“While we can look like soldiers, sound like soldiers and sometimes even train with soldiers, we’re not soldiers (unless the individual officer has membership in National Guard or Reserve military components). These days, it seems the military is being pushed our direction mission-wise. Still, the fundamental mission is different – we’re here to keep the peace and to be gate-keepers for the system of criminal justice. Theirs is to kill people and break stuff.” Rich Grassi, U.S. Army (ret.) and peace officer (also ret.)

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62 Responses to Quote of the Day: Cops Are Civilians Too Edition

  1. There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

  2. Amen to that quote….You hear it all the time. Police actually refer to “civilians” but forget that the tag includes them also.

  3. It seems to me that we’re witnessing the civilian form of mission creep when it comes to law enforcement. Using the war on terror as justification, Americans are getting quite accustomed to police using military/ intelligence equipment and tactics. Platoon sized swat teams, snipers, now drones.

    I’m not a black helicopter guy. I’m simply questioning do we really need this much law enforcement?

    • I expect the answer you’d get to “…do we really need this much law enforcement?” has to do with perceived threats from terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. Some how the line between Police and Military has become blurred where dealing with Domestic Terror threats are concerned.

      • “Domestic terror threats” now include third party supporters, SHTF preppers, and almost all firearm owners. Those known in different times as responsible citizens. The current state of affairs should worry everyone, but since it wasn’t a radical change, most citizens have been conditioned to accept this as a necessary evil.

  4. “Still, the fundamental mission is different – we’re here to keep the peace and to be gate-keepers for the system of criminal justice. Theirs is to kill people and break stuff.”

    Sadly this is becoming less of a distinction every day.

    • Mission Creep.
      “Still, the fundamental mission is different – we’re here to keep the peace and to be gate-keepers for the system of criminal justice. Theirs is to kill people and break stuff.”

      I agree killing and breaking should be left to the Army and Marines!!! But not in this Country.

      My little town of ~4000 has a swat team. Why?
      We have had two murders in 10 years. All with family members.
      Police running around in black gear and black guns do not help!

      Right now the police seem to be doing a “pretty good job of killing and breaking things?

      Have you ever thougth of what you would do, if you were home and someone tried breaking into your home? With SWAT and a no knock warrent you will probaly die. Bust your door down and you go for your gun, you are dead!

      Of course the SWAT team is at the wrong house!
      You are still dead.

      Guy22

  5. I’m sure one of our saviors in blue (or is it coyote brown now?) will be along any second to tell us that we actually don’t have enough.

  6. – Give Peace Officers a chance.

    – Police officers are “Peace Officers”, and Islam is a “Religion of Peace”

    – If “War is Peace”, are “Peace Officers” really “War Officers”?

    – We have Peace Officers with honour, Peace Officers in our time.

    And not an original quote, but worth mentioning :

    TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: “We used to have peace officers. Now we have law enforcement officers. The difference is more than just semantics.”

    Posted by Glenn Reynolds at 11:17 pm on February 24, 2012

  7. ci·vil·ian   [si-vil-yuhn]
    noun
    1. a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization.

    • That is a poor dictionary definition, bub. Sorry. The military refers to police as “civilian law enforcement” and they are not considered combatants (unless actively taking part in military operations) under the Geneva Conventions.

      • “civilian law enforcement”

        Typical of the military blood & guts mindset rather than a believing in a phrase such as “civilian peace officers”. Wonder when the next military thinking phrase will go to “state human resource control”.

    • Yep, that is how the dictionary defines civilian. Does that make it true? Not if you take into account how often the dicitonary has been changed in the last 30 years. A dictionary used to be a source of reference. Now it is less about standards than entertainment. D’oh was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2001. A loss of credibility right there.

      Police, by long tradition, are to investigate crime and catch criminals. This mission creep of anti-terrorism with a militarized police force contributes gratly to out loss of freedoms. Examples: Police using drones to observe the common folk is a violation of the 4th Amendment. Law enforcement officials approving a CCW or NFA application.

