July 30, 2015

Militarization of Police: A Disturbing Trend

Militarization of Police

Gun News

There is a disturbing trend among law enforcement agencies, both local (municipal departments, state police agencies and sheriff’s offices) and federal. This trend is what some are calling “militarization,” and it has become a controversial topic. The controversy is being generated by several issues within the concept of militarization. I am not deluded enough to believe that law enforcement people see this issue the same way that the average tax payer does. But, as a tax payer and former law enforcement officer, I feel that these issues need to be raised and discussed. I am firmly in the camp that the militarization is a bad idea. It is a bad idea because it is expensive, it is furthering the disconnect between citizens and officers, and it is causing police officers and federal agents to act more like an occupying army than an entity charged with assisting citizens.

We as a country have a record debt that continues to spiral out of control. This debt is so large as to be almost comical. We now speak of millions of dollars as mere pocket change and billions as discretionary income. The debt has been caused by both republicans and democrats. The problem is that no one is willing to cut spending, and this includes law enforcement agencies. Just as an example; my local police department has changed the paint schemes on their cars at least three times in the last ten years. Most of the money used for these changes comes from grants from the federal government. Where does grant money come from? Tax payers. So, while our debt continues to accumulate, we continue to spend. The question is, what are law enforcement agencies spending this money on? Part of the answer can be seen on the nightly news.

How many times in the last few years have we witnessed situations where a SWAT team is called in and they appear in their MRAP or other armored vehicles, with the members dressed in Multi-Cam uniforms complete with Kevlar helmets and baklavas and armed to the teeth with the latest in military firepower? That is where a big chunk of tax payer money is going. Now, does that mean that the officers should be armed only with pistols? Absolutely not! But, do they really need multi-cam? Do they really need M-4s? Let us discuss the latest craze—MRAPs. I cannot for the life of me figure out why a police department or federal agency needs a mine and rocket-resistant armored vehicle. When was the last time a police agency came under a rocket attack? Is someone expecting I-15 in Utah to be mined? They must, because the Utah Highway Patrol just purchased an MRAP! But it does not stop there; they also received four grenade launchers and over 1200 rifles. Remember, all of this is being paid for by you and me, and if the feds are going to sell their surplus, why can’t citizens participate? Why can’t we buy surplus military rifles at the same prices that cops can? Not to mention that they were able to purchase this MRAP (which had less than 1,000 miles on it) for $8300. Brand new, they cost $300,000. Great use of tax payer money — somewhere along the line, we lost $291,700. It’s no wonder we have such a monstrous deficit!

Here is the real scary part: We paid for this equipment with our taxes to protect our soldiers overseas, but now this equipment is being repurchased with our local taxes to be used against us. Do not kid yourself, this equipment is not for our protection, but for the protection of LEOs enforcing laws, whether constitutional or not.

When I was growing up, police officers wore uniforms that were distinctly police looking. They were armed with pistols, shotguns and some had rifles, like the Mini-14. TheseMilitarization of Police officers were participating in a program called Community Oriented Policing. Officers were encouraged to get to know the citizens in their communities as well as the business owners. The purpose of this was to foster an attitude of cooperation between police and citizens. I know this because this is what I was taught in the police academy and what we practiced in the streets. This no longer exists. Now, most interactions between police and citizens are adversarial, at best. There is now a real chasm between citizens and law enforcement officials, and the chasm is growing exponentially. Distrust of law enforcement is at an all-time high, and rightfully so. Here are just a couple of examples:

December 20, 2012–Ogden, Utah police served a warrant at 2:30 a.m. by breaking down the door and storming the house in full SWAT mode. The residents were handcuffed and arrested.

Unfortunately, the police were at the wrong address.

October 4, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah–SLCPD served a no-knock search warrant on a home that they suspected had drugs and weapons, but it only had an elderly widow. This widow, “had the event of a lifetime…” according to Chief Chris Burbank commenting on the “mistake.” That’s right; the cops were at the wrong house.

If the above cited examples do not make your blood boil, try this one:

Lebanon, Tennessee–A man and his wife were watching television when the police broke their door down, serving a search warrant. The home owner, John Adams, confused and frightened by the police action, grabbed his shotgun and shot at the illegal intruders. The intruders, officers Kyle Shedran and Greg Day shot and killed Adams. Guess what? They were at the wrong house. According to Chief Billy Weeks, “we did the best surveillance we could do, and a mistake was made. It’s a very severe mistake–a costly mistake. It makes us look at our own policies and procedures to make sure this never occurs again, however, the two policemen were not at fault.”

They were not at fault. What comfort this sweet sentiment gives! This is why the chasm is growing and growing rapidly. If it is not the fault of the officers, then where does the fault lie?

Have you ever paid close attention to the Miranda Rights? These are the rights read to each suspect upon arrest or before questioning. Let me point out a line that is often overlooked, “… Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” (Emphasis mine) Do see anywhere that it says that anything you say will be used to free you or exonerate you? No, anything you say will be used against you. This is exactly why I never answer any questions that a law enforcement officer asks me. They will lie to you (perfectly legal Frazier v. Cupp) to get you talk. This is another reason that regular citizens distrust the police; they will lie to get you to speak, but if you lie in return, I guarantee you will be charged with lying to a police official.

The founding fathers of these United States feared a standing army because of the years of British rule that they had suffered under. This is one of the reasons for the Second Amendment. Can we not make the comparison that our law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, are now acting like a standing army? Have you ever heard the old adage— If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck? Well—If it looks like a soldier, dresses like a soldier, and is armed like a soldier—it is a soldier. Are supposed to believe that the police driving MRAPs and armed with grenade launchers are here for our protection? In today’s world, our right to bear arms is being limited while law enforcement’s is expanding. Where in the constitution does it grant law enforcement greater rights in bearing arms than it does to the people?

