Who's in control here? (couyrtesy nydailynews,com)

I’ve written a large numbers of posts attacking the up-armoring and military mindsetting of U.S. police. My main point: SWAT comes in, civil liberties go out. America moves closer to a police state. Meanwhile, innocent lives are lost. But there’s another angle to this. The innocent lives lost aren’t just the ones taken by jumpy no-knock cops wielding battering rams, flash bangs and fully automatic rifles. There’s also a price to pay in terms of the over-proliferation of SWAT teams, generally. That’s the real story behind the shooting at the D.C. Navy Yard . . .

Because, let’s face it, there are always going going to be spree killers. There have been since the dawn of time. There will be ’til the sun fries the Earth to a crisp.

While it’s nice to know what motivates these murderers, while it’s comforting to think we could use that information to devise ways to ID and incarcerate these proto-killers, we can’t. Well no more than we already do. All we can do is to keep trying to weed them out and, equally important, prepare for the ones who slither through the grass, unseen.

The terrorist attack in Nairobi highlights the importance of that realization. Even if we eliminated deranged spree killers we’d still be left with an even worse threat: organized teams of civilian slaughterers prepared to die for a cause. [Note: aside from bombers, lone wolf terrorists like Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Malik Hassan are the exception to the rule.]

MRAP on its way to the Navy Yard in D.C. (courtesy nydailynews.com)

There are two main points of defense against these types of attack. First, the people on-the-spot: the so-called victims. Regular readers (and anyone with an ounce of common sense) will understand that armed civilians are, or should be, the first line of defense against spree killers and terrorists. We are there. We are the first responders.

Besides, there’s no way to provide professional security/police protection for every possible target. Truth be told, most public spaces (and large private ones) are indefensible. Too many entrances and exits. Too many people. Placing security/police assets at a specific location may prevent an attack—but it’s just as likely to deflect the attack to a less well-defended location.

The second line of defense: the “normal” cops. Yes, well, despite all the talk of post-Columbine active shooter police response tactics—don’t wait for SWAT— events at the Navy Yard indicate that’s exactly what happened. (I’m betting that the long-delayed report from the Sandy Hook slaughter will reveal another deadly delay.) What is it that cops say? My main job is to get home at night. Like that.

DC SWAT team makes the scene (courtesy nydailynews.com)

So I’m not seeing “normal” cops as a main line of defense against spree killers or terrorists. That job belongs to our militarized SWAT teams. Given the gun-free policies of most private, government and (unbelievably) military spaces, disarmed civilians are left waiting, hoping, praying for SWAT to save their lives.

I’m not going to dwell on the inherently flawed selection process, piss-poor training or overly aggressive tactics that typify America’s SWAT teams. [*cough* Jose Guerena *cough*] I’m simply going to point out that we have WAY too many cops in general and FAR too many SWAT teams in specific.

Response to Navy Yard shooting (courtesy nydailynews.com)

To put a number to it, 90 percent of U.S. cities with 50,000 or more people have a SWAT team. And then there are state and federal SWAT teams, including the ATF, FBI, DHS, DEA, DOE, TSA, IRS, CPB, etc.

The result is, simply put, a clusterfvck.

Members of a Washington DC Swat team who the BBC has learned were ordered not to respond to Monday’s Navy Yard shootings have yet to be contacted by the authorities.

The Capitol Police tactical response team was told by a supervisor to leave the scene instead of aiding municipal officers, sources told the BBC.

Meanwhile, the department has installed a new leader of the elite unit. No reason has been given for the decision.

Perhaps the man leading the Containment and Emergency Response Team (CERT) was fired because he didn’t have the stones to tell the City Cops to step aside and let his men do their job. Which underlines my main point: there’s no point in having these hugely expensive, inherently anti-liberty military-style cops if we’re not going to use them properly. If they’re hampered by the fact that there are too damn many of them.

The  reason the CERT team was told to stand down? So that the D.C. cops could deploy their SWAT team who were on the way. You know, ahead of the FBI and ATF SWAT teams. Given that the Navy Yard’s seven-member security team had already shown that it was not up to the job.