      • It reminds me of the 1984 “Newspeak Dictionary”. Welcome to the game of “You can use any words you wish, we’ll just change the definition”. Much like the anti’s interpretation of “a well regulated militia”.

      • How does adding, “d’oh,” too the dictionary reduce it’s credibility? The dictionary is supposed to reflect the language it is in and what the words mean. If it never changed to reflect words that had been added to the common venacular then what use would it be? We would not have words like “quiz,” or “meme.”

        The definition of “civilian” offered is correct, as language runs off of a social consensus of what words mean. If you go up to random people on the street and ask them “Is that police officer a civilian?” they will most often say “no.”

        • If you do not see a problem with police defined as civilian I doubt I can change your mind. D’oh and words like it added to the dicitonary are a reflection of the piss poor education system. A system where students are failed up so their fragile little minds do not have to cope with failure. It contributes to this false definition of civilian because civics and social studies curriculum have become watered down. Students are not taught our history and the reasons why it developed as it did.

  8. Can somebody please explain to me what is so objectionable about the idea that law enforcement officers are not civilians?

    Or, converseley, why some people object to referring to law enforcement officers as civilians?

    • It is because of the attitude it inspires. It becomes and “us against them” where the police are seperate from the population that they are supposed to protect (as opposed to being part of the society as a whole). That small shift can lead to special priveleges and exceptions (“if it was a civilian doing x we would so bust him, but Frank is a cop so we will let this one slide”) and in the long term an outright break from society.

    • LEO’s cannot be civilians, because civilians cannot murder innocent people for no reason and face zero consequences.

    • The issue is that police act as agents of the state, more so with the advent of DHS and the war on terror. The police are supposed to deal with internal threats while the military is supposed to deal with external threats. The objection raised repeatedly here on TTAG is that under conventional wisdom, police and military act as agents of government and aren’t therefore civilians in the connotative sense, the more so that the lines between military and law enforcement are becoming increasingly blurry.
      The popular rebuttal is that police are just good people doing a job and shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush as the military and certain federal agencies.
      The reason this gets so heated is because to a non-LEO, the distinction between the national guardsman who detains you at a roadblock and the police officer who is investigating potential terrorism activity is semantic. Both act on behalf of the government and both wield great power over individual citizens.

  9. I understand the philosophy. Whether you consider police / peace officers / LEOs to be civilians or not (definitions vary), it is clear that mission creep is an issue. As an LEO, I’ve been called many things (the white devil, a$$hole. peace officer, pig, etc.). I am definitely not a ‘civilian driver,’ as it is clear that I drive with a different mission and speed than non-LEOs. One of the multitude of mistakes that drivers make is ignoring the presence of police cars on emergency runs, and failing to understand that a police officer may be called to an emergency at any moment during their shift.

    To me, the title is less important than the philosophy. The Us vs. Them philosophy is a pitfall where police separate themselves from and vilify the non-LEO population. That can easily happen after years of working with the worst examples of the human experience. When police stray from their mission of public service, they lose their value to society and the respect of the population that they serve.

    I appreciate TTAGs desire for police accountability. The 2A is, among many things, a system of checks and balances that protects American freedom. It also allows the public to protect themselves, which is often a job that police can not accomplish. I value freedom much more than the definition of my occupation. To me, the litmus test is freedom, rather than the definition of my occupation. Whether para military or not, a peace officer who values freedom is an asset. A cop who doesn’t value freedom is a disgrace regardless of how he defines himself.

    • Accur81, yours was a great comment. When guys like you run PDs all over the country, guys like me will have more respect for cops.

