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August 13, 2013
Book Review: Rise of the Warrior Cop
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, by Radley Balko, PublicAffairs, 2013, 400 pages.
War as a rhetorical concept is firmly embedded in American culture. Over the past several decades, federal and local law enforcement has been enlisted in a war on crime, a war on drugs and a war on terror. These wars are more than just metaphors designed to rally public support and secure budget appropriations. They change the way we think about what the police do. Wars mean shooting first and asking questions later. Wars require military tactics and weaponry. Wars mean civilian casualties.
Over the decades, the war metaphor has resulted in drastic changes in the way the police operate. At both federal and state levels, the formerly hard line between police and military has blurred. Police are increasingly using military weaponry, employing military tactics and framing their mission using military terminology. Right now, there is a Third Amendment case -- that's the one about quartering soldiers in private homes without consent -- making its way through the courts. It involves someone who refused to allow the police to occupy his home in order to gain a "tactical advantage" against the house next-door. The police returned later, broke down his door, forced him to the floor and then arrested him for obstructing an officer. They also shot his dog with pepperball rounds. It's hard to argue with the premise of this case; police officers are acting so much like soldiers that it can be hard to tell the difference.
In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko chronicles the steady militarization of the police in the U.S. A detailed history of a dangerous trend, Mr. Balko's book tracks police militarization over the past 50 years, a period that not coincidentally corresponds with the rise of SWAT teams. First established in response to the armed riots of the late 1960s, they were originally exclusive to big cities and deployed only against heavily armed and dangerous criminals. Today SWAT teams are nothing special. They've multiplied like mushrooms. Every city has a SWAT team; 80% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people do as well. These teams are busy; in 2005 there were between 50,000 and 60,000 SWAT raids in the U.S. The tactics are pretty much what you would expect -- breaking down doors, rushing in with military weaponry, tear gas -- but the targets aren't. SWAT teams are routinely deployed against illegal poker games, businesses suspected of employing illegal immigrants and barbershops with unlicensed hair stylists.
In Prince George's County, MD, alone, SWAT teams were deployed about once a day in 2009, overwhelmingly to serve search or arrest warrants, and half of those warrants were for "misdemeanors and nonserious felonies." Much of Mr. Balko's data is approximate, because police departments don't publish data, and they uniformly oppose any attempts at transparency or oversight. But he has good Maryland data from 2009 on, because after the mayor of Berwyn Heights was mistakenly attacked and terrorized in his home by a SWAT team in 2008, the state passed a law requiring police to report quarterly on their use of SWAT teams: how many times, for what purposes and whether any shots were fired during the raids.
Besides documenting policy decisions at the federal and state levels, the author examines the influence of military contractors who have looked to expand into new markets. And he tells some pretty horrific stories of SWAT raids gone wrong. A lot of dogs get shot in the book. Most interesting are the changing attitudes of police. As the stories progress from the 1960s to the 2000s, we see police shift from being uncomfortable with military weapons and tactics -- and deploying them only as the very last resort in the most extreme circumstances -- to accepting and even embracing their routine use.
This development coincides with the rhetorical use of the word "war." To the police, civilians are citizens to protect. To the military, we are a population to be subdued. Wars can temporarily override the Constitution. When the Justice Department walks into Congress with requests for money and new laws to fight a war, it is going to get a different response than if it came in with a story about fighting crime. Maybe the most chilling quotation in the book is from William French Smith, President Reagan's first attorney general: "The Justice Department is not a domestic agency. It is the internal arm of national defense." Today we see that attitude in the war on terror. Because it's a war, we can arrest and imprison Americans indefinitely without charges. We can eavesdrop on the communications of all Americans without probable cause. We can assassinate American citizens without due process. We can have secret courts issuing secret rulings about secret laws. The militarization of the police is just one aspect of an increasing militarization of government.
Mr. Balko saves his prescriptions for reform until the last chapter. Two of his fixes, transparency and accountability, are good remedies for all governmental overreach. Specific to police departments, he also recommends halting mission creep, changing police culture and embracing community policing. These are far easier said than done. His final fix is ending the war on drugs, the source of much police violence. To this I would add ending the war on terror, another rhetorical war that costs us hundreds of billions of dollars, gives law enforcement powers directly prohibited by the Constitution and leaves us no safer.
This essay originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Posted on August 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM
• 79 Comments
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My precis :
Murcans watch too much TV and think that life is imitates Hollywood instead of the other way round.
That's why their country is in such a mess and why, when they step foot outside of it, they are hopelessly lost for context. Because, surprise, the rest of the world doesn't watch so much TV and Hollywood isn't really so accurate in portraying life.
Because it's make-believe, mkay.
Yea for Bruce and the shout-out to Radley Balko!
(It's fun when two of my interests note each other.)
