“Choose this day whom you will serve”: An Open Letter to American Law Enforcement

by Mike Vanderboegh

Dear Gentlemen and ladies of American Law Enforcement,

There is a growing perception among many Americans that we are headed for one of those periodic moments in our history when our reactions to events will redefine who we are as a people, where we are going as a country and who gets to call the shots when we get there — what George H.W. Bush called “that vision thing.” This is happening in the middle of unprecedented external and internal stresses on our social order, the results of which you see daily on the streets.

It is going to get worse.

Odds are, it is going to get MUCH worse before it gets better.

IF it gets better any time soon, which I doubt.

And so, ladies and gentlemen of American law enforcement, the prudent among you should be considering this question now, rather than later: “What am I going to do when we get to ‘much worse’?”

Consider first where we are.

The Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center estimated last year that there were over a million hard-core gang members in this country who were responsible for over 80% of the crimes in many communities. Other experts have suggested that when you add in the gangs’ “extended families” and wannabes the number is closer to between five and ten million. As unemployment has increased, their numbers have likewise swelled.

But the gangs, as bad as they are and as great a threat as they pose to public order, are nothing compared to the larger problem, and that is this.

Respect for duly constituted authority and social trust are essential ingredients of civilization. These elements represent the basic glue of society.

Respect for duly constituted authority is, as every cop knows, at an all-time low. There are two general reasons for this, one systemic and the other so personal that if you look yourselves honestly in the mirror you can see it.

Systemically, “duly constituted authority” derives its legitimacy from the founding documents of our country, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and from the Founders’ concepts of the rule of law. These have all been under attack for a hundred years or more by both corrupt political parties and their union and business familiars. The Constitution has become for some a joke and for others an inconvenient speed bump on the road to tyranny. As long as this degradation of the legitimacy of our political and legal system was perceived by only a narrow portion of the population, it was manageable in a societal sense. This is no longer true.

When a president and Congress robs one set of people to enrich their cronies, when they violate the settled rule of law regarding bankruptcy to stiff secured creditors in the case of General Motors while rewarding self-anointed unsecured creditors — their political allies, the auto unions — the rest of the population cannot fail but conclude that we are no longer under the rule of law, but the rule of men, which is to say, the law of the jungle. Or, put another way, they — the “authorities” — can do anything that the citizenry can’t or won’t stop them from doing. This is the societal Catch 22 we are now in (and have been for a while) that I call “Waco Rules.”

Other cases such as that of David Olofson, a veteran and marksmanship instructor and family man who was railroaded by the ATF on an automatic weapons charge when his semi-automatic AR-15 malfunctioned (and he was chosen for prosecution simply because the ATF did not care for his low opinion of them), have convinced many that a fair trial is no longer possible in federal court if an agency decides to “deal with” them. And if we are no longer guaranteed a fair trial in the federal court system, then if we are innocent and decide that we do not wish to play drop the soap with either the Aryan or Muslim Brotherhoods, our only guarantee is the right of an unfair gunfight when the ATF comes calling.

And remember that Olofson is merely one example of federal misadventure. There are many others, as there are plenty of similar cases in local and state jurisdictions. When the law-abiding rightfully no longer trust the law enforcers and begin to view them as a class of criminals merely acting under color of law, anarchy is not far away.

Yet, you will say, “don’t blame me, I enforce the law, I don’t make it.” True, but insufficient as an excuse, and here we get down to that look in the mirror.

My friend, fellow gun rights blogger and National Examiner columnist David Codrea over at WaronGuns has a description for feral cops. He calls them the “Only Ones.” His daily blog is filled to overflowing with example of rogue cops, their partners who never rein them in and the prosecutors and judges who find reasons to go easy on even the most heinous of criminals with badges. You know who I’m talking about. If you say there are none of these currently operating or in the making within your department then you are either lying or uninterested in seeing the truth, which amounts to the same thing.

Everyone knows what happens to honest cops who “rat out” their uniformed criminal associates. They are hounded, despised, disciplined and shunned — and that’s on a good day. Can you blame many of us who pay attention to such law enforcement corruption for concluding that you may merely be a member of an “official gang” as opposed to a freelance one? Such dereliction of duty begs the question: If your excuse is that you don’t make the law, you just enforce it, and then you don’t enforce it upon yourselves, why should we be paying tax dollars to support “official” law breaking?

There is another image that many of you can see in the mirror if you choose to take an honest look — that of tax collector and nanny state bully boy. Yes, we know, you didn’t make the laws, some liberal puke with a control fetish did. But when you write speeding tickets for 3 miles over the limit because you’ve been told to write “x amount” of dollar value, or when you pull people over for “seatbelt violations” at random roadblocks and then ransack their cars without probable cause, can you understand how such behavior eats away like acid on your reputation — individually and collectively — as servants of the citizenry? What part of “to protect and serve” does that represent?

