National Guard touted as transitional replacement for overly corrupt police force
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A New York State city is considering implementing martial law and replacing the local police force with National Guardsmen, in an effort to clean up law enforcement in the area.
The remarkable idea comes in response to a rise in police corruption and illegal activity in Schenectady, according to a Capital News 9 report .
City officials are reportedly considering scrapping the entire police force in response to the actions of a small selection of officers who have been accused of assaulting citizens.
While other options have been raised, such as a consolidated county-wide police force diverting authority to the State Police, Mayor Brian Stratton has indicated that he believes the Governor could declare martial law during a period of “transition”.
“It may be that as a stopgap measure, that you would need military forces – State Police, National Guard.” the Mayor said.
“It’s a contrived scenario,” said the mayor. “But it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities if you go that particular route.”
Schenectady’s Corporation Counsel John Van Norden said, “If you abolish the police department you still have a need – not an obligation – but a need to police the community. You would need something in transition. Declaring martial law would be one way to bridge the gap.”
Watch a Capital News 9 video report on the story here .
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It is a well documented fact that the use of military for law enforcement violates the Posse Comitatus Act .
Section 1385 of the Act states, “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
The original text of the Insurrection Act of 1807  also severely limits the power of any federal or state representative to deploy troops within the United States.
For troops to be deployed, a condition has to exist that, “(1) So hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or (2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws. In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.”
Only in times of major disaster or emergency, do governors have the authority to call out the state’s contingent of the National Guard. Using active duty U.S. Army in law enforcement operations inside America absent such conditions is completely illegal.
The indiscretions of five or six Schenectady police officers hardly constitutes such a major emergency, particularly given that the police forces of major cities such as New York and L.A. are mired in corruption to a degree hundreds or thousands of times more pressing than that of Schenectady.
Schenectady officials are expected to make a decision on what course of action to take in early April. In the meantime, readers may wish to remind the Mayor’s Office  of these facts.