This is probably by far the most worrying trend of the 21st century. Surveillance provides for blackmail, cracking your security, and stealing of your ideas; but this is a literal police state, more like a military state. And it was one of the primary irritants that begin the American Revolution (plus all the taxes to pay for all the wasted time and excessive weapons to be used on a population that generally doesn't have any military-grade weaponry).
Maybe we should have perpetual war "somewhere" to ship these people off to go and fight all they want and die a gruesome death.
Up in NH the government is giving away Bearcats to police departments - essentially a police-styled tank.
For some reason the US is giving these out to police departments for free. Of course, they are paid by our tax dollars and the local police have to pay for maintenance and repair, but it's essentially a gift from the government.
There's some public push-back against this - the chances of actually needing a Bearcat are vanishingly small, and in most cases of actual need you know far enough in advance that you could arrange to have one for the duration.
Still, it's intimidating and sexy (and free!), so of course every police department wants one. The town of Keene got one over the objections of the local population.
It's disconcerting to have the government effectively militarize the local police - on many levels.
The police in that "command post" case clearly acted illegally. But it's difficult to see how their actions violated the ban on quartering of troops. Did they move in and set up a barracks and a kitchen? No, they simply seized the house for tactical purposes. That obviously violates the homeowner's right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Why there's any need to drag in this weird 3rd amendment argument is a mystery.
Yeah the Keene situation, the people didn't even want the military equipment...
How can the police be so incompetent and not double check so as to raid the wrong god-damn house? Never mind the "sneak-and-peek" operations that do in fact take place, where they wait all day for you to leave your house our apartment.
I don't want drones (not the little quadcopters, the big boys), chinook helicopters, and K9 officers driving by w/ their window down so the fricken mutt can scare the crap out of my barking in my ear while I'm trying to go for a run. Take all that garbage to your local military base and stay the hell out of my communities.
Any surprise John Yoo was saying the family didn't really have a case on 3rd amendment grounds...Same guy making the case for legal torture. Ought to puke in his face.
I have difficulty with a number of people in my social group seeing the harm caused by the trampling of our civil liberties. I am involved with dog rescues and thus associate with many dog lovers. This one sentence will help immensely with persuading them to come around:
"A lot of dogs get shot in the book."
Oh yeah, great. John Yoo is a professor, teaching the next generation of lawyers. We're so....
--Hopefully you caught line 07 on page 6, the officers called the plaintiff the "asshole". This has been written about before. Was assigned reading for a criminal justice class I took one time. Truly incredible the asshole is the one standing up for his rights and not the people breaking down doors shooting unarmed defenseless civilians.
What a truly disgusting case that is, my god.
Thank you Bruce for bringing up this book and this point in general. There is a synergetic pattern to all this build up of militarized police, TSA, etc. and in general there is an overlord, tyrannical feel to what's happening in this country. It's shocking how this seems to correlate to the rise of technolgy. Are we in a technocracy?
"There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people." - Commander William Adama, Battlestar Galactica
Hypothetically if somebody began to break down your door without clearly identifying themselves as the police - wouldn't you be perfectly within your rights to simply shoot them through the door?
* presumably they would have to knock, wait for you to open the door, each show you their ID and a warrant, then begin knocking down the door.
Dilbert: "The Government wants access to our customer records so they can look for terrorists".
Pointy Haired Boss: "Fine, no problem".
Dilbert: "They also want you to get a colonoscopy and send them the video".
Pointy Haired Boss: "Really?"
Dilbert: "I'm going to say yes".
There's a reason you separate military and the police ...
Darn, you beat me to the punch with that quote.
The militarization of the police is just one aspect of an increasing militarization of government ... Police officers are acting so much like soldiers that it can be hard to tell the difference.
I'm surprised no one mentioning this ongoing evolution as a very convenient and perhaps even intentional workaround for the Posse Comitatus Act.
I hate to keep coming off like a broken record (I just realized that people might not know what that phrase means) but we are in the mists of a fundamental transformation of power. You thought representative democracy, our republic, was broken...the new threat is the covert restructuring of government as we know it. And, I seriously suggest you look at FirstNET, it is a taken from both a public sprectrum standpoint and a taxpayer point of reference. The nasty part about this is not well know, there is a conspiracy here that is of the first order. My purpose here is not to be cryptic but I encourage others to come to their own conclusions. That said, a good place to start is at publicintelligence.net and look at the Joint Policy doctrines--the military believes its mission includes just about everything...I love the Peace Operations roles that they have defined for themselves. I guess I am going to have to change the phrase "Peace, out!" when I use it.
@Glad.I.Don't.Live.In.The.Land.Of.The.Free: There is excerpt (one chapter) from this book available for free somwehere in the web (by the author IIRC). In this excerpt there was a sad case of somebody who shot police breaking his door, forced to plea bargain instead of being cleared.