The military show up at the Navy Yard, too (courtesy nydailynews.com)

Did I miss anyone? Did the Navy have a SWAT team on call? Probably. The pics in this New York Daily News gallery reveal a farrago of forces melding and mixing after the murderous mayhem. Let’s have another look at the cost of that jurisdictional bunfight at the Navy Yard.

Four Cert team members wearing full tactical gear and armed with HK-416 assault weapons arrived on scene at Navy Yard at 08:36 (12:36 GMT) on Monday, after reports surfaced of an active gunman at the complex at 08:20.

According to sources, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC’s main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on site equipped with long guns, and requested their help stopping the gunman.

When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.

On Thursday, FBI Director James B Comey Jr told ABC News it took roughly half an hour for armed police to arrive and engage Alexis. All 12 victims were killed within that time.

So there you have it: too many SWAT teams means innocent people die. Not to mention the people who die as “regular” cops wait for the SWAT team. [*cough* Petit family *cough*] It’s time to dial back on police militarization and realize the importance of cops and armed citizens working together to take out the madmen when they arrive. And arrive they will. [h/t James]

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82 Responses to Why Police Militarization Makes Us Less Safe

  1. This SWAT series is excellent. Pro-freedom gun owners should be very concerned about the power of the police, which are the enforcement arm of the government.

    It’s nice when police chiefs and sheriffs take a stand and say that they support gun rights, but when push comes to shove it would be better that they don’t have access to half the stuff they have now – a power which is so tempting and corruptible because it is so easy to use.

    • … It’s nice when police chiefs and sheriffs take a stand and say that they support gun rights …

      Talk is cheap. Even the bureaucrats who are sincere when they say this will ultimately do what their superiors tell them to do.

  2. Jurisdiction cockfights have been around since governments existed. Its a sign there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. The problem in this case isn’t too many SWAT units, but too many LE agencies playing in the same sandbox.

    Depending on how you interpret this case, the Navy NCIS, Capital Police, DC Metro, AND the FBI all had jurisdiction on the scene. That’s a lot of cooks in one very small kitchen.

    Lets go back to the old days when we had the FBI, Secret Service, and local PD. That way , only 3 SWAT teams could potentially respond to the same scene instead of 12!

    • Actually, as I said in another post, since the Navy Yard is a Navy Base (Federal property), the Master at Arms initially and NCIS after initial threat neutralization between the eyes, are in charge at the scene.

      The FBI may assist/support if requested by the Navy LE, probably with lab work. The other SWATs, including the DC MPD Tac Unit, have NO jurisdiction on the Yard unless requested by Navy LE. They should have stayed home; MPD should have secured the DC streets outside the wall.

      I suspect they just wanted to be on the TV news with their macho toyz.

  3. An undeniable effect of a police state is that it makes people less safe. The government and criminals are the only ones with power, and often are the same people. Chicago comes to mind.

    The other consequence is to turn people into rabbits, who always rely on someone else to protect them. SWAT teams have their place, but they’re supposed to be “special,” hence the “S,” and not the norm for every law enforcement encounter. Free people are always safer than slaves.

  4. I just have to ask, why does the cop in the leading photo need that backpack? What could he possibly have in there that isnt already or couldnt be on his plate carrier? This isnt a “-istan” halfway across the world, where hospitals are few and far between. If the cop gets shot he’s at a hospital in 20 mins or less.

    • It could be a trauma kit. Depending on the severity of the injury; a person might not survive long enough to make it into the ER.

      • I carried a M16A4 with a M203 in Afghanistan and no one in my squad carried anywhere close to that much crap. As far as a trauma kit, you can field-strip the useless stuff out of an IFAK and pack more applicable items and still have room to spare in a medium sized GP pouch, and our time from calling in a 9line to actual Casevac touch down was much longer than any PD should expect to endure. Not to mention he has so much crap on that he can’t even draw his pistol’s spare mags should the need arise. I’m no cop-hater but even for the municipality that I work for I’ve seen “tactical response” guys with sidearms strapped to each leg when I went to a chik-fil-a awhile back and I think it’s just ridiculous what some of these guys willingly carry. Call me crazy but once I had to start carrying gear for extended periods of time I found out that less is more and there’s no logical reason why a cop should carry more gear than a standard infantryman on patrol in country.

