Bobvis offers up a thought for a radical change in law enforcement: the elimination (or near-elimination) of prosecutorial and police discretion.
In looking through this, I see three basic complaints. I don’t necessarily disagree with any of them, but here’s a paraphrase:
#1 - The law is overcomplicated to the point of absurdity, to the point where literally nobody can say with any certainty that they haven’t ever (or even haven’t recently) broken some law. This becomes especially annoying when we apply the legal principle “ignorance of the law is no defense” - since most laws are written such that only a lawyer specializing in Field X really understands them (and even then, plenty of debate usually rages). Expecting everyone to manage to keep abreast not just of the content of all laws that affect them, but also the changes to that law constantly being made, seems pretty absurd.
#2 - “Police disproportionally choose to enforce certain laws against certain groups.” As I’ve said before, I don’t buy the whole “police are always racist” line of thought. However, I will certainly believe that certain laws are enforced more than other laws (and even to the point of “enforcing” when there hasn’t been a violation, see below), simply because it is more profitable (fines, etc) for the police to enforce those laws rather than other laws.
#3 - Where multiple laws become involved, prosecutors can too easily abuse the discretion they have to choose which charges to file. This becomes even worse as the system becomes more and more broken, too many people are coerced into pleading guilty when they are actually innocent by the disparity between plea sentencing and post-trial sentencing (see also here), and of course the system is designed to coerce you directly from the moment you first start talking to the cops. This is especially true when even taking the stand in your own defense becomes a punishable offense if you’re found guilty, under sentencing guidelines that will either (a) attempt to convict you of “perjury” (if you say “I didn’t do it” and a jury finds otherwise) or will bump up the sentencing guideline for your being “not remorseful” (obviously, if you testify in your own defense, you’re “not remorseful”) or “obstructing justice.”
On the flipside, I think there needs to be room in the system for at least some police and prosecutorial discretion. As an example: if someone’s taillight goes out, there’s a good chance they don’t know about it. A police officer pulling them over and giving them a warning (and I believe “warnings” should be logged so that other officers can tell if someone’s already been recently warned or has been simply ignoring the warnings and not altering their behavior) is not a bad thing; it helps get the vehicle repaired and keeps the streets a little safer. Likewise, there are times when the law is simply badly written or otherwise not wisely applied to a situation, and I’d like to think that - on average at least - the police officer would have sound enough judgement to recognize this.
As for the oversight option… we’re dealing with humans, here. If you start analyzing cops by a quota of how many tickets they write, then you give them a quota and we get into the problem of cops who ticket innocent people for imaginary offenses in order to meet quota. If you stick observers with them randomly, all you do is increase the number of eyes in the vehicle looking for crimes - and “missing” a crime can be as simple as having your vision obstructed while taking a sip of your coffee. If you run a camera in the vehicle, same deal; the camera may not always be where the officer is looking (though I DO think that dashboard cameras are laudable for traffic stops, and that retention of the video ought to be mandatory by law to prevent “he said, she said” problems between the cop and the citizen later).