On Friday, we began discussing a particular meeting in Pittsfield where law enforcement made an unfortunate declaration about gang-related violence.
It would appear that the local police department is waiving the fear-mongering flag of “gang violence” without much of a basis and is relying on the stale standard chorus of “just trust us…we don’t really have the time to be up front”.
When one looks between the lines…one sees the questionable basis.
Few people, however, look between this lines, especially when the alleged danger seems so great. They tend to simply take the advice of law enforcement.
“Just trust us”.
Here are but five of the various dangers you need to keep in mind during times like these when law enforcement waives the red flag of gang violence with little justification to go hunting while justifying that the system and the citizenry should simply “trust us”.
People are afraid of the notion of gang-related violence. It feels too close to “terrorism”. When we are afraid, we are willing to give law enforcement much more leeway in their work and are more reluctant to question them. Therefore, regardless of the circumstances, your arrest is less likely to be questioned by the court and public.
2. Guilt By Association
Got some friends you like to “hang around” with? Well, more than ever, you had best be cautious as to who they are.
If they are suspected to be involved in any crimes, or have a criminal record, law enforcement may suspect that they belong to a gang. If so, it is not a large jump to rope you into the suspicions so that you may be charged with being in a conspiracy of some sort with them.
No, they might not be able to convict you, but, as you know, your life may be ruined simply for being charged.
3. Legal Blackmail
You know the approach. “Look, we know you’re a good guy…we don’t want to jam you up. So, we are gonna let you help us nail your friends. If you won’t, that’s cool…but we will bury you.”
Ok, not an actual quote, but the sentiment is the same. Particularly in cases where the prosecution needs some help to make a case which matches their chosen theory of the case, they try to “turn” potential defendants into witnesses. If you play the game their way, you may come through without new additions to your criminal record. If not, they will pull you along as a co-defendant and prosecute you until you “come to your senses”.
“How is that allowed?”
Because, particularly in cases like these, “trust us”.
4. Rumor And Innuendo
Until you “come to your senses”, you would be surprised how law enforcement can spread word about their suspicions about you. You might also be surprised by how many folks, like your spouse or job, tend to believe them. After all, they are the police.
Again, “trust us”.
Losing one’s family and employment puts an awful lot of pressure on one to finally “come to your senses”.
5. The Rushed Need For Prosecutions
This is perhaps the most dangerous risk to the public. The police are suddenly under a great deal of pressure to solve/punish/prevent these scary gang-related crimes. Similar to the bottom-line “We have no idea, but we can’t tell you that” attitude demonstrated above, it’s hard to do that without some kind of evidence.
The public does not like to wait while they are being told how scary things are. Most folks will not look behind the headlines and evaluate the word of law enforcement.
They tend to, simply, trust them.
The greater the rush to prosecute, the more short cuts are taken. True, this may help an experienced criminal defense attorney gain you an acquittal, but in the meantime…you become a reluctant cog in the wheel of criminal “justice”.
My lord, now I sound like the fear mongerer!
On the other hand, I, unlike my counter-parts in blue, have evidence upon which to rely!