Friday, September 12, 2014

Military Surplus, Police and Ill-Informed Writers

“But to militarize them, give them military weapons, it creates a culture. You know, guns and tanks and gases that are illegal in war time are being used.” Ron Paul

Possibly one of the more idiotic and inaccurate comments ever made by the three time failed presidential candidate, Ron Paul uttered those words in an MSNBC interview with Andrea Mitchell, August 18, 2014 in regards to the rioting in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of the teenager, Michael Brown.

In true Ron Paul fashion, blame is placed on the Police for having surplus military equipment for the riots, just as he blamed American policy for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and even claiming a fence built along our Southern Border would not be to keep illegal aliens out, but would be to lock American Citizens in.

Yes, I know, Ron Paul is as nutty as a fruitcake and has but a small, although boisterous gaggle of followers, small enough that in spite of their overly loud, demanding calls, he never won a single state primary in three tries.

But his words also reflect a growing and troublesome attitude in America as more and more, we see people wanting to oppose and disarm our Police Forces, maximizing the rare instances of ‘bad cops’ while ignoring the good most do every single day.

Also included in the effort now are claims of “Militarizing the Police,” as if they are being turned into some sort of force designed to turn on and oppress citizens in the country. Just the choice of the word alone shows the effort to denigrate our Police to make them appear as if they are some rogue of armed mercenaries.

Too many seem to forget that our local Police and Sheriff Deputies are also our neighbors, maybe even live next door to you and also have families they love.

While it is true that Congress authorized turning surplus military equipment over to the Police in the country, cries like from Ron Paul above are more hogwash than anything.

US Army Abrams Tank
I am astonished that Ron Paul, after many years in Congress, doesn’t know the distinct difference between a tank and an armored vehicle. Even if an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), it is not a tank.

Tanks have large caliber, high velocity guns, and a cannon if you will, on a turret. Some might have rocket launchers. But they have high powered weaponry for use in battle.

CCSO Armored Vehicle on Public Display
Armored cars do not have such weaponry, even though in Military use, one might be equipped with a machine gun. I have yet to see any Police vehicle with a Military Machine Gun mounted on it.

And what are those “gases illegal in war time” Ron Paul mentions? Tear gas has been around for decades for Police use in riot control and crowd dispersal. It is nothing new nor is it the gases used in World War One prohibited in use today in war. It is also rarely lethal, ask any Veteran that walked through the gas chamber in Basic Training.

One rather ominous sounding claim I have heard is “Police Sniper,” and given surplus Military guns. Of course, using the word “sniper” leaves one envisioning a Police Officer stalking the city from atop a building seeking targets of opportunity and heavily camouflaged to blend in with the surroundings.

Sorry, also not something new, but not so much a “sniper” as what some have been called for several decades now, “Sharpshooters,” called in under really dire situations where a finely placed, highly accurate shot might be needed to save many people from a bad guy, likely holding them hostage.

These Sharpshooters do not traverse the city seeking targets, but are called on only when a situation might call for their expertise. They are highly trained and only pull the trigger as a last resort and when given the okay by someone in authority.

This transfer of surplus Military equipment to law enforcement is due to the Department of Defense 1033 program and has been active since 1997, such transfers first being authorized by Section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990. As you can see, the transfer of such equipment itself is not something new, as some seem to try to convince.

A Wikipedia article states, “The legislation was passed in the context of a perceived drug crisis, and was intended to combat illegal drug activities using material not needed by the Department of Defense.”

It must also be noted that a large amount of the equipment transferred is not weaponry. Office items such as exercise equipment, office equipment, ice machines, medical backpacks, Binoculars and many more items that could make the difference in saving your life in a serious auto accident have also been declared surplus and transferred to local Police & Sheriff Departments.

Due to the rioting seen in Missouri and an outcry from the American Civil Liberties Union, the program is currently suspended and under review, the ACLU being among the loudest opponents to the program.

A retired Wisconsin Officer, Lt. Dan Marcou counters the ACLU allegation at 6 arguments against the ACLU’s flawed ‘police militarization’ report

Claims are being made of excessive use by Police in SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams deployed to execute search and arrest warrants. I witnessed one such operation in my neighborhood about four years ago that was executed with precision and no one was injured.

Some criminals have no hesitation to shoot Police or innocent bystanders, so I fully understand using SWAT more now than before.

And yes, it doesn’t always go off without a hitch, but bear in mind, Police are going in either blind of what is on the other side of that door or relying on intelligence given them. As well trained as these Officers are, and their training is critical, even more so than a regular Officer on patrol, they too want to go home afterwards to their families.

That doesn’t seem to be in consideration by Ron Paul and those that agree with him as they continue raising the din of such transfers of surplus equipment are creating a “warrior force” instead of a “peace force.”

