Skip to comments.The “militarization” of police was not only inevitable, but necessary
Posted on 08/16/2014 4:38:17 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The rioting, protests and controversy continue to swirl around Ferguson this weekend, and you will no doubt be reading plenty of coverage from both sides about it. But in the background, a disturbing, larger national conversation has erupted out of the troubles in the St. Louis suburb. The hot topic everywhere seems to be a growing call to halt the so called militarization of the nations civilian police forces, highlighted by the riot suppression gear on display in Ferguson. Its an argument coming from both sides of the ideological spectrum, too.
The IBD editorial board warns us to beware of this trend. John Fund, writing at National Review, worries over not just police, but a host of federal agencies being armed to the teeth. Bob Barr sounds the alarm as to how the psyche of our police must become warped when they are equipped like soldiers. Our own Noah Rothman has written thoughtfully on the subject, expressing some of his own concerns.
Frankly, I find the whole discussion to be a rather rapid rush to judgement and lacking in larger context. As far as the specific incidents in Ferguson go, we still need a lot more information before final conclusions can be drawn. The details of the initial shooting may remain in question, but what followed was well documented. Riots and looting broke out on a massive scale for such a small town, and continue this morning. The local police stood on the edge of being completely overwhelmed. And whether or not you find their level of response appropriate, this one local disturbance has turned into a national demand to defang the police. The Washington Post quickly began issuing advice on how to tame the cops. Clearly the nations legislators were listening, as Hank Johnson (D Georgia) has already drafted legislation to do just that.
Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting to the nations first responders in general? Even if we are to assume that the Ferguson police crossed a line in breaking out their heaviest equipment in an attempt to reestablish control (which has not been conclusively proven at all, in my opinion), what of the rest of the country? As these critics frequently note, police departments in cities and towns of all sizes have been equipped with more modern, military style equipment for quite some time now and they dont seem to be converting the rest of the nation into a series of oppressive death camps. And far too often, the cops find themselves in need of the big guns and body armor.
In case you think Im coming in late to this debate, its not true. There was apparently a meeting held at some point in which Radley Balko was appointed as the go to guy for such discussions, but that dates back quite a ways. More than a year ago, Balko was pushing his ideas about so called warrior cops and at that time I penned an editorial stating that he was going too far.
Do we need kinder and gentler cops interacting with the community in a friendly fashion? It is certainly to the benefit of the police to be in good standing with a cooperative community and to know the people they protect and serve, but they also deserve a fighting chance when the situation suddenly turns violent and ugly. The rise of warrior cops may not be what everyone would hope for, but I dont see any realistic alternatives.
While I both understand and sympathize with the reminiscing for the good old days, the times have changed. The era of the lovable flatfoot, twirling his baton and wagging a finger at the precocious kid about to steal some penny candy has passed us by. Have we collectively forgotten the riots that took place following the Rodney King verdict? How about the now infamous North Hollywood shootout? And for our friends on the Left, what about the next time somebody goes into an elementary school armed with a Bushmaster and a couple of 9mm Glocks? You dont want us arming the teachers or having local residents open carrying to keep the school grounds safe. Leave it to the cops, you say. But should the cops be going into a situation like that with nothing more than a layer of cotton uniform and a revolver to protect themselves and take down the bad guys? Or should they have to wait until a SWAT unit from an appropriately large city shows up, with the shooter mowing down third graders in the meantime?
While the shooting of Michael Brown may provide a teachable moment in terms of police interactions with the community, the nearly immediate mayhem which followed should also serve as a timely reminder. The old assumptions of law enforcement and their unwritten compact with the citizenry relied on a society where the police and the laws were respected, and criminals were a minority who would be rejected by the rank and file residents. But when the majority of an entire community decides to break that compact, the formula changes. They realize that they outnumber and frequently outgun the cops. A slumbering, snarling beast is awakened and in short order the police can find themselves on the run. This is not a formula for freedom of speech
its the path to mayhem and the breakdown of civil society. Before youre too quick to demand the demilitarization of the police, you might want to remember who it is that stands between the neighborhood you have now and South Central L.A circa 1992. And Ferguson has shown us that you dont need a huge metropolitan area for it to happen.
