Talk:Police power (United States constitutional law)

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NPOV[edit]

This article seems to lack a neutral point of view.

characterizing it as "power of a state to make laws and to use physical violence in order to coerce its subjects into obeying those laws" seems to miss the point of this legal concept and tells the reader more about the writer's dislike of it.

Black's Law dictionary defines it as follows:

"The inherent and plenary power of a sovereign to make all laws necessary and proper to preserve the public security, order, health, morality, and justice. It is a fundamental power essential to government, and it cannot be surrendered by the legislature or irrevocably transferred away from government."

So defining it as the ability to make laws and use coercion really isn't accurate. The federal government can also make laws and use coercion, but it lacks the police power. Thus there is no federal family code, property code, etc.

The essential legal concept, which the article hints at, is the difference between governments of inherent authority versus governments of delegated authority. The U.S. Congress as the latter can only act under a specific delegation of power (like the commerce clause). But states have a presumption of power to do anything needed for the public good, limited only by what the Constitution has taken away.

Thus the difference: presumption of no power unless specifically granted versus presumption of power unless specifically taken away.


well put! violence is certainly not the defining characteristic...

Fact vs opinion[edit]

If the article "seemed" to lack a neutral point of view before, it definitely lacks one now. The addition of the phrase "when necessary" turns the definition of police power into an opinion, rather than a fact.

The statement added to the first paragraph that asserts that police power has some kind of metaphysical source is also an opinion, and should be labelled accordingly. It should read something like this:

Police power is regarded by legal professionals as having one of several sources, yadda yadda yadda.

..which would more clearly convey neutrality, but would still require citation.

That police use violence to make people obey laws is a fact. That the violence is "necessary" is an opinion.

Necessity is an opinion that depends on how much lawbreaking the police are willing to tolerate. From the POV of Draco (lawgiver), it seemed "necessary" to punish even the most minor infraction with death. On the other extreme, from the point of view of anarchists, all police violence seems totally unnecessary. Your point of view is probably somewhere in between. None of these points of view, not even the centrist point of view, is equivalent to the neutral point of view.

The idea that laws promote "justice" is also an opinion, only valid from some people's point of view. From other points of view, laws seem to create injustice. Again, the article can't comment on the justice or injustice of police power or any aspect of it because that would give the article a non-neutral point of view.

And please sign your posts to this page with four "~" characters.

72.49.75.99 18:29, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Portraying it solely as the power to commit violence is POV inherently favorable to anarchists, because that's how they view the government. When you say "the power to commit violence", there is an inherent connotation of injustice in this, and you would rarely use such wording to describe anything but that which you viewed to be unjust.65.0.173.213 (talk) 23:36, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

This is 'en" Wiki, so YES it should be US-Centric.[edit]

If you prefer a more worldly view perhaps you should start a Wiki in the language of the place you intend the article to represent. ie: 'uk.wikipedia.org" for the United Kingdom or "nl.wikipedia.org" for The Netherlands, translating into English as you see fit to include it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.238.131.195 (talk) 11:21, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

  • No, actually, that is completely wrong. "en" Wikipedia is intended to be a general English language encyclopedia, not a US-centric one. Perhaps you should propose us.wikipedia.org, in which all the articles will be written in American. Msaunier (talk) 03:33, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
uk.wikipedia.org is the Ukrainian wikipedia. Anyway, the letters before .wikipedia.org denote language, not nationality. Also, the wikipedia in every language is supposed to represent a worldview, it's not owned by any nationality. Why should I be deprived of knowledge about how the Chinese view things just because I only speak English? I appreciate your concern, really, but I'm a big boy, I can make these decisions myself, I don't need you to censor these things from me. And seriously, are you trolling when you argue that the English have no business having their views represented in the English wikipedia? That's supposed to be a right reserved for Americans? Even if the speakers of every language were entitled to bias their own wikipedias and shelter their speakers poor eyes from undesirable information, that wouldn't imply that one nationality that speaks the language should be privileged in this affair to the detriment of all others. And, just for the sake of pursuing your multiple layers of stupidity even further, should we even assume that to be the case, why would this privileged nationality be the most powerful nationality, rather than the originating nationality? Do you lose all rights to your language when one of your colonies outstrips you? And what if another English speaking nation exceeded America in power at some point in the future? Do we have to rewrite the entire thing to the bias of the new propaganda masters? Or would you, as you seem to be doing, merely make up more rules seemingly designed with purpose in mind besides favoring your nationality?65.0.173.213 (talk) 00:12, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

Requested moves[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: no consensus. Jenks24 (talk) 13:12, 25 August 2014 (UTC)



