Note to self: Avoid the police state of Paragould, Arkansas

They are effectively declaring martial law.*

[Paragould Police Chief] Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.”

[…]

[Mayor] Gaskill backed Stovall’s proposed actions during Thursday’s town hall.

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” he said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”

The Constitution, you say? Probable Cause, you say? Don’t worry, the police chief has answers for that nonsense!

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

See? There’s a lot of crime, so the Rights of non-criminals can be set aside! Easy!

The mayor apparently backed down a little on the severity of this police-state plan, but it looks like he still intends to have police in battle gear out patrolling the streets like some Amerikanized Gestapo unit.

I suggest the subjects of Paragould learn the phrase “Papieren, bitte!” It sounds like you’re going to be hearing it a lot. Your police department has become the standing army our nation’s founders were worried about, and your government is perfectly willing to use them to control you.

To paraphrase a great pearl of wisdom from Battlestar Galactica, “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the police become both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

END OF LINE

* Note that the linked article is dated December 15, 2012. The town may have abandoned this plan, but I haven’t found anything to indicated that, so I am assuming that the plan is still moving forward.

[Source: Paragould Daily Press article, retrieved 1/9/13]

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  1. The Daily Press reported Stovall saying that the crime statistics in the city were high enough to justify such action by law enforcement. It noted that an attorney was not consulted by the mayor or police chief before the street crimes unit plan was proposed.

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