“If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier’s mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not.”
~Arthur Rizer, former civilian police officer and member of the military
Being a cop is a hard job sometimes; you never know what day you’re going to get shot at and people treat you like a dick sometimes because they have a chip on their shoulders. We have all known policemen or policewomen who are friends, family or neighbors and we know them to be good people. They are the 99%; in fact my neighbor is a Detective and I’m glad he’s there in case anything ever goes wrong.
But the stress of the position in conjunction with unchecked authority can create a sense of superiority that police should never adopt. They are simply there to protect and serve – period. Yeah – you can give me a ticket but don’t be a dick about it. And if you’re a police officer – I know I need to show you the respect your position deserves because you have to maintain law and order. It’s a social contract and we all have to abide by it. When you take the stress of this position along with certain superior personalities who feel they may be holier than thou (they’re not) and then you add to the equation military grade equipment … that’s a recipe for disaster.
Local police or sheriff’s departments DO NOT need drones. They don’t need tanks. They do not need bazookas. They don’t need to dress like they’re going to war in Iraq. These guys are here to PROTECT – not hit me over the head with a baton and /or shoot me and my friend with a rubber bullet (if I’m lucky). Now – there are some serious situations where they may need some serious equipment like assault rifles to deal with a bank robbery like the infamous North Hollywood bank robbery in 1997 (video here) and in a situation where guys with automatic rifles and kevlar vests are robbing a bank and holding hostages – YES … the SWAT team and or local police should be fully prepared to deal with that scenario.
But that is a far cry from peaceful or even annoying protesters who are in mass and using their constitutionally protected rights to protest their government. And police throughout the country have shown they do not have the professionalism to utilize the resources that they have at their disposal without abuse. And thus – police clearly should not have access to these resources for that very reason. They may be able to do good, but the potential for abuse is too frequent and too great. But beyond that … Americans should be holding the Mayors of their cities directly accountable. Should there be abuse or an unwillingness to respect voters’ constitutional rights … those mayors should be in turn fired by voters.
Bottom line – cops shouldn’t have drones, planes, military equipment etc that they’ve been receiving FREE from the Department of Defense for years; I want my police to serve and protect and that’s it.
The NY Times writes HERE:
What seems clear is that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and the federal Homeland Security dollars that flowed to police forces in response to them, have further encouraged police forces to embrace paramilitary tactics like those that first emerged in the decades-long “war on drugs.”
Both wars — first on drugs, then terror — have lent police forces across the country justification to acquire the latest technology, equipment and tactical training for newly created specialized units.
Radley Balko, a journalist who has studied the issue, told a House subcommittee on crime in 2007 that one criminologist found a 1,500 percent increase in the use of SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams in the United States in roughly the last two decades.
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States. But today, some local and city police forces have rendered the law rather moot. They have tanks — yes, tanks, often from military surplus, for use in hostage situations or drug raids — not to mention the sort of equipment and training one would need to deter a Mumbai-style guerrilla assault.
The Atlantic says the trend towards the militarization of the police started because of 9/11 HERE:
In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a “soldier’s mentality” among their ranks. Though the reasons for this increasing militarization of American police forces seem obvious, the dangerous side effects are somewhat less apparent.
Undoubtedly, American police departments have substantially increased their use of military-grade equipment and weaponry to perform their counterterrorism duties, adopting everything from body armor to, in some cases, attack helicopters. The logic behind this is understandable. If superior, military-grade equipment helps the police catch more criminals and avert, or at least reduce, the threat of a domestic terror attack, then we ought deem it an instance of positive sharing of technology — right? Not necessarily. Indeed, experts in the legal community have raised serious concerns that allowing civilian law enforcement to use military technology runs the risk of blurring the distinction between soldiers and peace officers.
Public Intelligence writes about government funding to purchase military weapons for domestic use (having started in 2004 and continuing through the present day) HERE:
For the last two years, the President’s Budget Submissions for the Department of Defense have included purchases of a significant amount of combat equipment, including armored vehicles, helicopters and even artillery, under an obscure section of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the purposes of “homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities.”
Items purchased under the section include combat vehicles, tanks, helicopters, artillery, mortar systems, missiles, small arms and communications equipment. Justifications for the budget items indicate that many of the purchases are part of routine resupply and maintenance, yet in each case the procurement is cited as being “necessary for use by the active and reserve components of the Armed Forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities” under section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA.
And the Associated Press reports that there is a TEMPORARY halt to the Department of Defense giving free weapons, planes, military equipment etc HERE; this is most likely due to requests for information by the Associate Press:
The Defense Department has stopped issuing weapons to thousands of law enforcement agencies until it is satisfied that state officials can account for all the surplus guns, aircraft, Humvees and armored personnel carriers it has given police under a $2.6 billion program, The Associated Press has learned.
The department’s Defense Logistics Agency ordered state-appointed coordinators in 49 states to certify the whereabouts of that equipment that has already been distributed through the long-running arrangement overseen by the agency’s Law Enforcement Support Office. The temporary halt on transferring weapons applies to all states, agency officials said Thursday.
The program provides police departments and other law enforcement agencies with military equipment ranging from guns and helicopters to computers and air conditioners and even toilet paper. The equipment is cheap or free for law enforcement agencies to acquire, but much of it comes with strict rules that prohibit it from being sold and dictate how it must be tracked.
And for people to fully absorb what this militarization of the police looks like …feel free to look at these pictures below:
Chapel Hill, NC
A Stanislaus, California sheriff displays an “inert” rocket launcher provided by the Pentagon
Cobb County, Georgia
Anaheim, California Police department
Virginia police at Virginia state capitol protecting people from pro-choice protesters <snark>
Texas highway patrol
National City, California
Nebraska state police
Anaheim, California police
Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff’s Department
Richland County, South Carolina
Los Angeles, California
Denver, Colorado police