Military and Police

De-Policing New Hampshire: State Republican Reps Propose Law to Revoke Cops’ Authority to Use Deadly Force During an Arrest

I love New Hampshire. Spent a lot of time in the Granite State as a kid, vacationing at Lake Sunapee. My oldest son was born there, and I still have relatives who live there, including one of my brothers. Having said this, it’s very hard to believe the anti-cop legislation being proposed in the “Live Free or Die” state—by Republicans!

HB 218 would rescind a law enforcement officer’s authority to use deadly force during an arrest. Franklin, N.H. Police Chief David Goldstein said, “It will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, for us to effect our jobs in certain situations.” He’s so obviously right.

This is a case where it seems some Libertarians’ distrust of government has them making a mad dash for the political fringe. A group of “Liberty Republicans” in the New Hampshire House of Representatives are proposing this bill.

Now, I’m sure these Republicans are basically good people and don’t see this bill as anti-cop, but that doesn’t change that it is. For example, WMUR TV (Manchester) is reporting that “Supporters said they are not trying to tie the hands of police officers. They said they just want to save lives.” Whose lives?

What else would a law like this do other than tie police officers’ hands? Think about it, not in the abstract world of the state House, but in the real world. An officer finds him or herself in that rarest of all law enforcement situations where an officer needs to use deadly force. But the government won’t allow the officer to use the force necessary to overcome a suspect’s violent resistance? How does this not tie officers’ hands? How does this “save lives.” Unless they mean the lives of the bad guys. Because it sure won’t save police lives.

I like to stay even-keeled, even-Steven and all that, and not get too personal, but how dumb can some people be? The Blaze points out that New Hampshire has a strong libertarian strain, of which I am aware and normally admire. But some of these folks are from a radical, not pro-limited government, but anti-government faction. It’s the kind of philosophy I saw returning to the party after the 911 attacks that made me drop the capital “L” and leave the Libertarian Party. I now ascribe myself a small “l” as a conservative-libertarian.

Some of these Libertarians get so mired in their paranoia of all government, they wallow in the rare negative instances of police use-of-force. I wrote in my first book, “Is There a Problem, Officer?,” about a firsthand experience I had with this phenomenon. I met an otherwise normal, nice Libertarian woman at a party function. When she learned I was a cop, she said she was interested in police work. But I could tell she had that telltale mistrust of any government institution some Libertarians have. To allay her mistrust, I offered to take her on a ride-along, so she could see police work and meet some cops for herself. She agreed.

Sadly, that Libertarian paranoia of law enforcement dominated her reason and logic, which, when you think about it, should be anathema for libertarian folks. A few days later, while we were figuring out the logistics of where and when to meet, she made some odd demands. Well, odd if you operate in the world where the sky is blue.

One demand was, instead of meeting at my precinct, she wanted me to pick her up in a “public place” with lots of people around who could see her get into the car with me. The other demand was I’d have to drop her off at the same place. What in the world did she think was going to happen?

Yeah, that ride-along pretty much ended way before it began, during that phone call. This paranoia is not normal. Hey, I don’t trust the government either, but I’m grounded in reality. I know the difference between being eternally vigilant for government abuses and maintaining an unhealthy paranoia.

These New Hampshire politicians need to come back to earth. They need to get their heads out of their assumptions about cops. They probably don’t even see the insult this action hurls at their state’s fine men and women of law enforcement. Although, I’m sure they’ll get a heaping portion of how the cops feel about this insult in the coming weeks before this bill comes out of committee in mid-March. Or if it comes out of committee. Or, even better, if it doesn’t come out of committee.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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