But worse than all that is the militarization of the police — in equipment, tactics and, worst of all, attitude — and the federalization of all law enforcement over the past forty years, but especially in the last ten. There were, last time I checked a few years ago, something like 750,000 full time state, city, university and college, metropolitan and non-metropolitan county, and other law enforcement officers in the United States. Add to that another 150,000 or so full time law enforcement personnel working for the federal government. With the growth of new agencies like the TSA during the “war on terror” (who, because of political correctness can’t seem to figure out who the real “terrorists” are so they merely oppress the rest of us in order to be “fair”) that number has certainly risen.

In any case, there are hardly enough Feds to work the administration’s will upon a nation so vast and a people so numerous, so, much thought and effort has gone into suborning and subverting local and state law enforcement for federal purposes — “Joint Task Forces” and “fusion centers” being two principal ways. Yet, as the Founders quite clearly understood, it is one of the duties of local law enforcement, especially the county sheriffs, to interpose themselves between the federal government and the people of their jurisdictions when the federal government becomes oppressive.

Now, however, local law enforcement is looked upon by federal agents as force multipliers and willing stooges — “local yokels” in their parlance. And as a mark of how successful their campaign has been, many local law enforcement officers agree and happily lick the boots that kick them.

A recent case in point. Two county sheriff’s deputies showed up at the doorstep of a man out west who had expressed his contempt for Nancy Pelosi and and other federal politicians in letters and emails. These deputies, saying that the FBI had sent them, interrogated the man, threatened him “with Leavenworth” and engaged in intimidation of political speech. These local cops, having no jurisdiction to do anything of the sort, would have been laughed off of my porch here in Alabama and told to bugger off and return with real federal cops, if that was in fact their intention. Too often these days, when the federal man says “frog” many of you merely ask “how high?”

Of course, if this intimidation had back-fired on the locals in any way, the Fibbies would have been the first to disavow them, leaving them hanging out in the legal laundry to dry. So when y’all are looking in that mirror, ask yourselves how truly stupid you actually are when it comes to enforcing an agenda and not the law just because the Feds ask you to.

Because here’s the essential thing: you, ALL OF YOU, took an oath to, among other things, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” You swore that, the overwhelming majority of you, to God. Did you think that oath had a shelf life? Do you think that now that you have by your reckoning faithfully upheld that oath for, say, twenty years now that tomorrow it is okay to forget it? You swore, whether you realized it at the time or not, an OATH, before GOD, and it was a LIFETIME oath.

While you are looking in the mirror, evaluate your career based upon that oath. It was not to a man, or an administration, or a political party but to an idea — the idea of ordered liberty as codified in the Constitution of the United States of America. So ask yourself, did you or did you not intend to faithfully uphold that oath? Because the answer to that question is going to become very important very quickly as this politically divided and morally fractured society continues to spin out of control.

To quote Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

Katrina showed us many things. It showed that in a disaster many cops will look to their families and not the public duty, leaving their fellow law enforcement officers with an even greater burden. It showed us that cops can be opportunistic criminals as well, partaking in looting with as much energy as professional criminals. It also showed us that the police no longer trust the law-abiding citizen with arms, depriving them of their only means of self-defense once the cops have moved on, thus leaving them to the tender mercies of robbers, rapists and murderers.

It is perhaps dangerous to make too large of a generalization, for there are many rural jurisdictions where this does not apply, but the fact of the matter is that by and large, the police no longer trust the people they are supposed to protect, and they especially do not trust an armed citizen, even if he represents no danger to the cop. This is standing the oath on its head. The people do not exist to serve the servant, but rather the other way around.

When a policeman pulls over a driver whose computer record shows not only the driver’s license of the vehicle’s owner, but the fact that they have a concealed carry permit, it is too often SOP for the cop to approach the vehicle, gun drawn, order the man or woman from the car, put them on their knees and cuff them before anything else transpires. These are not the acts of public servants but rather of an occupying army. And with each breach of trust, the glue holding society together is further weakened. For the more you distrust us, the more we are reminded to distrust you.

It is important to remember, Mr. and Ms. Law Enforcement Officer, that you need us, the law-abiding armed citizenry, one hell of a lot more than we need you. Just ask any criminal. Who is it that they fear most? The encounter with a policeman or a would-be victim who turns out to be armed? I tell you this uncomfortable truth and I hope you have the honesty to admit it — the criminals of this country are far more scared of the armed citizenry than they are of the police.

