In a comment to my last post, I expressed what appears to be a naive hope:

Are cops soldiers? I hope not!

I have been reading about so many police state outrages lately that it has become mind-numbing.

This morning I read about a young woman from affluent Millburn, New Jersey who was treated to some of Mayor Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” action:

At the time of the incident, Rosenbaum was interning at Vaute Couture on Grand Street, a vegan clothing store. She was on her way back from a work errand, when she unexpectedly encountered the officers.

Then just 21, she noticed a kitten in a nearby alley and stopped to “coo” at it. ”

“It was just adorable,” said Rosenbaum, an environmental rights major who focused her studies on animal conservation and animal activism. “I love animals.”

As she bent down to look at the animal, an undercover officer yelled at her from a gold sedan to “stop moving” and to “stay right there.” Not knowing who was yelling at her, she said she began to walk away. But the plainclothes officer jumped out of the car and another female cop followed him out of the vehicle. A third police officer, who didn’t participate in questioning her, was in the back seat of the car.

The officers quickly grabbed her, twisted her arm behind her back and threw her up against the car, she said.

Rosenbaum said she didn’t know who the two people were, that they didn’t identify themselves until after they grabbed her arms. “They were either kidnappers or cops,” she said.

They asked her what she was doing there, what she had in her bag that she used to carry a package to the post office as part of her job at the clothing store. They asked her if she was in possession of any drugs. She said they also threatened her, saying they would take her down to the police station if she didn’t “cooperate.”

The female officer then searched her on the public sidewalk by pulling up the bottom of her white T-shirt in the back, pulling down her shirt and looking in her bra, Rosenbaum said. The officer also pulled the waistband of her shorts and looked at the back of her underpants and then did the same in the front of her shorts.

Unfortunately for the cops, they picked on the wrong person, because affluent suburban whites are less likely to accept the sort of mistreatment routinely administered to poor and minorities.

Filing lawsuits is the only remedy and the only language police understand, for the individual officers rarely if ever face disciplinary action in cases like this. They had no warrant, no probable cause, nothing. If a private citizen stopped and searched a woman and peered into her underwear, he’d be looking at a lengthy prison term. I’m tempted to say “I HOPE SHE ENDS UP OWNING NEW YORK!” but if you think about it, is targeting the taxpayers (who ultimately foot the bill for lawsuits) really the best remedy? Why not target the individual cops themselves by making them personally liable if they break the law or violate citizens’ constitutional rights?

Better yet, why not let the woman target Mayor Bloomberg’s personal billions? After all, the cops are only doing his bidding, and they will claim that they were just doing their job and obeying his orders.   (Not that that is a defense, but Bloomberg is the deep pocket here, as well as the larger culprit.)

The fact is, incidents such as the deployment of lethal force against college students who did absolutely nothing suspicious or illegal happen more and more, and each time the cops say they were following standard procedures. If it has become standard police procedure to deploy lethal force against alleged petty crimes without even a showing the crimes occurred, then Americans are living in a standardized police state.

Doubtless, the officer shown in the video here would say he is just doing his job by pulling people over and illegally detaining and searching them for no reason at all. Problem is, his job consists of implementing a police state, and routinely violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

There is no denying that these incidents are not aberrations. Police state tactics are becoming standardized. Radley Balko has a new book on the subject.

The last days of colonialism taught America’s revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America’s cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other—an enemy.

Today’s armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit—which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon’s War on Drugs, Reagan’s War on Poverty, Clinton’s COPS program, the post–9/11 security state under Bush and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs.

In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians’ ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

I think allowing the existence of unconstitutional and unaccountable agencies like Homeland Security has accelerated the situation. Far from merely targeting criminals — even drug “criminals” — modern police state apparatchiks do not hesitate to order innocent people out of their homes at gunpoint, shoot their dogs, and behave in whatever manner they want, only to say that their tyranny is “standard police practice.”

Tyranny has become standardized, from the top down, and I expect it to get worse.