How the state ought to handle gangsters

Today’s LA Times has a heart-warming story about a couple of gangbangers who decided it would be an excellent idea to carjack some people at 3AM this morning right near our office. Not content with stealing the car, these wonderful humans shot their victims (thankfully, no one was killed).

Based on where this happened, I assure you that the cops know with a reasonable degree of certainty who did this.

What I want to know is: Why do the police wait until the bullets start flying to get involved?

In my experience, nearly every one of the gangsters that plague our neighborhoods is known to the police, has prior convictions, is on parole, etc.

If I were the LAPD, I would be all over these guys. I would be visiting their homes regularly, at odd hours, checking in on them, asking them questions, taking pictures, writing down the names of their friends, etc. I would arrest them for the smallest infractions, work with the courts to have them evicted from their homes, drug test them, you name it.

You might think of the above as harassment. I would say that, if you belong to a gang, you have effectively declared war on the state.* And, since the state’s primary obligation is the maintenance of order and security for its citizens, the state ought to respond to these kinds of declarations with every single weapon in its arsenal.

Anything else is screwing around.

* By “state”, I don’t mean California. I mean “state” in the political theory sense… an institution claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within the territory it controls.