There are similar rumbles from other police departments around the country, leading Foreign Policy columnist Steven A. Cook to warn darkly that “unvaccinated police officers could become America’s own insurgents.” Citing extensive mandate resistance in Chicago, Seattle, Las Vegas and Washington, DC, Cook warns that plans to fire officers might backfire. When the United States dissolved the Iraqi Army in 2003, he notes, it left thousands of military-trained individuals without the ability to support themselves and their families, contributing to a dangerous wave of violence and insurgency.
I think Cook’s fears are greatly exaggerated. Most likely, the fired officers would simply become private security guards, protecting businesses from the crime wave that would result from a massive shrinkage in police forces. The result would be that private businesses and upscale communities would be protected, but poor and working-class neighborhoods would face even worse crime waves. That’s tragic, but hardly on a par with what happened in Iraq.
It’s also likely that these police would start to vote more Republican — or at least for more sensible Democrats than the likes of Lightfoot. That seems a poor outcome for the Democrats, too.
And whatever you think of vaccine mandates, there’s another lesson. Distributed power helps constrain big governments. (This is why communists always shut down or seize control of rival power centers, like churches and community groups.) The relative autonomy of police forces may reduce accountability for bad officers, but it also creates obstacles to efforts at sweeping control: If the police won’t go along, it won’t happen.