Power & Market

Are Police Departments Really Hiring White Supremacists?

Bureaucracies always benefit from political hysterias. A big one today is that police forces are being infiltrated by white supremacists. Pursuing this bogeyman will fill bureaucratic coffers, while public security services get worse and more expensive.

It’s a cliche now that big government never lets a crisis go to waste, but the same dynamic often holds at the bureaucratic level with regard to public manias. These crises and manias are not uncommonly caused by the very institutions claiming to be the only ones capable of solving the matter.

White supremacist infiltration of police forces is one of the latest national hysterias. There’s almost no evidence to show it’s happening at all, but the media, political leaders, and their bureaucratic allies keep stoking up the general accusations, especially following the January 6 US Capitol protest and riot.

Facts that disprove this myth are easily outweighed by bureaucrats’ sense of opportunity to garner more taxpayer money and prestige if they pretend it is a systemic problem.

This then foments resentment among people, particularly white people but also anyone predisposed to skepticism of race-baiting. White folks who too loudly voice their opposition to these witch hunts can be more easily labeled white supremacists.

Could that be the whole point of fear mongering campaigns like this one? To create a self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps what’s a more likely explanation is that spawning hobgoblins can serve as a distraction from real issues that can potentially threaten the bureaucracy’s power.

Again, there is almost no evidence to support any claim of white supremacists infiltrating the police.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report entitled “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat in 2021.” 

In it, the only mention of law enforcement was that they, along with government personnel and facilities, are typical targets of militia violent extremists. The report also assessed the threats posed by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, but there was no mention of them attempting to take over police departments or even get a job in one.

Going back to October 2006, an FBI intelligence assessment titled “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement” found “little corroborated reporting on current strategic attempts by white supremacist groups to infiltrate law enforcement communities.” 

The FBI gave itself an out, however, saying, “the possibility that infiltration has gone undetected is of great concern.”

Apparently, anything’s possible it seems if it warrants a budget increase. 

What about the protest and riot at the US Capitol though? That must’ve revealed some hidden ties of white power extremism and the police. Let’s glance at the numbers there.

Of those 324 arrested in connection to January 6, USA Today found four off-duty police officers and three former officers. That’s two percent of all those arrested. And those officers’ “ties” to white supremacy? USA Today didn’t say, despite its article running under the headline: “‘A nightmare scenario’: Extremists in police ranks spark growing concern after Capitol riot.”

A “scenario”...sparks growing concern. This is not real news. It’s fake, or if that’s too disrespectful to the pride of journalists, call it incendiary. The sub-headline partially read: “Now, charges against officers in the Capitol riot inflame fears of extremists infiltrating law.” 

Fears are certainly being inflamed. But is it the charges against officers doing that?

USA Today reports that two of the off-duty officers were subsequently fired after their social media posts were liberally interpreted to be pro-insurrection. Another officer resigned, and the fourth one was suspended without pay.

Supposedly the white supremacism connection is that these officers marched alongside members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, groups which by some number of degrees are related to white supremacists. It’s a fool’s errand trying to pin down this gelatinous allegation, but most readers will assume the connection to be real and substantial, because why else would it be getting so much media attention?

What’s getting less media and political attention is the national murder rate in 2020 representing the biggest one-year increase in history, adding 20,000 more murders than in 2019, according to FBI statistics.

Obviously, there is a national policing problem. There are many policing problems. They are more tied to bureaucratism than supremacism, however. Bureaucratic supremacists are infiltrating the institutions of law and order!

The problem with government bureaucracy is its inability to precisely account for how best to deliver the goods to its consumers. In the case of policing, federal politicians and bureaucrats skew the priorities for local police, directing them to combat the War on Drugs and other such schemes.

There is no profit-loss mechanism at work with police today. The best short to medium term goal would be to localize and maximize the local community’s power as opposed to the state or federal bureaucracies. 

They have proven themselves unfit to serve, and as Ludwig von Mises put it, “he who is unfit to serve his fellow citizens wants to rule them.”

Long term goals are just as important though, and in the case of policing, they may carry just as much urgency. The total demonopolization of police must take place as soon as feasible. The infringements on individuals and their communities to organize for security as they see fit must be eliminated.

Only then will the problems of costs, lack of responsiveness, brutality, and other deficiencies be handily dealt with. The fear mongers will gin up anything they can to prevent even an inclination toward this solution, but if enough people in one area can overcome them, then these bugaboo stories might finally stop having their intended effect.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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