This militarization of police, and using SWAT where it is not needed is I think what makes the black hat practice of SWATting possible (spoofing Caller-ID to call SWAT to break down white hat residence, like in Brian Krebs case...
The militarization of police is a disturbing trend, but it's also a time bomb that is simply terrifying. Military tactics have no business in a civil society. If the police insist and continue to utilize military tactics in civil society, the US will become a battlefield. That doesn't bode well for anyone especially the over-aggressive and completely unprepared police.
Militarized Police, SWAT, SRT, and other units are not military, are not even trained for real military tactics, nor should they be. They focus solely on CQC (Close Quarters Combat) which is stupid, but that's another story. Giving some cop a plate carrier, an M16, an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Truck) and 5 days training at Quantico does not a soldier make, but it is like a powder keg dropped in the middle of a crowded campfire . They are also largely incompetent and extremely overconfident from any reasonable observation.
If these people end up in a kinetic conflict with trained military personnel, they will be absolutely massacred. Ratcheting up the aggressiveness and frequency of SWAT deployments, martial law, otherwise known as "shelter in place" for otherwise non-violent situations and people increases the likelihood of that larger conflict occurring. Solving problems through violence is not in anyone's best interest, but that's exactly what could happen if this trend isn't reversed NOW.
The police role is that of peace officers; to diffuse situations - to avoid sending someone to jail, tactfully. It is the combination of half psychologist, half parental figure. That is an important and difficult job that takes skill. Their role should not be that of generation of revenue, to destroy lives for non-violent and victimless acts, or to ventilate a pickup truck with 2 women inside because it had the slightest resemblance to a truck owned by one "Christopher Dorner" (that resemblance ended with "truck"). This activity simply serves to alienate the people that they are supposedly tasked to protect. Hearing these people call themselves "operators" is also pathetic and would be laughable if they weren't causing so much mayhem and loss of innocent life.
If any reasonable person starts receiving direct fire on their vehicle, home or person, out-of-the blue, from some band of stooges, badge or not, they may reasonably choose to defend themselves and their family. When you're 8 times more likely to be killed by a policeman than a terrorist, who are the real terrorists anyway?
Police are also getting drones and offensive attack exploit software to go after petty, small time dope dealers and activists. If you want to see a surreal and frightening spectacle go to any law enforcement trade show. Booths of tactical military hardware and jackboot face stomping as far as the eye can see. Only a few years until we start seeing Omnicorp product lines from Robocop
My favourite paramillitary police fail was performed to a global audience - the lockdown of several Boston suburbs during the hunt for the bomber. We were treated to video of groups of helmeted heavily armed police walking through people's livingrooms. Funnily enough they didn't find the guy until AFTER they went back to their barracks and let people out. I say funnily enough because the video showed the police just walking through livingrooms, not searching. No wonder they didn't find the guy, because they didn't search, just walked through intimidating the hell out of everyone. This was really bad police work and really bad military work rolled into one.
How funny, then, that President Obama claims to be a fan of The Wire.
From my perspective, this all seems like an inevitable consequence of the 2nd amendment. If police are likely to be shot at at any time, then they are de facto at war.
Compare to New Zealand, where most police officers have a rifle available in a locked box in the back of their police car, but are otherwise unarmed. The armed offenders squad (or other special teams as appropriate) will normally take over when firearms are needed.
They dont need a 'work around' to the Posse Comitatus Act.
In 2011 the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 was passed. Section 1031, clause "b", article 2 defines a 'covered person', i.e., someone possibly subject to martial law, as the following: "A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces."
An exception is in the bill which allows a 'covered' person to be excluded from the Posse Comitatus Act. Obviously the defination is so vague that anyone operating in action (with others) that is in contrast to the status quo of government policy or goals - could be catagorized as a 'covered person'.
In effect, they made it legal to use military force against civilians.
--Pfft, not in my view. It is possible to carry arms and not be an imbecile, in fact it's very easy to follow basic rules and use caution where you point the fricken barrel. That the American people are all toting around guns 24/7 is a big stereotype that is just not true. Not to mention your "right to bear arms" is infringed upon in many public areas.
This isn't a 2nd amendment thread though, having a pistol or a .22 rifle or a shotgun pales in comparison to the type of weaponry, armor, and other technology now in possession of the police. So the initial threat is now the police and not the citizen. And I've had some fricken coppers pull their guns on me for traffic stops where I was trying to pull over out of the main road so as to make their job safer, and they told me to stop instantly so I'm stopping in the middle of the road next time.
@Figureitout: I'm sorry, I don't see the relevance of your first paragraph. Isn't it true that in most parts of the US a non-negligible proportion of criminals are armed?