It is about time the country has this talk.
The writer seriously understates the importance to effective policing of having public's good will.
There is only one alternative for the law to being in good standing with the public. Its not something any country wishing to remain free would want.
Sarcasm or serious? And many police in the UK now have weapons.
If they want to be Rangers then they can volunteer for Afghanistan.
The aggravated assault rate has tripled since the 60’s. The reason Mayberry-style PD’s are out of fashion is because violent perps are the rule rather than the exception. It used to be that most perps understood that they were the bad guys, and gave up when cornered. These days, perps think they are the good guys, and their vicious conduct reflects it. Only much-improved emergency room care has prevented the tripling in the rate of shootings, stabbings and so on from tripling the homicide rate. Rap isn’t the cause of it - it is the symptom of an underclass radicalized by Zinn, Chomsky and all of other lefties pushing - via the public education system - their vision of an unjust America that needs to be put out of its misery. These people, both the perps and their relatives and friends, are as socialized in American society as lions and leopards are in African society.
“You dont want us arming the teachers or having local residents open carrying to keep the school grounds safe.”
Any time you extend government power for “good” sooner or later that same power will be used for evil. Increasing government power almost always doe mroe harm than good.
Government overreach and excessive coercion is one of the basic reasons for the breakdown of respect for laws and government in the first place. Government and laws that interfere with the personal and private lives of individuals create a disdain and contempt in people for one another and for those laws and that government. That is a big deal in our culture right now.
The Left is usually the instigator of these problems. Riots and a lot of nonsense usually occur under Leftist regimes that have no respect for individuals’ private rights and freedoms.
This ought to be fun. Just going to kick back, and see what comments the FR speed readers crank out after whizzing through this one.
Some specialist officers regularly carry weapons in Britain. It's not like here, where every Barney Fife gets issued a Glock.
Rioting has been going on periodically for my entire lifetime. The cops always deal with it the same way. They form a perimeter and then let the rioters do the watusi for 2-3 days and burn down their own neighborhoods. It has not changed over the decades.
In Ferguson the cops did the same thing they always do, they pulled back and let the looting and burning happen. Then they decided to make tough with the media and some protesters who in video I witnessed were fairly calm until they were accosted by jumped up cops looking like the military. Tear gassing and arresting the media is not policing. Inciting protesters who are standing on a sidewalk is not policing.
Arm the people not the cops
save a lot of money spent on prisons too
Of course the commissars of our budding soviet state need a militarized police. The new NKVD need all the muscle it can get.
There’s less violent crime than any time in the nation’s history. If you walk around with a hammer all day, everything begins to look like a nail. Apply that maxim to law enforcement with tactical gear and a tactical mentality, and you see where it takes you. There
Yes, there are times when extraordinary equipment and methods may be necessary. Those times are and should be rare. A garden variety civil disturbance doesn’t require armored vehicles, snipers, and police who think they’re Delta Force. And Ferguson is a garden variety civil disturbance. It’s not an all out insurrection that threatens the social order-despite what breathless pundits on all sides would have you believe.
When “protect and serve” are core values instead of just slogans written on the door of a cruiser, there’s not much need for cool-guy gear and cool-guy tactics. But that’s not nearly as much fun for the hotshots who now carry badges for the wrong reason.
This post would have been popular during the Bundy Ranch standoff. Now, not so much, I’ll wager. Principles are usually flexible depending on how much one identifies with the parties involved, and not many Freepers will have much sympathy with the Ferguson protestors. Be that as it may, militarization of law enforcement is a trend that should be reversed, for all our sakes.
Cannot be said enough. They delight in the strife and grow in power over the increasing misery and unrest.
