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October 25th, 2014

End of Watch

When I was a kid, I didn’t understand how police officers benefit society.

I thought that cops mostly just harassed people they didn’t like and wrote out tickets.

Now that I own a house that contains several things that I don’t want to have stolen from me, I fully understand what the police do to benefit society. Now I appreciate that they’re out there.

Make no mistake, I still think that some cops misbehave and harass people they don’t like. It’s completely inevitable. When you give a bunch of guys power and authority, some of them are going to abuse it. That’s human nature.

I’m sure police in every country abuse their authority. But in America, overzealous police departments are kept in check by the courts and the Bill of Rights.

Until now.

Alonzo King is in prison currently because the Maryland Police forced him to give a DNA sample when they were booking him on minor assault charges. Then they used that DNA information to connect him to a more serious 2003 crime that he had never been arrested for.

I don’t think that the Maryland Criminal Justice system got the wrong guy. But it is clear that they robbed Alonzo King of his 4th Amendment right to privacy.

The 4th Amendment states that: “The Right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

In other words: in America, the police aren’t allowed to invade your privacy and take whatever they want without probable cause. And what could be more private than your DNA?

The Supreme Court disagrees with me. In Maryland v. King, the Court upheld the conviction and ruled that the police didn’t rob Alonzo King of his 4th Amendment rights.

It’s scary. Based on this ruling, we don’t have anything that the police can’t take from us whenever they please and use it against us in a court of law.

“End of Watch” is a gritty, very R-rated cop drama that illustrates why we need the Constitution and the courts to protect us from the police.

Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Pena) are a pair of beat cops in Los Angeles. They’re good pals and good guys.

Mostly they follow the rules and do the right thing. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they beat up suspects. Sometimes they decide to dig through people’s trash and bust down their doors because they have a hunch that crimes are taking place.

The film convincingly argues that even great police officers need to be reeled in sometimes.

Eventually, Brian’s reckless habit of sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong gets both officers into a lot of trouble. The last half hour is tense, exciting, and ultra-violent.

I’m grateful that there are cops out there like Brian and Mike to protect us from bad guys. Unfortunately, we no longer have anything to protect us from bad cops because the Supreme Court just tore up the 4th Amendment.

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