It is not the fear of the patrol car that inhibits criminal behavior the most, but rather the prospect of screwing up and getting his brains blown out by a citizen in righteous self defense. And so, when you participate in citizen disarmament efforts, whether gun seizures like Katrina, or merely identifying otherwise friendly peaceable folks as “the enemy” just because they are armed, you are alienating your most valuable friends and empowering your most vicious enemies. Not to mention the fact that you are violating that sacred oath you took.

So ponder that deteriorating social trust that holds civilizations together, and then ponder this: the worst is yet to come.

What will happen when we are faced, God forbid, with some dislocating national disaster — natural or man-made — that makes Katrina look like a kindergarten playground? Now, even if you intend to run off like some New Orleans policemen did, to see to the safety of their families rather than keep order in the city, you are still going to need the cooperation of the armed citizenry in your home neighborhood to protect your family.

You — ALL of you — law enforcement officers, will then need us, the armed citizenry — ALL of us willing and competent to muster — to defend public order against the tide of chaos represented by five or ten million gang members and the tens of millions of panicked unprepared refugees or opportunistic criminals left unrestrained by a breakdown.

Do you seriously think that federal police, all 150,000 of them, will actually help you in that event, beyond issuing orders that they will not be personally endangered with carrying out?

You will then be on your own, and you will have us. At least those of you will who have the sense to plan now to make that happen in the event.

You might start by remembering your oaths, by beginning to trust us, by refusing to engage in petty harrassments of CCW permit holders and by strengthening your department’s auxiliary program (or starting one if you do not have one).

But first and foremost you must quit looking at and treating the law-abiding armed citizenry of the United States as the enemy. For if you don’t, we certainly will be.

Convince us by your actions that you are no better than the gangs who commit crimes without uniforms and we will treat you similarly. And there ain’t nearly enough of you to shove us around in a real national emergency.

Remember, Americans are nothing if not a practical people. We’re predisposed to help and support you. Please, take our hand when it is offered, BEFORE it is needed.


Mike Vanderboegh


3 Responses to “Choose this day whom you will serve”: An Open Letter to American Law Enforcement

  1. Dear Mike:

    An utterly splendid article, thank you, and we like the sipseystreetirregulars around here at the Bar TS.

    Police need to be reminded sometimes that they are operating under color of oath.

    A fact that needs disseminating is that at least in Texas NO ONE outranks the Sheriff in his county. NO ONE. He can tell FEMA, the Fibbies, and Homeland Security to take a hike–if he knows, and if he has the nerve to do so. Perhaps Arizona is the same and that is why beloved, colorful Sher’ff Joe Arpaio is criticized so frequently.

    For civilians…remember two things: be polite, but not subservient, and law officers have no sense of humor, at least not while they are on duty. As I always say, “If you don’t want to be shot like a dog in the street, don’t act like a dog in the street.” If he got you fair and square for speeding, just take the ticket. If he stopped you for a tail light out, be polite and horrified, and he’ll probably let you off. If he’s in the wrong, that’s what lawyers are for.

    Certainly we all disapprove of cops (to use that slur deliberately, although it is only short for an old English term, “Constable of Police”) tasering school kids and little old ladies, but some of those little old ladies had vocabularies that would chip paint off a battleship and we suppose police officers are human, if not trained well enough. The MSM didn’t help by “looping” the film on Rodney King to make it appear he had been beaten viciously. Have you ever tried to stop a 300 pound man high on dope? Me, either, but I suspect it takes some doing.

    I think we can all try being courteous and helpful in our rare encounters with LE, and if you want to dumbfound one, walk up to him in a restaurant or chatting with a buddy, smile enchantingly, and ask, “Has anyone thanked you for being a policeman today?” Then do so. Usually he’ll look stunned then break into a big smile, although one was close to tears.

    The distrust is growing on both sides and exacerbated by the paranoia and belligerance of Janet Napolitano and the growth of the “national police” which aren’t supposed to exist (but do) and the President having direct control of a couple of brigades. Or is it battalions? Lots of guys, anyway. We are not soothed by reports of 180,000 troops being trained at Ft. Benning in “crowd suppression” and control. Which crowds do they have in mind? Not the ones making our border with Mexico so dangerous.

    I do not know what the proper course of action is (call 911?) if a SWAT team shows up at your door and starts battering it in, but from personal experience I DO know the correct behavior when a Sheriff’s Deputy knocks on it. Smile at the man, step outside, and ask kindly and calmly, “Can I help you, Deputy?” This works beautifully for everyone who has no reason to suppose arrest is imminent. (If you invite him in he can then search anything he wants to and it has happened that bags of “green leafy substance” have been dropped and “found.” Although not to me, of course.)

