By Hasdrubal

Well, here’s another example of the ‘militarization of police.’  As usual, it sounds pretty bad. Or at least, it’s made to sound bad. Armed officers swarming out of the woods to perform compliance checks on water quality?  Squad size elements moving around with ‘POLICE’ across the back of their jackets, except they work for the EPA?  Doesn’t make much sense to me . . .

Look at the specifics of the article, though, and read between the lines just a little bit.  They’re talking about water quality at mining sites, which are known for horrible environmental problems when run poorly. So I suppose, they actually have a reason to be out there.

The feeling I get, though, is that in the past, they sent one or two unarmed agents (not sure what the job title is, doubt it’s special agent, FBI style), who announced themselves on arrival and stated their purpose in being there.Contrast that to the new model, up to eight armed and armored men wearing uniforms marked POLICE.  The impression you get is that they were a lot less polite than before, as the article uses words like ‘storming,’ and ‘swarming.’  It’s also called a ‘massive show of intimidation,’ which compared to the old model sounds unfortunately, exactly right.

Three points, though.  First, the article makes a big deal about the agents being armed and armored, wearing uniforms.  Well, to be fair, we’re talking about Alaska.  If they weren’t armed, I’d have a bigger problem.  The article even says ‘sidearm,’ which implies they weren’t packing AR’s.  And armed government men would probably be more objectionable if they weren’t wearing some kind of uniform.

Second, I think the biggest reason people are becoming concerned about police militarization is exactly this kind of thing.  Tasks formerly carried out by one or two unarmed men are now being performed by large groups of armed men, even when they are not traditional ‘law enforcement’ tasks.  Checking water quality?  If the EPA needs to do this, fine.  Sounds like they used to do it without any drama.

Why do they need their own police?  If they thought something had changed to where they needed armed men along, why not ask for assistance from the locals?  Or from the FBI, if they don’t want to lower themselves by consorting with the common folk?  And that brings me to my big problem.

Point number three.  The reason the EPA needed to switch to the squad of armed men model was “because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about ‘rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.'”  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Sounds like bad people around, like exactly the kind of thing you’d want a rifle and friends with rifles for, doesn’t it? Here’s the problem, though.

“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity. We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.

Police militarization means different things to different people, and I don’t expect to convince anyone that my take on it is the only answer.  I can’t help but think, though, that a squad of armed EPA agents is a few long steps further down the road than my .308 patrol rifle, which stays in the car until I get a call like ‘burglary in progress,’ and we think they’re still inside when I get there.  Or worse.  Anything much less than that, you’ll never see it.

49 Responses to Annals of Police Militarization: Something In The Air

  1. For some reason, Obamas Federal Agents believe that there are or will be people out there with the goal to kill them. With the exception of the fantasies of a few idividuals, I have not seen that happening. There are over more than 400 million guns owned by American citizens (guestemated) most bought recently. No increase in agents death! Quit trying to disarm America, quit arming our enemies and show more faith in us.

    • If you honestly believe that we got to this point due the Obama administration alone, and that things can be changed by putting a Republican in office, you are in for a rude awakening. The truth is, much of this comes down to one program/system that was implemented post 9/11 known as the National Incident Management System. The system helps fund governement agencies from the top all the way down to local police. In order to recieve funding for requested assets (PDW’s, surpressors, ect…) is that in order to recieve the funds, agencies and departments must PROVE that those assets are being used in order to recieve any more funding. What red-blooded American officer wouldn’t want such badass toys, especially on the dime of Uncle Sam? The only problem is, they’ve got to use that gear in order to justify the purchase, and recieve future funding. Cue no-knock SWAT teams serving warrants around the country. Give it a read… Our government is a VERY large Hydra with many heads, not a cyclopes with one all-seeing eye. Wake up!

