Reader BgreeneA3 writes:

I keep hearing the term “police militarization” thrown around here. To that I ask, when have the police NOT been militarized? Police, sheriff or any law enforcement type organization are in fact “para-military”  and always have been. They all have an organized rank structure, like the military.  They wear uniforms, like the military. They have a set use of force policy (rules of engagement) like the military, etc., etc., etc., . . .

As for police uniforms looking more military or “tactical” again, look to the military. The standard military dress uniform looks like police uniforms from the early 1900’s. In the 50’s and 60’s the wool top coats were pretty much dropped but it’s a military uniform. The military has evolved from the uniforms worn in WW1 and WW2 into a more useful uniform for field work. So have police uniforms.

I can tell you from experience, when you end up fighting an intoxicated person, climb into a wrecked car to render aid, cut someone out of their seatbelt or chase  someone through the weeds and briars in a “classic uniform” (dress pants, polished shoes, garrison cap, tie, shiny brass with all the bling like a whistle chain ect.) your uniform will be pretty much ruined. They just do not stand up to those activities very well. Hence the more military “BDU” style. They are tougher and cheaper to purchase so they save the dept and taxpayers money. As military uniforms have evolved, so have those of the police.

As for firepower, back in the 1900’s the 1903a3 Springfield was all an infantryman needed (along with, maybe, a revolver). The police carried a .38 revolver and either a lever action rifle or a shotgun. The military took to semiauto pistols and rifles a short time later with the M1 and 1911. Evidently a bolt gun wasn’t all an infantry man needed.

Then, when the 20’s roared, the gangsters started using military weapons like the Thompson and BAR and driving cars that were “up armored” so the police had to “tool up” with Thompsons and .38 super automatic 1911’s themselves (along with other semi auto rifles of the day). Why? Because lead ,38 spl. rounds and buckshot weren’t effective on the up-armored, up-gunned criminals, making the police inneffective in protecting the people of their bailiwick.

Fast forward to 1997…the North Hollywood bank robbery. Two robbers in full body armor with AK-variant rifles (and others in the trunk of the get away car) were able to hold the whole police force at bay because 9mm, 12 gauge slugs and buckshot are ineffective against body armor. That resulted in the push for patrol rifles, because being out-armored and out-gunned makes the police ineffective. So where do you get patrol rifles for your officers when there is no budget for it? Military surplus.

What do the police get with these military rifles when compared to a 12 gauge? Penetration of soft armor, greater accuracy and the ability to carry more ammo. Not to mention less recoil for those who can’t handle a shotgun. Pretty much the same reasons everybody else is going to an AR-style rifle for home protection. Oh yes, I’m willing to bet that darn near all of these “scary military rifle” were converted to semi auto

About those armored cars and MRAPS; police have been using armored cars for as long as there have been armored cars. I saw a 1930’s armored car at a museum in South Bend used by the Indianapolis “Flying Squad,” a 1930’s SWAT team if you will. Armored cars, Bearcat APCs et al. aren’t new things to police work. And whats wrong with a mobile piece of cover when dealing with a barricaded person? The armored car works better as cover that the big oak tree that might not be there.

Lets go back to the budget issues. Armored cars are expensive. If you could save your taxpayers money by getting one for free from uncle Sam, why would you not? Why would a medium sized department want or need their own MRAP, or SWAT team? Why can’t they just call in the state police or the closest big city’s SWATties? Because of time. There are more than a few places that it would take several hours to days for a regional or state team to respond.

Time is your savings and when you need something like an armored car, that time saved equals lives. The lives of the cops responding to the potential hostage situation and the surrounding community. Seriously, why would they take an MRAP or Bearcat to a search warrant raid? Why would that tell everybody that the police are coming so they can leave or hide the evidence/drugs/wanted person? Stealth works better for these situations, that’s why they use unmarked vans.

Yes, the police are militarized. They always have been. Yes, they are using military gear. They always have. To a  point, the police need to be militarized to perform their mission. Their mission is to investigate crimes, take criminals into custody, respond to in-progress calls for help, keep the peace and provide security for the people of their jurisdiction. And they can’t do those things without the tools they need.

212 Responses to You’re Damned Right the Police are Militarized. So?

  1. I can kinda agree…
    But I see the coming flame war in the comments. I look forward to LC Judas and Accur81’s responses here. Their words carry more weight than mine.

    • I only partially agree because of the whole corrupt cop issue. Such pay rolled bullies with firepower and armor and ambush proof cars DOES NOT make me sleep any easier. Yes, good willed cops need every edge they can get, but do we really have to take the ugly bad cops with the good we get?

      • Dirty cops have been a feature of police forces forever too.

        The problem is, unlike the roaring 20s, nowadays it’s a case of “we need all this stuff… no, you’re not allowed body armor, no you’re not allowed a suppressor, no you’re not allowed to buy your own BAR, no you’re not allowed to have a short barreled rifle or shotgun, you’re not allowed to have a pistol, and I’ll train my officers to just SHOOT you if you have a pistol that is perfectly legal a hundred miles thataway, those are OUR guns and you’re not allowed to have them. Only US. Not You.”

    • I agree with the author that the North Hollywood shootout highlighted the need for officers to have patrol rifles, and I think that they should have access to them just like the had access to them during the North Hollywood shootout; that is to say, when they have a clear need for rifles, they should be loaned rifles by the public, and then when the need has passed they can return them…to US!

      • The “North Hollywood Shootout” was 16 years ago and not one cop died in the event. Every single cop who has died in the interim was either a single vehicle crash (or a multi-car crash that they caused) or a domestic violence call.

    • Police, being civilians, should not be able to have anything that other civilians may have.

      If your average law-abiding Joe Citizen can have it, so can the cops.

  2. Standing armies are illegal here. So, the powers that be just renamed them “police”, whose job it is to protect and serve the state, which feeds them. At least they don’t live in barracks, like in some other countries. Our standing army lives among the general population, which makes them soft, which I think is a good thing. Hence the tanks for a pressure cooker bomb in weak pansy floppy wristed Boston. And the overwhelming response to the mom with the car in DC.

      • As a former Marine, I see much ignorance in here and lots of trouble coming. I for one won’t be shocked when it hits the fan soon. Good luck all.

      • Yes, much to the chagrin of our Founding Fathers rolling in their graves, the U.S. military could be regarded as a “Standing army”, however, there is also legislation that prevents this army from being engaged in law enforcement activities on U.S. soil called Posse Comitatus. This is not an infallible guarantee, of course, but there it is. National Guard troops within their home state are not subject to this same restriction.

        • Great, now I’ve got Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young stuck in my head.

          Four Dead in Ohio, specifically.

  3. It’s an attitude and mission problem far more than an equipment and clothing problem. Police in the past did not have an attitude that the entire public was either the enemy or a potential suspect, and the mission was not framed in terms of closing with and destroying the enemy. I think that in most parts of the country, this is still not the case, but I’ve seen enough stories in the news to make me believe it is spreading. More on the federal side than the state/county/local side, but looking at places like NYC, I see more of a ‘control the population’ attitude than I would expect in the Midwest, or even on the non CA parts of the West Coast.

    I find the comparisons to military uniforms to be of limited value, myself. The entire culture of Western society has become drastically de-formalized. Fifty years ago, in the days of the living wage, I would be willing to bet that a lot of men went to work wearing a suit and tie, and called their boss “sir.” You don’t really see that anymore. Look at pictures of Americans from the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Even the people in lines for Depression era soup kitchens were more formally dressed than many engineers, accountants, and doctors are today. If you compare the formality and professionalism of police uniforms to the clothing worn by all other civilians (yes, I’m a civilian too), then I think it’s fair to say the uniforms haven’t become quite as casual as the rest.

    My take on how things should be is that police should be able to have any weapon any other civilian can have, which means AR’s should be available to all. As long as they are only brought out and used when the situation actually calls for it. North Hollywood? Bring out the rifles. Hot call over? Put them away. Again, attitude- if you start to let the tools define the job rather than be used when the job requires, that’s where the problems start. You start doing foot patrol downtown with a rifle, or driving the Bearcat around to show it off (intimidate people) on a regular basis, then you’re not really trying to protect people anymore. You’re trying to show them you’re in charge.

    • I agree with your ‘population control’ point. The arguments brought in the article are about safety for the police, but when you look more closely, there appears to be a lot of “crowd control” going on. Although “crowd intimidation” feels appropriate too. Just think of the Boston marathon.

      • I understand the “safety of police” concept, but as I’ve said before, if you want to go home safe every night drive a bus. It used to be that safety of the public trumped safety of police, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

        And why in Hell do you need 10 clowns in black battle gear driving up in an MRAP to serve a bench warrant for overdue library books?

        I don’t care if you got the crap free, it’s going to cost me and everyone else in town a bunch of tax money for operation, parts, and upkeep, and you don’t need the crap 99% of the time. How many “North Hollywood Bank Robberies” have taken place since the first one? One. In Singapore.

        And maybe if cops got their fat asses out of their cars and WALKED A BEAT like they did until the 70s, just maybe they wouldn’t HAVE to be fearful of their fellow citizens and treat them like suspects or criminals.

        The po-po all drive like maniacs routinely anyway. Where’s the fire? Are you responding to a Krispy Kreme emergency call? At least in the service I could make you write yourself a speeding ticket. I guess in civilian life you don’t have to obey those pesky traffic suggestions you so zealously enforce on the rest of us unfortunates. Above the law? No, “professional courtesy.” Until you T-bone a car and kill someone. Then the scramble begins to blame the driver of the stationary car for the accident.

        Late for roll call and traffic is heavy? No problem, just hit the lights and siren and sail by everyone else who’s now going to be even later for work because of you. Thanks.

        I’m just getting started…

        • I agree. What ever happened to Protect and Serve? When I was a kid the Police were the people that took care of you. If something bad happened you went to the Cops. Now the Police are the bad guys, killing kids and busting into the wrong houses to terrify the people that they find there. When was the last time that an officer involved shooting was not justified. The victims of Police violence are now routinely shown in the light as causing the officer to shoot them, like the kid with the airsoft gun that had 8 rounds pumped into him. It’s getting out of hand. No wonder why people are turning against the Police and questioning their tactics.

    • +1

      the bigger problem than the equipment is the attitude and policies/SOP. the police now feel that to justify having these toys, they need to use them on a regular basis. same mentality as in government budgeting, where you must spend all of the budget to prove that you need it.

      this is what leads to excessive force and escalation of otherwise menial encounters.

    • +1

      I don’t mind that the police have a few military-style weapons, because occasionally they need them to protect the population from extreme criminal activities. Even an MRAP could be necessary in a really bad situation. The standard police car does not provide much protection against commonly available firearms today. Even handgun ammunitions can pass completely through a car.

      What I mind is that the police are bringing out their “heavy artillery” for relatively routine calls. Either they are trying to justify why they think they need to have it, or they are using it for population intimidation. And I believe the latter is the case more than the former. Population intimidation can not be tolerated in a free society. It must stop.

      • ” I don’t mind that the police have a few military-style weapons, because occasionally they need them to protect the population from extreme criminal activities. Even an MRAP could be necessary in a really bad situation. The standard police car does not provide much protection against commonly available firearms today. Even handgun ammunitions can pass completely through a car. ”

        Yep… those cops who shot up that pick up truck with two unarmed women while they were searching for Christopher Dorner proved that cars aren’t much protection against fire from weapons in circulation today. Unfortunately, they also proved that sometimes cops aren’t much protection either.

