I am the Libertarian Party of Oregon’s Nominee for Governor, on the November 2014 ballot. As Governor, it would be my clear duty under Article 1 Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution, to issue at State expense a bullet-proof vest to all police officers within the State who serve on patrols. Officers would have the option of wearing them or not. I would also issue such vests for police dogs, not only for humane reasons, but also because, given the costs of training them and the frequency with which they are targets of gunfire by suspects being apprehended, dog vests would be cost-effective, saving the taxpayers more than their expense.
During a recent candidates forum in Cave Junction, I asked the two candidates for Josephine County Sheriff, current-Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, and would-be Sheriff, Officer Dave Daniel, what they thought of my proposal for vests, as well as for a State Police Station situated somewhere in the Illinois Valley to ease the burden on the already overstretched Josephine County Sheriff’s Office. They both seemed to like both proposals, although Sheriff Gilbertson mentioned that there was grant money available for the vests. Afterwards, it occurred to me that the Sheriff was referring to the Federal DOJ program which pays for 50% of the cost of a vest, although the Officer is required to wear the vest at all times when on duty.
Not only is paying for 50% of the cost of the vest inadequate, but I do not like the requirement that the officer should have to wear the vest at all times, since it seems to me to overrule the judgement of the Officer in a situation where he thinks the vest might be a hindrance to apprehending a suspect who poses little threat because unarmed (as when chasing a naked suspect).
But for the Federal or State Governments not to issue these vests as part of standard equipment seems to me both insane and incredibly chintzy, considering that we are asking these Police Officers to put their lives on the line every time they approach a new suspect. Clearly, under Oregon Constitution Article 1 Section 1, as head of the Administration representing the People, and with my primary Responsibility their “Peace, Safety, and Happiness”, it seems pellucidly clear to me that it would be my duty, and I would have clear authority under the Article to issue these vests free to all Police. If the Legislature were too cheap to fund such a measure, then I’d re-submit the Legislation as a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against any State Income Taxes these Officers might owe. One way or another.
There are those who feel that there is a militarization of the domestic police forces in America, and that such an issue of vests might be construed as an example of such militarization. I don’t think so in this instance, because this is solely a self-protection measure. While these vests might embolden rogue police with a sense of impunity, I believe the general effect on Officers of Integrity will be to lessen their aggressiveness and apprehension, since they will have this huge added measure of protection against instantly lethal gunfire. Given the economic desperation into which the Federally-driven monetary inflation is driving so many Americans, I’m afraid there will be more crime and more violent confrontations with police. Bullet-proof vests will help mitigate the frequency of such confrontations, not only by making the Police less fearful, but also making any suspects who might be contemplating violence against an Officer less likely to try it and instead to go along quietly. Just as we don’t want police hurt, we also don’t want innocent suspects hurt, just because they go off the handle in a burst of anger because of the intense economic pressure they’re under, brought about by the Federal Bipartisan’s Inflation.
So from a Constitutional, Moral, and cost-effective standpoint, bullet-proof vests for all Patrol Officers and Police Dogs in Oregon is a must, and can be paid for through my pardons of anyone in jail on a cannabis charge, excluding DUI and non-medical delivery to minors.
This measure benefits the safety of all our People.
Paul Grad, Libertarian Nominee for Governor of Oregon