Which Came First: The Law or Its Enforcement?

A law must be enacted before it can be enforced.

Imagine going to the doctor because you have a knee injury that causes you unbearable pain when walking. Your knee is starting to bruise and turn strange colors, and the size grows by the day. Your doctor, upon seeing your knee, sounds the alarms, issues a code red, and just like clockwork a team of health professionals swarms your bedside and puts you under. You wake up with no feeling in your leg, but your doctor is by your bedside, smiling, and tells you he fixed your problem, that you’re all better because your bad knee is no longer a problem. You look down and realize your leg has been amputated—you will never walk again on your own two legs. Your doctor still has his.

Did the doctor really fix the problem? Any doctor who does this without first diagnosing your health issue would be sued up the wazoo for medical malpractice. If he had done a careful job of evaluating the patient, the symptoms, and the problem, he may have discovered the network of nerves in your knee was twisted or pinched, and needed a simple surgical procedure to set straight your nervous system—leaving you whole, without pain, and able to walk. Instead, he cut off your mode of mobility in an effort to fix the symptoms, rather than the problem causing the symptoms.

Every medical professional knows symptoms indicate a medical issue. Every financial professional knows bad financial shape indicates a root problem. Every computer programmer knows that bugs indicate issues with the code. But every politician knows that bad social circumstances are just random, have no cause, and only need band-aids—just as long as he gets to administer the band-aid application.

If there is an effect, there must be a cause. If there is pain, there must be a condition. If there is rain, there must be a cloud.

It’s no secret that law enforcement has come under scrutiny in our society, and not without reason. Whether it’s a murderous abuse of power, an arbitrary traffic stop and search to reach a quota, or the unwarranted confiscation of private property, the fact is that law enforcement has a bad rap. Perhaps it can be attributed to the fact that there are individuals who do good and individuals who do bad, and some of those in the latter category also happen to be in law enforcement, but I digress.

The term “law enforcement”, using the most basic definition, means using the force of government to coerce individuals into following the rules and regulations instituted by that government—or suffer the consequences. It would follow, then, that if there were no laws to enforce, there would be no law enforcement. Please don’t confuse that statement as advocating anarchy or lawless societies, I am simply drawing the logical conclusion that law enforcement only exists to enforce existing laws.

The point is, that just as the doctor should study and properly diagnose your condition to understand why your knee is in pain before simply cutting off your leg, we owe it to ourselves to study and properly diagnose the reasons why law enforcement so often is in a position to abuse power, why law enforcement is distrusted, and why law enforcement has become more overreaching in our communities before we leave ourselves high and dry with no protection at all.

Perhaps a proper diagnosis of problems with law enforcement today would lead us to a closer look at the laws themselves. And perhaps a closer look at the laws themselves would lead us to a closer look at the lawmakers. Perhaps the people who we elect, and the people appointed by those we elect are to blame for thinking that just because they are termed “lawmakers” means they must perpetually make laws. Perhaps after a certain set of basic laws protecting the equally shared rights of all individuals, regardless of the day’s categorical organization, no further laws need be made.

There are individuals who do good and individuals who do bad.

Perhaps the rest of us, also born with functioning brains, are able to determine right and wrong and make decent choices. Why is there no red flag being raised as the plethora of laws, rules, and regulations grows and grows at every level, from our city councils to un-elected federal agencies?

Perhaps if law enforcement were more concerned with protecting citizens from actual violence and crime instead of collecting enough traffic citations to satisfy their quotas like salesmen, then maybe the bad individuals in law enforcement wouldn’t be in such an easy position to abuse their power with so many unnecessary interactions.

Perhaps those who pay no price for the laws they enact have been dutifully passing legislation and implementing regulatory measures that make it more difficult for an individual to start a business or find a steady job. Maybe those laws push individuals to an eventual run in with law enforcement, and the like. But hey, at least it's for our protection.

Maybe, just maybe, if our “representatives” weren’t in the business of passing legislation on behalf of the highest bidder, legislation that governs all, then there would be fewer arbitrary laws to enforce, fewer regulations that squeeze out the profit margins forcing small business owners to employ fewer people, and therefore fewer people who turn to criminal acts (or acts arbitrarily deemed criminal) to feed themselves and their families.

Maybe if we threatened their job security by showing up to the polls, at every level of government, they would reconsider their pay-for-play schemes and arbitrary proclamations of what’s good for you and me as if they are somehow better equipped than you and me.

The question must be asked, the problem must be diagnosed: does the root problem lie in law enforcement or lawmakers?

Funny how our lawmakers are so quick to crucify the enforcers of laws they make.

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Commit your works to the Lord; And your thoughts will be established. Proverbs 16:3