    I’ve had three such visits this year: twice the officer was looking for the family black sheep, who hasn’t lived here since I have after inheriting the house, and the third time she had had the brilliant notion of telling the SD that I was being held hostage because there was a dangerous-looking black man living on the premises! THREE deputies showed up, and it was really heart-warming how very concerned they were for my safety, asking me to come outside and then explaining to me in low voices reassuringly that they were there to protect me and I didn’t have to be afraid any more.

    My dear Charles was gone for the day, and I managed to control my laughter and call the Foreman up to the house. Yes, Asia is definitely “dangerous” looking in the sensible fatigues he wears for ranch work, a very fit 50, with a machete (indispensible around the ranch) on his belt, but he wouldn’t hurt me for anything, has the combination to my safe, and the ranch wouldn’t function without him. I introduced him, explained what his duties were, and got Charles on the ‘phone to vouch for both of us.

    A very, very disturbing trend in America is how much trouble it is possible to cause someone you dislike with a simple anonymous telephone call and NO punishment if you report your neighbor vindictively for child or animal abuse without cause. It does no good for him to protest he doesn’t even have a dog or children; for all times that accusation remains on his record.

    In theory it might be a great idea to have Adult Protective Services…but not in practice or in philosophy. My mother lied her head off to protect her favorite grandchild (the black sheep) every time APS visited, and they took her word for it that her frequent bruises, a broken wrist, broken ribs, and a broken arm were because she was old. The black sheep who reported me as a “hostage” sicced APS on me with a pack of lies and misrepresentations, and it is really humiliating to stalk into your kitchen in fury and fling open a full freezer, a full refrigerator, and a full pantry to prove that one is not starving.

    Okay, so I’ve got a crazy relative, but a lot of people do.

    I went to the bank two years ago to get what I consider a significant amount of cash, since we were buying cattle and a used tractor and those on Craig’s List don’t take checks or credit cards. Since I’m a tubby little old lady and people do get robbed on bank premises, I took the foreman along to drive and in case one of those people sitting in the bank lobby was waiting for someone to make a big cash withdrawal he could grab in the parking lot. It took long enough to assemble $25,000 in cash that I left Asia with the teller to pick up the envelope (telling her to give it to him) and went to pass the time of day with the bank manager in his office. I heard someone gasp, “They’re arresting that man!” looked up, and saw eight policemen cuffing Asia and starting to hustle him out of the bank.

    Loyalty runs deep in our family, and I didn’t think. I flew out of the office shrieking, “Let him go!” sliding on the marble floor, and ended up with a coppette with one hand in my face and the other on her gun! Shrieking, “Stay back! Get back! We’re the police!”

    Wa’al, I’ll tell you buckeroos, as the old Ranger said, “They ain’t no stoppin’ a man who knows he’s right an’ jest keeps a-comin.'” They would have had to subdue and arrest me to make me stay back and my first call would have been to get Asia out of jail before I had my attorney tearing up the local PD. It took TWO of them to stop me, the other a very large man, but they turned Asia loose while one of the perps (in my mind) responsible–probably fifty feet away–asked in booming tones that filled the bank lobby, “You sleepin’ with your boss?” (Obviously, Asia had identified himself and explained why he was waiting at the window.) The intent was to humiliate me, but it backfired and probably made the onlookers smile. Oh, yeah, trim, attractive half black and half Indian men with beautiful girlfriends just can’t resist seventy-year-old white females twenty-odd years their senior, and you know our hot South’n blood. I chose to be amused, although I was offended by the tactics and the subsequent grilling demanding to see MY identification.

    WHAT was the problem? A twit of a clerk in her early twenties had decided he was “dangerous-looking” and “forcing” me to make the withdrawal. Never mind that by that time I was in the manager’s office behind bullet-proof glass and could have locked the door and called the police myself if I had needed them! He was wearing a knife! Uh…a knife in its scabbard is standard equipment in the country and not illegal carried openly. Good thing she hadn’t seen him on the ranch; between snakes, 500 pound wild hogs, and deer which are NOT Bambi the men are under orders to go armed if they are in the woods and all the trucks have rifle racks. Great grief, this is Texas, and we’ve been taking such precautions for 200 years. I’m a sweet, harmless little old lady who has never had so much as a parking ticket, despite having had a driver’s license since I was 12, but it isn’t wise to mess with me. The manager of BoA refused to apologize, did not reprimand the clerk, and signed papers forbidding Asia on the premises. I smiled sweetly and changed banks.

    There is poor judgement all over the place, but yours is an excellent course: remind LE that they are here to protect us (no matter what the Supreme Court said on the matter), and it won’t hurt us to behave civilly unless self-protection or behavior egregious enough to cause court action occurs.

    Again, a great article.


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