Of that notion, Doug Deaton, an officer in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area says, “Many writers routinely lament that cops were once ‘peace officers’ instead of ‘law enforcement officers’ or ‘police officers.’ In truth, these titles all refer to the same role, and there never has been a functional difference between them.”

Officer Deaton also points out the fallacious arguments and incomplete data often used in condemning the so-called “militarization” of our Law Enforcement Officers.

Locally, Clark County has been included in receipt of surplus Military equipment. According to a database compiled by the Detroit Free Press, Clark County received four 7.62 mm rifles (M-14’s) that came into use in the late 1950’s and was replaced by the M-16 in the later part of the 1960’s for use in Vietnam.

Clark County also received an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robot and a Utility Truck, far from enough equipment to begin rounding up Paulbots or any other group to send to FEMA camps or interfere with their neutralizing those ominous “chemtrails.”

Clark County Sheriff Candidate Chuck Atkins addressed these “Militarization” claims recently and said,
“Many of the images we’re currently seeing on TV show images of large armored police vehicles. News reporters and anchors, who apparently don’t know the difference between a tank and an armored car, are mistakenly identifying these vehicles as the same military weaponry that our military used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is that most of these vehicles are simply large vehicles specifically built for police agencies by private companies here in the United States. Some surplus military vehicles are in use by law enforcement agencies across the country, however they are not tanks but simply armored cars for transporting officers and equipment.”
“The primary purpose of these armored vehicles is to transport police officers and equipment to active crime scenes where armed suspects pose a high risk to responding officers. The armored vehicle provides ballistic protection to SWAT officers who necessarily have to place themselves directly in the line of fire from armed suspects. These vehicles are also the only way police officers can move in to rescue officers or victims who have been injured and need to be evacuated from a dangerous and active scene.”
“The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has never viewed these vehicles and equipment as something that ‘militarizes’ our law enforcement agency. In fact, as the commander of the SWAT team, I’ve made a point of making these vehicles and equipment accessible for citizens to view, touch, and climb around on. These vehicles are on display multiple times a year at our West Precinct open house, the 911 center open house, and many other community events. I bet many of you reading this now have pictures of your children or grandchildren in one of these armored vehicles or wearing a police officer’s vest and helmet.”
Also campaigning for Sheriff, Sgt. Shane Gardner of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department said prior to the primary,
“I will just say that I am very proud to be from Washington State where our Criminal Justice Training Academy has adopted the Blue Courage training philosophy. Much can be learned about it from the web, but it is a timely response to concerns held by many that many law enforcement agencies are hiring combat veterans who have a foundation of training in military tactics, which is not policing.”
“Our recent switch to outer carry vests is not about intimidation, it’s about comfort, and utility. For years we have had to carry all of our gear on our hips, and being a larger guy myself, squeezing into ever shrinking cars with more and more electronics and equipment. Now that we have the ability to carry equipment on our removable vests, we are more comfortable while writing reports at the precinct, and in the car.”
“We do not have the staffing to have double units. This means that each Deputy has to be prepared to handle anything that might be thrown at them. Yes it results in a lot of standard equipment from handcuffs, radios, tourniquet, taser, magazines, sidearm, knife, window punch, leatherman, etc. I will admit that it often looks like we are ready for the worst, but I will also say that anyone who knows me and has seen me in uniform knows a smile is disarming, and comforting. I would bet that there is no doubt in those same people’s minds that I would be ready for enforcement action at the drop of a hat.”
Several articles have been written and posted on the website that gives more accurate background and explains how such equipment has been used and the necessity of it all. A visit to their articles should help you cut through the chaff and loud noises being made by ill-informed journalists and those desiring to further hamper law enforcement as criminals are prepared to escalate crime where they can.

Our Police Forces are well trained and very disciplined, some having served in the Military and some not. Regardless, all are held to higher standards than everyday citizens and never forget, they are our friends and neighbors that took on an often thankless job, sworn to “Protect and Serve.”

And, in case of rioting for any reason or, God Forbid, a Terrorist attack in your community, they are our first line of defense.

Consider too, many citizens crying about this so-called “Militarization” also advocate that free citizens be allowed to purchase and own these same weapons under our Second Amendment rights. Yet, they do not want the Police to also have adequate weaponry to use against criminals and bad guys?

Our Military is amongst the finest, best equipped in the world. Contractors manufacture and supply them with the most up to date equipment government agrees to buy.

Our tax dollars pay for that equipment and replacements, even to more advanced equipment. That is our equipment, so to speak.

When replaced with more modernized equipment, much is still very useful under certain circumstances.

Consider for yourselves, where would you prefer that equipment to end up. Sold by the government for pennies on the dollar where it might find its way to the Black Market and in the hands of Gangs, Drug Lords, or even Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or ISIS?

Or in the capable and trustworthy hands of our local Police Forces?

Stripping our Police of such necessary equipment can only end up once again with criminals and bad guys better armed than the very men and women sworn to “Protect and Serve.”

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