For better or worse, I made the conscious decision to put a pause on the majority of Token Opinion activity during recent weeks. I felt that any communication from me simply distracted from far greater social justice issues currently at hand. Even now I feel like there are so many voices that need to be heard; and that mine just isn’t one of them.
I had always intended from the beginning for Token Opinion to remain focused on table top games. I still remain committed to that vision. I have very strong political and social views, and I often find it difficult to keep those ideologies in check- especially when on social media. Speaking for myself, board games are about a release, a distraction from the world at large. But times arise when we can no longer choose to be distracted.
My educational and professional expertise is in Criminal Justice and Public Administration. For the nothing that it means, I graduated with honors. I am currently employed with a men’s addiction recovery facility in Denver, Colorado. All of our clients come here through the criminal justice system. Both the clients and the staff of our facility are incredibly diverse, with a variety of mindsets towards the criminal justice system of Colorado, and the United States as a whole. My point of view is far from expert. That said, I would like to offer my readers a targeted micro-historical lesson on policing, and through this maybe educate you on a subject that most folks are unfamiliar with.
It’s incredibly important to begin this lesson by noting that while documentation is vague, many civilizations throughout human history seem to have engaged in some sort of active ‘policing.’ It’s believed that the ancient Egyptians may have had the first known active ‘police force,’ though there is some scholarly debate on the matter. Modern policing is considered to have begun with the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, introduced to English Parliament by Sir Robert Peel, which founded the London Metropolitan Police force. He built this agency up with nine rules, now known most commonly as The Nine Principles of Policing:
“The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
“The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
“Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”
“The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
“Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
“Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
“Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
“Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
“The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
I’m going to make a bold statement that some might diagree with, but here it is: Adherence to these nine principles would solve every social difficulty that modern policing has created. It’s confusing to me that policing agencies have struggled so much considering that these guidelines have existed on paper and on walls for nearly 200 years! The tools and intentions were there, right in front of us the entire time. And it shows- it is no accident that police badges are so often designed to resemble medieval shields, as this was the original sentiment of policing- to shield the citizenry from harm. This means protecting all citizens; regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual identity or orientation, religion or creed, or political affiliation.
To protect all citizens- even those who have broken, or are in the process of breaking laws.
To put it bluntly, when a police officer kills someone, they have failed at their job. This is true, even in the most extreme and necessary of situations- to protect another life. When a police officer kills someone, they have failed. And when a police officer kills someone when there is no need, it is murder.
Somewhere along the line, policing in the United States has twisted away from honoring the “serve and protect” motto that is so often emblazoned on the badges and insignia of police agencies in this country; twisted away from being “Peace Officers” to simply “Law Enforcement.” I know that some might say that these are just words, phrases that all share the same ideology- but that simply isn’t true. I’ll avoid the historical minutia, but for those who wish to further educate themselves, a lot of this has roots in the longstanding War On Drugs; the Clinton era Troops to Cops Program; and the 1033 Program, which allows the US Military to sell unused equipment of all kinds (anything and everything you can imagine, up to and including M-1 Abrams Tanks).
Historically, police have had an incredibly contentious relationship with poor and minority communities in our country, and modern police have done little to nothing to hem this divide. Laws put in place- most importantly red lining (which granted, are no longer legal)- have handicapped access to the greater legitimate economy in a devastating way that still scars it’s way across society today. And again, that ever present nightmare that is the War on Drugs has, intentionally or otherwise, left a large portion of the citizenry completely ravaged by “Law and Order.” How is that a thing? The private prison lobby continues to fight for this culture, for over punishing non-violent criminal acts, to keep prisons jails and now detention facilities over populated, active, and profitable. Selling away the freedom of some, so others can be a little bit wealthier… Now what does that sound like to you?
I am completely tired of the ideology of “those people.” Society always seems ever eager to identify those people, with a focus how we can silence them or get rid of them. I hope I’m never willing to decry someone as unnecessary. This world needs more love. The desire to understand rather than to condemn. If we are going to fix the difficulties that modern policing has created, repair the divisions that centuries of contempt have rent into our society; we all have to embrace that mantra, on both sides of the debate. I have and continue to hold to the ethos that all people are welcome at our table. That means you.
Black Lives Matter.
Token Opinion stands in solidarity with the African-American community of the United States against police brutality.
Token Opinion stands in solidarity with the Hispanic community of the United States against the unnecessary and unlawful imprisonment of illegal immigrants.
Token Opinion stands in solidarity with the LGBTQIA community of the United States against unfair treatments and denial of basic human institutions.
And hell, while I’m at it, Token Opinion stands in solidarity with women, and against any entity willing to tell them what they can or can not do with their body.
If you don’t agree with this; then good for you, ass-hat. I don’t care. You’re on the wrong side of history. Humanity will not remember you fondly.
And now I’m done. Back to table top gaming; because hopefully that’s why you’re here. As usual, thanks for stopping by.
And hey, no matter who you are- I love you.