“I’ve driven them quite a bit,” Pocatello, ID PD Officer Nick Edwards tells idahostatejournal.com re: the department’s new MRAP. “We had quite a few of them assigned to us in Iraq.” That’s not the money shot for reason.com. Writer Zenon Evans’ attention is captured by Officer Edwards contention that “you can’t put a price on safety.” Which of course you can. But I’d like to highlight the connection between the march of police militarization across America and the fact that combat veterans are filling the ranks of your local po-po like never befo’. Don’t get me wrong. Thank you for your service, ladies and gentlemen but . . .
When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re a combat vet, all criminals may look like enemy combatants. Hence the new police recruits’ wholehearted enthusiasm for tooling up and training like a soldier – to the point where the difference between a police SWAT team and an Army combat unit is more about where the officers billet at the end of the day than equipment, dress, training and tactics.
Reason.com hits the nail on the head by pointing out the flaw in Pocatella Police Chief Scott Marchand’s rationale for buying an MRAP for his town of 50k souls.
Police Chief Scott Marchand gave a peek into his fantasy with his new tool: “This is not just a SWAT ride. What we want to do is get everybody patrol-trained. So, In the middle of the night, 2 o’clock in the morning, you have somebody down, you have an officer down… anybody can get in and get there for the rescue.” . . .
What Edwards means when he says “keeping someone safe” is “police officer.” Whether they’re being terrorized by a no-knock raid or actually losing their life in one, countless Americans in just about every state are not being kept safe by the militarization of America’s police equipment and tactics.
But what the hey, why would someone expect cops care about bookish concepts like “militarization”? A Springfield, Illinois sheriff who just got to whip out his MRAP for the first time in a “standoff” with a man in a trailer dismissed questions about militarization say, “You know, militarization of local law enforcement is something politicians need to worry about, not at our level. We’re worried about protection, safety and security of the people in the county.”
Just as it’s true that “guns don’t kill people,” MRAPs don’t make police departments into totalitarian tools. It’s the underlying culture infecting our public safety officers that’s most concerning, that leads to flash-bang and MRAP-mania.
I reckon it’s time we took a good look at the police hiring process, to make sure that combat vets get the same vetting process as anyone else. If we don’t want the government to wage war on its own people, perhaps we shouldn’t give warriors special treatment when it comes to staffing the police.