In Florida recently, police pulled up to a young boy playing in the park and asked where his mother lived. According to a report on WPTV, the mom was then arrested for "allowing her son to go to the park alone." Her son had a cellphone, and she would check in with him along the way. The mom believes "he's old enough, but Port St. Lucie Police disagree."
There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem. In fact, a similar story of arresting a mom for not supervising her child 24/7/365 took place a few weeks back in South Carolina. A Washington Post column reported these incidents as part of a series on "the increasing criminalization of everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions."
This abuse of governmental authority is the natural extension of nanny-state efforts such as the crusade to ban large sugary drinks. Once you accept the premise that so-called experts should decide what's best for the rest of us, the only question remaining is how to deal with people who don't comply.
It's the same mindset that believes the National Security Agency should be allowed to read all our emails and monitor our phone calls in the name of national security. Just trust us, they say. We're from the government, and we're here to help.
How's this for help? In Georgia, a SWAT team broke into a house searching for drugs and threw a flash-bang grenade inside a child's crib. The excessive force was disgusting to begin with. Even worse is the fact that the police had the wrong house and there were no drugs. The child is in critical condition.
Amazingly, the local sherriff and other Georgia authorities said the officers didn't do anything wrong. That's ludicrous. They deployed a grenade developed for war in a private home and sent a child to the hospital fighting for his life. Something is terribly wrong.
It's important to note that most police officers are great public servants. Just a few years ago, a local officer in my hometown literally saved my life and the lives of my family. We called him a hero. He said he was just doing his job. Naturally, we have tremendous respect for the job that such officers do and the courage they display.
However, a National Review article correctly notes that "respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens." That means speaking out against stories like this:
"On Thursday in Staten Island, an asthmatic 43-year-old father of six, Eric Garner, died after a group of policemen descended on him, placing him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes."
Stories like these are not random exceptions. They are the natural result of a governing philosophy that believes government experts should dictate how the rest of us live. If we want to reign in such over-the-top police actions, the first step must be to get rid of the nanny-state mindset. This means recognizing every American has the right to make decisions about how to live his or her own life.SCOTT RASMUSSEN, a Washington Examiner columnist, is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.