        I’m sorry, but there is no way to justify basically shooting on sight at any pick-up truck that happens by. I’m not LEO, but I don’t have to be… I can tell the difference between a large, well-armed black man and two women delivering papers. And if the cops in that case had bothered to DO THEIR JOBS and PROTECT THE PUBLIC by wandering over to that pick-up and even just looking through the window from 40 yards away, they would have known that the people they were looking at weren’t their suspect. Instead, they just started shooting. Both victims did survive, but last I heard, the court settlement was over $4 million. That’s $4 million that the taxpayers have to make up and two women who are scarred and may need ongoing treatment to live normal lives.
        All because some militarized cops decided to open fire.

        This “shoot first, ask later” mentality needs to go.

        • Sadly, that doesn’t even come close to the huge settlements getting paid out to families here in Chicago for their murdered children.

          The rumor has even started that parents are calling the cops on their deadbeat kids in the hopes of raking in a few million.

          And my taxes go up 20+%…Thanks Rahm…

    • They have to get there early so they can set up the perimeter… then wait for the shooting to stop before going in. Why do they even have guns and armor if they’re not going to confront armed gunmen in active shooter scenarios?

      • agree, it is nothing more than a scare tactic. however, we all must remember we may own the same gear they do and the second amend was written for us; for society to protect ourselves and loved one from the GOV. society as a whole is generally not near as scared of drug dealers and thugs, but rather LEO food for thought

      • You asked why they have the gear and the guns when they wind up waiting for the shooting to stop before they go in? They have the gear and the guns so that people watching on CNN see them stutter stepping and scowling while holding their machine gun, which makes the CNN viewer feel safe. I think we all feel a lot safer knowing that if we’re killed in a mass shooting that there will be an army of tacticops running around among our corpses and mugging it up for the media within 30-45 minutes.

  4. Raises some good points that counter the standard trope that police are becoming more like the military than before… they are modernizing, like the military. I never hear a black guy who was alive in the 1960s complain about how police are getting worse…

    Doesn’t mean some police trends don’t deserve criticism, but I think more attention should be paid to the ability to listen in everyone than whether the local beat cop is wearing dress shoes or a pair of boots.

    • Of course no black guy who was alive in the 1960s is going to say the cops are worse now, but that’s because the cops treated blacks like dogs back then and most places continue to do so. The times now are much more fair, for the cops treat everyone, from black people to little, grey haired white grandmas the same. And THAT is the problem!

  5. BGreeneA3 is full of horse hockey. Civilian law enforcement does not require up-armored Humvees, BDUs, or platoons of Kevlar Cowboys marching down our streets every time some pre-menstrual nitwit sees someone with a water pistol.

  6. I’m guessing the writer here is an “LEO” – notice, they aren’t “peace officers” anymore, that’s a load.

    Police are the enforcement arm of the government. In other words, they are the “force” behind the legislature and the government’s decisions.

    Their job is NOT to “protect” anyone. Not a single soul. When’s the last time you heard or saw “To Serve and Protect” ? – It’s gone from cruisers because it no longer applies. Law Enforcement officers have this as their “primary mission”:

    1) Look for anyone “out of line”, according to the government’s standards. No matter if a law is constitutional or not. No matter if it’s a technicality or not. The writer here calls this “investigation”.

    2) Disable/imprison/kick the ass of anyone found “out of line” by whatever means neccessary (or enjoyed) by Enforcement.

    I have never met an LEO who gives much of a damn about “protecting” anyone. They want to bust the heads of those who are “out of line”. Period. There’s no reason for them to want to do anything else. There’s no charge or call for them to do anything else.

    That’s been decided by the courts. So the biggest, nastiest bad-asses are hired, and they’re trained to empty their magazines into people if they don’t “comply.” (Nevermind that the orders given are almost always designed to be difficult to ‘comply with’. Put your hands behind your head on the ground with your hands against the ground! I said hands against the ground! I said hands behind your head! (Mag dump x5))

    Maybe you say, “Well, only if you’re a CRIMINAL, only criminals have to worry about this!” Bull. In the eyes of LEOs, EVERY “civvie” is a criminal. Ask any LEO if they would have any trouble arresting anyone, ANYONE, for anything. They’ll tell you, there’s ALWAYS a reason to arrest someone, anyone. In their minds, we’re ALL criminals who just haven’t been caught yet.

    As I said, I’m sure the writer here is an LEO that’s pissed off that we dare question their power. “You WILL do what I say” – doesn’t damn well matter if it’s against the law or not, either, “YOU WILL DO WHAT I SAY”. That’s what this piece sounds like.

    He just omitted the last few words of the title: “You’re Damned Right the Police are Militarized. So? What are you gonna do about it?”

    I’d love to hear the OP’s opinion on 30 round mags, ARs for ‘civilians’ and the “Taser-on-a-funny-look” standards that happen now with “civilian-to-LEO encounters”.

    How many dogs have you shot personally, BgreeneA3? And does it make you feel big?

    • This may be a symptom of no longer having any sort of due process. Think about a normal drive to work and how many laws you break along the way? Drift over the limit, too close to the car in front, don’t signal for 200′ before a lane change, stop an 1″ in front of the line, don’t come to a complete stop, etc, etc, etc. Now think about all the other laws on the books, especially tax law. There isn’t 1 person in the country that is 100% lawful in what they do. Like telling a “perp” to put their hands on the ground then behind their head, laws are so convoluted that we’re supposed to do 2 things at the same time that counteract each other. So “do as I say” really means the *.gov can harass anyone they damn well please and there’s plenty of stupid laws on the books to make it stick. If it doesn’t, court costs and lawyer fees is punitive enough. Tyranny.

      This sort of crap is exactly why we have a God given inalienable right to keep and bear arms.

      • Power is never given it is subdued based on one’s strength

        The road to rule is weapons

        – Guru Gobind Singh

        Just wanted to share that with you, if the American people feel they have lost self rule; you know what needs to be done.

    • The title was originally “Re: Randon thoughts on police militarization” in respnse to RF post a coule days ago. You are right, I am a Peace officer, a LEO, a mediator, social workerer, amongst all the other hats I wear at work.

      • And you are wrong. Police, law enforcement, peace officers, whatever title you want to apply, ARE NOT MILITARY. You are civilians. Period. Full stop. All your verbiage changes nothing. The process of changing police into a free standing army outside the strictures of the US and states’ Constitutions has been going on for a long time, and now people such as you are claiming legal authority, again, outside the strictures of the Constitution, to place yourselves above the citizens. You want to create a special class for yourselves. OK. That class is called enemy. You have been treating us as an enemy for a couple of decades and now it is starting to come back and bite you in the ass.

        Thou shall reap what thou have sown.

  7. Using SWAT to bust up personal poker games and to search for your basic, non-violent parole violators. No-knock warrants (not) delivered via SWAT team to the tune of 70,000+, per year, increasing yearly. Faces hidden by balaclavas, no-badge-no-ID visible SWAT team members. $2.4 BILLION in asset forfeitures since 1984, with that money going directly to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

    So it is ok for the police to look like soldiers, you say. Ok, I could live with that, except that I grew up around cops and no, they did NOT look or act like solders 40 years ago and they damn sure do now. And your argument about MRAPs is crap if you look at where some of these vehicles are ending up in towns smaller than 10K in population or at major university PDs (like Ohio State) that are in the heart of cities that already have that same equipment. Similarly, patrol cops don’t wear BDUs and they are the people who do that running and chasing, NOT SWAT teanms who dress like SAS troopers to attack residences, not fortified bunkers.

    I am a lot less worried about what they wear, what equipment they carry, and what vehicles they drive. When civilian police in the US act like in this country like soldiers searching for insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan, THAT concerns me and should concern everyone.

  8. Here’s an open question to the many people who are probably wondering how loudly to disagree with police having anything but dress blues, a .38 revolver, and a hat bus drivers don’t even wear anymore-

    If you were facing an angry man in a public place with, say, a semi auto AK47, AR, or (insert favorite alternative modern rifle here) and body armor, who had already killed several people and showed no sign of stopping on his own, what combination of equipment would you want to use? Firearms, electronics, armor, vehicles, you name it. What would be appropriate, not for police, but for anyone not on active military duty?

    Don’t misunderstand, I am not by any means saying this is an average call for police. I do not believe that the equipment I would want for that situation should be used at all times, or seen by the public when not needed _right now_. However, it has happened before, and it would be foolish to think it won’t ever happen again. And for those cops out there who actually care about protecting the public (which I choose to believe are most of them), it would be utterly disgraceful to not prepare in skills, physical and mental toughness, and yes, equipment.

    What might have been different if the first cop to arrive at Sandy Hook had actually, honestly, been ready to go?

    And before anyone asks me, I have never shot a dog. I haven’t even tased or OC sprayed anyone in five years on.

    • The father of my best friend since third grade was a police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty after 38 years as a cop. For the better part of 25 years I considered him my second father as I was equally welcome and present in their house as I was at home. He taught me to work on cars, when to shut my mouth, how to shoot and more about being a man that I may have learned from any other person. I have always been on the side of police being as well armed as anyone they are likely to encounter. Every patrol officer in this country should have his cruiser’s trunk FILLED with goodies: state-of-the art AR-15s, night vision, illumination, bullet proof vest, etc. Individual officers should be MUCH better equipped than they are now. The problem is when they get into groups and pull on face-hiding balaclavas and cool-ass tactical gloves to hold their MP-5s.

      SWAT teams are now routinely used to freaking serve warrants! No-knock warrants are increasingly common on “crimes” far from the reason they were authorized by Congress. Ridiculous over-charging in crimes. Punitive bail unreasonably set (even on lawful gun owners – guy in Iowa was in jail TWO YEARS for a bullshit charge, which was eventually simply dropped). Ever increasing federal charging and sentencing – over 2.4 million people in prisons (not including jail populations) and 14% of them in federal prisons. And 51% of those incarcerated have a drug crime as the worst offense.

      • “Individual officers should be MUCH better equipped than they are now. The problem is when they get into groups and pull on face-hiding balaclavas and cool-ass tactical gloves to hold their MP-5s.”

        Winner!

      • Working in law enforcement at patrol level, I can tell you that getting a swat team to serve your warrant is a pain in the ass. You don’t just call them up and they come serve a no knock warrant. in my state no knocks have to approved by a judge and are extremely rare. there are all kinds of threat assessments that have to be done to see if the warrant qualifies for swat service. it usually easier for patrol to serve their own.

    • At Sandy Hook they queued up outside the door and waited for the shooting to stop. Look at the time records if you don’t believe me. Buncha public servants for sure.

        • uhhh the official report states exactly what dickie here said. cops arrived and waited outside the school for nearly 15 minutes.

          if there is a coverup, it centers around brushing under the rug the facts that police did literally nothing to stop Lanza during his attack.

      • Read my comment again- I know the first guy waited, and I’m disgusted that he did. What might have been different if he hadn’t? It’s a shame we will never know.

