Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Monday, June 19, 2006

LttE - Missing the point of Hudson

Submitted to the Orange County Register on 06/19/2006:

In responding to the Register’s editorial and a letter to the editor about the Hudson case, Kevin O’Brien missed a major point of his own.

He says the Penal Code’s “knock-and-announce” requirement was enacted “to avoid violent confrontations between people and the police,” then neglects to observe that the repeal of that requirement will certainly increase those confrontations. This is equally true when police confront actual criminals as well as when they bash down the wrong door and find somebody’s innocent Grandma armed for self-defense. See the research done by Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko (quoted in the Court minority’s dissent) for data on how often that happens in a forthcoming Cato paper, and here and here.

Why will this ruling increase these violent confrontations? The immunities that shield the police from prosecution for actions taken in the course of their duties have ensured that civil lawsuits are ineffective remedies to police misconduct, and the “Blue Wall of Silence” ensures that internal discipline is just as weak. The ONLY effective deterrent for police to avoid violations of citizen’s constitutional rights has historically been the threat that illegally-obtained evidence will be excluded, making the whole point of their action meaningless. Because of that threat, they do things right. Removing the only stick from the equation that meant anything to police while leaving the carrot alone will, just as the Register’s editorial and Mr. Balko have stated, only increase the occurrence of violent confrontations not only between cops and criminals but also between cops and innocent homeowners awakened in the small hours of the night to find masked men rushing around their homes with guns.

In all likelihood, this ruling will make O’Brien go to more of those cop funerals he laments, while the rest of us go to more funerals of innocent victims of police mistakes.


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