  10. Others are saying it, this sword cuts both ways. While the police are being militarized, the Military is being civilized. Kill people and break things used to be what they did. Not like that was a thousand years ago with swords and long bows. Go talk to your grand dad. Go to the local VA hospital or old age home and speak to the living folks who fought in WWII. War then was war. Warriors were warriors. When we freaking firebombed Dresden or Tokyo nobody weeped for all the causalities. 100,000’s of thousands of dead in hours ! Marines used FLAME THROWERS to burn Japs alive on the various islands. They didn’t take prisoners as their first mission. They KILLED THEM. Island defended by 25,000. 12 prisoners taken. Mostly by accident. We fought TOTAL WARS !

    Somewhere along the line the military has turned into an organization that has been handcuffed and made politically correct. Where they are court martialed for pissing on a corpse. In WWII GIs wore necklaces of Jap ears. Guys made letter openers out of shin bones. WAR IS WAR. It is NOT some game with rules. It is a prime reason we have such little success in Astan now. The Russkies may have left Astan but they took their pound of flesh. Estimates of a million Afgans killed. Not pretty but they did what a warrior does. Kill and break things. We are now in a bizarro world where everything is upside down.

    • The situations are a lot different. The Japanese soldiers were wearing uniforms and part of the IJA. They did not respect the rules and laws of war and their behavior was monstrous. After our troops were exposed to their barbarism they felt they no longer had to abide by the “gentlemen’s rules” crafted in Europe 30 – 40 years before their time. Not to mention that a lot of them were in it for the duration. Troops did not rotate out after six month or year long deployments. They were in it to win it and wanted the war to end as fast as possible so they could go back home.

      And, this is going to be an incredibly unpopular sentiment, but many of our men were debased by the whole savagery of the Pacific Campaign. A lot of them later regretted some of the things they did, such as the collection of gold teeth and wearing Japanese ears. That’s what real total war does to people. It reduces men to their most savage states.

      “He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

        • Worf always got his ass kicked because he never fought as the real Klingons did, hard, dirty, and to the end. He was somewhat civilized by his experiences in Starfleet.

          One could draw a corollary to the civilization in recent years of our own military, and their inability to get things done the way we (and they) might want to.

      • +100 for quoting Nietzsche.

        What a wonderful person!

        I think its ridiculous about how people preach “war is war” but fail to understand that wars now are not fought as total war because the wars in iraq and afghanistan are only there to secure the world’s last energy reserves and to enrich the armaments industries.

        Fighting a war like what we did in the pacific would be politically impossible to do now, with the advent of the digital world.

    • The only morally correct way to fight a war is totally. Fight hard to win quicker.

      Excluding civilians from the impact of war has been our aim since 1945, but this has only allowed the people of a country to escape responsibility for allowing their government to kill or terrorize. Why should Afghanis feel a need to stop Al Qaeda from training in their country if they get no punishment? Who is in a better position to stop them, the people living there or the US military?

      Our laws of warfare are no longer, if they ever were, suitable for civilization. The people must be held responsible for the governments they allow to rule them.

      • No, people need to accept that these nation-building experiments are not actual wars like our fathers and grandfathers fought. They’re attempts at installing democracies in countries that have either been without them for a long time or never had a functioning national government to begin with.

        Plus the Afghan population isn’t some monolithic bloc that can be held responsible for the actions of the Taliban, many of whom are foreigners anyway.

        That’s not even addressing the morality of what you’re proposing.

        I’d like to remind you that civilian reprisals are the hallmark of armies fighting for totalitarian states and/or ideologies.

        • Iran? He may have been the better leader, but our black ops folks are who installed The Shah also in the 1950s. TPAJAX Project. There was already a “will of the people” leader before we effed with it.

          Let’s not even mention Iraq and the fact that Saddam was our golden boy especially as he was fighting the nightmare Iran that we helped create. He could do anything he wanted and human rights meant nothing, at least until he quit doing as he was told.

          We only value ‘democracy” when it suits our needs and the elections end with the candidate of our choosing. I grew weary of this neo-con propaganda that has us “promoting democracy” and “nation building” back when Reagan was in office.

