As violent riots and demands to “defund the police” continue across the nation, many Republican lawmakers are signaling a willingness to give in on a number of their demands, to trade law and order for hollow praise from their political enemies.
Doing so would be a grave mistake that would turn more citizens into victims.
Instead, lawmakers should work quickly to enact real reforms that protect the dignity of every citizen. Such reforms not only make America safer, but protect both the public and those sworn to keep the peace.
Here are just four of those reforms:
End No-Knock Raids
Imagine you’re laying in bed at night while your family sleeps, only to be awakened by a door being kicked down or the sound of shattering glass. Most Texans would probably imagine it’s a burglar, or someone else coming to do them harm, and grab a gun from the nightstand in order to confront the criminal. But what if it’s the police?
Whether you’re a law-abiding citizen or even a common criminal, you have the right that no one can deprive you of your life or liberty without due process of law. You’d expect if you’re accused of a crime, you would be served with a notice to appear or police officers would present a warrant to search your house or arrest you. In either case, you’d have your day in court. However, no-knock raids eschew our standard procedure and jeopardize the lives of the public and police officers in the process.
Just last year in Houston, a no-knock raid obtained under false pretenses resulted in the deaths of two citizens and injuries to four police officers. The HPD officer who lied to obtain authorization for that raid, Gerald Goines, has been charged with felony murder. Another officer, Steven Bryant, has been charged with tampering with evidence.
Both were dismissed following the illicit raid and appear on track to pay a severe consequence for it. However, no punishment applied to either of the officers will restore the lives of the victims they killed or the bodies of their fellow officers who were injured.
A few weeks ago, the mother of a Killeen man killed in a no-knock raid in 2019 filed suit against the city and four police officers, alleging her son’s rights were violated in the no-knock raid. Police initially claimed he had fired on them first, but an attorney for the family notes there is no evidence to support that.
“One of the things very concerning to us is the fact that we didn’t find a gunshot residue test,” said attorney Daryl Washington. “There is nothing to support that Mr. Reed fired two to four times. In fact, there is nothing to support Mr. Reed fired.”
Last year, a Texas Rangers investigation found an officer involved in the incident fired shots from the back of the home. He has resigned from the department and since pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence.
In each of these cases, “innocent until proven guilty” was cast aside in favor of a confrontation that escalated to lethal force. Police officers and members of the general public would be safer if no-knock raids were ended.
End Vehicle Inspections, Other Minor Infractions
One of the best ways to protect law enforcement officers and the general public is to limit the amount of confrontations they’re required to have, especially through dangerous procedures like traffic stops.
A traffic stop is one of the most dangerous procedures a police officer can perform. In 2017 alone, 47 law enforcement officers were killed in traffic-related incidents.
From POLICE Magazine:
“Sgt. Dave Lawler of the Linn County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office says that next to his officer-involved shooting incident (See ‘Shots Fired,’ POLICE Magazine, October 2009), the scariest thing that ever happened to him was nearly getting hit on traffic stops. Once on a foggy night he had a close call that forced him to jump into a ditch. ‘I worry more about getting hit by a car on a traffic call than I do getting shot,’ he says.”
Cars are dangerous, of course. Even more dangerous? Being ambushed by a suspect or encountering other dangers in the process of a routine traffic stop. As police officer Charmaine Fajardo wrote in the same publication:
“When officers are killed, we’re always asking if they could have done something differently. But often, they didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. It’s kind of like wearing a bulletproof vest. It’s great that they’re out there, but they’re not going to stop every bullet. There’s a slight chance that it’s going to go under your arm or some other vulnerable spot and you can still get killed. It’s kind of the same situation on traffic stops; you can do everything right and still end up dying.”
The solution is to limit the instances in which a law enforcement officer is forced into putting his life at risk. Obviously, a drunk driver swerving from lane to lane merits action to prevent them from harming themselves or others, but are expired registration stickers worth putting the life of a citizen or a law enforcement officer at risk?
Lawmakers need to pursue a careful review of the laws they charge law enforcement officers with enforcing. And items like mandatory vehicle inspections, registrations, and other minor issues that force unnecessary stops and create more problems than they solve should be repealed.
Deport All Illegal Aliens
Any well-functioning society depends upon law and order, yet roughly 20 million individuals live in our nation illegally—defended by Democrats and a nationwide press corps. Efforts to enforce our laws have largely failed; even many Republican leaders say things like “we can’t just deport them” and “we have to come up with a realistic solution.”
As illegal aliens march in our streets with signs reading “Undocumented and Unafraid,” what message does that send to those who would break our laws?
These individuals commit crimes, create problems in our schools, and diminish the opportunities of the poor and working class to improve their standing. Enforcing our existing laws and removing them from our streets would reduce the strain on governmental resources, remove criminals from our nations, and ensure law enforcement is better able to solve crimes without being forced to obtain fluency in another language other than English to protect public order and administer justice.
Pass Constitutional Carry, Expand Gun Rights
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Those are the words of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, where the Founding Fathers enshrined the natural right of free men to defend their lives and property with deadly force. They knew a well-armed people would protect public order and prevent threats from either an oppressive government or rampaging mob.
But today, Texas is among a minority of states that does not entirely recognize the inherent right and value of law-abiding citizens keeping and bearing arms. Instead, those who wish to carry a handgun openly or concealed must ask their government for permission first—a move restricting the liberty of citizens and endangering them and their property.
Passing constitutional carry while maintaining licensing as optional for reciprocity purposes would enable law-abiding citizens capable of legally possessing handguns to carry them openly or concealed and better enable them to protect themselves in case of emergency.
During the riots, Texans watched would-be looters and vandals steer clear of businesses and areas they knew were likely to be armed. Encouraging and enabling more individuals to lawfully protect themselves would deter crime and promote public safety.
As the nation takes a strong look at reforming laws and procedures regarding the public and police, conservatives should fight against efforts to erode law and order or allow political correctness to jeopardize individual liberty and speech. At the same time, we must fight for reforms to the system to protect public order while respecting the lives and dignity of all Americans.