Citizen’s Police Academy, Part 4

Week 4 of the Citizen’s Police Academy featured the K9 unit. We witnessed three different dogs demonstrate their skills. Two were trained to detect drugs, and the third was a multi-purpose dog that specializes in biting. The third dog was the most interesting to watch.

An officer wearing heavily padded clothing stood at one end of the warehouse playing a suspect. Simulating an actual scenario, the dog’s handler warned the suspect to surrender. When the suspect refused, the handler warned him that the dog would attack if he continued to refuse. When the dog was unleashed, he made a bee line for he suspect and latched onto his arm. When the handler went to retrieve the dog, it was clear that the dog did not want to let go, but he did.

The scenario was then repeated, but as the dog was advancing the suspect surrendered. The handler called off the dog, which promptly laid down and stared at the suspect from about ten feet away. It was clear that the dog wanted the suspect to give him a reason to attack, but the dog resisted what must have been a very strong desire.

The K9 officers made it clear that their dogs are not pets. They are highly trained work dogs. The dogs that are used in Constable Precinct 5 specialize in clearing houses, subduing fleeing felons, locating missing persons, and/or drug detection.

Interestingly, while class was in session, one of the officers announced that the K9 unit was helping on a large drug case at that moment. And before the class was over, undercover officers brought an estimated 400 pounds of marijuana to the station and unloaded it in front of us. It appeared to me that most of my fellow students applauded this effort. I must admit that I was morally repulsed.

Adults should be free to ingest whatever we choose, whether it is raw milk, an experimental cancer drug, or marijuana. If the government can dictate what we put into our own bodies, then we are not free. If we cannot take the actions that we think will better our lives, then we do not have the liberty to pursue happiness. Drinking raw milk, talking an unapproved cancer drug, or smoking marijuana does not violate anyone’s rights.

Certainly, smoking marijuana can impair one’s judgment and motor skills, but so can many other drugs. The proper issue, politically, isn’t whether a drug creates an impairment, but whether one violates the rights of others or poses an objective threat to others. If someone smokes a joint in their own home, they do neither. If they drive while under the influence of marijuana they do pose a threat. Drinking a six-pack of beer at home poses no threat to others. Driving a vehicle after drinking a six-pack does.

To be clear, I do not fault the police officers who enforce these laws. I blame those who write the laws and prohibit individuals from acting on their own judgment. The law should identify those actions that violate the rights of others or pose an objective threat. Dictating what is legal for adults to put into their own body does not do that.

 

2 comments to Citizen’s Police Academy, Part 4

  • Harry Mullin

    Well said. “To be clear, I do not fault the police officers who enforce these laws. I blame those who write the laws and prohibit individuals from acting on their own judgment. The law should identify those actions that violate the rights of others or pose an objective threat. Dictating what is legal for adults to put into their own body does not do that.”

    I’d be curious to know the view from the police perspective. They are on the streets each day and see what goes on. Without at least the attempt to control drug use, will neighborhoods collapse utterly in their view? I doubt it as the police would then be able to focus on actual rights violators. But how do they see it?

    • Brian Phillips

      I have not had an opportunity to pose those questions, as there hasn’t been an appropriate time. However, in week 9 of the course, I will be riding with an officer for a full shift. That will certainly be a topic of discussion.