that as “authority figures” that police have an obligation to be honest, but that is untrue. The most common example of this is undercover police telling suspects that they are not undercover. But this extends quite a bit. Police commonly use intimidation tactics in order to scare or trick you into giving up your rights to privacy and not to incriminate yourself. They can tell you that a witness has seen you that hasn’t, that a confession was made that never was, that you are legally obligated to do things that you aren’t, like submit to searches. The most effective defense is knowledge, courage, and a camera.

6. The Police Kill Far More People Then Commonly Thought

The FBI reports that in 2013 they killed only 461 People, with an average of about 400 people killed per year since 2008. It has been found that this is inaccurate. First of all, these numbers are based on what are considered to be “justified homicides”. Thats right, the FBI is not interested in telling you about police murders, just police homicides. If that wasn’t bad enough, the data given to the FBI is turned in on a voluntary basis. In other words, if a police department like, oh I don’t know, theAlbuquerque police department decides that such disclosure is bad for business, then they can keep the information to themselves.

On the flip side of this, several independent efforts, such as Fatal Encounters, Deadspin, and my personal favorite because of it’s simplicity, Killed By Police have taken a crack at getting the real number, and with legitimate sourcing, have come up with over 1000 people killed both in 2013 and 2014.

To put this in perspective, your are <8 times more likely to be killed by police then by terrorists, with police having killed more Americans then the war on terror.

7. Police Officers Are Not In The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs

Many people will claim that the police are selfless heroes who put their lives on the line on a regular basis for your safety. Much like the PR slogan of “protect and serve”, this is another inaccurate factoid that serves to suppress criticism of police officers. Data from the bureau of labor statistics shows that being a construction worker, roofer, or truck driver are much more dangerous then being police officers. In fact, you are statistically safer as a cop than as a civilian, with 2013 being one of the safest years on record for police. This is in stark contrast to the perilous dangers that police and their supporters would have you think they encounter every day.

8. Police Kill A Lot of People’s Pets

While it is unclear exactly how often it happens due to a lack of data, through the use of cell phone video’s and the alternative reporting, we are getting a glimpse of how often police kill man’s best friend. A development team is currently working on a documentary entitled ”Puppycide” tackling the issue in depth, with the website claiming that a pet is killed every 98 minutes.

9. Police Will Share Private Photographs With Each Other For Amusement

Last October, Officer Sean Harrington of the California Highway Patrol was arrested after a DUI suspect that he had arrested alleged that he had gone through her phone without her permission, and then proceeded to send himself nude photos of her. After a search warrant was served, it was found that Harrington was not alone in this behavior, and several other officers were identified who not only admitted to doing this multiple times, but called it part of “a game”. Later evidence showed several police commenting on the photos with each other. Harrington, a Dublin, CA officer, claimed to have learned this “game” from LA, and that it was a common thing among police officers. It’s anybody’s guess how many police officers across the country have figured out that they can victimize women like this.

10. Police Can Enforce Laws They Don’t Know

2014 ended with another blow to freedom, as the Supreme Court, in Heien Vs. North Carolina ruled a police officer can stop a car based on a mistaken understanding of the law without violating the Fourth Amendment. This arose after a man was found with cocaine in his car following a search, based on a stop where the suspect had a tail light out. Only problem is, no law exists making that a crime, or a reason to get a search. The officer was mistaken, which lead to the defendant motioning to dismiss the cocaine as evidence as it was the result of an illegal search. The Supreme Court sided with the officer. This creates a double standard in the application of law. If you or I are guilty of a crime that we legitimately did not know we have committed, ignorance of the law is no excuse and we have our lives torn apart. Yet, if a police officer does it, it’s “valid” and your life is still ripped apart.

11. Police Have Technology That Greatly Infringes Our Right To Privacy

Everybody knows that the TSA has been data mining us through our phones, and our computers for years now. But it’s not just the TSA that is collecting data, but maybe even your own local police department. Many police departments are making use of what is called Stingray technology without a warrant to track peoples cell phones for anything that might lead to a drug bust. LAPD has even used the technology on non suspected neighbors of suspects in search of info! And of course, this has all been found to be somehow constitutional according to the Arizona Superior Court.

Some police epartments, such as the NYPD, have taken to using TSA-like Naked body scanner technology to scan people and their cars in search of guns in New York, where guns are unconstitutionally illegal. Not only do these scanners present a serious threat to every person’s right to privacy, but also a serious health threat. In addition to this, a RAND Corporation study has found that 70% of police departments use license plate scanners. These are scanners that scan your license plate information, allowing full access to it for the officer, usually without knowledge, consent, warrant, or even a traffic violation.

Many of these departments work hand in hand with fusion centers, with the federal government via the Department Of Homeland Security being able to take over local departments, so any information that a police department has is liable to end up in the hands of the federal government as well.

12. Police Will Potentially Kill For Even The Most Minute Laws

All police encounters are potentially deadly…READ MORE