      • Granted he might be the “team” medic, but if you look at his pack it’s attached to his vest via the clips and he’s not lugging it around with the backpack straps, so if he DOES have to use his med gear, he needs to do one of the following; have someone behind him pulling out specific items he needs when he needs them, have someone drop his pack for him so he can access it, or lastly he has to drop his armor so he can get med gear and thus leave himself unprotected so he can fix up someone else. Stuff like this reminds me of when my peers and I were young dumb boots and thought we needed to carry every last gear item and then some for “just in case”, but when you start lugging that crap around you find out real quick what you can live without and what you can multipurpose.

      • If that is common, it is epic phail. He is still packing weapons and he is so bound with gear he would be useless in a fire fight and not much good in a first aid capacity. How hard would it be to get paramedics on a scene given this is in an urban area and not the backside of Afghanistan or North Korea?

    • He’s wearing a medical patch and has multiple CATs attached to the pack, I would venture a guess that it’s a medical pack with all the fixin’s in it to treat everything from blood loss to menopause.

  5. However, something that I keep coming back to when reading about police militarization, is how difficult it will ever be to demilitarize them? Sorry guys, time to give up that MRAP.

      • Well, that simply won’t happen. Voting to reduce funding for any police program is political suicide, and very, very few politicians have the courage to do that. Doesn’t matter which side they’re on, their opponents will label them “soft on crime” AND “soft on terrorism” and eat them for lunch.

        What’s really needed is for honest police to step up and admit they’re benefiting from a broken system that’s corrosive to our society and reform from within. Refuse the surplus M4s and MRAPs the feds are offering up. Shit, that ain’t gonna happen, either.

        Any other ideas?

        • Once a SWAT MASSIVELY screws up (like massacring a school full of kindergarteners), defunding them should be easy. Or just let them bleed themselved dry with maintenance costs for their war machines.

    • at the very least, we could stop transferring so much material from the federal government to these agencies. it would be a start.

  6. In the midst of a God-awful fustercluck situation, how do law enforcement officers (of all stripes) differentiate between “the bad guy” and armed citizens simply trying to get themselves and their families out of harms way? How exactly do we “work together?”

    I’m not deriding the concept, mind you. I’m not slamming LEOs or the Armed Intelligentsia. I just think it’s nearly impossible.

    If something goes down, I’m getting myself and my loved ones out, by any means possible. And if I never have to talk to an officer to explain my own expenditure of ammunition, so much the better.

    • Matt,
      That’s the same thing I wonder about. I’m in the military and I’m all for us carrying on base…..but when it hits the fan how do you figure out who is who? And then how do the cops figure it out?

      I want to be allowed to carry on base but man it would be an extreme situation before I drew down

      • It shouldn’t take ‘comapnay strength” to get to a person in the middle of a schizophrenic episode. Frankly, it should have been handled in house and contained when it started going down. There is a statute in Austin, TX with an inscription on it” “1 Riot, 1 Ranger.” Perhaps it is time to rethink the current strategy and take a step back and modernize that concept.

        I agree with you about being caught in the middle of something like this. I guess you have to figure out who is shooting at who.

      • Ever spend any time in the green zone? I was lucky enough to be there when some mortars hit the embassy grounds. Which the security element responded to as if it were an assault.

        Uniformed Marines, Ghurkas and non-uniformed contractors were all over the place. I’m not sure how they planned on avoiding fratricide, since it didn’t seem like they had rehearsed anything and everyone was wearing different uniforms and carrying different gear.

        Fortunately, it was just a couple of badly aimed mortar rounds that did no damage I could see other than scaring some fobbits.

    • “How exactly do we [armed citizens and responding police agencies] work together?”