– Although it is technically possible to refer to the authority held by police as "police power", the only encyclopedic topic with which the exact phrase is actually associated is the concept in United States constitutional law. I submit that this is therefore the primary topic of the term. bd2412 T 12:47, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

  • weak Oppose "Police" and "power" are two very commonly used words in a very commonly used language. It would be very easy for a wide variety of things to link them together and I'd marginally favour the idea of the name space being reserved. Gregkaye (talk) 15:11, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
    Is there any policy that supports reserving a namespace for pairs of commonly used words? Note that we only disambiguate topics for which articles exist that have matching titles or mention the title term within the text of the article. bd2412 T 22:39, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Gregkaye. I think the article Law enforcement covers "police power", a hatnote to the disambiguation page can be added there, while "police power" itself redirects there. The article Powers of the police in the United Kingdom could be called "police powers (UK)" instead of its current name, etc. -- 65.94.169.222 (talk) 05:59, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Strongly. Anyone who actually knows anything about law or law enforcement knows that police power as a term of art refers only to the constitutional concept. And I also support any admin if they choose to summarily ban User:Mais oui! for making breathtakingly stupid and ignorant article moves without bothering to review Wikipedia guidelines on article titles or request consensus first. (I always do both.) The proper use of this term of art could have been verified in five minutes on Google Books. This should have stayed at Police power in the first place. --Coolcaesar (talk) 22:41, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
    • This is not the U.S. Wikipedia, how does the U.S. topic apply as the term of art for the concept in the U.K. ? Or Singapore? Or Australia? These U.S. constitutional powers do not exist in these countries, since the U.S. constitution as a law of the land is invalid in these countries -- 65.94.169.222 (talk) 01:01, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
      • But is the phrase "police power" (those two specific words) actually used to refer to ANYTHING in those countries? Does it have any particular special meaning as a term of art in the literature on the powers of law enforcement in those countries? Please go to a library and do some research before you continue to make a fool of yourself. The only country that uses the specific phrase "police power" as a particular term of art is the United States and it has a very specific meaning in American English as defined by the courts, by lawyers, and by experts on political science and public administration. You are making an argument from ignorance which looks ridiculous. --Coolcaesar (talk) 08:54, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
        • WP:WORLDVIEW, this is not the US encyclopedia. WP:JARGON, please keep in mind this is a general encyclopedia and not a legal encyclopedia. "Police power(s)" is a general term used in places outside the U.S. to denote the powers available to their policing forces. For users of these countries that are not U.S. the current proposal fails WP:ASTONISH. This would be the case for users in the United States as well, since Wikipedia isn't a law encyclopedia. Certainly, U.S. news outlets when dealing with the phrase "police power" are for the most part not covering constitutional law. The general sense should be covered first. I believe the general sense is treated in the article law enforcement, where a hatnote to the specific term of art for the U.S. can be indicated. -- 65.94.169.222 (talk) 03:21, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
          • According to our own article on the use of this term in U.S. constitutional law, "The concept of police power, while fleshed out more fully in American Constitutional law, has roots in English and European common law traditions dating back centuries.<ref name=Pox>Willrich, Michael (2012). Pox. New York: Penguin. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-14-312078-0. </ref>"
  • Oppose - All police have powers, something that is often the subject of discussion, in most countries, often under the title 'police powers'. The rationale for keeping the article to a US specific subject appears to depend on the use of the singular form 'police power'. I note that some of the references are titled using the plural form, 'police powers'. Given the other standard over using singular forms in general in Wikipedia, it is appropriate to make the title more precise and less US centric. Imc (talk) 09:02, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
    • And it's because of profound ignorance like that expressed in your statement above that experts continue to run away from Wikipedia in horror rather than waste time debating people who have no idea what they're talking about. --Coolcaesar (talk) 10:05, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Police power in Australia, The Age newspaper, New Zealand primary legislation, Singapore secondary legislation, Malaysian bar association, Hong Kong Police Force, The Use of Police Power in Japan, 1920-1930; University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Russia, Constitutional Documents of Denmark, Norway and Sweden 1809–1849, Scottish primary legislation, Police Service of Northern Ireland Code of Ethics 2008, Police - The Canadian Encyclopedia, etc, etc, etc. The United States is not a synonym for the entire planet. It is only a teensy weensy little bit of it. Note to Closing Admin: I have deleted a threat which was in clear breach on WP:NPA from my Talk page. It was left by the same editor who is slinging personal abuse at other editors on this Talk page. Please make it crystal clear to the offender that such behaviour is not accepted here at Wikipedia. I have not responded to the attack and have and will delete any repetition without comment. --Mais oui! (talk) 05:59, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Perhaps my rhetoric got overheated, but it would have been much more courteous to WP users (especially those based in the U.S.) if you had just followed WP procedure in the first place, rather than trying to invoke WP:NPA after the fact. As in, seeking consensus first.
    • In any case, now that you've responded on the merits, I'll point out that every single source you cite except one (the thesis from 1950 about Japanese police) is apparently using the term casually in passing and isn't actually discussing what police power is. By way of contrast, the United States has dozens of books that thoroughly explore what police power is, those books clearly use the term with the express understanding that law enforcement powers are a subset of the police power, and several of them have international contributors who clearly understand that the term "police power" has a broader meaning as used both domestically and internationally. Some good examples (there are many more listed on WorldCat) from Google Books include The New Police Science (2006), The Police Power (2005), and The People's Welfare (1996). William Novak, in the The People's Welfare, points out that the U.S. conception of "police power" as the broad power to provide for the public safety and general welfare is not an indigenous thing, but actually arises from the European concept of Polizei as articulated by early writers like Nicolas de La Mare. Novak cites to (this Foucault essay) on that point, where Foucault actually said that "the police includes everything". A book on German law from 2005 shows that the German concept of Polizei or "police power" is very similar to the broad American conception of the concept. And this book on the history of U.S. air pollution law acknowledges and discusses the connection between U.S. and European (particularly German) conceptions of police power. So it is simply incorrect to attack the U.S. conception of police power as a purely domestic concept. --Coolcaesar (talk) 16:30, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment. "Police power", and "police powers" is a concept well known probably in every nation with a strong government that employs a government funded and run police force. Or police service. Much is written about the US situation, but it is the same in Australia (which has an extremely similar state/federal division with a federal limiting federal constitution), NZ, UK (see Powers of the police in the United Kingdom). "Police power" is an important concept is China. Springing to mind here is a need to link to American exceptionalism and Wikipedia:Systemic bias, and there is a temptation to slap Template:Globalize/US onto this article if this move goes ahead.
That said, I think the rename is probably a good idea, on condition that the article scope is broadened to include the topic as it exists in all nations, past and present. This should not be a big deal. America is not exceptional in dealing with the challenges of having a state police force. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:50, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