If the police perceive themselves to be constantly at risk of being shot at, they're going to behave accordingly.
Armed criminals has been an American story since the beginning of time. The prohibition cartels were heavily armed with the latest weaponry. The police got tommy guns too to keep up, but they didn't pretend to be all special forces.
In fact, before the 60s, one could have every type of battlefield weaponry that you would see on a real battlefield, Anti-aircraft artillery, mortars, whatever. The police weren't running around like it was Bastogne! The data does not support your argument. Sorry.
@Thecaseforpeace: ah, I see what you mean - you're saying that the US police didn't used to be a paramilitary organization, and the criminals were largely armed back then, so that can't be the cause.
Actually all that shows is that it can't be the sole cause. Other factors off the top of my head are higher population density and a generally increased level of sophistication in developing and teaching procedures. (The latter is basically saying that it didn't occur to the police until recently that they could learn from military techniques; although, come to think of it, aren't many of the most relevant techniques relatively new even to the military? Developed circa the Vietnam war?)
I suspect that if you looked at this sort of police overreach internationally, you'd find that it correlates significantly with the general availability of weapons. That's just a guess. I could be wrong.
Also available as a comic strip ;-)
If the police perceive themselves to be constantly at risk of being shot at, they're going to behave accordingly.
--Likewise for citizens! Just like they sneak in my house or do no-knock warrants! More or less soldiers walking around makes me nervous! Um, do you read the news?
..general availability of weapons..
--Um, no. This is becoming heavily regulated by the state. Who controls the nukes? State organizations. Who controls the airforces? State organizations. Who controls organized militaries? State organizations. Bombs? States for the most part. Who's developing extremely advanced weaponry? State organizations contracting work to massive companies that get the vast majority of their business from taxpayer money, which funnels to a state organization.
--The point of this thread is the extreme escalation of police weaponry and tactics, for situations that don't warrant it whatsoever. And due to the soldiers coming home from wars abroad becoming police officers (and bringing home their PTSD and other mental issues), they are treating citizens like subjects. The 2nd amendment point you brought up should rather be traced back to the invention of the gun and is not relevant to the thread.
When I was living in Northern CA I visited a community college there. Every day a patrol car sat outside and in the centre console standing up was a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with a hinge-blaster claw, flash-suppressor and a proper M16 with the 1-shot / 3-round-burst / Group-therapy switch on the side and a 90-round magazine. It only lacked a grenade-launcher to make it a full-military weapon. I can't imagine what toys they had hidden in the strong-box in the trunk.
I have first-hand experience of how small-town cops and Sheriff departments are completly unfazed by the law, following around town in "relays" to avoid accusations of sustained harrassment, shining lights into houses late at night then driving off.
Mix these two together, add a sprinkle of sociopathic / psychopathic mentality and you don't have a "To Serve and Protect" public body, you have a Gang. Add a grudge or two to that and you have a death squad.
I say funnily enough because the video showed the police just walking through livingrooms, not searching...
I'm no expert, but I wonder if the details of the police searches were kept off live TV. The media do have a tradition of leaking information best kept quiet.
Aren't SWAT teams a legitimate response to the increased firepower available to both criminals and society at large? Since the 1960's the lethality of both handguns and longarms have increased several times over. Back in the day the muzzle energy available in your average handgun was lower than what one encounters today and single stack magazines in automatics held only 6-8 rounds.
One should also look at the economics of policing. Due to the rising cost of labor I wouldn't be surprised if the per capita level of police has been falling. With fewer police on patrol those that are still on the job would have to be those able to handle a wider variety of threats.
I'm glad that others are seeing (and are concerned) about this issue. I felt like any time I mentioned it over the past 3 or so decades, that I was yelling into the wind. The mindset and tactics of a warrior are diametrically opposite of those that should be help by police. Police should be protecting (and serving) the citizens; not subjugating and killing them.
I should also mention that this isn't necessarily a recent development, which anyone from New Jersey should know. The New Jersey State Police was organized in 1921 as a highly trained paramilitary force because local police forces, consisting by in large of a single town sheriff, sucked. Quoting from Wikipedia.
"The person with the most impact on the organization was its first Superintendent Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr. Schwarzkopf was a graduate of West Point and this training and his time in the military heavily influenced how he organized and trained his first group of troopers."
The NJSP uniform is basically a 1920's military cavalry uniform complete with a Sam Browne belt.
With regards the weaponising of police and criminals.
Most places I've taken a look at it has gone in "lock step". Often it is the legislature and judiciary "upping the anti" that causes the police to become either more zelose in going after criminals or in the likes of NY making it lower risk to shoot criminals rather than go to the bother of giving chase/arresting criminals. Obviously this causes the "criminal risk" point to move and criminals start changing to ever increasing weaponary. Obviously once the point has changed the criminals are unlikely to "downsize" their weaponary.