      To a great extent, we cannot work together. Uniformed police often shoot plainclothes officers during active crimes. If uniforms shoot plainclothes officers wearing badges on chains around their necks, they will shoot armed civilians as well. (The reason: uniforms look for a firearm and automatically shoot the person holding the firearm without verifying if the person holding the firearm is actually a criminal.)

      As bad as that sounds, there are actually two very bright silver linings in the clouds:
      (1) If lots of (say at least one in eight) citizens are armed and skilled, a spree killer will be incapacitated before any responding police agencies arrive in most cases. Keep in mind that most spree killers promptly kill themselves or surrender as soon as they face armed resistance. We can be hopeful as well that armed and skilled citizens would neutralize many of the minority of spree killers that do not kill themselves or surrender immediately because these armed and skilled citizens would have the element of surprise.

      (2) If an armed citizen is not in the immediate vicinity of the spree killer, assemble a “conga line” of other citizens to follow the armed citizen out of the building. If a responding police officer turns a corner and sees the armed citizen leading the line of people out of the building, it is immediately obvious that the armed leader is a “good guy with a gun”. Why? Because an armed spree killer would not be leading a bunch of people to safety.

      There is a lot of beauty in (1) and (2) above because both outcomes are highly desirable outcomes (either incapacitating the spree killer before police arrive or getting many innocent civilians safely out of the building) and both outcomes practically eliminate any risk to armed citizens.

      This is how armed citizens and police should work together. The citizens protect themselves and the police show up to clean up the mess and tie up any loose ends after the major crisis is over.

      • Antiquity would say no more than one in 10.

        “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
        ― Heraclitus

    • Not the point. The real importance of armed everybodies is that it is no longer a gun-free victim gallery and the spree killers go elsewhere.

      There’s got to be a reason that 99% of spree killings take place in gun-free zones, and it’s the same reason we need to eliminate them.

  7. Dc is a jurisdictional nightmare. You have the Metro police, metro transit police, park police, Capitol police, supreme court police, not to mention various fed police and 3 letter agencies.

  8. The problem at the navy yard doesn’t sound like it was the swat teams. It sounds like a command and control failure. All sorts of agencies rushed in to help and the help was derailed by no clear cut chain of command. That’s what I’m seeing.

    Gun free zones should be done away with. Constitutional carry should be the law of the land. But as we’ve stated time and again, most of us will use our guns to fight clear of the trouble. We still need cops to go in and confront the trouble head on.

    In a country that has places like Chicago, do we need less police? Or do we need to return the police to more of a local control situation. Let the local voters and mayors and city councils decide what’s the right training and equipment for their cops. Invite the feds to butt out.

    And RF you were embarrassed in front of a girl by a cop when you were a teen ager. A real hit to the ego. But it’s time to let that rage and anger go. The real enemy here isn’t the cops. It’s people like rahm, barry, difi, slow joe etc.

    • The cops in RI embarrassed themselves by their thuggish behavior and blatant corruption. The incident you refer to was a confirmation of what I already knew about the boys in blue in my neck of the woods. I’d heard plenty of stories of police abuse prior to that, from friends, family, friends of the family and in the press.

      In short, rest assured my distrust of the po-po—especially SWAT po—is more than personal. It’s moral, ethical, philosophical, strategic and political.

      • And yet, my interactions with the cops over my lifetime have been very positive. How do we POTG reconcile the 2 extremes and gain allies in the cop shop?

        • That’s a good question. Not all the cops are bad guys. Some of us just like guns, driving fast, and giving the occasional helping hand. And not necessarily in that order.

      • I think it all goes back to that old question, “Who will guard us against the guardians?”

        The closest anyone has ever come to an answer was our Founding Fathers: “…the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

        We must guard ourselves against our guardians. There is no other line of defense. If the guardians become so powerful and/or so corrupt that we cannot defend ourselves against them then our liberty is lost. We must continue to work for personal ownership of firearms and against the militarization of police forces and government law enforcement agencies.