        • “What does it matter whether if it was because of a film or if it was a terrorist attack, 4 men are dead.” I never personally hated her until she said that line. At an investigation. Into the *cause* of why 4 Americans were left to die. My only solace is the progressives absolutely hate her and will try to destroy her in the next presidential primary.

      • The police have two jobs and two jobs only legally speaking. Those are to investigate potential crimes and to apprehend suspects. By those legal standards the responders at Sandy hook did their jobs to the letter. It has been established in the courts that the police have no legal duty to protect you or anyone else. Famous cases include officers walking away from a woman being raped because they thought it was ok and countless cases where they decided not to intervene and the results were some innocent persons death.

        I had a hard time growing up resolving the evidence of this but I can tell you now that I accept it and I have no grudge against the system in this respect. it is unhealthy to believe that the responsibility to preserve your life and the lives of your loved ones falls to anyone but you. And it is even un fair to expect another human being to simply sacrifice them selves for your sake. Accept that and you can appreciate the individual officers who do go above and beyond and believe in greater duties than bare minimum legal requirements.

        Where I do have a grudge is the constant message sent out by the police and government to allow the authorities to handle things and to pass laws that prevent citizens from protecting them selves.

        In press conferences and public addresses everyone from the local chief to the president advises us to do nothing except call the cops and cower.

        To be honest I think this is largely the fault of the people. We as a whole are constantly demanding more and more of the police and government, while refusing to do anything our selves. It would be political suicide for the mayor of any major crime ridden city to tell his people that their personal day to day safety is up to them and that practicing common sense preventative measures to avoid becoming a victim and arming them selves in what ever way they feel most comfortable is the best possible way to ensure that they will be around to act as a witness when it is the turn of the police to step in.

        It really is the case whatever people like to pretend, but I cant imagine the backlash from a portion of the population if they were told that in plain English.

        • “The police have two jobs and two jobs only legally speaking. Those are to investigate potential crimes and to apprehend suspects. By those legal standards the responders at Sandy hook did their jobs to the letter.”

          Umm by your very words, they did most certainly did not. There was a reported (suspected) shooter in the school. The first officer responding should have apprehended the suspect.

      • Lanza killed himself as soon as he heard the sirens. So the cops were not outside when he was shooting. I would not expect a single officer to enter into the school without knowing what he was walking in to, and without back-up. That’s just not logical.
        I have no problem with the police being armed accordingly. They should have the best tools to do the job. Remember, an officer’s 1st duty is to protect himself. They are not out there to fall on grenades for you. I know many officers will put themselves in harm’s way to protect people, but that’s because of their character, not because they have to.
        We have also seen a degrading society with decreasing respect for authority and laws. Even a routine traffic stop can go from 0 to shoot-out in seconds, so I expect and encourage officers to be alert and suspicious of every individual they are approaching. They deserve to go home after every shift too.
        I was not happy with the officers after the Boston Marathon bombing, going house to house in military fashion, ripping people from their homes at gun point, and executing illegal searches. That kind of martial law exhibition for a single assailant armed with a handgun, was excessive, unconstitutional, and disturbing.
        California and New York are now employing similar tactics to confiscate legally owned firearms from owners that the state has deemed unworthy of owning a firearm.
        The problem isn’t how the police are armed or dressed, it’s when they are using that equipment and the manner in which they use it that needs to be scrutinized.

        • “The problem isn’t how the police are armed or dressed, it’s when they are using that equipment and the manner in which they use it that needs to be scrutinized.”

          Dingdingdingding. We have a winner! At-ti-tude. Other commenters have said, this sentence nails it.

    • Easy: Police, being fellow civilian citizens, should have the right to carry any weapon and wear any armor for their own defense that any other law-abiding civilian citizen can.

      Here’s a Q: communities can elect to have volunteer firefighters. Where are the volunteer police? Presumably, those volunteer firefighters have some form of initial and regular training, why not offer comparable training to volunteer police?

    • This. I don’t have a problem with police having SBR AR-15s in their cars, I have a problem because I am not allowed to own the same equipment that they have. Police are civilians too, and there should not be one standard for them, and another for us.

      As far as the attitude of police officers go, there are good ones and bad ones. Unfortunately, both good and bad cops get equal backing by their unions, so it is almost impossible to get rid of the bad ones. Having what is essentially a standing army without proper internal investigations is very, very bad.

  9. The is issue with having all these toys is how they use them. As me why towns with less than 10K people need their own dedicated SWAT Team? See story here: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/13/radley_balko_once_a_town_gets_a_swat_team_you_want_to_use_it/

    The problem is they then need to keep justifying the expense so they use everything for even the mundane to show the black uniforms and to up the numbers at the city council meeting to show how many time the stuff was used. It is self perpetuating…when does it stop?

    As for the MRAPs, great, the initial cost is free but maintenance is not. The next problem is the more toys they have, the more money they want to maintain all those toys. The net saving to the taxpayers is zero over the long term.

    Should the cops have something better, durable, more efficient to use? Yes, there is no doubt. What we have seen is that it is being taken to the extreme — and that is the problem. Once you have a SWAT Unit or MRAP your gonna have to use it even if not necessary in order to justify its existence.

    Read the book: Rise of the Warrior Cop

  10. It isn’t so much the shirts they wear or what they drive to the event but their mindset. They are NOT the military. The problem is that they respond as though they are. I really don’t care what or how much they carry. They have to realize that they are no better than we are, have no greater right to self defense than we do.

    • You are correct, police have a much stricker rles of engagement than the military and can;t call in airtrikes, drones or artillery……

  11. Comments on this chat blog are veering dangerously close to what the sovereign citizen movement proslesizes. Not a good place to be.

    • Much better we act like good little serfs and tug at our forelocks as the king’s man passes by, huh? No, thank you. I am a free and sovereign man.

    • HKfan: The same sort of views are expressed, and solutions debated, in bar association meetings frequently. Discussing the proper role of police in a democracy is a practice as old as Periclean Athens, and as important as defending constitutional protections against government excess. If advocating a greater emphasis on strategy rather than speed and over-twitchy trigger fingers strikes you as “sovereign citizen” stuff, you’ll find most of Western Europe in that camp.

      Are you afraid to be singled out if you advocate for more patience in arrests, more deference to life? We advocate for that every day in our own handling of self-defense in a non-police setting. It makes sense, and you should feel such advocacy an honorable thing. Why is this not your reaction? Many sheriffs and policeman have similar views, and would wish policy encouraged a slower escalation of force.

    • “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
      – Samuel Adams, brewer, patriot.

    • I believe the current Democrat administration and its statist supporters are far more dangerous than the sovereign citizen “movement”.

  12. I *wish* the police became more like the military. Make you have to pass a test to join for the job you are applying for, take and pass a physical fitness tests every six months, have extremely rigid rule of engagement with CONSEQUENCES for breaching them, get crappy pay but with ok benefits, and have advancement based on tests and competence, NOT appointments. We have a lawless branch with no consequences for their breach of duty. Basically all the worst parts of Blackwater sticking the boot to American citizens.

    • Most States have a written and Physical test to get certification for police service. A lot of agencies are going to an annual PT test. And conseqenses for an unlawful use of force range from unpayed days off, termination, jail time, and Civil suits with the department looking to cover its butt above yours….

      • Keep twisting shit to suit your argument, the disingenuous garbage you’ve been peddling is a big part of the reason we don’t like your kind. “But but but, it’s SO HARD! If we break the rules we get time off, UNPAID!”

        I drew down on a stray dog that rushed me out of the dark in my yard last night, and the only reason the poor f*cker is still breathing is because I was terrified I’d go to prison for discharging even in self defense. That is not a concern of yours, ever. Two generations of Peace Officers and a generation of LEO in my family. I’m just glad I didn’t get picked up by anybody during and out of the academy, otherwise I’d likely be a dirtbag fascist like yourself. I remember real cops, I knew and know a lot of them. You strike me as my generation which has the wrong attitude about their job and the people they serve. I bet you wonder why when one of your buddies goes down to some crackhead with a knife or gun, nobody watching bothers helping, right?

        • So… if an officer breaks the rules, would you rather them remain on the job?

          Or would you like to house them in solitary confinement until they face trial (because God knows what would happen to a cop in the general prison population, and an innocent person, cop or not, does not deserve that)?

      • And after my time in the infantry, the PT requirements for POST were hysterically low. I have family members who borderline grotesquely obese, and yet they qualify physically under POST.

        How many times does your department require you to qualify with your sidearm annually? It’s rare for departments anymore to provide you with ammo to hit the range more than twice a year, how much of your personal ammo do you put through your duty weapon to keep fresh, and how often? All the time, I’m sure, because while everybody admits that so many officers don’t do shit in their off time but suck up IOD checks and get fat from the tables of “civvies,” nobody ever seems to be or know one.

        You’re not better than me, you’re not more important. Why in f*ck should you and your buddies be permitted to tool up while half the sh*t you’re running around with would land a local militia in prison because it qualifies as “weapons of mass destruction?”

        Get bent, fascist.

      • “…conseqenses for an unlawful use of force range from unpayed days off, termination, jail time, and Civil suits with the department looking to cover its butt above yours….

        Ahh yes, the Fantasy Island PD, located at the corner of Disinformation & TV Cop Drama. For every 1 copper terminated (let alone incarcerated) for unlawful use of force, I’ll find 10 people beaten severely or shot while cuffed. Not to mention civil suits. What kind of illiterates do you know who actually believe cops have anything personally to fear from a civil suit? And unpaid time off is also a joke, like some others around here, I know way too many coppers to think that matters at all. You get OT loaded on the back end, and maybe pickup a secondary while getting your time off.

        This really is a sad piece of propaganda and does disservice to any copper not looking to snow people into supporting them. And further erodes support from the citizenry you are tasked with serving.

  13. While the author of this article has his points, every department isn’t armed by Uncle Sam. Patrol rifles are a pretty solid idea considering shotguns and bead sights are not exactly up to going head to head with ghost ring irons or red dots. And most of the issues you get isn’t from the equipment but the folks who use it.

    If cops were as corrupt as a group as some of the detractors claim, then the standing army or gang (whatever calling us those things does for you) that we are would be decidedly worse than it is now. We are not gunning down crowds in like cops in China when rioting starts or running them over with tanks. There are bad cops just like there are bad “civilians” and equipment doesn’t make either group bad.

    You don’t want us kitted up like Rambo and the same logic applies to the baby killing 30 round mags you want to protect for “civilian” use. Because you ask us what we need that for and the grabbers ask what you need “Massive Ammunition Feeding Devices” for. You say you’re your own first responder and we say “who else are they supposed to call?” The same eventuality clause applies to both.

    Ni it isn’t apples to applies but quite literally, the cops are the end of the line. If we are out gunned you call the National Guard. If there weren’t good cops, especially among the sheriff’s deputies in most places, then this entire conversation would be moot. Police states don’t allow dissent. We aren’t there yet but I would advise working the ballot box and ACLU about bad cops and protocol you find distasteful as far as equipment and police action. You can’t change an institution by yelling at the people in it but the people running it. I don’t think an MRAP is appropriate for a domestic dispute but I don’t think assuming a department having one offloaded on them makes them storm troopers for attempting to use an 18 ton paperweight.

    There are good cops and bad cops. You can’t tell them by their duty rigs and equipment. Otherwise every MSR corrupts every gun owner and makes them evil as well. Every gun owner isn’t Adam Lanza and every cop isn’t Christopher Dorner.