It's time to go back to the hue and cry model of policing, with police actually on foot, unarmed, and walking a beat.
History is laced with cultures that became more and more tyrannical as they decayed, in vain attempts to create with the sword that which they'd torn from the soul.
We arent going to be able to stop the proliferation of the military weapons to local police forces.
Its important, however, to change those things we can, and in this case one thing to change is our perception of those weapons.
We need to begin thinking of them as resources for our side, resources being maintained and fueled for us to use when they are needed.
I was a civilian (state employee) security guard at an Air Guard base in the 80’s after I left the service. Depending on my post that night I carried a S&W .38 revolver & 18 rounds or a FULLY AUTOMATIC (selective fire) Air-Force style M-16 with 120 rounds on my person. The local PD were actually somewhat scared of us. LOL
How about we quit breeding gibsmedats, quit inviting illegal aliens into the country ... maybe then we wouldn’t “need” uniformed thugs.
It would be a great help for the authorities to evoke more relaxed standards for self and property defense in situations of rampant lawlessness such as was the case in Ferguson.
The author is full of crap.
The problem is that when police are kitted out with military gear they will use it. Not just for riots, but they will do more mundane jobs, way down scale from riots, using the same tactics. It’s already happening, and people are already dead who should not be.
The every day cop needs his side arm and maybe a semi-auto rifle or shotgun in the trunk with a vest and helmet. Beyond that the “tactical unit” should be available for call up for specific incidents where there is a known SIGNIFICANT threat.
This does not mean serving normal warrants. If the need to serve a warrant or confront a significant threat arises then is should be executed on a rare basis rather than routine.
Not hardly, and it points to your 'us vs. them' mindset.
Police are supposed to be there to provide a service to the public. The public gets to decide how they are equipped. That's not hate, except in some twisted, steroid deranged bully's mind.
Spot-on Brevity Award, goes to Timber Rattler!
A military uniform should be reserved exclusively for military use - it is a universally recognized symbol that the Most Powerful Force in the World has arrived to kill enemies and SAVE populations.
Bloused camo pants aren’t going to stop a bullet any quicker than police uniform pants. Departments need to bugger off with the dress-up crap and the government needs to stop acting like a damn arms dealer to agency departments. And that includes painting armoured vehicles in camo or flat grey - paint the darn thing like the police vehicle it is.
If departments insist on on their officers being dressed up like rhinestone cowboys, AND they expect to retain the support of the military, then they might want to strongly consider conducting themselves under Warrior rules and knock off fostering perceptions that make REAL warriors look bad:
Police are a tool of the local citizens, to make their life easier. The military are to kick ass, take names, and protect the sovereignty of a nation.
Bingo. Part of the Grand Leftist Plan.
Sooner or later, the good guys are going to win. In a way, all this is a big bluff.
It’s interesting because arguing against the “militarization of police” ultimately is saying that more power has to go to State and Federal government than local.
Its somewhat analogous to 2nd amendment issue where the anti-right-to-bear side says big brother will take care of you, so you don’t need guns.
Here it is big big brother will come in and take care of your city if there are any problems, so you don’t need equipment to deal with riots or other threats to your city.
We need “good old boys” on the beat, as the US had 50 years ago. We do not need jack-booted thugs yelling “Get on the ground, GET ON THE GROUND, NOW!”
In Britain citizens don’t have guns.
Your comments are weird.
Not even the most liberal black Democrat would agree with you. (They are mostly looking to get more blacks employed as cops).
I wouldn’t walk around certain areas without being armed, many people don’t leave their home without being armed, which is probably the smartest way to go. I believe people should be armed in general; I don’t think being a cop should cause to be disarmed.
I was able to see the image by doing some unarmed investigation, reading the source html and using another browser to go directly to the site that doesn't allow hotlinking.
Big difference between a police force with riot gear and the para-military forces of Federal Departments which shouldn’t even have a law enforcement branch.