    • I will tell you of the very first cop experience that I remember. I was about 10, in 1960 in northern California, a quiet lily white unincorporated town, where the most exciting police activity was probably chasing high school seniors who were rolling a keg across the school lawn. I was walking my 5 year old brother to the library. Next to it was a sheriff’s substation only used to file reports at end of shift, otherwise unmanned. Just as we passed it, a deputy’s car rolled up and two deputies got out.

      Being 10 years old and showing off for my brother, I turned around with my thumbs in my ear, wiggled my fingers, and stuck out my tongue.

      Proper response would have been a laugh, maybe do it right back. Instead we got a really angry spitting lecture on how hard their job was and how much respect they deserved.

      In a small unincorporated town in 1960, far away from any troubles. No race riots, no druggies, no hippies or war protests or anything of the sort.

      What that experience did was open my eyes. Every police experience since recalls the pent-up anger and arrogance within every cop. I have met many cops off duty, and most of them are pretty nice guys on the surface, but they still have that control freak attitude that I recognize even before I learn of their job. I may well may have met off duty cops and didn’t recognize them because they didn’t have that attitude — but every single off duty cop who wanted people to know he was an off duty cop had that attitude.

  9. “Yes, well, despite all the talk of post-Columbine active shooter police response tactics—don’t wait for SWAT— events at the Navy Yard indicate that’s exactly what happened.”

    That’s a problem there, I guess… DC is a bit of a cluster. It’s obvious that the cops on the block had the right idea but the command staff fucked everything up, if that report is to be believed. Where I am if we have a an active shooter we run in alone if need be, but we’ll take any backup around… I hope our command staff wouldn’t risk lives by screwing around.

    • I ain’t buyin’ the story of why the response team was turned away. Not for one second. Remember, if you will, Obama’s speech and anti-2A comments of less than 12 hours earlier, and a couple miles away from the Navy Yard.

      I’m just gonna say it and get it off my chest: they were turned away in order to have the body count climb.

      • Not necessarily.

        I too have seen jurisdictional disputes cause delays during which Bad Things were permitted to happen.

      • I believe it, because nothing gives more funding for these units faster than a high body count and what would help the anti gunners more than a school full of dead kindergarten children. Look what they did to go to war!!
        9/11 !!!!!! Figure it out……

    • I would suspect that Hannibal is a cop of some kind because of the foul language he used to express himself. I see this kind of thing all the time with the popo. I grew up with the utmost respect for the PO, but in the last ten to fifteen years I have grown to have very little if any at all. I see them lying, cheating, stealing, raping, murdering and for all intensive purposes just using the badge to get away with all of these things. They think they are above the law! I feel sad to say that I feel the vast majority of the popo are crooks with a badge. This is what we have to protect and serve! They have forgotten their oath, and it means nothing to them. Until we clean house, and I’m speaking of our entire system of gov’t we will continue to have corruption from the local level to the top! Back to the reason for my reply, I heard a very wise man say once, ” Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself.” Since then I have been careful not to be feeble minded when coming to my oratory or even my writings. I apologize if I have offended anyone, as that is not my intention.

  10. The biggest problem and a very serious one is that militarized police function like “spec ops” units which is actually criminal and should be treated as such.

    http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/07/24/swat-team-mistakenly-raids-home-florida-nurse-louise-goldsberry

    The U.S. Marshal leading the Sarasota SWAT team on this operation for a vague fugitive warrant and no search warrant on an anon tip should be fired and prosecuted. He is a punk with way too much power. He acted like a punk thug during and following his interaction with the Nurse he threw down on without a warrant or probable cause when she was doing dishes in her own kitchen. He claimed he wanted to go home that night. Well, I don’t want shot by a punk LEO while doing dishes in my own damn kitchen. Florida needs an Indiana style law and this crap like this in Florida would be greatly curtailed.

  11. So now we have a major problem: deciding which S.W.A.T. unit actually responds to an event. And the fact that this happened in a Federal district really compounded that question because any number of “agencies” could have claimed to respond — including Washington D.C. Metro Police, FBI, ATF, National Park police, and even the military itself since this happened at a military facility. (I may have missed others as well.)

