I have spent the better part of half a century having an image of what the police are, and what they stand for. That image was gradually eroding as more information and images kept appearing in the media with no real, justifiable response to what was going on. The worst of which was innocent people being killed by police officers. The least of which was seeing police treat citizens as if they are lesser beings. The stuff that gangs are made of.
In my home city of Carrollton, TX, we watched as the department seemed to devolve into a gang of “tax collectors” out looking for ways to impede and tax drivers in the city. We started looking into this to find a way to change what we thought was just a “policing for profit” policy. However, the deeper we dug in, the worse things seemed to really be. It wasn’t limited to just speed traps. It looked more like a gang that was out to find ways to arrest people no matter what it took. Violating rights didn’t seem to be a deterrent. Neither did abuse of authority.
The result was seeing the police as more of a gang, than an organization out to “protect and serve”. It got us to look at the definition of Gangs, and found that we may have been more spot on that we thought.
Let’s look at what the government thinks. We used many Carrollton TX examples, but all could apply to Anywhere USA.
The federal definition of gang as used by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is:
- An association of three or more individuals;
Even the smallest police departments have three or more individuals.
In fact, most cities have multiple “gangs” to watch for….Police, Marshals, Sheriffs, etc. Even within the police department, you have Operations and Detectives. Within that, you have subset of patrol, bike patrol, traffic enforcement, motorcycle, K-9, etc under Operations, and drug enforcement, homicide, vice, etc under Detectives.
I would say, the qualify here with flying colors….gang colors.
- Whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity, which they use to create an atmosphere of fear or intimidation, frequently by employing one or more of the following: a common name, slogan, identifying sign, symbol, tattoo or other physical marking, style or color of clothing, hairstyle, hand sign or graffiti;
Gangs are often associated with certain colors, and the police are no different. Blue is their choice.
Slogans are never ending: “Blue Lives Matter”, “Back the Blue”, “Morior Invictus”, “Comply or Die”, “Thin Blue Line”, etc.
There are sites dedicated to police tattoos like: BLUE INK
Check out the meaning of the Thin Blue Line stickers on cars HERE
- Whose purpose in part is to engage in criminal activity and which uses violence or intimidation to further its criminal objectives.
The militarization of police is growing at an alarming rate. The days of the nice beat cop being part of the neighborhood has long passed. Now, the police seem to thrive on being an intimidating figure in the community. This image not only instills fear in the citizens, it escalates the bravado of those wearing it. Kind of like playing army. It’s not about “protect and serve”, it’s about controlling the masses.
Here is an ACLU article on POLICE MILITARIZATION
…and as that article describes, it empowers them to use that excessive power to do small tasks like the video below:
- Whose members engage in criminal activity or acts of juvenile delinquency that if committed by an adult would be crimes with the intent to enhance or preserve the association’s power, reputation or economic resources.
Terms like “Policing for Profit”, or “Municipal Revenue”, or “Street Taxation” have become more common as the idea they are there to serve and protect has dissolved. They hide like criminals to pounce on hard working citizens, and show their authority and tax them at will. While claiming it’s about safety, they do little to nothing to make the streets safer, but tax them after allowing the alleged unsafe behavior to exist.
- The association may also possess some of the following characteristics:
- The members may employ rules for joining and operating within the association.
Does this look like a police recruiting video, or a military recruiting video? Does this video impart the inherent good in society, or the evils they will have to control?
It would appear that they don’t want to focus on the good side of police work, or the “protect and serve”. They seem to want to focus on how they can be superior through power.
- The members may meet on a recurring basis.
- The association may provide physical protection of its members from others.
Can you say Internal Affairs? Check out this example of how laughable it is even with simple complaints.
- The association may seek to exercise control over a particular geographic location or region, or it may simply defend its perceived interests against rivals.
The police will even test the limits of their defined geographic boundaries and poach on other gang territories
- The association may have an identifiable structure.
Policy even requires that it be in writing for everyone to see
As you can see, the police do meet the requirements under the federal definition to be considered gangs. Like I said, while the example rely on Carrollton, TX heavy examples, it in no way limits the examples to my city only. In fact, it’s fun. Do this with your own city. You may be surprised.