All to often, when we feel there has been some injustice done or crime committed against us, the first thing we do is run to the police and say, “HE DID IT!” I used to be that way. Neighbors too noisy? Don’t bother confronting them, just call the cops. Fender bender? Immediately call the cops. You get the idea.
Most things can be handled without getting the cops involved. I’ve taken keys from drunk drivers, I’ve chased away thieves, I’ve asked noisy neighbors to keep it down and in general, I don’t involve the police unless there is a very, very good reason. I’d much rather let someone get away with a petty crime than run the risk the police will escalate a non-violent situation in to deadly force. Petty criminals don’t deserve to die. Mentally ill people don’t deserve to die. The fact is, every time the police get involved in a situation, there is a significantly increased risk that it will escalate to the point where the cops use force. The way to mitigate that possibility is not to get the cops involved in the first place.
So how do you avoid getting the police involved? The first thing to do is realize that there are alternatives. When a situation comes up that would normally have you dialing 911 immediately, stop and think. Ask yourself, “Is this something I can handle myself?” Politely ask the neighbors to turn down the music, ignore the guy smoking pot, check to see if there really is domestic violence going on when you hear you neighbor and his wife yelling, spanking a kid isn’t necessarily abusive, petty theft is never investigated anyway and usually not worth raising your insurance premiums over. Are you starting to see a pattern here? These are all little things that you can either deal with yourself or simply ignore.
What if you’re the victim of a more substantial crime? If I caught an unarmed burglar in my house and had him held at gun point, the first thing I would do is demand his wallet. I wouldn’t beat him or do anything that would cause him to seek revenge. But I would look him dead in the eye and say, “I know your name, I know your face. I’ll be watching out for you and if I catch you in my neighborhood again, it will be the last thing you ever do.” Guide him to the front door and tell him to run. You don’t have to be a big, tough, intimidating guy to get away with this. A petite woman with a gun could get away with the same thing. The point is, arm yourself in your own home so that you are not a victim.
If you’re the victim of a crime where the likelihood of catching the perpetrator is very, very low, don’t report it. If you’re mugged and you didn’t see the guys face, don’t bother reporting it, it’s not going to solve anything or make you feel better. The police aren’t going to set up roadblocks and issue APB’s because your wallet got stolen. If your laptop gets stolen and has a tracker in it, then find it and go get it; take some friends with you. You might even consider hiring a bouncer from a local bar. Be smart though, the person who now has your laptop might not realize it was stolen. The last resort to being a crime victim, but one that might be necessary is vigilante justice. Face it, the cops frequently don’t do their jobs and sometimes we have to take justice in to our own hands and deal with things. Justice and revenge though are two different things and it’s not a course that should be taken without a lot of serious thought.
Sometimes it’s simply unavoidable and involving the cops is the only suitable choice. Sometimes the cops get involved against your will. Next time you’re tempted to call the cops, try to sort it out yourself, you’d be surprised at what you can do without their help.
In my next column I’ll explain how to deal with the police once they do become involved.
In the mean time, please visit my blog. I have not been writing as much there as I would like but there some good past material there that explains my libertarian views along with discussions about economics as well as other stuff that I found amusing or interesting.