Why is it necessary for every government agency to have a Paramilitary force? Is it really necessary for the Department of Education to have armed agents? Are they really that worried about student loans? These Paramilitary forces are all armed exactly the same way that our military forces are armed. They have automatic weapons, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, etc. The Internal Revenue Service, a glorified collection agency, has a Paramilitary force as well. Why is this entire expense necessary? Why are we the tax payers allowing this misuse of our money to go unchecked?

It is time that we demand answers and accountability. The militarization of police is a bad idea and will only produce bad results. As long as law enforcement units can call the killing of an innocent civilian a mistake and not the fault of the officers, then we will have a major and deadly disconnect.

Comments
99 Responses to “Militarization of Police: A Disturbing Trend”
  1. Not Barney Fife says:

    Sad to say, it seems that current “training” is geared toward attempting to escalate any “contact opportunity” INTO AN ARRESTABLE “OFFENSE” ,MOST ESPECIALLY IF THE CONTACTING OFFICERS WERE WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE. When ordinary people are assailed in their homes by badge wearing thugs in full “ballistic -resistant” gear, the family dog is shot, and the helpless owner, who is proned-out on the floor , with a thugs knee in the back of his neck, gets jeered by same thug ofr not having “restrained” his dog, something is as far out of wack as it can be ( YES, I read such an account on another popular website, They unfortunately have new material nearly daily!) ). It really IS no wonder that ordinary, law abiding citizens ( you know, the ones with no probation officer to use as a job reference?) no longer trust police.

    • Citizen John says:

      Amen !

      • james says:

        I ran into this a couple of years ago with a local sheriff after he stopped me for supposedly trespass (proven incent) I idenitfyed myself as a ccw holder along with the passenger in my truck! I was ask to step out to the rear of my truck since I was not speeding I ask the officer what he stopped me for he said we will get back to that in a min! where was I coming from! I told him a land mark I knew about 4 miles from the turn, about that time another person came up and said the reason I was stopped was I was hunting on his lease! I told him where I had been hunting he said no I had come from another location belonging to some one I know of! I told him no I was hunting on a friend of mines land not theirs! the sheriff ask me if there was any weapons in my truck I told him well since I just told you I was a ccw holder and was armed the answer to that question had to be yes! at which point he proceeded to go open both doors on the drivers side and start to search my truck !” in my state if you identify yourself as a ccw as long as there is no other reason the police cant use safety as a reason to search your vehicle” with out probable cause as neither me nor my passenger drink so no odor of alcohol and no drugs either! they later found my loaded deer rifle in the floor of my truck covered with all kinds of clothes! I later found out that you cant carry a loaded long gun during hunting season! he then called the game warden to write me a ticket for having the long gun loaded! long and short he looked for reason to arrest instead of trying to find out the truth! I am happy to say that leo is no longer working!

    • Pictsweet says:

      Trust and honesty I think is what all this comes down to. Do you trust our laws and law enforcement to be true and honest. (example) I give a late turn signal and I get a ticket. Same officer gives no turn signal right after giving me a ticket nothing happens ( above the law). I go on a trip ( vacation) i am not a credit card user for the most part, so I carry cash a lot more than most people. I get stopped for speeding. Can I search your car? I have nothing to hide so I say sure. Almost $15000.00 in cash found, cash eventually taken under forfeiture laws. You sign this paper giving us the money and you can be on your way. It cost more $$ than that to fight it. Not to mention the time. I don’t know for sure but I guess carrying almost $15000.00 around in a car worth half that doesn’t make sense to some. I like to go to the Casino. I am frugal to say the least. It’s a bad law when it’s abused. Which makes a good LEO bad. Power can corrupt almost anyone to a certain degree. When we see and know our officers are breaking the law no mater how small and nothing happens what kind of message are they sending. Where is the good example. LEO’s are like the rest of us they have good days and bad they are not perfect but they have to be better, more honest, more trustworthy than anyone but your Pastor or gradualy all trust is lost. When our law enforcement loses our confidence we all lose. I was raised to respect these people and it only takes one or two times to lose that respect and support for all. When you are a cop just doing your job isn’t good enough. If that is your attitude find another job.

      • james says:

        im sorry sir Pictsweet but I got a $190 dollar ticket for carrying a loaded long gun during hunting season that was found in an illegal search I spent 3 times that much just in gas to go back and forth to fight the thing not to mention legal fees! I fought it on the matter of principal! you let the leo’s take advantage of their power because they can! no short cuts for cops! I make them do their jobs right! if they have want to search my vehicle I require them to get a search warrant! period! if they cant then let me go! this is how do it correctly! they are trained to ask you to give up your rights in a way that you don’t know you are! After being ask to let them search and denied them the privilege I have been ask what you got to hide trying to get me to let them search! I tell them nothing just not letting you take a short cut to doing your job! I tell them I will happily let them search as soon as they get a warrant and will even wait patiently while they get one!

  2. Justin P says:

    As far as radio communication encryption goes I am with the cops on this one but… being in the army for many years and using only secured lines of communication during operations, I know for fact that this could be used easily to sodomize the Liberty of free people. Keeping the public in the dark can be dangerous too, perhaps in the long run as much as as not having it would threaten the safety of our law enforcement officers. There is an easy solution to this dilemma though: for opsec when transmitting names our addresses or other sensitive information, the officers can push a button while to “bleep” out those parts. The technology is already there. This way the American public who is listening will know if something is not right with the government if all you hear is silence. Also, scanners give people the ability to know what is happening in their communities day to day and during emergencies. Scanners are just not for nefarious reasons. Scanners and ham radio operators can help the public greatly during emergencies and it doesn’t cost tax payers a dime!

    Justin

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