CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUE – Militarization of Police.
I think that there is a largely hyped up media scare about the “militarization of police”. “What does the term even mean?” is the first thought that comes to my mind. I was a USMC Reservist Tank Mechanic and we had a Corpsman who was a local SD Police Officer. When we went to qualify with our rifles and pistols on the range and in combat marksman courses he was qualified head and shoulders above the rest of us. Granted we were not an infantry company, and we were also reservists, the concept still remains that police are very good with their weapons.
The American public by and large has no formal training with weapons. The concept of the police being more dangerous with the current “militarization of police” activities operates out of a civilian blind spot. The police are already a dangerous adversary if one ever makes them an adversary. Having military equipment is kind of a strange concept because the police do not use M-203 grenade launchers nor automatic weapons. The police already have M-4 or AR-15 rifles in their patrol cars. The M-16 style M-4 or AR-15 rifle is “military”. The public is by and large completely unaware of the basic lethality and versatility of an M-16 style rifle.
The “showmanship” if you will of larger military vehicles acquisitioned by police from federal sources is an intimidating concept and I think this is the main issue when we see a public media outcry about the “militarization” of police. In a combat situation a tank company can do what is called a “Thunder Run” where a whole platoon of Tanks runs through a town at full speed around 50 MPH. It is an intimidating thing. The parallel is a riot situation in a domestic city. If SWAT or the National Guard show up in their large military vehicles, many people just give up. That is about the extent of “militarization of the police”.
One trained Marine or Army Rifle Platoon of about 50 men with rifles and flack and Kevlar using raiding and ambushing techniques is what SWAT amounts to and that is a long accepted police group. Those are military tactics on urban terrain, MOUT, SWAT. The National Guard has existed for a long time now and they have military vehicles. I guess it is mainly a perception issue. The National Guard is Federally Army trained and then both Army and State controlled if I am correct.
I found this article on the ACLU website page “police militarization”:
Sending a heavily armed team of officers to perform “normal” police work can dangerously escalate situations that need never have involved violence. Yet the ACLU’s recent report on police militarization, “War Comes Home,” found that SWAT teams, which were originally devised as special responders for emergency situations, are deployed for drug searches more than they are for all other purposes (Police Militarization, ACLU website).
I guess the ACLU in general thinks that drug dealers are freedom fighters, real men of the people and not potentially heavily armed men themselves.
In a report by the ACLU entitled “the War Comes Home”, they report of misuse of military weapons by police. From their perspective the police are beating up on poor people who only have a small amount of drugs. From an outside detached perspective, the perspective of a detective and of a judge, a warrant is issued because there is reasonable suspicion and probable cause to believe a distribution network is operating out of a specific address. I am heartbroken as well at the tragic vignettes the ACLU uses to proof text their perspective that the police are way over violent and over armed. A child who is injured by a flashbang (War Comes Home p. 14) while officers are affecting a valid no knock warrant for a suspected drug network house which turns out to be the married uncle of a teen who sold a small amount of drugs and the uncle is an honest man, is a very unfortunate occurrence. A flashbang is not some crazy modern weapon.
I was born in 1979 and have watched cops and swat use flashbangs and pop smoke grenades into standoffs for decades on the news. It is unfortunate that circumstances seem to be connected one way and that they sometimes are not. In San Diego County I believe the DA has an 85% conviction ratio. I am guessing that the percentage is higher for arrests which stem from drug warrants and house raids. The weapon and body armor used is irrelevant, the police are not murdering people when they raid houses. Law Enforcement is reasonable to believe they have the need to use violence of action and force to affect an arrest of a drug network. The ACLU believes that drug arrests are not the purpose of swat and that, “SWAT teams were often deployed— unnecessarily and aggressively—to execute search warrants in low-level drug investigations; deployments for hostage or barricade scenarios occurred in only a small number of incidents.” (War Comes Home p. 31).
War Comes Home, The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. (2014, June). ACLU.
Police Militarization. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-