    You defend your good name, why can’t we defend ours?

    • Seriously? Your rationale is that since you’re not as bad (yet) as cops in China, that you’re not that bad?

      I read at least two stories a day about cops in the US doing whatever they want to people: tasing, shooting, sexual assault, etc. On top of that, you get paid vacation while you’re “under investiagation” by your own organization.

      • You do realize some of us cops don’t actually like who we work with but unions and politics keep these people in the Force? I wrote on someone yesterday in fact.

        Your rationale that I’m not reacting properly when most cop haters on this forum mentally pin badges to the targets they hang at the range because they THINK we are that bad is out of place. If cops are as bad as a whole then we wouldn’t be paraded in the papers; media wouldn’t be allowed to. Do you hear about every assault case with a firearm that’s generated? I guarantee you that you don’t.

        We aren’t all bad and the ones that are aren’t bad because of the gear. It’s a badly aimed scapegoat that the media uses to malign gun owners then gun owners use to malign us!

        Is there no irony here?

        • They’re not bad because of the gear, they’re bad because they know they can do whatever the hell they want to people, including ruining – or ending – people’s lives.

          It is ridiculous.

        • I believe there are very, very few bad cops. I’ve encountered some – the kind on a personal power trip – but they are significantly outnumbered by people who want to do the right thing for the right reason. The problem is that the system itself is starting to fray and even the great people in law enforcement cannot help but get caught up in it. There is effectively no accountability for law enforcement at any level. The gap between them and us is getting larger and larger all the time. Trust has degraded so far that I’ve heard upper middle-class grandmas telling their kids to watch out for the police. I was genuinely raised to believe that if I needed help I should ask a cop.

          But it doesn’t take long for belligerent attitudes on their part toward us – their paymasters – and cop-criminals getting stupidly light sentences and police corruption being an accepted part of daily life in many large cities and, and, and… for that gap to become irrecoverably large. I know good people who are cops and I do not know one of them that doesn’t regret becoming police, even while they ache for a chance to make a difference. That should speak volumes. Good people with good training and the absolute best of intentions that are constrained and handicapped by the “system” of policing in this country with its politics underscoring everything about it.

          The relationship between citizen and law enforcement is broken and frankly I don’t know how it can be fixed. How do you move forward without trust?

    • I watch CCTV (Central China TV) regularly. There have been times I really haven’t been able to tell which country’s police I’m watching. As a country, police are at violence parity – apples to apples.

      ” We are not gunning down crowds in like cops in China when rioting starts or running them over with tanks.” One word in rebuttal: Occupy. If ever the police acted like a gang out of control on crank, it was that situation.

      Maybe you’re in the Mayberry PD. In NYC (or any medium to large city), if you papered another cop your backup call would arrive after the next shift was over, or worse. You’d always be watching your back. And worrying about getting suckered into a bad shoot.

      AND REMEMBER that I completely sympathize with the good ones who have to suffer in silence.

    • There’s the us vs them mentality. In my community, it is considered a privilege bestowed by God to render service. Only the lucky few get to, and if you think about it it’s true. Due to circumstances many get stuck working for their own needs instead of helping others. You should act like it’s a privilege to serve, instead of an entitlement. Stop being a paper terrorist and bombarding people with tickets, and realize you are fortunate to be able to help.

      As, if your are a mere mercenary the army of the righteous will vanquish you and your name.

      ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ| ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ||

    • Defend all you want, cops are dicks. All cops are dicks. If and when the SHTF, its the cops that will be the civilians nightmare. They already are, why would they change.

    • LC Judas: Will you arrest someone who has harmed or threatened no-one for selling or simple possession of some leaves? If you will, you’re a bad cop, IMO, because you are “just obeying orders” (Nuremberg defense). Enforcing an obviously bad law whether it’s about leaf possession or herding kids to a gas chamber, is still unethical.

      Have you ever done nothing (not arrested or turned in an officer) while you watched a fellow officer violate someone’s rights or abuse someone or made a false arrest? If you have, you’re a bad cop IMO.

      I’ve observed that cops who behave ethically quickly get fired.

  14. I vehemently disagree.

    1. Police as we know them are mostly a 20th century phenomenon to begin with. E.g., the old structure here was town marshall, constable and then sheriff. Each elected, the sheriff was also the local head of the militia. For the most part, any serious engagement involved calling up citizens to help (The Los Angeles Mounted Rifles for instance)

    There was much less separation between law enforcement and the citizenry. Oddly, though laws have changed (and we got rid of marshals and constables in 2001 I believe), still in several states, California included, the regular citizen has all the power to arrest someone for a felony as a peace officer does, and even the same authorization for deadly force (when judged necessary to prevent escape)…though the system will probably not tolerate you doing it, or at least they will go after you in a case they wouldn’t with police officers, despite the law being identical.

    2. I agree with the comment above about attitude. I brought up no-knock warrants with LEO-friends. I argued that such should be very rare, and only used in the most necessary cases (rescuing hostages). If there aren’t any innocents to be arrested and you can cover points of exit, there is no need for such. The risk of what, that he might destroy some evidence? That does not justify it in my mind. But all he could say is that the most important thing was the safety of the LEO. That isn’t true. It happens that they go to the wrong house, bust in no knock. And an Innocent’s life is placed in danger. Heck, in several situations the homeowner would have been justified shooting the cops entering if he could. Who cares about killing a senior citizen on his back porch. The life of the officer is paramount over the lives of us lower citizens.

    3. There is no acceptance any more that you cannot eliminate all risk and all bad things. The Newhall shootout, e.g., did teach valuable lessons. Cops were bad shots (only shot made on a bad guy was in a passerby came to the officer’s aid, grabbed his gun and fired), DA revolvers, with loose ammo- bad. Felony stops without backup, ad nauseam.

    But fast forward today. While, at least here, the highway patrol is fairly reasonable. If the city police pull you over for a broken brake light, they will go far backup and you have 3, 4, 5 cop cars. For a traffic stop. Seriously. I think whenever they pull any over they call all available units. I have seen all available cops cars for my city with lights, parked behind one car. He ran a stop sign. Yet they treated it as a felony stop (I know the guy, clean record)

    SWAT teams, MRAPS, backup, ad nauseam may have a place. But it is becoming standard, rather than being more narrowly used. That is a huge problem

    • What city do you live in? I’ve been pulled over a few of times in over 20 years in CA. Probably 4 altogether. The most recent was just about a month ago. Got a warning and sent on my way. None of my stops have involved more than 1 cop car.

      • Once was in Berkeley. Brake lights were out (and I had just had them supposedly fixed). 4 cop cars. Only other times I have been pulled over were CHP, and then just one car. (well unless you count the three times the Monrovia PD turned lights on just to get me to pull over so they could speed by…)

        I live in Monrovia. I will be honest, I have zero respect for the police here. Have seen why too many control freaks (how about ticketing a kid in a wheelchair being pick up after school for jaywalking…stay classy MPD).

        But I never see someone pulled over with just one cop car in this city. It is always a few of them. They have been enforcing a stop sign nearby lately that many run. Always, I see multiple cop cars arrive on the scene when a guy gets pulled over. Maybe if they had some real crime to occupy them they wouldn’t do so.

        • Yep, that sounds more like boredom than militaration. My most recent encounter was in Hayward. They have real crime there, no resources to dog pile a simple traffic stop.

  15. I remember my sophomore year in high school, i was taking a law enforcement class, this was when i learned most police officers attitude towards guns. I learned that if you had more than 5 semi autos, they will use that against you.

    Never trust cops

      • The cop said “well, if the home owner possesses more then 5 semi-auto rifles, then they must have problems, and this will be used against them in a court”
        Sorry about my rude comments before, I was cranky. Well written piece, plus you will discuss your opinion, unlike Jim Barret

        • ITs also worth noting that at my school we were told to read that stupid American paegent text book that says i can’t own a gun anyway. But its not that i have anything against good cops its the tooling up of small town pds that i hate, like hell small town usa needs an MRAP

        • I’m not sure how that could be used against the owner in court. 5 seems like a nice start to me.

        • Did he explain how exactly the average two armed gun owner was going to pose more of a danger to him self or anyone else trying to wield more than two guns? Realistically some lunatic trying to dual wield any two guns is probably less of a threat than one guy with one rifle that he can operate with both hands in an effective manner.

  16. Fire Departments are also paramilitary organizations. The have uniforms, a rank structure, and are even organized into battalions and divisions. I have yet to hear a fireman say I shouldn’t be allowed to own a fire extinguisher, large diameter hose, or even a fire truck.

    I’ve yet to hear a fireman or Soldier use term “civilian” with contempt (other than the terms DA Civilian or Civilian contractor, mostly because they do soldiers’ jobs, usually for more money).

    I’ve been a volunteern fireman, a deputy sheriff, and a soldier. The military is supposed to be militarized. Fire departments are barely militarized, other than when I was a Lieutenant I got to paint my helmet red, I got a cool bugle on my badge, and I got to be in charge of the three other guys on the engine with me. The only one who got addressed by his rank was the Chief, but I think his first name might have been Chief, I was always afraid to ask.

    Three years ago the battalion I commanded was ordered to run a live fire MOUT range for some law enforcement agencies. The briefed operations orders, just like I did. They talked about actions on the objective and killing people, just like I did. The talked about targets and collateral damage. They acted like an infantry platoon getting ready to take down an objective. The scenario? Serving a warrant. They were not talking about serving a warrant on a suspect, who if I remember correctly have rights, and in some cases kids and wives living with them. They were talking about taking down an objective. See the difference?

    Cops should not be attacking objectives except under the most extreme of circumstances. The problem with SWAT is if you have it, you might as well use it. Much like when I was a fireman we rolled an engine company rather than a brush truck for dumpster and car fires. Over kill, but we had this $300,000 toy, why not use it. We have an MRAP, sniper, and these cool flash bangs. Why not use them?

  17. Well for my money it’s not the hardware, weapons, or uniforms that is the issue with police militarization. It’s the siege mentality that is being pushed along with it. We’ve all heard the reports out of the DHS that proclaim that the next ‘big threat’ is so called radicalized civilians. Combine this with how out of excessive federal law enforcement has become you have a recipe for extreme loss of freedom. For example: a few years back the FDA showed up with a SWAT team to shut down a few dairies for no other reason than they were selling unpasteurized milk to people that specifically wanted unprocessed milk.

    • That’s it exactly. When I was a deputy I found that being polite, even to aholes went a long way. Calling someone I was getting ready to put in cuffs “Sir” rather than “Ahole” went a long way to keeping situations from getting out of hand.

      Showing up in the middle of an armed robbery is different from serving a warrant on some low level dealer. What concerns me is that it seems today some law enforcement agencies treat every citizen as a suspect, every suspect as a target, and every interaction as a raid.

      Mind you I’m not anti LEO. I was one, many of my neighbors are, my god father was. I like cops. What I don’t like is militarization of law enforcement.

      • I try to tell all the young guys that how you treat someone is going to determine whether they help you or the other guy late at night when they drive by and you are getting your but kicked on the side of the road.

  18. Dear government employee with a piece of costume jewelry,

    You are a civilian, not a member of the military. You should not be allowed to carry any thing but a radio and a whistle. If you need a firearm, ask a citizen for aid. You are more dangerous to the average citizen than any gang banger.

