What The Future Holds: Martial Law And Order
This is very, very disturbing…
From the 15 December 2012 Paragould Daily Press, Ryan Saylor reporting, we learned [tip of the fedora to Jeff Goldstein][worth quoting in full][emphasis mine]:
In response to a recent increase in crime, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall offered residents at a town hall meeting Thursday night at West View Baptist Church what could be considered an extreme solution — armed officers patrolling the streets on foot.
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.”
Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.
“We’re going to do it to everybody,” he said. “Criminals don’t like being talked to.”
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.”
Stovall said the foot patrols would begin on the east side of town and would eventually snake into the Pecan Grove area.
He said the police would follow where crime was taking place in order to snuff it out.
Normally, police would not stop individuals for simply walking on the street, but Stovall said the level of crime in certain areas and concerns from residents gave his officers the right to institute the actions announced at the town hall event.
“This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,” he said. “It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”
Stovall further elaborated on the stop-and-ID policy Friday morning, claiming the city’s crime statistics alone met the threshold of reasonable suspicion required to lawfully accost a citizen.
“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.”
Stovall said he did not consult an attorney before announcing his plans to combat crime. He even remained undaunted when comparing his proposed tactics with martial law, explaining that “I don’t know that there’s ever been a difference” between his proposals and martial law.
Stovall said task force members would not even be required to be looking for a specific suspect before stopping citizens on the street.
“Anyone that’s out walking, because of the crime and the fear factor, [could be stopped],” he said.
Should an individual not produce identification, Stovall said his officers would not back down. Individuals who do not produce identification when asked could be charged with obstructing a governmental operation, according to Stovall.
“I’m hoping we don’t run across [any] of that,” Stovall said. “Will there be people who buck us? There may be. But we have a right to be doing what we’re doing. We have a zero-tolerance. We are prepared to throw your hind-end in jail, OK? We’re not going to take a lot of flack.”
On Friday, however, Gaskill retreated from the severity of the plan he and Stovall offered to citizens at the town hall.
“The only people who are really going to be impacted by this are mostly the unknowns,” Gaskill said.
The mayor said the street crimes unit would not be positioned to cause problems for law-abiding residents.
“We just want to make a presence out there for the criminal element,” Gaskill said. “And we want to make a presence for the people who are concerned and give them a sense of security.”
Gaskill added he was not concerned about potential profiling by the police department. Even though Stovall had said police would enter neighborhoods with the highest crime rates, Gaskill said officers would respond to where they received calls.
“It would be based on where people have called us and said things are going on in our neighborhood,” he said.
Gaskill made clear Friday that when residents called about problems in their neighborhoods, they needed to provide police with information.
“Give us a description — what kinds of clothes they’re wearing, [license] plate number. We’ll be looking for descriptions,” he said.
City Attorney Allen Warmath echoed Gaskill’s statements on Friday.
“It is my understanding that if they get a call in an area and they go to an area because of some calls of suspicious activity, they’ll make contact,” Warmath said.
Warmath said while he had not directly spoken to Stovall, he understood that the street crimes unit would actually be less confrontational than Stovall let on.
“If they have a call that there’s some problems in the area, they’re at least going to talk to you,” he said. “Maybe that person walking their dog saw something. It gives them some information and some leads to find out what’s going on.”
As for having IDs, he said citizens wouldn’t have to worry about that, either. He said the police would not arrest residents solely for failing to produce identification when asked.
Attorney Curtis Hitt of the law firm of Hitt and Kidd said officers were allowed to engage in “consensual questioning” with citizens, though if any circumstances arose that led to an arrest, a judge would have to look at the “totality” of those circumstances.
“The bottom line is it would have to be determined on a case by case basis,” he said.
Hitt said he had a high regard for Stovall and the Paragould police. He said he felt their intentions were in the right place, which he believed was preventing crime and making Paragould a safe community.
“At the same time, as an attorney who reads police reports and keeps up with the law, I certainly will be careful of that for any of my clients.”
Thursday’s town hall meeting was the second of four meetings Paragould officials will host to discuss crime statistics in different parts of town. Officials will meet with residents Tuesday at Center Hill Church of Christ and Thursday at the Paragould Community Center. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m.
This right here is why we need to defend the Second Amendment with our dying breath. There are always those willing to grant themselves permission to abuse power under the guise of doing public good.
