A note before today’s article: Camping Survival has really stepped up to the plate and given me 3 1000’ spools of paracord to give away. I will be picking the second random winner this afternoon and the last none Monday October 29th. If you want to enter the drawing you have until then. If you have already entered that entry will just be carried over for the new giveaway’s so no need to reenter. If you didn’t enter then send one in for the new drawings.
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Again, my many thanks to Camping Survival for supporting the Prepared Christian community!
Rising Crime and Limited Law Enforcement
Mike from Mass sent me an email with a very interesting article. This is a subject I have touched on before but I want to take a deeper look at it with you today. The article entitled Armed posse patrols timber land in sheriff’s place is about a rural county in Oregon that has had its Sheriff’s Department shrunken to 3 deputies who patrol for eight hours a day, five days a week due to budget cuts. Because of this and rising crime, some residents have taken to different forms of assisting the Sheriff. One of these forms, as the title explains, has been forming armed posse’s to patrol the county.
The reason I want to take a deeper look at this is because I think many of us can relate to a statement made by Sam Nichols in the article, which states:
“I believe in standing up for myself rather than waiting for the government to do something for me,”
I think this is something we will see more of for a variety of reasons. For instance, in Oakland California, police will no longer respond to certain crimes, which is similar to the circumstances that are in the article; because of cuts, police and sheriff departments are limited in their patrols. I also think that because of impending economic slowness we will see a rise in crime, as can be seen in this story from USA Today; Violent crime rises sharply, reversing trend. I think we will see an uptick in crime from people who’re hungry and looking for ways to make ends meet. I’m not justifying it, just explaining that we will see a different percentage of the population committing crime.
Formation of a Posse
A posse is essentially made up of unpaid civilians who assist local law enforcement. I think there are two ways to go about forming one. The first is what the Citizens Against Crime did in the story from Oregon that is mentioned above. From the sounds of the story, they patrol armed with little or no formal training and report crimes to the Sheriff’s Department.
Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson is quoted saying:
“They need to really understand there are consequences that can be very costly, physically as well as legally,” he said, explaining that volunteers could get sued or shot if they pull a gun on someone or make a false arrest.
“Most of them haven’t had what I feel is an adequate level of training to do that they do,” he said. “But if they serve as eyes and ears and only report what they see to law enforcement, I think they can keep themselves at a safe level.”
The Sheriff brings up some excellent points, but we shouldn’t necessarily let that keep citizens from forming a posse in times when, for whatever reason, local law enforcement is unable to meet the needs of the community.
An approach that I think is better is one that the Pinal County Sheriff from Arizona did by forming armed anti-smuggling volunteer posse. The county has a large problem with Mexican cartels trafficking in drugs and humans, so the Sheriff formed a posse to help “bring the heavy hand of enforcement to those who think they can smuggle drugs or humans”.
From the article:
“According to a news release from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the ASP will provide “surveillance and intelligence support to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Regional SWAT during tactical operations they perform against the Mexican Drug Cartels in western Pinal County.”…
“ASP members are required to pass a full background investigation, and will be trained on Pinal Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedures, the news release stated. The armed posse members will be required to take quarterly training and qualifications. The members will receive tactical training before any operations.”
This Sheriff saw a need and a potential resource and took the time to make sure he was using people without a criminal record (that is not to say that the men from Oregon might have a criminal background). He trained them and they undergo quarterly training which is as much as some police departments require.
A posse is usually formed for a short time and with a specific task. I think an ongoing force is more in line with what the original militia was created to do; to augment local law enforcement with armed, trained civilians who have their own rank and command structure.
While We Have the Rule of Law
In this time while we still have the rule of law, we are not the sole means of law enforcement. You may decide to join a posse or militia to assist local law enforcement. The following are some things to keep in mind.
I’m sure everyone reading this has heard of making a citizen’s arrest, but do you know what making one entails? I am not a lawyer or giving legal advice. These comments should be viewed as information, not law. Many states allow a citizen to make an arrest for felonies committed in their presence. You are allowed the use of reasonable force to subdue the felon until the police arrive. You do not need to read them their rights. That’s the job of the police officers who will file the police report. If you are mistaken and the suspected felon did not, in fact, commit a felon, or you used too much force, you may open yourself up to a lawsuit or to facing charges and jail time yourself. Here is an article from the Art of Manliness called How to Make a Citizens Arrest that goes deeper into the subject.
The buddy system is something I learned of in the Navy. It means that you never go anywhere alone; always go with at least one buddy. I can tell you from personal experience that using the buddy system saved me a few times. There really is safety in numbers.
Being able to provide accurate, minute by minute information with instant and reliable communication is vital. If you’re a part of a Sheriff sponsored posse, you will most likely be given a radio and trained in how to use it. If you form a posse or militia with some other concerned citizens, one of the first things you should look into is communication.
Know Your Role
I honestly don’t know if a posse formed by a sheriff would provide the same umbrella of protection to its members that the sheriff and deputies would have. If you form a posse with other citizens you are just that, a citizen. You might be well advised to take the advice of the sheriff from Oregon :
“If they serve as eyes and ears and only report what they see to law enforcement, I think they can keep themselves at a safe level.”
If you have been a reader of this site for a while, you know I am a strong supporter of the second amendment. I believe it is the responsibility of each citizen to be able to protect themselves. With that being said, you need to think long and hard and pray about taking a firearm with you if you are going to put yourself in a situation where you’re essentially looking for trouble for the purpose of reporting it.
If George Zimmerman from Florida wouldn’t have had his firearm with him when he saw Trayvon Martin, he may have been less likely to follow and confront him and may have just called police. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying you need to understand the ramifications of your decision. If you are looking for criminals for the purpose of reporting them to police and are armed, there is the potential for gunplay because you brought a firearm.
Carrying a gun may also give a little extra courage to some, but just because you put on a cape doesn’t mean you can fly. If you are level headed, can legally own and carry a firearm and are trained in its use, then move forward with caution.
I also think that if you carry a firearm, whether it is just for conceal and carry, or as an armed member of a posse, you should have other means to defend yourself. When I carry, I have pepper spray, a flashlight that can be used as a striking implement and am trained in an Israeli based form of Real World Self-Defense called Haganah. If I was patrolling, I would also carry either a larger flashlight or an asp to use for striking. If you only have a hammer in the tool box, you see every problem as a nail. I like to have as many options as I can legally.
Without the Rule of Law
I really hope and pray we never see a time when we no longer have the rule of law. I think it would take an unlikely event such as an EMP or other far-reaching event to remove the rule of law. Even though I believe it is unlikely we will see a time when there is no law enforcement to enforce the rule of law, I still think we have to be aware of it. How will it affect us in the area we live? How will we respond?
All of the things listed in the section “While We Have the Rule of Law” will still apply, with the exception of maybe citizen’s arrest. If there is no law enforcement to retrieve the felon from you, you must think now about what you might do if you witness a felony.
There have been many of these types of situations discussed in several survival fiction books such as Lights Out or One Second After. These and others have helped me think through some of the possible situations we may face without the rule of law.
What Will You Do?
Have you thought about whether or not you would ever join a posse to help enforce the law? Would it matter if it was created and trained by the sheriff? Have you thought about how life may be different without the rule of law and what you might do?
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