Let me put it crudely, and my apologies to the cops out there reading this.
Cops on the street are underlings. They jump the way they are told to jump.
Find the people giving the orders and deal with them.
It's not the guy on the street "denying rights" it's the guy pulling strings. Captains, Commanders, Chiefs, departmental lawyers, city attorneys, city councils, mayors.
This is a case where one starts at the top, and things trickle down.
This is absolutely the truth even with internal dealings among themselves. They do what they are told and when they are told to do it. I have seen it firsthand multiple times in different angencies. The street officer is only obeying a direct order and until that order changes he will not change.
One thing everyone has to remember, and it seems sv_libertarian has a good grasp on it, is that superiors are liable in court the same as the officers are, especially if they fail to give correct training and direction to thier officers. The last thing a superior wants is to get screwed in court because his officer didn't know.
I'm happy to read this discussion, but I will have to take issue with one precept.
In Washington, we practice what is called "professional policing," as opposed to what you might call "fraternal policing" as established in large east coast cities.
To that end, the average patrol officer does not make decisions with a lot of input from a supervisor. In many departments in this State, it is simply not practical to run every decision by a supervisor or department head.
The training process has evolved to support this, creating independant thinkers capable of making decisions based upon the training in law, case law, and civil rights.
The individual officer actually plays a greater part in the decision process regarding a contact than you might possibly imagine. He or she brings their knowledge and their bias to every contact. Usually this works out well, given the stringent hiring practices.
Now here is where the rub comes in. Training and policy *ARE* set by department heads, and to some extent street level supervision.
If you have an officer or group of officers who are consistently failing the grade on open carry, THEN your point has great merit and application. THEN is when you approach the department head and provide downward direction or training.
Just pointing out that the idea of cops as mindless cogs really has little merit in most Washington police agencies. In all but a few that I have associated or experienced, the basic decisions always rest with the patrol officer until the patrol officer has screwed up.