    So think about a major metro area where, I presume, most areas have a city S.W.A.T. team as well as a county S.W.A.T. team. Which one responds in the city? Both could claim jurisdiction.

    Meanwhile, as the various responding law enforcement elements converge outside and work through a pi$$ing contest to see who should respond, the attacker/s inside are unopposed. Couple this with smaller scale events where the police cannot even get the correct address and we begin to see how truly impotent large scale law enforcement really is.

    Of course we don’t have to run through complex arguments, hypotheticals, or anything else. If the police were the be-all-end-all, we would NOT have recorded over 1 million violent crimes and a similar number of property crimes in the U.S. last year. Those two simple facts alone should tell us the police approach to crime — as the only approach to crime — is a failure.

  12. Please, if you insist on the use of strong langauge then just do it. In theory we are all mature adults; we all know what “fvck” means.

  13. The big mistake is always going to be the TV belief that the cops are there to DEFEND YOU. That is NOT their job guys and gals, there JOB is to maintain ORDER in the society of “?”. The value of “you” in comparison to the whole is fairly clear, so you better get ready to defend your family and your self all by yourself.

  14. Good piece. The only thing I may disagree with a little is “we have WAY too many
    cops in general”. I don’t think too many cops is the issue so much as how they
    are distributed. In many cities and large towns I’ve been to there are often so
    many LEOs that they have to invent jobs to justify their employment, hence
    SWAT teams and other “special” units.

    However other areas don’t have nearly enough. I live in a county that has only
    about 30k but is 3x larger than Rhode Island. At any given time there are
    6 LEOs covering the entire county, many times fewer. It is not uncommon for
    LEOs to take hours before they can show up to a scene simply because of
    distance. While this does make a good case for why the individual needs RKBA;
    it also places additional burdens of volunteer fire and ambulance crews.
    They may have to not only perform general LEO duties (including traffic control,
    and evidence collection) but to wait before they can hand over a scene.
    So for us it’s not a matter of having too many LEO per population but having
    too few for the geographical area.

  15. Let me bet that Obama is trying to figure out how to use this event as an excuse to nationalize our police services throughout the US.

  16. Seeing that photo reminds me of the scene in the 1st ‘Rambo’ where the local Nat’l Guard unit was called out & squad leader Morgan tells the shoulder-fired rocket guy to “fire that thing, but let me get out of the way first” whereupon he does so and Morgan says, “Yeeaah! Give that man a ceee-gar!”

  17. Yeah, the days of detectives Friday and Gannon, officers Malloy and Reed, and even Hondo Harrelson and company are but a pleasant memory.

    Welcome to the Fourth Reich.

  18. Federalzation of local law enforcement departments will be the sign of the start of the governments push for total take over,at that time is when gun confiscation will be rampant in the large cities,but in smaller towns and rurally there will be some of the citizens fighting back.There will be quite a bit of cops that will not take part in this takeover,actually they will turn against it,there are even some states that will not be involved in this takeover,they will stand down from taking orders from the Feds.At this time though there are some areas of the country that are taking anything the government will give them,especially in the north and the northeast,and on the west coast.Most of the states that are considered red states are not being offered the same surplus as these other states.It is coming just when it will happen is the question.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.
    He

  19. It’s funny but I am not clear what you mean about civil liberties going out of the window when SWAT is employed. During my 15 years as a SWAT cop in LA, every entry we made in a non-emergency situation was served with a warrant. And not once did we ever have a Judge grant a no-knock entry for the service of the warrant. We pounded on the door, had a supervisor on a loudspeaker announcing our presence and that we were there to serve a search warrant. As for the equipment, why wouldn’t they use military gear? It has been tested under the most rigorous conditions in combat. Should cops be made to go out and reinvent the wheel? Is it the camo that bothers you? As for the weapons, we arm ourselves as good as the most hardened criminal does. Why should we have anything less? Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are stupid, such as Homeland Security getting 2,400 MRAPS or stockpiling 1.2 billion rounds and I have voiced my concerns with my politicians and editorial pages. But don’t randomly condemn the local SWAT teams for trying to keep abreast of the crooks.