      • Totally agree with you. The ever rising security regime in this country is becoming more and more obscene. Right now we have a Hamiltonian party and a lesser Hamiltonian (which is which largely depends on the issue). Both seem to despise the people (just like Alexander Hamilton, brilliant founding father, kind of a jerk)

      • My friends, I smell a tax strike coming. You can only squeeze so much blood out of a turnip. A record number of boys and girls gave up looking for work in August. No work, no paycheck, no tax money.

        • That is the one peaceful action this nation can take to put an end to the tyranny, the one way we can take back our gov and our country. I am already striking, but, one person will not result in victory.

    • @ Joseph B Campbell
      Or perhaps they anticipate taking actions that would lead a portion of the populace to vote from the rooftops.

  2. “human trafficing” ? wrong border for that one. alaska is a long way from the mexican drug cartels.
    sounds like they were just showing the locals who’s boss. LEO’s at all levels seem to like to do that a lot more now than at in time in my nearly half century long memory.

      • I suspect that mining companies have very strict rules about the storage and control of explosives like dynamite, if for no other reason than to protect themselves from lawsuits.

    • miforest, human trafficking, mostly teenaged girls, some from Mexico, many from Eastern Europe and Asia, is a 50 state (indeed, worldwide) problem. I’m not saying that was a factor here, by any means, but it is a real and serious problem, and one often ignored by our hyper-militarized authorities.

  3. Reminds me of a joke I heard.

    ATF agent walks up to an Ozark kid, says he knows there’s a ‘still up in the hills.

    Kid says, “What’s in it for me if I tell ya where it is?”

    Agent says, “OK. I’ll give you $10 now, $10 more if your info pans out,”

    Kid says, “No good. Gimme 20 bucks now.”

    Agent, is pissed: “You’re saying I’m not good for it?”

    Kid: “Naw, I’m sayin’ you ain’t comin’ back down the hill.”

    It’s an old joke, but the Feds are coming more and more to have the mentality that it’s them vs. us (that is to say, them vs. regular citizens rather than them vs. actual criminals). Very disturbing. I don’t think this started under Obama, but it sure has accelerated under him. Any wonder when he openly calls for domestic forces as strong and well funded as our military?

    • From “Rocky Top”

      “Once two strangers climbed on rocky top,
      Lookin’ for a moonshine still.
      Strangers ain’t come back from rocky top,
      Guess they never will.”

      • No one ever knew there was coal in them mountains
        ‘Til a man from the Northeast arrived
        Waving hundred dollar bills he said “I’ll pay ya for your minerals”
        But he never left Harlan alive

    • Old Ben, you, miforest and mitch are each naming the main slices of the federal law enforcement over reach pie.

      Lots of type A’s long on authority and often short on “common sense”.

  4. Sounds like the ‘authorities’ would expect civilians to ‘arm up’ if trekking to the south west USA, due to the common knowledge that there is “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area”. Works for me.

  5. “The task force is made up of members of the EPA, the FBI, Coast Guard, Department of Defense, the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the DEC.”

    The Department of Defense??? What ever happened to posse comitatus? If they are using the military on these raids that is getting scary.

    • Posse Comitatus was tossed in the dustbin of history quite some time ago. These people know only power and force, not laws.

    • Theyve overlooked Posse Comitatus for sometime now. Just a few years ago, there were U.S. Marines “assisting” the Highway Patrol at 4th Ammendement free zones known as DUI checkpoints in Southern Ca.

  6. The dept. of protecting rare wood from evil musicians did the same thing when they raided a Gibson Guitars facility a few years ago. Lots of armed storm troopers from different agencies, black tactical gear, etc. Some thought it was political, Gibson donates to the R’s. Other manufactures that are big D contributors and use the same wood got no federal attention. I for one do not believe the government would use it’s agencies to harass it’s political opponents. But I digress, if they’ve got the gear, they’re going to use it.