    Sincerely,
    An Honest Tax Paying Citizen

  19. “I can tell you from experience, when you night stick the colored folks, shake down crack whores for BJ’s and hide in weeds to stalk an ex girlfriend your uniform will be pretty much ruined.”

    There, I fixed it for ya!

    Oh, one more thing… The basic job of the military is to kill and destroy. The basic job of the police is to catch people who are suspected of committing crimes and turn them over to the judiciary.

  20. I haven’t seen this big a load of horse crap anywhere outside of Churchill Downs.

    Militarization has nothing to do with uniforms and only a bit more to do with hardware. It has everything to do with actions and attitude. Cops now make hard entries into homes without warrants and kill or threaten to kill everything they see. That’s militarization, and it’s happening here, not in Afghanistan. In fact, if it happened in Afghanistan, the government would be writing a big check and apologizing.

    And I’m tired about hearing about one case, the North Hollywood Shootout, over and over as if it proves anything. The facts is that the NHS was a once in a lifetime event that has been exploited by cops to justify anything they want to do. Which is especially stupid since the only people killed in the NHS were the perpetrators, who had it coming.

    So please, get off your high horse. It doesn’t smell very good.

    • It does happen in Afghanistan, and the Government is writing a big checks and apologizing almost every day. That’s why they want us out.

      • Yes, exactly. There the G apologizes and writes a check. Here the G praises the cops for doing similar things and then writes a big payroll check.

    • ok, lets go for the Simianese Liberation Army, or the Miami Shootout (the armored car robbery shootout with the FBI), etc etc etc… North Hollywood was televised so its an easy one to use as an example.

      not on a high horse here (I prefer the miniture ponies, they fit in the back of the mini van better!)

      • “Simianese Liberation Army”

        I’m trying to decide if that’s just complete ignorance of history, or some new LAPD racial slur.

    • If it only has a little bit to do with the hardware, why do we have to hear about it every time they get an MRAP?

  21. I am going to take a different approach that no one on either side will like.

    Police forces were established as the country became urbanized. With urbanization goes specialization. Small communities can use a militia model for police work. You elect the sheriff and when he needs help he can deputize citizens. I believe in most states that power still exists. The key element in the equation was that everybody knows everybody else in a small community. As cities developed that all broke down and with it the militia model. Tell me how many of you police haters would enjoy coming home from a hard day’s work and then pulling your shift as a citizen police officer. My guess is that like all militias that would get old really fast and you would get a lot no shows. That is why government started police forces. The citizens didn’t want to do it. The militia model never worked for national defense and it stopped working in large parts of the country for police power by mid 19th Century.

    I also get the impression that many of the more “Libertarian” members of the community think history started last week. In their minds there was a golden age, maybe 20 years ago, where everything was just great as far as civil liberties go. The truth is our modern concept of rights originates with the Warren Court a mere 50 years ago. Prior to that if Sheriff Wyatt wanted to search your house he would just barge right in. Sometimes he might get a warrant. He would stop off at the local Judge’s office and say I need a warrant to search stateisevil’s house. Judge Fred would say why? and sheriff Wyatt would say because. Judge Fred would say “good enough for me.” Sheriff Wyatt’s warrant would satisfy the Fourth Amendment but until the Warren Court you didn’t need probable cause get one. “Because” was often good enough.

    Now let’s talk about citizen militias. I guess you think because they are “citizens” that they would never trample on your rights. Unfortunately posses were just as inclined to bullying and violating your rights as today’s cops are except you had less protection back then. In many in areas of the country after the local Sheriff swore in his posse they would go forth and grab the first black man they ran into and declare him guilty and execute the sentence before going home. No trial was necessary. Back in the good old days many an innocent man was arrested and convicted just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the citizens’ militia showed up.

    In a way urban gangs are citizen militias. What we see as senseless violence is nothing more than the local militia enforcing the social and quasi legal code. For those who get their history from the movies I hardily recommend “Gangs of New York.” as exemplar of how things really haven’t changed in poor areas of our urban centers..

    So before you go one way or another on the matter of police work, it is much better to have an historical perspective on policing. In the end the nature of policing will not be set by the police. The tone is a product of the political leadership. Cops as a group are apolitical.

    • I am NOT a “cop hater.” I am a “bad cop hater.” Many of my lodge brothers are cops, and darn good ones. I have no beef with them or their ilk.

      • Have you stopped beating your wife too? I took no position on cops or specific comments. I used stateisevil because he has cool nom de plume and I imagine Sheriff Wyatt would take an interest in him his comings and goings..

        • Then why are you bringing in the militias? What does that have to do with the original post? Are you comparing us to them, or the police, or what?

        • What do you think the traditional Sheriff’s Posse is? It is the law enforcement version of the militia.

    • OK police lover. You left the part out about how police are effin JO’s. When did that happen O’great police historian. We don’t care about who, what, where or when. They are a holes now. And they will get what they have coming unless they return to being patriots instead of anti- constitutionalist. EFF em all

  22. As a LEO myself, the police ARE militarized and it is unnecessary.

    Police are not “para-military”, they are CIVILIAN government jobs.

    It’s a big concern of mine, police do not need a BEARCAT outside of major cities like Detroit or L.A. Why do towns like Concord and Keene NH have one? Even though most of the people were against the idea.

    Bottom line, the author is living is a pseudo reality, not understanding that police are civilians (not para-civilians) and that the government already has more than enough drones who will do whatever they are ordered to without question.

    • So only big cities need armored cars? why are they different from medium cities? I don’t understand the whole “only cities need this and the rural areas have no such crimes”

  23. Im sorry but there’s a huge difference between a SWAT team being sent to a loud noise complaint then sending a regular officer. We wouldn’t send an officer in a half chest vest to take a terrorist cell head on. Keep the armored and automatic shit where it belongs.

  24. Why do people use the North Hollywood Shootout as a justification for this kind of crap? I know any number of hunters who could have taken their deer rifles and shot those guys in the head at 200 yards. I’m not opposed to the police having rifles, even AR’s, but North Hollywood is more of a failure in marksmanship than being “out-gunned”. It’s hardly a justification for every police department having a SWAT team.

    On another point, the gangsters of the Prohibition Era and today are buying (or stealing) these relatively powerful weapons to gain control of a black market that the state has created. Doubling down on the application of violence hasn’t put an end to the availability of drugs, but this increased police violence has bled over into more routine enforcement duties. All this in the name of ending a lifestyle choice that others disapprove of, it’s utterly irrational. Drugs are bad for you, fine we know. Bullets are worse for you. I’d say the cure is worse than the disease, but that would imply that the War on Drugs is actually curing anything, and it’s not. Legalizing the use and distribution of recreational drugs would do more to reduce violence and increase police safely than adopting military tactics and mindsets.

    • Just as cops overplay the North Hollywood shootout you are over playing the role of drugs or alcohol in organized criminal activity. This may come as a shock to you but organized crime did not cease to exist with the end of Prohibition. Nor did it start there. Organized crime fixed the 1919 World Series even though betting on the games was legal at that point. The guy who fixed the series, Arnold Rothstein, went on to broker the establishment of the NYC crime cartel known as the five families. Crime cartels will make a buck out of anything, including mozzarella cheese. The Prohibition theory doesn’t hold up under historical scrutiny The mob controlled gambling and prostitution in Nevada even when it was legal and there were no drug wars until the Justice Department defanged the mafia in the early 1980s. If the war on drugs is the driver for crime then we must be winning because crime rates has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years.

  25. I was hesitant to read the comments because I got to spend some time on the range today and I’m in a good mood.
    I guess that most of the folks here who have negative comments or bad interactions maybe live in big cities? I don’t know.
    I will count my lucky stars that I spent my career in a pretty small department. I did walk a beat. It was expected.
    My first uniforms were pure polyester. Oregon has buttloads of blackberries. I remember when you ruined a pair of pants, your wife was expected to sew them or you bought a new pair, out of pocket.
    When semi-auto pistols were approved, if you wanted one, you bought it. Ditto for patrol rifles in the late 90’s.
    But, only from an approved list.
    We drove used LTD’s, then crown vics. Then we got to get a couple new cars. Only the senior guys got to drive them.
    Our command van was a used fire dept. rescue unit. We had all our mobile evidence collection stuff in it, dry erase boards, bottled water and trail mix for long calls.
    If we needed a swat team, (I remember calling them once on a guy who was armed), we called the state police. And waited, and waited, and waited.
    If you didn’t know someone, or failed to help them, they would complain. Then you were either in the Sgt’s office, or worse, explaining yourself to the Chief.
    I never had a desire to work for a big department. I liked knowing my coworkers names, their spouses names, their kids names.
    Downsides were that I couldn’t go home for lunch. I lived a mile and a half outside city limits. Bad PR to have a city car seen outside the city. Geez, the local paper would have an editorial about it in the weekly paper.
    So I guess I’ll summarize by this. Not all police are idiots, jack booted thugs, donut swallowing hogs, or in it to slurp from the public trough.
    My retirement is not enough to live on. That’s why have a full time job. The wife does too.
    I live a simple life and have just a couple of addictions. Hunting, fishing, and shooting. So far, I haven’t met anyone I won’t take to any of them.

    • I haven’t had any very bad interactions (except for the errant angry traffic stop cop) – but from what I’ve seen, Tom, unfortunately I think you’re part of a bygone era.

    • I did walk a beat. It was expected.

      Back in the day, walking the beat was the heart of policing, and it worked. The cops who worked in my neighborhood knew us, and we knew them, by name. Even though they were hardasses, they weren’t masked ninjas who blew into town in an MRAP and broke down our doors in the middle of the night. There was respect, and it ran in both directions.

      Police, if you want people to cooperate with you and respect you, get out of your damn cars and walk a beat. Get to know the people and let them know you. You might be surprised that the suspicions and fear that many people have about you will go away.

      • Walking a beat is more of a policing philosophy than actual walking. It’s stopping in to local business, talking to people, getting to know who and what are in your district.

        • And that tells what we need to know about you. It’s not a “state of mind”, it’s an actual action.

  26. Police are civilians not military. I believe the militarization issue has more to do with attitude than equipment.

    Additionally, the majority of police that I see everyday are just collecting revenue not protecting or serving. I realize this is a result of politicians.

  27. There are two very good reasons why we should oppose the over-militarization of the police.

    1. It leads to over-reacting to routine or near-routine ‘calls’. It also appears that it is sometimes used for population intimidation. Both lead to disrespect or outright hate of the government, which merely hastens the day when the next revolution occurs.

    2, I think this reason is also vitally important. There may come a day when the people will need to revolt against their government, because it has become so tyrannical that it has become intolerable. When that day comes, the first defenders of the government will probably be the police forces. Some of the policemen may join in the revolt, but most will not. I think we would all prefer that the police not have too much militaristic firepower, if we have to ‘go to war’ against them. The people need the power to revolt, including sufficiently powerful weapons, AND the police and military weaponry need to be limited a little so that the people have some chance of being able to overthrow their government. If either side of this equation gets out of balance, then the people will have lost the power to revolt, and tyranny will prevail. This is the main reason the founding fathers so abhorred the idea of a standing army.

    • Sorry, but that equation went out of balance a long time ago. Armed revolt against the U.S. military just isn’t an option at this point.