This issues is well known not just by researchers but the police unions and politicians.
There are obviously those who benifit from in effect "selling to both sides" as there normaly is in any conflict. Thus it's in their interest to ensure their market places one way or another, hence lobbying for gun control is innefective except when a politico or one of their friends/family get shot.
To claim that the US constitution or various ammendments are the cause is effectivly historical inexactitude of a fairly large order.
The problem with "upping the ante", on either side, is that it becomes an arms race. British police didn't carry guns for a very long time and resisted the notion of doing so because they, rightly in my view, believed that it would (a) make them targets and (b) increase the chances of them being seriously hurt or killed.
However, many British police now do carry firearms even if they're unobtrusive or in sealed boxes (for which a broken seal must be accounted for at the end of a shift). This has nevertheless resulted in a lot of "wrongful death" situations where the police have acted from fear which means they were outside their basic level of training when these tragedies occurred.
So the militarisation of police is not restricted to America and the bleed-through into other countries is particularly disturbing. Twenty years ago the copper (usually a senior officer, possibly Special Branch) standing outside 10 Downing St. was armed (probably) with a small snub-nose .38 revolver discreetly worn.
Today these police, there are now at least two, routinely carry H&K MP5's on open display except when the media is photo-opping. They even carry these things outside ex-PM Tony Blair's residence. Another overspill of the US. Ex-US presidents get Secret Service protection for life, presumably because they may feel they need it - though I've heard that the detail that protects President Carter generally has a relaxed time of it. Other details, e.g. Bush 41 and Bush 43, might be a bit more on edge.
The concern is that this is a ratchet. It can't ever be unwound and the tighter it gets the more likely is that if something happens, even something innocuous, it will end very badly.
Policing is about engaging with the community, showing genuine concern and being understanding by which I mean taking tearaways aside and having a chat to find out what's up instead of arresting them on the spot and turning potential enemies of law and order into actual ones. It's not as if populations are more violent than they used to be, it's that the respect for law has been squandered by the changes in how harshly it's enforced.
All that's needed now is to label all criminals as enemy combatants and the US can merge the entire 'war on X' legal system together. Should cut the paperwork in half.
As a UK citizen I still find the idea of armed militarised police strange & alien, and not a trend to encourage. Where I am, being pulled over by the police is typically a case of 'I'm sorry to bother you sir, but were you aware that you were exceeding the speed limit?' or 'There's a possibility you might have driven off from the petrol station without paying - I wonder if you might just check whether you had paid?'.
There's an assumption of mistake & accident (even if only feigned courtesy), rather than an assumption of guilt & malice aforethought, that I find very appealing. It's almost parental in its approach rather than crime & punishment. That's not to say we don't have police (or prosecution) excesses that are downright draconian; we do, but that's usually the subsequent legal process rather than how the police operate on the street. It's those that fracture the respect for the police & the legal system.
If one's police can no longer look at the average citizen without seeing a member of the community deserving of doubt, then the police will act in a corresponding manner that changes the rules of the policing game from one of respect to one of fear, uncertainty & doubt. If the police's relationship with the community policed is one of animosity, then arguably policing has failed and it's no longer policing.
"...we are in the mists of a fundamental transformation of power."
I would even say that the transformation has already been accomplished, and what we are seeing now is just the system going operational because of two reasons. One, as the public is made more aware of the situation despite all of the propaganda, they must step up their operational time-frame to maintain position, and two, the core positions needed for going operational are all now filled.
The coup happened a long time ago (with mini coups keeping it in place), and technology is enabling the plan of action to be implemented. Hold on ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
I would have thought the Brits and the Americans would be much alike. However, George Orwell wrote an article during the bombing of England by Germany that addressed the character of the English people. It appears to me that there are more differences between the English people and the American people than I would have imagined. Perhaps because we have such a large influx of foreigners, perhaps the people who were immigrating to Pennsylvania that Benjamin Franklin complained about incessantly, the Germans.
But contrast and compare based on this essay.
If England has not changed, fascism may not have been possible there but it sure seems not only possible but perhaps in play already here in the US to some degree, the degree being variable based upon how you see the world.
I recently read a copy of Sinclair Lewis's "It can't happen here" and found it disturbing in that based on what he wrote, a great deal of his "fiction" is in fact already a reality in America.
As long term readers possibly remember I'm a resident of one or four leafy subburbs of London and have at some points in time worn the green. And consiquently I was absolutly horrifed by the way th Police were "tooled up asleep on their feet" after 7/7 with absolutly lousy weapons drill (chuck the equivalent of a sub machine gun / assult rifle on the back seat of a car with mag still attached and no basic safety checks etc etc) and not bothering to lock the doors... Even worse deployment (ie single officers standing on their own without covering opo and no hard standing behind them to protect their backs etc).