  7. Well if I was walking around Alaska, I would have a large .44 Magnum revolver on my side as well as a can of bear spray in case of large animal attack. Whenever practical, I would have a long gun as well. Whether I was sight seeing or working as a law enforcement agent would not matter. So I don’t fault the “police” in this instance for being armed.

    I don’t approve of them sneaking up in the woods and then “storming” the miners’ properties. They can walk up the driveway and knock on the front door whether or not they have a warrant. And I would seriously hope that they were exceedingly polite, friendly, and professional as they interacted with the miners. The simple action of walking up the driveway and knocking on the front door would probably be enough to dispel the whole “storm trooper” meme.

    I don’t care of those men were “police” or not, that does not empower them to sneak around on someone’s property unless they have a warrant or probable cause that someone committed a serious crime against another citizen.

    The core problem is respect for citizens. Someone who respects fellow citizens walks up the driveway and knocks on the front door unless there is an urgent, imminent catastrophe unfolding that endangers someone’s life. Your work status (as a “police” officer or whatever else) does not change anything.

  8. While I am alarmed by small towns getting SWAT teams and military vehicles (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/like-waking-up-on-christmas-morning-and-having-the-best-present-you-ever-had/), I might understand the need of people heading into state lands being armed. My f-in-law works with state and federal parks service people on a regular basis in his work, and one of this friends in SE OK works for the OK Department of Wildlife Conservation. He can’t even do some of the inspections of state lands he needs to do because he has had marijuana growers meet him on small, backwoods roads armed to the teeth and turn him back. He’s unarmed because of his position (non-LEO). It’s a regular problem. I can only imagine that would be a few orders of magnitude greater a problem in AK.

  9. Speaking of government employees wearing uniforms, I think members of congress, while conducting business, should live on ‘campus’. They should live in barracks below the Capital, wear mustard colored polyester jump suits and eat in a military provided mess, one that seats 50 at a time and a member of the Sergeant At Arms walks around yelling “eat and get out!” during the one hour that the mess is open at the three meal times (6am – 7am, 12pm-1pm, 5pm-6pm). They will, of course, be charged for lodging, meals and laundry services.

  10. EPA, OSHA and other alphabet agencies did site visits from time to time at my company’s manufacturing plants. They’d call or write ahead of time and we’d set them up with an office, coffee, a box of Dunkin Donuts, all the files and MSDSes they wanted to see and we’d take them anywhere in or around the plant they wanted to go — with an escort, for safety reasons. No guns, no intimidation.

    I guess that being polite and professional just isn’t the Federal way anymore. Well, in a police state, it never is.

  11. I can’t speak for Alaska but in West Virginia we had private coal companies that were engaged in activities like strip mining and slag dams and dumping toxic waste into the local environment. On Buffalo creek a slag dam broke and people died. These companies hired goons to stop anyone from looking around their properties and bringing their schemes to light.

    If I was dealing with companies like these I’d want to be armed and have my armed buddies with me. Maybe in the Alaska case the private company that was raided was engaging in these type of activities.

    • Such a situation would also explain leaving the local LEOs out of the loop, as well. In many cases, the locals are “incentivized” to look the other way when bad companies are polluting or otherwise breaking the law. So there are probably situations where this kind of approach is warranted.

      However, it sounds like in this particular case, these were mostly seasonal independent miners, not a large mining conglomerate. Sending eight or nine guys to do the work of two is just a straight-up waste of taxpayer resources, no matter how you feel about the police militarization aspects of the story.

    • Nope- these “companies” were private low impact mines. Run by one to five miners per claim.

      They used to drive up the access road and announce who they were (MSHA, EPA, DEC etc etc) and conduct their business, with two or three agents- usually armed- for critters not people, in suits or casual work clothes.

      This time groups of eight to twelve ninja’d agents snuck through the woods and surrounded the miners, then shouted “federal agents!” and stormed into the mine area.