As the government on all levels grows bigger, more powerful and more intrusive so will its armed enforcers. No two ways about it.
Its interesting because arguing against the militarization of police ultimately is saying that more power has to go to State and Federal government than local.
Its somewhat analogous to 2nd amendment issue where the anti-right-to-bear side says big brother will take care of you, so you dont need guns.
Here it is big big brother will come in and take care of your city if there are any problems, so you dont need equipment to deal with riots or other threats to your city.
The point is those threats are vanishingly rare in most cases, and out of all proportion to the equimpment. To justify the expense, they have to use it, so the rules of engagement get looser and looser.
I’ll take my chances with the occasional riot.
Not the cops.
Big difference between a police force with riot gear and the para-military forces of Federal Departments which shouldnt even have a law enforcement branch.
If I’m on the ground with a boot on my neck, it doesn’t make much difference whether it’s a Fed, State, or local patch on the uniform.
I have been thinking about this for a little while now, but assumed if I put something out like this I would be rabidly flamed. Police have always been paramilitary, even their ranks are taken from the military. In fact, a lot of cops are former military, and carry the same deep respect for their fellow Americans as they did when they served. Back around the turn of the 20th century, cops were arming themselves with everything the gangsters had. They had fully auto Thompsons, and a host of other weapons that should have been alarming to the public. Times are changing fast, as demonstrated by all the discussion over what authority, or access cops should have over electronic media, and some seem to think cops should still be using a cheap ball-point pen and a sheet of carbon paper. Really, how many of us have ever seen cops armed with the equipment we are seeing in these photos? Cops prepare for worst case scenarios, and they should. I think the armored vehicles are a little over the top, but if that vehicle is the key that provides them the access to rescue people in a terrorist attack, then so be it. Certain elements in our society now believe they have the right, whenever they are offended, to take to the street, and disrupt the lives of every other citizen, and peace through strength doesn’t just apply to foreign policy.
They certainly don't need to be armed against the citizenry by the state.
I also carry everywhere. Cops don't need to. To turn it around. ;)
If the author must be a left wing fascist or a right wing fascist, there are plenty of countries for him (or her) to go to and be tossed without a care ... into the cauldron.
The United States of America is not up for sale to any police state authority nor to the many martinets who are mad enough to think, that the power they want to unleash ... will not be used against *them* personally.
You want a police state here? You will get fully-armed civil war, and much sooner.
Your proposal is to do that ... because you think that you want some solution ... because you “want to get to it” ... because you say “bring it.”
It will be brought, you and everything that you care and love, will be destroyed.
All the while you could not be bothered to love liberty and the worthy foundations of our blessed, free democratic-republic, the principles for which, *must* be defended.
The author is an utter failure at defending these principles, within the writing of his frustration for the day.
Yeah, no ####. The cartels have automatic weapons, muzzies are probably stockpiling heavy weapons and explosives in the basements of mosques, street thugs are carrying concealed weapons (up to and including automatic weapons, even here in little old Grand Rapids), and racist thieves are rioting in Missouri and elsewhere.
Of course, there will always be those who blame the police for not being diverse enough, or not being culturally sensitive enough, or for daring to duck when people throw things at them — and those people are even on FR. I’ve even been told, ridiculously enough, that it was only a matter of time before I was illegally detained by police for no reason whatsoever, and that was in open thread.
Apropos of nothing, paranoia is one consequence of long term drug use.
“The writer seriously understates the importance to effective policing of having public’s good will.”
I think what you’re trying to say is the key.
It’s how any police force or other organization uses their equipment.
Militarization of the police is beginning to sound a lot like the gun issue.
Blame the guns, not the murderer.
Blame the equipment, not the abuse of power.
Ultimately it points to more control from the Feds and less individual and local autonomy.
If police are militarized, its because our government has become increasingly centralized, and the progressive policy of the welfare state and government management over society have disconnected people from their local communities and their rights and responsibilities to civil society.
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