Non CO/SO19 officers who were ordered to carry, were for the reasons you indicate very very upset by it (a number subsiquently resigned). But worse was the attitudes of the TSG knuckle draggers and CO/SO19 officers many were clearly getting off on it.
I used to shoot in competitions against some of the City of London officers, and some of their team had refused to become "armed officers" due to what they considered appaling standards by instructors and seniors.
I was chatting just the other day to one police officer who was "living the retirment dream" and the subject came around to "The Great Train Robbery" which is now in it's 50th aniversery. They blaimed the establishment (ie political preasure on the judiciary) for criminals taking up guns, due to the 30year sentances handed out (bear in mind the train robbers did not use guns or kill anyone, and back then killing people got you considerably less than half that tarrif). The argument was that the disproportianate sentances sent the underworld the message that "killing came for free" when commiting a major robbery so actually carrying and using a gun would not increase your sentance and would in all probability allow you to get away if things went wrong (provided you did not shoot a police officer).
Whilst there is room for argument, it was very shortly after the great train robber that armed criminals became very prevalent, especialy for "hold up" style robberies.
Just a couple of comments:
- Are we still a democracy when we aren't transparent, and accountable??
- In the USA, the war on drugs started a lot of the "war" mentality, and until this "war" ends, it'll stay that way
Of course a Baltimore Cop didnt shoot a dog... he's gotta save his ammo for when he drives over to the west side over off McCullough St and has to investigate 8 homicides in a 2 hour span.
(I know, I live in Balt.)
But it's difficult to see how their actions violated the ban on quartering of troops. ... That obviously violates the homeowner's right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Why there's any need to drag in this weird 3rd amendment argument is a mystery.
It's not so weird; according to Wikipedia's 3rd amendment page,
Justice William O. Douglas used the amendment along with others in the Bill of Rights as a partial basis for the majority decision in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which cited the Third Amendment as implying a belief that an individual's home should be free from agents of the state.
So it's not like the lawyer(s) made this up. The article states they're also suing under the 4th and 14th amendments. It's normal for lawyers to come at things from multiple angles like this. And why not? If they only claimed the 4th, the government would claim they didn't search the house or seize anything--it's not obviously false, and a judge or jury might buy it.
"Aren't SWAT teams a legitimate response to the increased firepower available to both criminals and society at large? Since the 1960's the lethality of both handguns and longarms have increased several times over."
Unlikely. First, the lethality of handguns and long guns has been trending downward, both as trauma care has advanced and as civilian calibers have trended smaller. Today, the most popular centerfire rifle in the United States is a centerfire .22, when a generation ago it was the .30-06 (and FWIW, the double-stack 9mm goes back to the 1930's). And of course a 12-gauge pump is still a 12-gauge pump; that technology was mature a half-century ago.
The thing is, being a police officer has never been *less* dangerous in the United States than it is now. Police-officer murder in this country is at or near an all-time low, certainly lower than it was when 9mm was considered an underpowered "foreign" caliber, most centerfire rifles were .30's rather than .223's, and body armor wasn't typically worn.
I'd argue that the instruments of transformation are in place but the actual transforms are not complete. The law itself is being modified as we speak to solidify these acts. It will be the ability of courts to point to law when prosecutions under facism seem to have some level of legitimacy. We still have a shot at this until the books close. The problem is we need Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington NOW!!! It may come to us, and we need to be prepared with what seems to be a certainty.
The question is this - as complacent as the population may be at large, there is a theoretical tipping point when the average citizen not only opposes the militarization of the police force but in fact actively works against it. I am cynical though, and doubt that this will happen before it's too late (and it might be too late already even). I know I wouldn't want to have to be staring down police trying to use my residence as a tactical vantage point for an ongoing action next door. Your options for standing up for your 3rd and 4th amendment rights are very limited in real-time.
"Right now, there is a Third Amendment case -- that's the one about quartering soldiers in private homes without consent -- making its way through the courts. It involves someone who refused to allow the police to occupy his home in order to gain a 'tactical advantage' against the house next-door."
AFAIK If it reaches the highest court in the land it will be the first 3rd Amendment case ever heard by The Supremes. Rats, there goes a perfectly random and obscure bit of cocktail party trivia!
Agreed, SO19 has a rightly poor name in the media, and that's only what we know about thanks to the detumescent version of FOI the British have.
From my experience of competition shooting versus my CCL, the gulf between those who "know" and those who - fiddling around for change - might equally blast a cat from the nearest tree or blow off a toe are huge.
I'd never want to be behind or several miles left or right of them if they ever chose to "be a good guy with a gun".