      “Furthermore, possession of small arms, including assault-type weapons, does
      not meaningfully check the combat power of advanced military establishments
      like those of the United States. To suggest that civilians equipped with Second
      Amendment-type weapons are any match for modem security forces invites
      murderous confrontations that armed civilians will inevitably lose. Military action
      today is a complex blend of intricate tactics, high-tech communication systems,
      and powerful weaponry far beyond the wildest imagination of the Framers.”

      http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5203&context=faculty_scholarship

        • MP, those folks have shared borders with countries that support their fight. They can cross the border to rest and refit and they have a stream of supplies being directed to them.

          America has 2 borders. Mexico and Canada. Which of these will harbor and supply American Mujhadin?

          Which country will provide financing and equipment while the American president still has a nuclear arsenal at his command?

        • How many dead insurgents vs soldiers? Looks like insurgents are losing big time. Drones and Spooky Gunships beat IEDs anyday.

        • And yet we are giving up and leaving, after doing all the PC things that were supposed to win. Damn. How the hell did that happen./sarc

        • 2hotel19, American soldiers are leaving a foreign country that they had no real incentive to be in. Start an insurgency in their hometowns and see if they leave.

        • Oh, I’m with you, not going anywhere.

          As for the ME/Muslim terrorist problem, we followed all the political left’s PC rules and strictures and we are losing. Same exact thing is happening in America today, and has been for quite some time, and American’s are losing.

        • Oh, and to be clear, we, Americans, are the insurgency against the leftists who are destroying OUR country.

      • Nordic, you cite to a law journal article which is both completely out-of-date on SCOTUS opinions, and tendentious in its polemic toward the position that the 2nd Amenedment had no military or anti-tyranny purpose. Many of the positions it advocates or highlights have already been overruled. See e.g. it’s discussion (not quotations) at 651: “No Federal court this century has endorsed the individual rights view. When Second Amendment issues arise courts ordinarily support the collectivist theory. Noting that the Supreme Court has never held that the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Fourteenth and made applicable to the states, many courts have concluded that the Second Amendment only prohibits the federal government from infringing upon the states’ right to arm and train militias. ” Insurrection Theory, 62 Tennessee Law Journal 651.

        The article is obsolete. As for the notion that true tyranny could not be overcome by civilian arms, an oft-stated premise on which to base hoped-for nullification of key 2nd Am originalist assumptions, the assertion is simply false. In every jurisdiction in the US (and in Western Europe, I would add) the extent of hunting arms ownership so outnumbers military and police weaponry as to make the “we’re invincible” assertions laughable.

        I would further argue that nothing could be worse in a democracy than a government (and financial elites) that believe they hold invincible power. That belief inevitably leads to reliance on the belief, and abuse of power. Even if the assertion were true, it would be immoral to act upon it.

  28. “Lets go back to the budget issues. Armored cars are expensive. If you could save your taxpayers money by getting one for free from uncle Sam, why would you not?”

    ‘Cause free still costs like 75 G’s to get to where they need them. Though I’ll grant that is probably much MUCH cheaper than getting any other car. |

    Well written. I am swayed in many respects, thanks.

  29. Not to get all fashionista, but I agree on the uniform part. A BDU style just makes more sense from s comfort and utility point of view. But black? No. Thats just an ” intimidation” move. How about a nice shade if gray? Like plumbers used to traditionally wear. Black is a little too SS looking and I think thats intentional. As to the rest, sorry officers, go cry to each other if you want but there is no good reason for the firepower and armored vehicles and the crappy US vs Them attitude. If your biggest worry is being safe, get a different job. And before any LEO wets himself about lives lost, let me say that I work in heavy industry. Look up the numbers. We lost more people than you last year. And the year before. And damn near every year before that. There are a lot of jobs with life threatening risks involved. It’s just a part of life. Nobody asked you to take the job, you went looking for it, same as me and a lot of other folks. Until you can prove you were drafted into law enforcement quit whining or find a different line of work.

    • If black brings up images of the SS, then I’d think gray would invoke the Wehrmacht.

      I think a nice conservative shade of dark blue for locals, green for sheriffs, and light blue for state troopers would work just fine.

      • Wow, that sounds so,,,,,,,,familiar. Almost like something I have seen in, oh, every state I have ever been in. Though, here in PA the State Troopers mix some grey in, just for a bit of flash!

  30. All the rest of the stuff aside, how can the author of this article suggest that 12 guage slugs are ineffective against body armor. I’m no expert but I thought rifled slugs were extremelly effective against body armor and that they were part of the solution to the North Hollyiwood Bank Robbery, am I wrong?

    • The author is partly right and partly wrong: Standard slugs should not penetrate level IIIA soft body armor. There are various slugs available which do penetrate. Rifle-velocity bullets more reliably penetrate.

      Phillips’ body armor was IIIA, but his partner’s was only IIA, and definitely can be penetrated by a decent-velocity slug. Both men were vulnerable to face, thigh, and throat shots. The distance of the shots was short-range. Slugs would have sufficed with decent sights. Buckshot to the face should have been possible and would have sufficed. Many of the shots were under 40 yards.

      The problem in the shootout seems to have been inability to fire shotguns accurately, lack of good sights, and good slugs for the shotguns, combined with the fact that most of the LEO’s did not have their shotgun in hand when they left the cruisers. Why LEOs would ever answer a BR in-progress call but leave the shotgun in the cruiser is beyond me. I also felt that way when I read the Miami FBI Shootout reports. Who on earth initiates a rolling stop of a pair of bank robbers known to be armed and dangerous, possessing rifles, but imagines their little pistols will suffice? The FBI went looking for a new pistol round. It seemed to me they should have gone looking for a better rolling stop protocol for known A-and-D guys.

      • standard Foster slugs will not penetrate soft body armor the frontal area isn’t pointy enough to push through the kevlar weave, They will break some ribs and cause blunt trauma to the recieving end, Generally speaking the police will use 00 buck or foster slugs as leathal rounds out of a 12ga. the deer sabot type slugs or boutique type shotgun ammo isnt used.

  31. A major political task of the last eighty years has been to decrease police corruption and violence. This required a change in laws (codification of civil rights), a change in means (national investigation of state and local forces), and development of policing techniques which increased the reliability (legality) of arrests while decreasing unnecessary violence. It’s that last bit which seems to be failing in many jurisdictions. Too often, as in Springfield Heights (Springfield, VA, a few weeks back) aggressive techniques are used on not very aggressive or dangerous citizens. Too often shooting starts before truly being necessary, as opposed to merely justified by the internal review.

    Police in Pennsylvania didn’t arm until the 1840’s. In 1865, PA had no state-wide police force, as policing was done at the county level. The state ‘remedied’ this situation in 1865 by passing Act 228, creating The Railroad Police and, through an amendment in 1866, the Coal and Iron police, both as private police sanctioned by state law. Under this act private railroad and mining companies could buy badges for $1 apiece and pin them on any thug they chose, providing the guy with state-wide power. The state quickly sold more than 7,300 of these badges. These private police forces were the main trans-county law enforcement until 1931. (The state police were formed in 1905, but it took more than two decades until they were the main police force in eastern Pennsylvania.)

    In 1938 every major east coast city police department was notoriously corrupt, as were those of many other cities including Chicago and Los Angeles. The steady task has been to change that reality. In many places a large improvement has been achieved. It is not reasonable to say that present systems are excellent. In many cities they are not. The US v THEM mentality has in fact been increased in many places as a result of unionization. There was no “thin blue line” for law-enforcement in 1860. There is now.

    In many cities and towns police are paid very well, yet are under-educated by comparison with, for example, young accountants or elementary teachers. They should raise the educational requirements and simultaneously classify new hires with less training to be temporary contracts. Sure, the unions will go for that……

  32. Just another screed from a badgemonkey defending his prerogatives, privilege and power.
    F**k them…..F**K them all. They have proven repeatedly ON VIDEO that “protect and
    serve” mean nothing to them. They operate under the “abuse and intimidate” mantra now.
    Law enforcement long ago ceased to be public servants and have become just a modern
    praetorian guard tasked with imposing the will of abusive and criminal politicians and petty
    unelected bureaucrats on the people.

  33. here is the deal … YOU… not someone else… but YOU have to go confront some unknown situation with some unknown bad guy with unknown arms…. YOU, again YOU not someone else, have to roll up on the situation and take control of it, affect the arrest of the bad guy and hopefully go home at night to your family alive and well. Now YOU have a choice… YOU can have a Crown Vic and .38 revolver, OR you can outfit yourself with whatever gear YOU like. Which would YOU choose?

    Now as far at tactics… YOU can walk up to the door in your dress blues and knock politely and ask “Mr. Bad Guy, could you please step out into the open on your front lawn so that I can affect your arrest?”…. or YOU could use whatever tactics that YOU think would be most effective and safest for YOU…. which would YOU chose?

    so… now if YOU might go with a little more hardware, or use proven tactics that will overwhelm the bad guy and be safe for YOU… then shut up about others doing it…. if YOU would use the Crown Vic and .38… then by all means, sign up at the nearest academy and put YOUR butt on the line in that manner. We’ll watch.

    • YOU have to go confront some unknown situation with some unknown bad guy with unknown arms

      That’s the perfect cop mentality right there. Everybody needs to be “confronted.” Everybody is an “unknown bad guy.” Everybody has “unknown arms.”

      Why not just hit your “unknown bad guy” with a drone strike and be done with it. That’s what you want to do, so stop pretending otherwise. Just kill the “unknown bad guy.” Even if he’s a teenager with a toy gun.

      And you wonder why we think that too many cops are jackbooted thugs.

      • Everybody needs to be “confronted.” —
        when you roll up and you have no idea what you are going to face, you need to be prepared for ANYTHING. Thats just being smart. Being prepared for only some of the situations YOU could face is STUPID.

        and sometimes, yes, the bad guys DO need to be “confronted”… when YOU get a 911 call that a neighbor has heard gunshots and screaming coming from nextdoor… damn straight someone needs to be “confronted”.

        now… what equipment and tactics will YOU use? A Crown Vic, .38 and a thick uniform shirt? Or would YOU like a little more than that?

        • YOU in bold capital letters just screams contempt for the people you protect and serve. I have responded to calls of shots fired and served murder warrants. I did it without flash bangs, MRAPs, and yep in a Crown Vic with a S&W .357 and a Remington 870.

          I’ve done it with flash bangs and an up armored HMMWV and an M4. It was in places like Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US Constitution doesn’t apply. And even in those places with the exception of the Jack of Spades )for the life of me I don’t remember the dudes name) we didn’t knock doors off hinges yelling and screaming in the dead of night.

    • Hold on, let me call you a wahhmbulance. You took an oath. It’s your job to stand between the public and danger. The most important thing in the world is not you going home at the end of your shift. The important thing is that you protect the community. Sometimes people die doing that, and there’s a word for those guys, we call them heroes.

      There’s also a word for the guys who wait for backup while an active shooter kills grade school kids, or who turn the retard meter up to 11 to serve a warrant against a nonviolent offender or who lie to cover up a bad shoot. That word is “cowardice”.