      Most of the people I’ve talked to who were actually there said that they didn’t mind the compliance check per say, but rather the manner it was conducted in. As for armed agents, a shot gun or a revolver no one would have big issues with, it’s bear country. It’s the attitude that matters. “Oh gee, this here .44 is for the bear, that’s why it’s holstered and my hand is on the paperwork I need you to do with me” vs “I’m watching you little miner and keeping one hand on my mostly holstered super duper plastic 9mm tacticool pistol”

  12. Interesting, I thought more people would be angry about the blatant lie regarding the human/drug trafficking. I mean, the feds said the locals told them there was a reason to act the way they did, and it was completely untrue.

    • Hasdrubal,

      The government’s “explanation”, whether true or false, is not the main problem. The main problem is the widespread experience that our government does not respect us citizens. I don’t march onto my neighbor’s property and order them to do anything. I could be armed to the teeth and do that by force. But I don’t do that. Why? Because it is illegal? No. I don’t march onto my neighbor’s property and order them to do anything because I respect my neighbors as fellow citizens and human beings. It is simply the Golden Rule in operation. I would not want an armed force to storm my property and order me around so I don’t do that to others. Somehow this escapes many in government and law enforcement.

    • Hasdrubal, it may just be that we’re so used to government lies that we just assume that all their statements are suspect.

      Want to see our shocked faces? Catch them telling the truth.

  13. One of the points that shouldn’t be overlooked, is these were small time operators.
    Small business men and women. They weren’t performing raids like this on the
    larger corporate gold miners, just on the mom and pop gold miners, of which they
    have not had any previous problems. This is to intimidate rugged individuals from
    doing what is in their best interest. We’re going to find that more small businesses
    were closed under Obama than any other president. Intimidating corporate mines
    with millions of dollars at stake is a non-starter. Mining operations of their size and
    scope, have their own security in place. Unlike these mom and pop miners.

    • How anyone can possibly think that Obama is a champion of the poor and middle class against corporate greed is beyond me. He couldn’t get away with it without the press being in his pocket, which makes it hard for citizens to do their duty (stay informed, question leaders, etc). Still, crooked press or no, the information is there for anyone who cares to look. Accordingly, I’m dumping this at the feet of the majority of voters.

  14. Tyranny today is coming at us in many colors; armed and unarmed;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugVXiSW19vs

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

    Our government(s) are outside of our fire pit(s) and are burning down our republic!

  15. Simple search on the Innertubes provides alot of information:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Enforcement_and_Compliance_Assurance

    Like the FBI, ATF, DEA, Treasury and so many others, they have an enforcement arm that’s in place for various reasons.

    If you have to arrest for a crime, you get officers/agents/JBTs whatever you want to call them. Furthermore, as noted, the article itself doesn’t mention long arms and you guys should be quite sensitive to the media embelishing on stories with words like “storming” or “swarming” which probably have about as much basis in reality as the words “assault weapon” or “arsenel” in stories about guys with guns.

  16. Hard to say.

    More that one EPA agent has found his way to the bottom of a lake because a mine boss didn’t like the government’s “anti-business” stance that small town X shouldn’t be drinking trivalent chromium, cadmium, arsenic et cetera.

    While our continuing reconstruction into a full on police state troubles me deeply, I don’t see moderately armed EPA agents doing a surprise inspection as the worst evidence of it.

    There are bigger fish to fight.

    • It’s easy to imagine that an EPA agent could disappear in Alaska, though I suspect that’s not why these guys were packing. Probably just more fun to enforce with a gun on your hip. But maybe the place was like an episode of “Deadwood.”

  17. I wonder if these three letter agency (non-DoD or Intel) officers/agents/JBTs/etc. aren’t just going for the whole “Federal Po-lice” thing so they can carry off-duty instead of growing a set of gonads like non-sissies.

  18. I suppose it justifies them buying millions of rounds of ammunition, etc. If they run a few raids once in a while, & lets not forget we’re all supposed to be serfs. So why not stir up a little intimidation were ever someone is pulling gold right out of the ground.

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