you admit that there is justified concern. Or as you put it, "no doubt you'd be concerned about my "arsenal.".
I apologize for not making my meaning clearer. In no way is there "justified concern," but some people are paranoid, and some people worry too much
about what other people have. The same type of thinking that says "they have military equipment so they must intend to act like the military" says
"they have guns so they must want to shoot people."
Fear leads to paranoia.
No, paranoia leads to unreasonable fear. As I have said, there is no reason to fear me or my guns unless you intend to try to hurt me. Likewise I do
not fear my local police just because they have more and bigger guns than I do. They have no reason
to use them on me, and if I did get mixed
up in some kind of police action I'd expect them to use the minimum necessary force.
How am I going to act if I know that my neighbor has enough firepower to settle any potential disputes with a "bang"?
Why would you act any differently than if he had no firepower? Again, you assume that just because a person HAS firepower, he will use it
inappropriately. My neighbor recently shot my dog, but when I went over there to discuss the matter I didn't even take a gun. Are you surprised to
learn that the matter was resolved amicably and without the use of any of my "firepower"?
In the same way that a bomb's purpose is to explode, the surplus military gear's purpose is to be used, as shown in my last post.
If, however, it is used appropriately
, you have nothing to fear from it. If violence or riots should erupt in my town, I will be thankful if
the police have the means to deal with it effectively.
During this debate I have come to wonder why "militarization" is unquestioningly accepted as a bad thing. I was in the military (Navy). My Dad is
retired career Army. Several of my co-workers are ex-marines. Except for a certain tendency to self-discipline and an expectation that their
subordinates will "obey" them in the work environment, I see little difference between their interactions with other people and the interactions of
people who have never been military.
I think that much of the concern about police "militarization" is due to the fact that people think the police view us (the general public) as the
"enemy." Perhaps this is so, to some extent, but if it is, where did it start, and how? We call them "pigs" and worse. We make fun of them,
complain about them, show them disrespect and have evolved evading or outsmarting "Smokey" into a redneck and macho art form. In movies and TV shows
they are often portrayed as either stupid, incompetent, and corrupt, (Dukes of H, Smokey & the Bandit) or aggressive, violent, vicious, and corrupt
(The Shield). WE have made THEM the enemy, and express our contempt, dislike, and disrespect of them openly and obviously. How would you
to such treatment?
At my job I periodically encounter police officers, usually as they are escorting a youthful offender to or from our facility. They often seem amazed
to be treated with courtesy and respect, and so far every one of them has responded in kind. It is us, the public, who have ceased being their allies
and supporters and become their enemy. They have had to learn to expect that the average citizen is more likely to interfere with them, obstruct them,
and oppose them than to assist them.
In my opinion, the solution to the perceived problem is not to take away from the police the equipment and training that enables them to protect
themselves and deal effectively with the occasional serious threat, but to restore their status as our protectors and allies, and give them the
respect they deserve for placing their lives on the line for our safety. If we stop calling them "pigs" and call them officers instead, they are
more likely to act like officers and gentlemen.
marching "double time!" and the use of para-military equipment such as armored vehicles however, are a clear indication of how the police
viewed the people in the protest.
I disagree. In my opinion, this is a clear demonstration of something called "deterrence." By showing off their superiority and capability, they
intended to convince people that violence was not going to be worth it because they were ready and able to respond. It didn't work, obviously, but I
believe that was the intent. The showing of superior force is an accepted tactic in many venues for discouraging the other side and convincing them
that backing down is their best option. It is in some respects analogous to showing a large paddle to a child and saying "I don't want to use this,
but I have it and I will if I have to ..." with intent to convince them not to engage in whatever misbehavior you think they are about to engage
The department now must seek permission from the three-member authority to use undercover officers to investigate any political group believed
to be involved in planning a crime.
You place emphasis on the subject of these investigations being "domestic" political parties as if they were harmless Libertarians or the like, but
to me the phrase "involved in planning a crime" is telling. A political group involved in planning a crime
becomes, by definition, no longer
just a political group but a criminal group.
Has it occurred to you that their purpose in these matters may be to protect the members of the political group, or the protesters, from potential
violence rather than being an attempt to interfere with the actions of the group? In an area where deer hunters may well be the majority of the male
population and steakhouses overwhelmingly outnumber vegetarian restaurants, a smart and responsible police department should
plan a show of
force and provide protection for a PETA march unless they want to see blood in the streets.
I see it as a "catch 22" for them. If they ignore the march or protest and there is violence, they will be criticized for their lack of response and
for not being there when the peaceful protesters needed them. If they do make a show of force and demonstrate their readiness and willingness to keep
the demonstration under control and protect the protesters, they will be criticized for being militarized and aggressive.
That paramilitary tactics are being used indiscriminately ... Most non-violent crimes, which are the majority of crimes, are met with the same
tactics that violent crime is.
You have suggested the above points, but I don't agree that you have proved them, or even made a good case for them. SWAT teams are not responding to
domestic disputes or reports of "disturbing the peace." APC's are not rolling out to apprehend shoplifters or even bank robbers. The heavy
equipment is being used primarily against organized crime, such as drug cartels and gangs, and in situations where there is an expectation of mob
behavior, rioting, or gang violence. In other words, although there are some mistakes because police are ultimately human and do make mistakes, the
surplus military equipment is being used (or not used) appropriately
the overwhelming majority of the time.
This trend, spear-headed by our loss of freedom, and the increasingly somber prospect of centralized power are the hallmarks of a militarized
Assuming no overarching conspiracy ...
And therein lies, perhaps, the crux of the matter. Is there a conspiracy on the part of elements of the government to take away our freedoms and
institute something more like martial law? Is there a power grab underway by the proverbial "Powers That Be?" There may well be, but the police
themselves are no more the ones behind it than the soldier ordered to "take a hill" is responsible for the overall conflict.
I suggest that, if a military style coup is in the future of the US, the police will be caught in the middle and will be victimized - and used
- to a greater extent than any other segment of the population except perhaps the actual military and the National Guard. They, more than any other
group, are likely to be torn between their training and sworn oaths to obey their superiors and their desire NOT to turn against their own communities
and neighbors. Our (as in the general public) attitude towards them may be the deciding factor in which way they ultimately turn, and it is our
attitude of fear, suspicion, distrust, disrespect, and contempt towards them that is separating them from us, not the equipment they have or the
training they are receiving.
I point you again towards the aforementioned fact that less than one percent of the US police force have been involved in "paramilitary" incidents
According to a law firm's website
Because of human error as well as systemic problems, between 44,000 and 98,000 people are killed each year by medical errors in hospitals
So the medical professions - our doctors and nurses - are accidentally killing at least 44,000 people each year, and our "militarized" police have
accidentally killed somewhere around 300 or so (estimating from the cato.org site) people in the past 23 years
. Yet we are making a huge issue
out of the latter situation without even taking into account that some of those "innocent" victims fired on police, were involved in criminal
(albeit nonviolent) activities, or were in the wrong place at the wrong time when they perhaps could have avoided it using better judgment. With or
without Uzis and tanks, it looks like we should be far more afraid of doctors than police.