        • “I’d like to remind you that civilian reprisals are the hallmark of armies fighting for totalitarian states and/or ideologies.”

          Tell that to Harry Truman.

        • They’re attempts at installing democracies in countries…

          You mean puppet governments? Look at Egypt, it got a democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood was elected. If Iraq and Afghanistan had democractically elected governments, you really think they would elect leaders who are relatively friendly towards the country which invaded them?

  11. As much as the general presence of cops raises my hackles, I really wish it wasn’t that way. I’m glad to see TTAG pushing these issues and allowing heated discussion from both sides of the blue line.

  12. As a rule I support the police. Regardless of what the haters say we need them. What I would like to see is a drawback from the militarised cop. Loose the masked hoods and Fritz pots. Let’s get more beat cops out there, guys that work a neighberhood long enough to get the trust and accweptence of the people.

    And yes, breaking the faith with the citizens that are to be served and protected deserves harsh punishment.

    • Agreed. The USG has declared that the greatest terrorist threat to America (or someone’s version of America) is from domestic terrorists. I’m more concerned with the threat to America coming from the politicians in the District of Columbia than from some folks living in rural America who often get stereotyped and profiled by government, the mass media, Hollywood, and others.

    • Let’s get more beat cops out there

      You have put your finger on the heart of the problem. If cops were part of the community, they would be hard to hate.

      • Ralph, on this site cops are frequently berated for enforcing the laws of the land. In this we civilians have faileds the cops, not the other way around. This is our government, these are our politicians and if they have passed unjust or unfair laws it’s on us, the citizens for not cracking the whip on our lawmakers.

        Blaming the honest cops for our apathy and laziness is unjust. The dishonest cops can go to hell.

        • Jwm and Ralph,

          I’ve never met you guys, but you have had my respect for a long time. I’m as concerned about the passivization of our military as much as the militarization and over spending of the police force. There are a number of TTAGrs I would enjoy having a beer with.

        • The officers are berated for enforcing the laws of the land because they are unjust. Those police officers can always choose to exercise discrection and not enforce them, but with rare exception, they do not.

        • matt. We cannot simply declare the law of the land unjust and absolve ourselves of responsibility. We are all part of the system and if the system isn’t working right it’s up to us to fix it.

          We pay taxes out of our paychecks and on every purchase we make. Every day we work and keep the economy chugging along. Each of us has a part in the system and for us to point at a cop or a soldier and declare them at fault is a deniel of our own individual part in the problem.

          If we feel the law is unjust then we need to get involved and change the law. Of course in a nation of 300 + million people we may have 300+ million opinions of what an unjust law is.

        • We are all part of the system and if the system isn’t working right it’s up to us to fix it.

          We both agree on this. It is how you go about fixing it that we have differing opinions. I wonder if you’ll change your opinion if Obama gets reelected?

          Each of us has a part in the system and for us to point at a cop or a soldier and declare them at fault is a deniel of our own individual part in the problem.

          Those are two completely seperate things.

          If we feel the law is unjust then we need to get involved and change the law.

          With force.

        • Using force to fix the system won’t work. As a rule people in this country are still fairly well off. We have food and shelter and our kids can go to school and learn a trade. Creating an uprising in the land of the fat and lazy is a pipe dream.

          As for barry, I made it through 8 years of clinton and 8 years of bush and managed to keep moving forward so I don’t think another term of barry is going to derail me. After all in California we never had the AWB repealed and still live with 10 round mags.

          If barry gets a second term the folks in texas and arizona will just have to feel my pain too.

          So we’re back to blaming the cops for enforcing laws we don’t like. That kind of puts us in the shoes of the 2 yo caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Instead of accepting our responsibility in the matter we throw a temper tantrum.

        • As a rule people in this country are still fairly well off. We have food and shelter and our kids can go to school and learn a trade.

          Having food and shelter isnt considered to be “well off”, even homeless people can go to a shelter and a soup kitchen.

          After all in California we never had the AWB repealed and still live with 10 round mags.

