Charm Offensive Ep 4: Cop Whistleblower Justin Hanners on Ferguson, police state

The situation in Ferguson ignited a fierce debate about the advancing police state. I sat down with former Auburn Police Department officer turned whistleblower, Justin Hanners. Hanners was an honorable officer of the law essentially fired for refusing to follow wrongful orders from his superiors over ticket quotas. Essentially, Hanners, an Air Force veteran in military security, raised an issue over quota limits requiring officers to harass and extort citizens or face disciplinary action. This practice occurs in departments nationwide, everyday.

He breaks down why he fought the law, how the law won and what all citizens should do when confronted with an officer bent on abusing his power. If you're not familiar with Hanners's case, definitely look him up.

Many viewers are unaware of your story. Can you share a little of your background as a law enforcement officer and explain how you became a whistleblower?

1:03 Justin speaks, explaining the state of his case. In short, the courts ruled that since he was a municipal employee, he is not covered under whistleblower protections.

3:20 Will you appeal your case?

3:22 Justin speaks.

3:56 Many officers that supported you came forward to applaud your vocal disapproval of immoral and poor policing policies. You have said that many feel the same as you do. Why are there not more whistleblowers?

4:28 Justin answers. Officers fear losing their career, retirement, public scrutiny, media attacks, the public coffers available to municipal bureaucrats willing to expend any resource to fight whistleblowers. Given the high stakes and endless resources of the state, he predicts we'll not see another whistleblower unless its something extreme.

5:23 What do you think the ratio between those officers that want to protect and serve versus those that seek a law enforcement career to have power over others?

6:01 Justin answers.

6:56 Let’s talk about Ferguson, Missouri. At this time, the civil disorder and protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown has calmed. But from this, the reality of police militarization has become public discussion. Some elected officials are moving to suspend the transfer of war equipment to local police departments, ending a very Orwellian practice of heavily arming small town cops. Do you think this effort is likely to succeed or will police apologists and unions volley for these arms?

7:32 Justin explains why he doubts reforms will be successful.

8:20 You wrote one of Liberty.me’s most popular guides: How to deal with police. You begin with three points advising citizens how to interact with police. You encourage them to record the encounter. You advise to always be respectful and calm, even if they aren’t.

You also say that when questioned not to give them anything to use against you, that officers will lie and manipulate to entrap. What are the most common tactics officers use to invalidate constitutional rights during even a routine traffic stop, in your experience? And how can citizens protect themselves?

9:04 Justin explains how officers manipulate citizens and what you can do about it.

10:17 One of the major rebuttals I receive as a privacy advocate is that equipping all officers with body cameras can jeopardize the privacy of citizens during interactions with cops. Officers are always interacting with the public in ways that some citizens would prefer not to have on record, such as after a violent crime or assault. What do you say to those that argue body cameras put the privacy of citizens at risk? 

10:50 Justin answers.

11:16 Do you think the privatization of police forces, which would break the monopoly on force that officers have, would eliminate much of the corruption endemic within many departments? Do you foresee that option ever coming to fruition? 

11:36 Justin explains why competition between police departments should be privatized.

For those interested in Justin’s guide, you can download it here. Justin also has a Facebook page, Citizens Behind Officer Justin Hanners. If you enjoyed this interview, please share the word. Like, share and subscribe.