    • “Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are stupid, such as Homeland Security getting 2,400 MRAPS or stockpiling 1.2 billion rounds ”

      “STUPID”? All you can say is “it’s stupid”? What did you think all that ammo (about 2 billion rounds actually) and 2400 MRAPs were FOR? They’re not “stupid”; those things are for using AGAINST US.

      • Yeah. Stupid. Look it up.

        The adjective has several meanings, one of which is “lacking common sense;” it is also used informally to express exasperation or disgust, which is certainly apropos.

        A perfectly applicable word.

      • Much is made of the notion that the media suppresses defensive gun use information and is biased against law-abiding gun owners by repeatedly presenting stories that show gun owners and guns generally in a negative light. Many pro-gun people talk openly about the anti-gun media bias and yet they accept fearmongering and hyperbole about the actions of our nation’s LEOs. If you think media bias extends only to guns, you’re wrong. The good works of police officers are glossed over and the stories of corruption, abuse, and brutality highlighted because they are out of the ordinary. Think about going to work every single day and having people lie straight to your face or try to physically harm you. Imagine: if your spouse was an LEO, would you want them in the ridiculous MRAP with the $3,000 body armor if it meant that they would come home unharmed? I bet you would. I’m not advocating the immensely wasteful spending I’ve seen lately from the DHS-War on Terror industrial complex. But I am encouraging people to remember that LEOs are, for the most part, good people, trying to deal with a job that exposes them to immense tragedy. Have you ever performed CPR on someone only to have them expire in your arms? I have. Just sayin…..

  20. “…told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on site equipped with long guns,…”
    So, when cops have rifles, they’re long guns, and when civvies have them, they’re “military style assault weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines” (direct quote from Chicago police superintendent)?

    Also, I feel like SWAT could be mostly disbanded if every patrol car had 2 officers with sidearms and body armor, one rifle and one shotgun. Really no different than a citizen’s militia micro unit, aside from the armor. When I think “special weapons”, an AR15 or Remmy 870 is not what comes to mind.

  21. The problem is SWAT. It is that jurisdictions use SWAT for non SWAT missions. SWAT is for Navy Yard like incidents. It was never meant for serving everyday warrants. SWAT teams are expensive so they have become a “use it or lose it” asset. With tight budgets it becomes hard to justify a SWAT team if all it does is sit around waiting for the next nut case to go off.

  22. As a former LEO, I wholeheartedly disagree with the proposition that police arriving on the scene of a shooting can effectively work together with armed citizens. While “working together” is certainly a feel-good ideal, if you actually think about the ramifications of this statement, it begins to fall apart. You talk about untrained, inept, and overbearing police botching situations. Injecting untrained, inept armed citizens into the mix would be disastrous. Encouraging armed civilians, who arriving police will not be able to differentiate from suspects, to draw their guns and “help out” would lead to lost lives in the ensuing confusion. Is money being wasted by police departments on useless “tacticool” toys? Yes. Does that mean that every John Q. with a CCW permit should start intervening in situations where they could easily retreat? Absolutely not. It’s easy to criticize police from the armchair. Some of the criticisms are valid. Does a rural city of 5,000 need a SWAT team and armored personnel carrier? Hell no. But they also don’t need random people, dressed in street clothes, drawing their CCW handguns and trying to “do the right thing.” A CCW or openly carried firearm is for BEFORE the police arrive, when you have to stand up for yourself.

    • There have been several situations to indicate that you are incorrect. One example that comes to mind is the Peach House shootout in TX in 2012. Another example is the citizen that stopped the court house shooting in Texas when several LEO had been shot on the steps. The citizen was killed but he saved the lives of the wounded officers, judge and the shooter’s ex-wife. The guy fled the scene and was kill later.

  23. I agree that police militarization is something that needs to be thoroughly examined by the population but this is VERY flawed logic.

