Both sides have points about police lobbying

There was an interesting exchange this week at the Minnesota Capitol in regard to the power and influence that law enforcement has as a lobbying group. Some lawmakers are concerned that too much consideration is being given to what police and prosecutors have to say, on issues such as marijuana legalization or tracking drivers without first obtaining a warrant.

One legislator went so far as to point out that law enforcement is the only government entity that can imprison you or take your life. If any entity should be restrained by civilian authority, it should be law enforcement, he said.

For its part, law enforcement says it is just trying to keep legislators informed, and to preserve public safety.

Both sides, of course, have good points.

We respect our area police and sheriffs departments. They do a good job enforcing the laws, which are written in St. Paul.

At the same time, legislators have a point when they say police have a vested interest in “the law.” That is, police protect and serve their own interests (jobs) by promoting marijuana laws or by using new technology to pursue alleged criminals, even when this may infringe on citizens’ rights.

In the end, legislators make the rules, about marijuana enforcement or other things. Police also must abide by rulings issued by the Supreme Court, which defines and limits their powers.

Citizens have every right to lobby their legislators to change laws and limit police power. Police certainly have the right as well to express their concerns. Legislators get paid to make the tough decisions when these two sides clash.