This article is a train wreck and a symptom of everything wrong with WP[edit]

This article was perfectly fine at its original title since its creation on 9 May 2006.

Then a certain user created a mess by inappropriately moving it to its current title on 30 July 2014, without bothering to do the kind of things that sensible, experienced WP editors do in good faith: (1) propose the move first; (2) build consensus first; (3) just find out what other people think; or (4) just DOING SOME RESEARCH on what is police power is. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to figure out whether that's part of a pattern of inappropriate conduct on the part of that user. In any event, I've expressly called it out here so that hopefully someday some admin can discern a pattern.

And then when User:BD2412 did the right thing by trying to propose a move back to the correct article name, then the proposal was blocked by a group of editors who are clearly unfamiliar with either the U.S. or the continental European conception of "police power" (which in either sense is a lot broader than law enforcement power and refers to the power of government to provide for public safety and general welfare).

It is because of this kind of craziness that 99% of U.S. lawyers will not touch WP with a ten foot pole and as a result, 75% of WP law-related articles are incoherent, grossly inaccurate train wrecks. With much sadness, I must abandon this article, like so many others, to the blind leading the blind. --Coolcaesar (talk) 14:20, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

If you assume that the only topics allowed to take an undisambiguated title are US law topics, you're going to have a problem, since (1) Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia, not a U.S. law encyclopedia (2) Wikipedia does not give primacy to U.S. law. (3) the world is much larger than USA+Europe, and Wikipedia covers such. ;; I think the biggest problem is assuming that this is a U.S. law encyclopedia, when it isn't. There shouldn't be a problem using disambiguated article titles, since the coverage still exists. What is important, coverage, or whether the article carries disambiguation? Why should it be the primary concern to lawyers whether their personal pet topics carry disambiguation or not? If the content is there, then it is covered. -- 65.94.169.222 (talk) 04:23, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I note for the record that nine months have elapsed and no response was made with respect to any of the sources I cited above. That silence is evidence of an irresponsible argument from ignorance with no good faith basis. Responsible editors, acting in good faith, take responsibility for their edits and defend or concede points on the merits. I reiterate my position that the editors responsible for this fiasco need to be carefully monitored to prevent any further damage to the integrity of the encyclopedia. It is terribly tragic that such a simple and basic concept has been turned into a gigantic train wreck in this fashion and it is for this reason that most lawyers and academics do not take Wikipedia seriously. --Coolcaesar (talk) 06:26, 15 June 2015 (UTC)