    You make the argument that an excess number of SWAT teams was the reason they didn’t respond to the Navy Yard shooting but you don’t explain the internal link between those two things. I can see that too many SWAT teams leads to bureaucratic jurisdictional fights and/or confusion which leads to delay but you don’t say that, nor is that intrinsic to the number of tactical teams. That kind of BS happens with regular officers as well (1930’s gangsters relied on it to get away. It’s part of the reason we’ve increased inter-jurisdictional cooperation and created things like the FBI.) Nor would reducing the number of SWAT units relieve that problem, coming up with better cooperation or ways making sure jurisdictional wrangling don’t endanger quick response time (e.g. let the bureaucrats argue while the police do their damn job).

    I live in the Northern Suburbs of Atlanta (combined population among the cities which make up most of the place is about 350,000) Instead of each of their cities of about 50,000 each having their own SWAT it has a joint one that services the Northern and suburban part of the county, separate from the Southern half of the county which is dominated by Atlanta’s backwardness. It uses one 911 dispatch, most of them share non-emergency dispatch and has excellent cooperation between agencies. For all it’s problems, part of the reason these are infinitely better places to live than Atlanta is because of effective policing and governance. Atlanta’s tactical drug enforcement team was disbanded after it falsified affidavits to get a no-knock warrant on a (allegedly suspected) stash house. They ended up exchanging gun fire with the paraplegic 96yr old women who lived there and killing her (at least she went down shooting). I can name some overreactions of my local SWAT, most just an abundance of caution but nothing downright corrupt and vile like Atlanta. Why does the country have 3 SWAT teams? Because the County and City focus on Atlanta which is much different than the North of the country where the other operates, fewer teams would actually be more detrimental to security.

    It has nothing to do with the proliferation of tactically trained officers. The system isn’t perfect and there are certainly failures. The trend is also potentially dangerous, as it COULD, if there is not proper and effective oversight, jeopardize public safety and civil liberties. It also has and still could, again if properly implemented, enhance public safety. It still was a SWAT team that ended the rampage on the Navy yard, even if it was thoroughly exacerbated by politics and bureaucratic and ineffective supervisors.

    As a concealed carry card holder who always carries, I completely disagree with the fantasy of armed citizens as some kind of vanguard working with Andy Griffith to quell the threat. I think it is an unassailable right that individuals have the right to defend themselves and can help stop threats, but to make the foundation of public safety and unpaid menagerie of whomever happens to have a gun with no accountability is not a good policy. There are always exceptions to the rule and there are certainly reasonable criticism of police reaction and misuse of unnecessary tactical toys but I have much more faith in uniform officers as a rule than most the people I know with CCW’s. Again, the Navy Yard shooting and nothing in your article is a reason why SWAT teams are bad, or why the abundance of SWAT teams are bad. It’s a fair and pressing criticism of the response to the shooting but I think it’s a disservice to use it as a broad critique of the system and does not reflect a problem (whether or not you think there is one) with the proliferation of SWAT.

    Most of the time it, such teams bring prestige and funding grants to departments that are probably too small to really need them. Having seen city government, local government is usually so parochial and self-aggrandizing they waste money on such prestige projects with the hopes of furthering their careers. It’s not some secret conspiracy to encircle the population and install a police state, just small minded individuals greed.

  24. the medical pack in the first picture is quick clipped so can be reached w one hand. sharing all the ignorance has been a great read thanks folks

  25. People who used guns in military are unlikely to consider guns as toys, we hope!

    It’s horrifying to imagine that America will allow anyone, military or not, to be in possession of, and using guns in civilian life. Any military desk jockey with a gun is as much a terrorist as any other non-military person with a gun, as police or not. Even the military locks up its guns and issues them as necessary so soldiers don’t shoot each other. Soldiers don’t take their guns home with them as they are military property.

    Attitude about guns is everything, and who is permitted to access them; guns are weapons, not toys, and should be registered, and taxed like cars and pension trusts, so we know where they are, and how they are being used – if they are.

    The public should not be taxed to subsidize guns, and the industry of guns by people unwilling to claim ownership of deadly weapons with rules on how they will be used. This should be a rarity, not a common occurrence, as they are becoming.

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