But as I'm sure everyone knows; guns are money. There's
no shortage of money pouring into DC to keep them cheap and legal. If the populace have a peashooter, the cops need a BB gun. And so up the ladder it goes.
Meanwhile the NRA is laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank.
I can't stand these anti-police topics and comments. I'm baffled how people will talk about how the POLICE are our enemies and must be stopped yet they fail to mention the psychopaths that obtain assault rifles, body armor, etc and shoot up movie theaters or schools or bomb marathons for no reason but to cause havoc. Yes, there are obviously corrupt police or officers who abuse their power; but they're human so obviously they're not all perfect, as are the civilians that one day snap and go on killing sprees. People curse the police for pulling them over for speeding and inconveniencing them, then when innocent people are being slaughtered by a psychopath they thank the police for being their to stop the threat. Unless you people have any ideas of changing the nature of human beings or finding ways to completely restrict military grade weapons and armor to civilians, I don't think taking away the weapons and tactics of police will solve our problems.
Oh and I'd love to see Mr. Balko go to Mexico or South America and ask the drug producers and dealers to stop manufacturing and distributing. But since he probably won't do that, then the police should stop instead, because they're the bad guys causing this war.
"Um, do you read the news?" I don't currently read any US newspapers, if that's what you mean. I read BBC World and the New Zealand Herald, as well as various blogs.
"..general availability of weapons..
--Um, no. This is becoming heavily regulated by the state. " Really? So if you wanted a handgun or a rifle you wouldn't be able to get one? ... sorry, I just don't believe that.
"The 2nd amendment point you brought up [...] is not relevant to the thread." I disagree. While I acknowledge that you and the other posters that have commented have a closer and more detailed knowledge of the issues in play, I still don't think the 2nd amendment can be ignored as a possible factor.
To the extent that the British police appear to be following the same path, that presents a good argument against my suggestion. But I'm not convinced that the situation in Britain is nearly as severe as that in the US, nor that it will necessarily become so in future.
For some of the people saying the police should be peace officers and community oriented, I agree completely. And this would work if we lived in a fantasy world where everyone held hands and sang around campfires. I'm sure though that when a bank robbery goes wrong and hostages are held at gunpoint, asking them politely to let them go won't work. Some people only respond to violence and anger, and the solution is not so peaceful - this is life. Additionally, there are many officers and departments that are very involved with their communities, but the feeling has to be mutual to work. Officers are constantly on guard because they're targeted daily, for no reason other than they wear a badge and hold authority to enforce the law. So to the person who said the officer drew their gun on a traffic stop, cut them a break. They can't read your mind; how do they know you didn't set them up to be ambushed or plan on killing them when they approach your vehicle? You guys act like your the victims and want pampered, but you can't see where they're coming from? Being community oriented is a two-way street, and its not so easy to get along with people that constantly insult you or make your job any harder than it already is.
And to figure it out, your comments about vets returning with "mental issues" is absurd. They put their lives on the line so you can enjoy the freedom of sitting on your cozy couch and you make a comment like that?
@hellogoodbye - You mention the rare cases when SWAT is necessary. I think the point is that most deployments of swat teams are for ordinary policing. What do you need a swat team in the scenarios state in the last sentence: SWAT teams are routinely deployed against illegal poker games, businesses suspected of employing illegal immigrants and barbershops with unlicensed hair stylists?
Maybe slightly OT but not being from the US I have a hard time with how a swat raid is a reasonable search in many of the circumstances I read about.
--Ok, so you don't really read a lot of the news in the U.S., so you wouldn't notice an encroaching police state.
Yes, you can get a handgun or a rifle (w/ state permission) or on the blackmarket (had a friend used to know someone). Do citizens always carry it around and are always on edge ready to defend themselves? No. They are usually unarmed b/c there's generally no need to carry a gun around most places. This rabbit that keeps eating my crops and these damn crazy birds that break the corn tassels, peck on my corn, and defecate which may lead to fungal infection on the other hand...I believe I have a peaceful solution though, a little voltage and a little noise.
What's a handgun or rifle to a tank, Harry? Flash bangs? And I'm still not following your point about the 2nd amendment, so I'll agree to disagree. Sure it's about weapons, not about ordinary police becoming militarized.
--Hey, no I will not "cut them a break". He F-ing pointed his gun at me! That is the cardinal rule of firearms, you point the barrel at things you intend to shoot. And I didn't even have to try hard at doing my own research into this individual as he popped up on the local news and AGAIN at gunpoint dragged a pregnant woman out of her car and put her in handcuffs out of the blue. He thought drugs or something and it ended up being nothing and he got a little reprimand. The woman was traumatized of course; these situations are extremely scary.
