What Would the Cops Look Like If You Lived in a Futuristic Authoritarian Police State?

The next sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks scary as hell (Screenshot via Facebook)
The next sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks scary as hell (Screenshot via Facebook)

I’d like you to imagine a crazy, far-out scenario for a moment. Close your eyes and try to picture what it would look like if you lived in a militarized police state with authoritarian tendencies. What do you see?


I realize that this exercise is difficult for Americans who live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We enjoy so much liberty and have absolutely nothing to fear from the cops who now take their cues at the federal level from such upstanding and not-at-all-racist men like Jeff Sessions. But try your best.

Imagine what kinds of videos you’d see posted to Facebook from a police force that was out of control and intent on punishing non-violent drug offenders and addicts. Just imagine. It can be hard, but there are all kinds of dystopian movies that might pop into your head like They Live or Children of Men. But that’s not quite right, is it?


Are you starting to get a picture in your head? Does it look anything like a man in uniform standing behind a podium, flanked by four armed men in masks and sunglasses?

Still struggling? Let me help. Here’s a completely normal and not at all terrifying video that was posted on Friday by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. The video is titled, “A message from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Community Engagement Unit.”

Don’t see anything terrifying? Congratulations! You’re already living in a dystopian nightmare and have slowly become acclimated to the new normal of American civil society!

Update 9:40am: United had an overbooked flight last night and ejected someone like this, just in case you wanted another example of what America looks like these days:


From the Courier-Journal:

A United spokesperson confirmed in an email Sunday night that a passenger had been taken off a flight in Chicago.

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” the spokesperson said. “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.

“We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”


[Jack Smith V]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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I find that any community engagement unit is improved by using balaclavas. Our local library’s community book bus, for example, saw great results when they gave their staff face masks and tactical gear. In a pinch I’ve found the kids respond to librarians wearing Oakleys and black bandanas tied around their faces, but that’s really a last-resort sort of thing. And the hospital’s public health outreach team didn’t really become accepted by the neighborhood until they started showing up in full on commando gear. (Granted, it wasn’t until the nurses started clubbing passers-by with batons that they really took it to the next level with the local residents, but the groundwork was really laid by the face masks.)

And obviously, particularly in police work, a real sense of integration and cooperation is fostered when you dress like paramilitary thugs AND make it impossible to identify the specific identity of the person wielding authority.