    • Both the NHBR shootout and the famed Miami FBI shootout were quickly solvable with shotguns, if shotguns had been well-prepared and up at the start. No question about it. But they had to be provided with good sights, loaded with serious shells, and had to be up. As for the no-knock entries, they are almost never necessary, but rather are desired in order to maximize evidence collection. Many jurisdictions place very heavy restrictions on no-knocks. Other jurisdictions have made them remarkably standard for certain suspected offenses. Sighting in carbines and shotguns is important. A good example of obvious non-sighted-in was the safety officer at Columbine: two chances to shoot at 60 yards, no hits. I promise you he didn’t have an EOTech, or it was never zeroed. So much for carbines.

      The party line in the ’50’s and 60’s was that we were different from the totalitarian dictatorships in which you might get a the knock on the door in the middle of the night. We are. We can get no-knock violent entry in the middle of the night just to arrest a numbers runner with records intact….but who actually lives next door.

      The Santa Rosa, Springfield, VA, and many other cases show that a nation which will not use the death penalty on convicted murderers will use the death penalty on a suspect that moves his hand six inches down a screen door (Springfield), or who turns around with, but does not raise, a toy AK (holding it in his weak hand, and at the magazine). In both cases the police forced the issue. They did not take advantage of cover. They rushed the confrontation and killed people so that they could go home an hour sooner. My view is that if you’ve already got your gun up on a suspect, you can wait until you see an actual gun coming up. If vision is a problem, make very bright lights a standard item: This goes double for NYC, in which in too many bad shoots claim low visibility. Well of course, if you don’t turn a light on.

      I’m actually not against AR’s for patrol cars. I am adamantly against rushing arrests and shooting a suspect before it is truly necessary. The perp has a gun and is raising the barrel? Shoot. Not a problem for me. My PD has never in my 60 or so years shot a perp without extreme need, and has not shot one in the last 20 years. We have 140 LEOs. They are patient. They surround the perp and wait him out. They have AR’s, but use good tactics including communications. We don’t take noobies or applicants without degrees. We haven’t lost an LEO to gunfire since 1905. We have more than 25,000 residents. We border a dangerous city neighborhood which experiences regular shootouts of all kinds. Skilled police, residents who will definitely ‘rat’ (and shoot…), and strict judges …all help keep things safe.

    • I used to have the greatest respect for the law but with all the underhanded stuff they have been doing lately calling the police will make things worse .With the police it is always about You/US versus them. I have never seem a bunch of thugs so afraid . If you are so scared of your fellow citizen why be a police man turn in your badge and be done with it. You seem to have contempt the people you are sworn to serve . I would hate to hear how you talk about the people you serve in private. What are the police going to do when the citizens decide they have had enough of this crap . You guys have to go home sometime, make sure you remember that. The police have every advantage and that is isn’t enough what a bunch of cowards All you hear is policing is so hard. out where i am at there sure are enough Fat police. Police cry about how dangerous their job is more construction worker die every year than police.The problem is they want to go to war but not get shot. The only ones getting protected and serving is themselves or as they say “one of their own” because they are part of a special gang when they dress up like the seal team 6 rejects to dole out traffic offenses The Entitlement mentality is they Have think they are better and separate from the people they serve . Us the community are just a tax payers who pay them ,pay for their benefits, Pay for their car,, everything they wear, and they still aren’t happy. what jobs pays for everything and you just have to show up ? All they want to put their boot on our throats whenever they may feel slighted to keep us in our place.

    • You’re making an unfounded and implied assumption in your argument: That we who are not cops want to confront all manner of people.

      Guess what? In most cases, I don’t. There’s a whole lot of things that I observe during the course of any given day that fall into my category of “Stuff which is not my business,” which, if observed by a LEO, would generate some level of busy-body activity by said LEO.

      Since our legislators have decided to become buttinski’s and cater to the mewling of pearl-string clutching women moaning “there should be a law!,” we have a great profusion of laws which have no basis in rational reality for injecting the police into people’s business.

  34. A lot of good points here. Let me throw in my two cents.

    Greene makes correlations regarding equipment that don’t really extend to the next argument. Like wool garments. Police used them some time ago, yes, just like military, but that’s because they were pretty good at keeping you warm if you were outside a lot, and it was in common usage at the time. And not just by police/military.

    Regarding the “classic uniform,” it sounds like what is being described is something along the lines of a dress uniform. And are the only options here the “classic uniform” and BDUs? In cammo? I have a hard time believing that cammo BDUs are really functional in an urban environment. Not functional and I think it sends the wrong impression.

    And regarding revolvers, didn’t local police for the most part retain revolvers as service firearms until well into the second half of the twentieth century, while the military adopted the model of 1911 in, well, you know.

    What about Hummers? If there were a few Hummers in use by the local police, wouldn’t that seem a bit like overkill? And with MRAPs, wouldn’t that be overkill? I seem to remember MRAPs replaced Hummers because the latter weren’t adequate to protect against IEDs. Unless there’s a rash of IEDs here stateside wouldn’t Hummers be more appropriate? Shouldn’t there be an excess of Hummers somewhere? If MRAPs aren’t excessive, how about the other cool stuff the military has?

    The military and police have different missions. Certainly we would not deny adequate tools to respective organizations. But when it’s hard to tell one from the other, you can understand that we take note.

  35. I think the main difference between the military and the police is the military is trained to follow orders without question and to act as a unit. Police are mainly autonomous and are required to think. The old military “Kill Kill Kill” doesn’t work in modern police work. Police who are former military sometimes have problems adapting to the civilian mentality and adding more and more military equipment just blures that line even further.

    • I strongly agree with this. Firing guns is how military objectives are obtained. Guns for police are a last-ditch defensive item. Good LEOs only shoot when they must, not when they may.

  36. YOU in bold capital letters just screams contempt for the people you protect and serve. ——

    Where on gods green earth would you get that idea? If I want to express contempt for the police or the people that are being protected and served… I would do so directly. So no need to read anything into any of my posts. My post asks a direct question to those that would say they think the police use tactics and weapons that dont fit the situation… what tactics and weapons would YOU (the reader) want to use? Something that isnt “militaristic” (ie the only thing ever at your disposal is a .38, a thick uniform shirt and Ford)… or would YOU (the reader) prefer to use the tactics and weaponry appropriate for the situation? That is the direct question posed. Now, I dont expect anyone here that is actually crapping on the police to answer that.. because we all know that there is indeed a time and a place for these types of weapons and tactics in police work. Its not all the time, but then again, they arent used all the time.

    • I offer my own false choice fallacy in lieu of yours: What would YOU choose when confronting an unknown individual? A pink tutu, ballet shoes, glitter face paint and a wand with streamers and pulling up on a stick-unicorn? Or mechanized gundam armor with perp-seeking nuclear tipped missiles?

      We aren’t talking about confronting some unknown bad guy, we are talking about people an officer has not determined to be a bad guy at all. We are talking about SWAT teams not bothering to double check the fucking address before raiding a home.

      No one is upset about the instances where police have properly employed heavier weapons and vehicles than a .38 revolver and a crown vic. Many are upset that police seem to be frequently escalating the tension of situations instead of de-escalating. There certainly seems to be an increasing number of instances of SWAT teams being called out for situations that do not warrant SWAT teams. The military gear and tactics should be reserved for situations where it is actually necessary and not an option of first resort “just in case.”

      It is extremely dishonest of you to criticize people who are pointing out that this trend is a bad thing by presenting a logical fallacy asking them to choose between the current state of affairs and something no one is advocating.

      If you think it is appropriate to approach a typical traffic stop with a raised MP5, gas mask and BDU’s, tossing a flash bang in the driver side window for good measure then please resign. Otherwise, stop arguing against points people aren’t making.

      I’ve known and talked to enough police officers to know that police receive training on how to handle situations with nothing more than a flashlight, a vest and a side arm and that kit is more than sufficient for a vast majority of police interactions. Yes there are situations that turn out to be much more dangerous to the officer responding and it is the willingness to to accept this risk and confront it with professionalism that has earned peoples respect for police in many communities across America. But if police are going to use unnecessarily overwhelming force to try and eliminate the risk of their profession at the expense of their professionalism, then with both will go our respect.

      • Marcus, how true to your namesake. Your very measured rebuttal re-establishes the sensible focus for the debate.

  37. I really don’t think this is ever going to be an easy issue to sort out. It seems to boil down to a couple basic points:

    1. Statistically law enforcement isn’t that dangerous. If we took an evidence based approach to employment safety equipment you average cop would ride a volvo (car accidents are the big killer)and the kid delivering your pizza would have a bearcat. I could probably save more lives on your average PD by providing some teaching on preventing chronic disease than by issuing ceramic body armour or something. The YOU YOU YOU man above me might benefit from a blood pressure check for example. Evidence based procurement rather than “you never know…” procurement seems like right path.

    2. Law enforcement members seem to very thin skinned, and don’t want to admit there are any problems. We recruit from the human race, and there are going to issues of leadership, and morons will be hired. Even a cursory Internet search reveals pages of idiots, and any cop posting on the Internet knows at least one person who probably needs another job. Lets stop the pretending, and admit that the concerns of the public are not just whining. As a member of a western democracy, I shouldn’t feel intimated by civil servants, and if you disagree maybe you need to reflect on why that is.

    3. The public needs to understand that many of the problems in modern law enforcement are seen on the inside as signs of strength. Insularity=brotherhood Aggression=bravery and concern for the public . It’s is VERY good to have someone willing to come to my neighbours house at 3am because he’s beating his wife, and it is much simpler to have professionals do it. We require a police force, and we will have one. We need to decide what we expect from law enforcement, and stop sending mixed messages. In the 80’s we loved cops in black uniforms sorting it out in the ghetto. Now they are everywhere, and it sucks. If we want community policemen on bikes, we will have to accept that there will be trade offs in terms of effectiveness. We also need understand that our demands, especially after 9/11 led us to this point. Basically, the public needs to grow up. ( present company excepted of course)

    • The YOU YOU YOU man above me might benefit from a blood pressure check for example. —-

      blood pressure is just fine. I dont get upset over internet, or in person for that matter, discussions. I use capitals to drive home the point that the people using these weapons and tactics arent some nameless, faceless entity. They are people… like YOU. And when its YOUR butt on the line, you want to be prepared, trained and equipped properly. The capitals are intended to make it personal to the reader.

  38. I dispense medication to mentally ill people basically wearing pyjamas with no weapon at all in a room full of sharp, heavy, and flexible objects. While I appreciate that you want to be safe, that doesn’t mean that we can allow that to be the predominate factor in the relationship between the public and law enforcement.

  39. I’m pleased about your bp, but please be careful. Shift work is terrible for your health, my Father was in law enforcement and the impact on his health has been pretty rough.

  40. Can the cops body armor of today stop a 7.62? I suppose it depends on the round and body armor type. Standard body armor?

  41. The safety argument is overblown. 120 LEOs killed in the line of duty in all of 2012. This out of ~800,000 Full time LEOs in the United states.

    • And how many of those were killed with firearms? I remember reading at one point that the primary cause of line of duty deaths for LEOs was traffic accidents.