          Same here.

          So we’re back to blaming the cops for enforcing laws we don’t like. That kind of puts us in the shoes of the 2 yo caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

          Whats wrong with a kid eating a cookie? If that kid gets caught, is he going to spend 10+ years in jail? I’m not blaming cops for enforcing laws I don’t like, i’m blaming them for enforcing laws in general. They rob their fellow citizens with fines and civil asset forfeiture, and force them to experience the horrors of the prision industrial complex, simply so they can enjoy a standard of living slightly higher than they would in the private sector. They do so not because they believe in what they’re doing, they do it because a politican ordered them to. Or are you the type who belives that the Nuremburg defense is acceptable?

          Instead of accepting our responsibility in the matter we throw a temper tantrum.

          I never lent my voice to the politicians by participating in the political process.

        • matt. The Nurenburg defense of just following orders to excuse atrocities in war is a little different from police officers operating under the law of the land. the cops that are doing their jobs well need no defense or excuse.

          They’re operating within the laws that we put into place.

          What your argument boils down too is since you don’t participate in the system you should be indepent of the system and it’s rules. As an experienced parent and grandparent I’vwe experienced your argument many times. The person making that argument is usually 2-3 yo or 11-13 yo. The older group usually throws in a “I didn’t ask to be born” stipulation in there.

  13. “Still, the fundamental mission is different – we’re here to keep the peace and to be gate-keepers for the system of criminal justice. Theirs is to kill people and break stuff.”

    Wrong. The military is there to protect the people. The police are there to control the people.

    • You’re very confused about the military – they’re there to kill anyone that their masters in the government order them to. They’re like the henchmen in a Bond movie, except that the henchmen in a Bond movie don’t believe that they’re Holy and that everyone should bow before them.

      • Except for that pesky Posse Comitatus Act, which I admit is getting watered down over the past couple of decades, mostly beginning with the attempts to join the war on drugs after the Berlin Wall fell.

  14. The police in this country do not uphold the Constitution. They break the law for a living by enforcing illegal ones, many of which are clearly UN-Constitutional and others not as clearly, but still, a crime is a crime. Especially if it’s being done on a routine basis by cops, which it is. The cops in this country are NOT on our side at all, most of them are brainwashed by the we need to be a warrior mindset crap and they look at us as threats, with weapons (potentially). They trample the Constitution all the time, in every city/state, all in the name of what they consider “law” because some politician/bureaucrat said so. Then they enforce the crap on us & we always roll over thinking we can’t resist it, that we can’t fight back with more than just words and cameras. The truth is, the government has created this since it knows it can’t use the military to control us, and with many in the service being patriotic also, they’d refuse orders to hurt us. Some won’t, many will. The cops are worse & as we saw in Boston (and I can give many, many other examples too) the police state is alive and well. The police state being managed by DHS/Fed’s & it extends to every single state/local dept & Sheriff’s office since a good deal of them have taken federal money, received APC’s, MRAP’s, military toys, etc, etc. We have a standing army of civilian cops/wannabe soldiers & federal agents who are being taught and mentored issues that belong on the battlefield in some war, not in America.

    I wish it wasn’t like this, but it is. It’s not something you wake up one day to realizing either. Over a period of time this tyrannical govt has really taken a long way to preparing war against us, to permanently remove the Constitution since that’s in it’s way & it has militarized the police agencies to control and subvert our rights & the Law for a living. You really think those MRAP’s are being snatched up for warrants or weapons fears??? LOL. They’re being grabbed because the fed’s will need the police depts to control us, fire on us and have something more than just a police cruiser to instil fear into people. You see an APC or MRAP rolling down your street, you’re going to be afraid, think Boston! Cops are enemies of freedom and all of you would do well to remember this. If not, if you choose to ignore the warnings going off around us everyday now, then you will choose to be a potential victim to the police state tactics, just like the police did for Nazi Germany against the citizens.

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