From the commentator LTC F underneath yesterday’s Question of the Day:
“The odds of [having a SWAT team invade your home] are slim, but they’re not zero. Again, a long time ago in a county far far away, I served as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. (That meant that the county got about six eight hour shifts a month for free out of me, usually covering for someone on vacation.) Back then I wore a nice light blue shirt, with dark blue pants, sporting a nice stripe down the leg, a white stetson, cowboy boots, and big, shiny six pointed star badge. I wore a leather gun belt and smiled a lot at the good folks who would have paid my salary if I got one. I carried a Smith and Wesson Highway Patrolman in .357, and there was a shotgun in the rack on the dash. I didn’t look like a storm trooper (I saved that for my paying job) . . .
Today, the Deputies in that same county wear black shirts and pants with a cloth badge sewn over the pocket (subdued, no doubt for camouflage), the same ballistic eye protection I wore in Iraq and Afghanistan, semi-auto’s in thigh holsters, combat boots, and a perpetual scowl. They have Kevlar helmets and vests in the trunk, along with M16s (as in full auto, rock and roll hell yeah get some) and flashbangs. They look more like a stormtrooper than I do, and damnit I AM A STORMTROOPER.
When did we decide that we were going to militarize our police? When did we decide that the Fourth Amendment didn’t preclude masked gunmen under the authority of “THE STATE” from knocking our doors off the hinges, throwing HAND GRENADES through our windows, shooting our dogs, and zip tying our kids?
When did we decide that our police need armored cars (the Killeen PD uses the same armored patrol vehicle that the MP’s used in Baghdad) and drones? How much more are we willing to put up with?
The problem with toys, is that if we have them, we’re going to use them, if nothing else to justify having them. When the number of fires started declining every year, fire departments starting sticking an EMT on every engine company and rolling them on every medical call. Presto, despite half the number of fires as 1975, they do three times the number of calls, so obviously they need the big budget. Why send SWAT to serve all of your warrants? So we can justify the budget.
Sometimes I don’t recognize the America that I’ve spent the last 23 years defending from ‘all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ Lately the domestic enemies scare me more than the foreign.”