Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Now the military is infiltrating the police

This story is nothing new -- we reported on an armored vehicle being used by the Fairfield County Sheriff in July 2009. A commenter on that post called it "the optics of clampdown."

However, it is getting worse. As reported by Benjamin Carlson in The Daily, the Pentagon has a surplus of military equipment which has given to law enforcement agencies nationwide since 1997 under the "1033" program. Through this program the military gave away nearly $500 million in surplus equipment in federal fiscal year 2011, ending Sept. 30. This is more than double what they gave out under the program the previous year. Equipment being provided includes grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles, and armored vehicles. Data provided to The Daily by the Defense Logistics Agency indicates that requests this fiscal year have increased 400% over last year.

While local law enforcement agencies like the program for its free goodies, it dangerously changes the mentality of police officers. The article tells of a story in which a grandfather in Framingham, Massachusetts not suspected of any wrongdoing was accidentally killed by a SWAT team earlier this year. The mayor of a small Maryland town had his door broken down, his two Labrador retrievers killed, and was interrogated for hours about a drug ring with which he had no connection.

Joseph McNamara, former chief of police in Kansas City and San Jose, California, puts it this way:
“It’s totally contrary to what we think is good policing, which is community policing,” he said. The profile of these military police units invading a neighborhood like the occupation army is contrary to what you want to do as a police department. You want the public to feel comfortable calling you to report crime and supporting you in working against crime and coming forward as witnesses.

“The idea that some police have that by being really super tough and military and carrying military weapons is a way to prevent crime — this is false,” he continued. “We have a lot of evidence on how to prevent crime and the major component is to win support for police, that we’re not this aloof occupation army.
Exactly. Never mind posse comitatus or amendments to the National Defense Appropriations Act for 2012 -- the ruling elite can accomplish the same purpose by militarizing our local police and sheriffs. This should become a political issue in every county sheriff campaign in Ohio next year. The purpose of law enforcement is to protect and to serve, not to dominate and kill. We need to make sure our local police and county sheriffs know that we want law enforcement to be community-friendly, and that acquiring 1033 hardware is not the way to achieve that objective.

Update Dec. 6: Five minutes after posting this, I get a Facebook comment about how Brimfield Township in Portage County got an M113 armored personnel vehicle. Send me news stories of 1033 donations in your area, and I will post them in this space. Another friend had already shared the article.

Virtual buckeyes to Mike Tuggle and Gabe McGranahan

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