If this plan takes effect, Paragold, Arkansas will effectively and officially be a police state in the mold of North Korea. Land of the free? Another useful fiction that we’ll be told we need to surrender for safety and security and the children.
One quibble: Rather than North Korea, I would cite Germany in the mid-1930’s, otherwise, Jeff is dead solid perfect.
Here’s the follow-up report published three days afterwards from Ryan Saylor on the latest developments in Paragould [worth quoting in full]:
Paragould police have canceled the remaining two town hall meetings that had been planned to discuss crime in Paragould after extensive public outcry over the department’s controversial proposal to lower the crime rate.
While a press release on Sunday made it appear as though PPD was reinforcing its decision to use armed foot patrols to stop citizens on the street and request identification, along with a reason for them being in the neighborhood, starting in 2013, the decision by police to cancel the town halls late Monday afternoon left those plans unclear.
In a statement on PPD’s website, the department said the town hall events were canceled in the interest of public safety after speaking with “numerous” residents and non-residents on Monday.
“Some of the correspondence has caused us great pause in whether or not the meetings should remain as scheduled,” the statement read.
“We feel that with the strong feelings on both sides of the Street Crimes Unit issue, a safe and productive meeting would not be the probable outcome.”
The meetings, scheduled for today and Thursday at 7 p.m., would have followed two previous meetings on Dec. 11 and Dec. 13.
Sunday’s press release struck a softer tone than Police Chief Todd Stovall’s harsher rhetoric at the Dec. 13 meeting, where he announced the creation of the street crimes unit.
At the time, Stovall said the street crimes unit would be deployed to high crime areas and would make contact with all pedestrians.
“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” Stovall told a crowd of nearly 40 that had gathered at West View Baptist Church.
Mayor Mike Gaskill followed Stovall’s statements by explaining that a simple walk with a family pet could get a resident stopped and questioned.
“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” Gaskill said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”
Sunday’s press release, while softer in tone, essentially restated Stovall’s original position.
The release said once an area had been identified as a “high crime neighborhood,” officers would saturate the area in order to combat the crime.
“Officers would be working to identify residents in the affected area so that we can better serve our affected neighborhoods,” the release said.
Many times, the release said officers would not do anything more than make contact with subjects, handing out business cards and asking whether police could do anything for the subjects.
“During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent (i.e. between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.), our process will become more stringent,” the release continued. “We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area.”
Using information gathered during the patrols, police would then create a database of “go-to” suspects that could be questioned regarding crimes in the area.
During a visit to Stovall’s office Monday, he would not comment other than to say Sunday’s press release “speaks for itself.”
Therefore, it also remains unclear, if PPD forges ahead with its proposal, what course of action officers intend to take against citizens who fail to comply with requests to produce identification.
Stovall also failed to return calls Monday afternoon to comment on the department canceling the meetings.
PPD said its officers would also be in SWAT gear and carrying AR-15 assault rifles, though not on a consistent basis, according to the release.
Stovall explained Dec. 14 that while he had not consulted an attorney regarding the patrols, the department was within its right to implement the controversial stop-and-ID policy based on crime statistics and citizen complaints about rising crime in their neighborhoods.
Gaskill stepped back somewhat from his original position the day after the town hall event, explaining that police would respond to calls from residents reporting crime and would seek suspect descriptions versus random stops.
Gaskill also said PPD would not be profiling residents.
The PPD’s plan for the street crimes unit did not comfort some Paragould residents.
One of those residents, Richard Wright, lives on the east side of town and was out for a walk Monday morning.
“I don’t really like it,” he said.
Wright said if he were stopped simply for walking his dog down the street, he would be offended, though he felt he did not have any other choice to comply given the comments Stovall had made.
But another Paragould resident, Steven Hensley, said he was just fine with the proposed patrols by Paragould police.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I know things get stolen around here. I’ve had a bunch of stuff stolen.”
Hensley said he would be happy to see police do exactly what they had proposed Thursday.
“If that’s what they want to do, let them do it,” he said.
“As long as something will work [to combat the area’s high crime], I don’t care.”
Attempts to contact city attorney Allen Warmath on Monday were unsuccessful because he was in court.
Gaskill’s secretary said the mayor was on vacation this week and was unavailable for an interview.
’[T]he town hall events were canceled in the interest of public safety’, my arse.
[A further report was published in the same newspaper on 22 December in which the Chief tried to throw some more BS at the public, but still vowed to implement his plan.]
Just remember the new truth: It Can Happen Here.