How do you know you’re living in a Police State?
When whistleblowers, truth advocates and government officials are vilified, criminalized and terminated for doing the right thing, that’s how.
Auburn, Alabama is home to sprawling plains, Auburn University, and a troubling police force. After the arrival of a new police chief in 2010, the department entered an era of ticket quotas and worse.
“When I first heard about the quotas I was appalled,” says former Auburn police officer Justin Hanners, who claims he and other cops were given directives to hassle, ticket, or arrest specific numbers of residents per shift. “I got into law enforcement to serve and protect, not be a bully.”
Hanners blew the whistle on the department’s tactics and was eventually fired for refusing to comply and keep quiet. He says that each officer was required to make 100 contacts each month, which included tickets, arrests, field interviews, and warnings. This equates to 72,000 contacts a year in a 50,000 person town. His claims are backed up by audio recordings of his superiors he made. The Auburn police department declined requests to be interviewed for this story.
“There are not that many speeders, there are not that many people running red lights to get those numbers, so what [the police] do is they lower their standards,” says Hanners. That led to the department encouraging officers to arrest people that Hanners “didn’t feel like had broken the law.”
Former Reason staffer Radley Balko, now an investigative reporter for the Huffington Post and author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, says that this isn’t just a nuisance, it infringes on public safety.
“You have a policy that encourages police to create petty crimes and ignore serious crimes, and that’s clearly the opposite of what we want our police to be doing,” says Balko.