        • Interesting. Going back about 10 years, I can’t find any where auto accidents (as listed) exceed gunfire, so it must have been a long time ago that I read that, or (equally likely) someone was cooking the numbers I read. It’s worth noting that auto accident, motorcycle accident, and vehicle pursuit are all broken out separately, and I would tend to add those all together. When you do, the number of deaths from vehicle accidents come close to equaling the number of gunfire deaths, and 2008 actually exceed it (though that was an unusually low year for gunfire). Over the last 9 years (2004-2012), gunfire is the cause of death an average of 33.4% of the time, while vehicle accidents average 28.5%. The gunfire percentage was fairly stable from 2004-2010 (except for the low 2008), but has increased in both of the last two years. Auto deaths have a little more volatility, but were down in 2011 and 2012 from their 2010 and previous levels.

          If you’re interested, this is what I do when I’m bored: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9BLAdxRbpU-dUVoUFRtZ2JkVWs/edit?usp=sharing

    • The “law enforcement officer safety” argument is wildly, spectacularly over-blown.

      There are many more farmers and ranchers killed in on-job accidents every year. And quite a few of the ways in which farmers or ranchers are killed make getting killed by gunfire look very desirable.

      Ever seen a forage chopper? Want to think about what the results look like when a man gets pulled into one?

      Or how about getting wrapped around a PTO shaft?

      Hint: There ain’t nothing the mortician can do to these types of deaths that will make for an open-casket service.

  42. Whelp, that does it. I’ve been reading your site less and less and that was it; the last article I’ll ever read here. Officially un-bookmarked.
    Happy trails.

  43. What’s funny is about 90% of the companies most of you (and I) patronize are just as responsible for police militarization as any nanny state politician. Seriously, go look at the website of your favorite firearm manufacturer or look at some of their ads in the gun rags.

  44. “Oh yes, I’m willing to bet that darn near all of these “scary military rifle” were converted to semi auto”

    (Rhetorical question #1) Just what do you do for a living that allows you to maintain this level of ignorance? The military does not convert weapons to semi-automatic before handing them to another police or military organization.

    (Rhetorical question #2) Why don’t you take a field trip to your local police department and learn about this yourself before you make broad, overreaching statements like this?

    There are good reasons for the police not having military machines on par with the military! I will list some of them for your edification…

    Reason #1 There are few laws or specific (local or state) ordinances governing their use within a policing organization. These departments can use it for everyday tasks that they claim to be high risk, but that actually aren’t. The safety net of an armored vehicle can become their tether when they stop thinking about the risks and how to mitigate them, just hopping in and giving a “let’s roll” to their fellow officers.

    Reason #2 The costs of upkeep come directly out of the taxpayers budget without the taxpayers getting the sticker shock of the item that the police department is actually asking for. A percentage based, annual tax on your house is a great way to visualize the actual cost of these “capital” items. The upkeep is high even if they are sitting on an empty lot with yearly maintenance, but a number of departments are actually housing these vehicles in a temperature controlled garage! How ludicrous!

    Reason #3 Military machines like this one are meant to overcome a large, militarized, standing army. If Sheriff Snuffy is given a 155mm Howitzer, a MK 19 grenade launcher, a M 115 APC, an Apache helicopter, a Predator drone, and an MRAP, you better believe he’s going to use them somehow. If Sheriff Snuffy has to justify a purchase to his constituents before he is able to purchase ANY of these items, how many do you think he’ll get away with requesting/purchasing before the taxpayers throw him out of office for wasting their money and losing touch with reality. Policing has and always will be dangerous, the armor and weapons always show up when a tragedy happens, and police response is often emotionally charged and driven (with little to no oversight or C2 [command and control] until the situation boils down a bit). That being said, what military machines do you or do you not want bearing down on friend and foe alike? You may call the aforementioned machines “precision”, but none of them were meant to be precise to the tune of limiting collateral from Americans. Kicking down the doors in Afghanistan, warfare in Iraq, and anti-pirate operations are vastly more violent than the US streets. This disparity does not make it a positive thing to bring US military machines back for home use.

    I’ve seen articles right here on this blog that state that the departments are closing off the turret… How long do you think it’ll take those departments to realize that when they ask for this type of vehicle, and they use this vehicle for its intended task, the turret is there to provide a base for a large, belt fed, automatic weapon. This weapon’s primary tasks are as follows: to provide protection from threats while in route to the destination, and to lay down cover fire while the occupants exit the vehicle and continue their mission. My point is that IF these vehicles actually HAD to be used in a justified military/policing manner (not just against a guy with a beer in his hand that has a warrant out for his arrest) the police would find themselves with no way to exit the vehicle under fire, so they would have traveled all that way to turn around and go back to safety.

    Conclusion – TTAG, why did you publish this tripe? Do you agree with it or did you want the “conversation” that ensued? Did you get the response you wanted?

    • I’m all for publishing this sort of post. It benefits readers on both sides of the argument. Those who aren’t interested can simply skip to what does interest them. While there are a few people that predictably come out either for super-police or disarm-the-police, most comments are more nuanced. It sure beats kicking it around in the New York Times…

    • 15 years in police work. And most administration of police depts don’t want the liability of a lowly patrol officer to have a giggle switch on their rifle.

  45. How many stories have you heard about police arresting a fellow officers who have crossed the line or been corrupted?

    Hell, even the way the agencies and departments address cop unjustifiably shooting people, it’s not murder or assault, it’s “excessive force.”

    More disturbing is the SCOTUS says the police and all their gear aren’t there to protect me, they’re there to enforce the law. Meaning it’s to be used against me if I screw up, not to protect me if I am in danger.

    So, forgive me for not being thrilled about the police tooling up Afghanistan style.

  46. America took its first steps towards tyranny when “Peace Keepers” became “Law Enforcement.” Your seat belt is not fastened comrade, we need a DNA sample and your wallet.

  47. …or, because they want to fulfill their fantasies of being HSLD specops operators without actually being one. On the taxpayers’ dime. At the expense of civil & Constitutional rights.

    When I heard a city police officer refer to himself as a “SWAT operator” I knew we had crossed the Rubicon.

    • Yes, the ‘operator’ nomenclature is disturbing. It also strikes me as mildly mad, an indulgence of a fantasy. To imagine that going to 24th & Market Street in Hometown USA is anything like being sent into a fully-empowered enemy’s territory is absurd. A person does not become HSLD going to little five-day schools while sleeping at home or in a hotel, and shouldn’t wish that as a result. The reality is that ‘operators’ in ‘special warfare’ need, must have, a bit of a mean streak and place a somewhat low value on their own well-being. They are selected for these characteristics, among others. It’s part of the required personality if the missions are going to be accomplished. We don’t need a domestic police that hires guys with a mean streak or unusual need for validation of their toughness. Virtually every building approached by police can be closed off, surrounded, isolated, and dealt with methodically. We need people who can think well as they act, seeking to minimize harm. Allowing a pass on the judgement and strategy thing is absurd.

  48. Militarization isn’t about gear, it’s about mentality.

    Police now have a pervasive “us vs them” mentality typical of deployed soldiers in a war zone. They are suspicious of the public and afraid of the public to the level of paranoia, and this translates into how they deal with the public. How they deal with the public makes the public suspicious and paranoid of THEM and thus they generate a self-fulfilling prophecy. They wall themselves up and their co-workers are their brothers and their family, they place priority on them over the public, even if it means looking the other way or doing something illegal. They view themselves as military in a war zone, they act that way, and they attract those kinds of people to their ranks.

    They take orders from their highly political governors and mayors without question and there simply aren’t nearly the checks and balances built into this command structure as there are in the military. Their mentality now is 100% population control and suppression of anyone who acts out and they are the arm of whatever political party happens to hold local office.

    Want to peaceably assemble to protest the mayor? Expect an “up armored” and “up weaponed” police force out there to suppress you. Of course they aren’t telling you that you don’t have the right to protest, but they’ll weaponize some other mundane laws like “preventing the flow of traffic” or “park curfew” or “making too much noise” to achieve the same effect. They will be deployed to clean up the messiness that is democracy and freedom.

  49. why are we pretending that taxpayers aren’t paying for those expensive armored cars because they come from “Uncle Sam?” or that they’re strictly used for the kinds of situations you cite?

    the issue of police officers claiming they need those “military surplus” rifles while testifying to ban civilians from getting similar rifles (or magazines) is something aside from that, i admit, but doesn’t exactly make me sympathetic to what officers “need.”

  50. I understand that practical aspect of using military grade hardware. But its the philosophy of use for this equipment, being “fight the enemy” and “shock and awe” that has no place in domestic police work. The “us vs. them” attitude has grown quickly in the American police mentality, i’ve noticed it.

  51. For what it’s worth, I see the problem stemming from police agencies changing from peace officers to law enforcement officers. Keeping the peace allowed them to consider civilians innocent until proven guilty. Of course, the justice system’s liberal swing to “rights” left too many bad guys on the streets with an agenda. So, enforcement becomes the street norm. Police are also human, and, as we know, humans don’t always make rational decisions when stressed. Many of today’s self defense web pages or facebook postings encourage de-escalation, retreat, and the assumption that given the chance, a bad guy will allow that to happen rather than risk complication. When a law enforcement crew shows up, there is generally no de-escalation because of the defensive strengthening of the bad guy’s behavior. Peace officers may have had a different effect, but we don’t have that luxury anymore.

  52. Are any of these so called Police Operator’s smart enough to realize that maybe they just escalating the encounter when they dress up like they are going to Iraq to dole out a parking ticket . Quite frankly i am tired of my taxes getting wasted on these wanna be warriors if you want to go to war join the army. What joy could you possibly get intimidating the people you are supposed to “serve”

  53. The police are beyond ‘militarization’…….they have rules of engagement are unencumbered by Geneva Conventions…..plus, they have the Courts, the Government, and the tools in the media to support them….our troops overseas? Not so much…..

  54. You can argue equipment and hierarchy all day, but I will say this – nobody looked up at the National Guard at Kent State and thought, “oh, shit, the cops are here!”

    When people cry foul about police militarization, they aren’t talking about the uniforms or the hierarchy or even the shiny new toys, directly. They are talking about the mission change/creep/shift the institution has been undergoing as a whole. The change in how, and when, and how much, force is used, and in what situations. Its about the ongoing wedge being driven between police and the communities they ostensibly serve. Where once you had members of a community who chose jobs that contributed to the safety and security of the communities they themselves belonged to, now you have the creation of a new caste, over and above the common people – a new caste that is used to terrorize and coerce the caste below it. They have unconsciously sold out to masters that give them small gifts and carve outs and play along with their fantasies of control and power. In short their purpose, their institutions has become corrupted to serve the needs of the caste above themselves and they are too preoccupied patting each other on the back for their bravery and honor to realize it.

  55. Police, being civilians, should not be able to have anything that other civilians may have.

    If your average law-abiding Joe Citizen can have it, so can the cops.

  56. This is a dumb post.

    If cops are military, why are so many fat? And can’t even dress themselves?

    http://www.trbimg.com/img-5116a46c/turbine/la-me-manhunt-ex-lapd-officer-pictures-014/600

    Cops are not military. They’re civilians, who increasingly want to play army all day, then go home and watch TV and eat pizza.

    If cops want to be taken seriously, stop getting hysterical and shooting at newspaper delivery ladies. And spend some time at the range so you can hit your target.

  57. You’ll give a shit when they start to come for your guns…at 3 a.m., knocking your door in, holding you and your family at gunpoint while they do an illegal search of your private home, all in the name of “safety”…it’s bullshit, and you know it…

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