So this officer is immediately assuming I'm a threat, so I respond GO F YOURSELF and get away from me. Paranoia goes both ways, I do not trust the cops; I've had very few experiences where they treated me fairly and didn't try to intimidate me and make themselves feel like "big boys". If they just stay away from me and leave me alone we won't have any problems.
And no, my comments about vets returning w/ mental problems is not absurd. They shouldn't even be going over there in the first place! I know a lot of vets that are great people that are willing to do the dirty work and do it w/ quality. But I also have to be around some that make me feel like they're about to shoot up the whole place.
And I can sit on my couch and complain about a police state and not serve for some rich politicos to go die in a stupid war b/c it's a volunteer service. I still had to fill out a draft card which I delayed until they started threatening me and I find it funny that only males have to fill it out and not females. Regardless I'm not going to serve for Lieutenant Dan barking in my ear to go do missions w/o any intellectual thought about whether this is a logical thing to do and I'm just an expendable human life that means nothing if I die.
Dominic, you've hit it centre. Policing is about a graded reponse to threats. When the default action is to call out the "bad lads" to deal with a threat above a certain level then respect for the police and its mandate are eroded.
That makes their job more difficult causing a concatenation of procedure that is eventually compressed into a "go straight to SWAT" response.
It takes a cool head to fight the urge to overwhelm with force but it almost always ends better that way.
As for the "campfire" crap, please. The world is as bad as you want it to be.
your comments about vets returning with "mental issues" is absurd
No it isn't. Suicides among active-duty military personnel averaged one per day in 2012, and veterans now account for 20 percent of suicides in the US. According to an article in the NYT, the suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel in 2012 even eclipsed the number of troops dying in battle.
In addition, almost one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), about 300,000 veterans to date, according to the George Washington University Face the Facts Initiative. About one third of the 103,788 veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seen at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities between September 30, 2001, and September 30, 2005, were diagnosed with mental illness or a psycho-social disorder, such as homelessness and marital problems, including domestic violence. More than half of those diagnosed, 56 percent, were suffering from more than one disorder. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War#Mental_illness_and_suicide )
They dont need a work around to the Posse Comitatus Act.
I am familiar with the NDAA section you are quoting, but I don't think it would apply to civilian mass protests such as OWS or the martial law-like situation we have recently seen in the pursuit of the Boston bombers. In these cases, it was just quite convenient to have a seriously militarised police force at hand to squash like a cockroach any form of possible resistance.
@Dirk Praet, @anyone
Read On Killing
I'm not a shill but his book should be read by everyone.
@dirk @aspie @figureitout -To avoid straying off topic and spinning our tires, I just want to clarify my point of the military comment. War is in the nature of humans, not saying that everyone supports or demands war but out of the billions of humans it only takes a few to start a fight - and I'm not a pessimist but I am a realist. Whether it be in Iraq, whether we should or should not be there, war is inevitable, as is the need to protect ourselves and each other from a common enemy. Therefore having a military is essential, and the consequence is giving these individuals traumatic experiences. So what do you want to do with them after they finished their mission? Just get rid of them? Its absurd to categorize them as all having "mental issues" and treating them like they're worthless and shouldn't be let back into society.
And the issue of SWAT: If they're given too much power then people will say they abuse it, if they're given too little power then well see another 1997 North Hollywood shooting where SWAT had to go to local gun stores just to match the firepower that the criminals had.
And @figure it out, as I stated before there are some gung-ho officers that give all LE a bad image, but if having a gun pointed at you is a big fear then I'd suggest you never leave your house because any average Joe walking down the street could draw a gun on you and do a lot worse than what that officer did. Having a gun drawn is not exclusive to only police officers.
And also @figure it out you mentioned you have had some, if only a few, positive experiences with LE being fair yet you focus on the negative times. I've had a few bad experiences at restaurants or calling customer service lines but I don't shun them for the rest of time. This is why I say "cut them a break". They're just people doing their job and trying to make a living, just like anyone else. Sure there will be good and bad people in any occupation, but if you hold a grudge then you're stuck in your ways and always go into every situation acting a certain way - which will usually trigger how an officer reacts. If you go in cursing them, they probably won't be too happy - just like if you go into a restaurant and curse them, theyll probably spit in your food.
@hellogoodbye (I might not caught the tongue in check, forgive me if I have this wrong--I am speaking to your argument)
The argument about humans engaged in war, that it is in our nature, must ignore a few facts of war in a socio-political environment that separates the protagonist and/or antagonists from the conflict. Seems impossible to resolve an issue where the entities with vested interests are not actively engaged (or more accurately, directly engaged) in looking at the "enemy" in the eye and inform them of your intent (pull trigger, pin, or hair). When generals and the lords of the day remain a continent or two away from the "trouble" is to me a real problem. War has no analog with any primitive form of aggression, revenge, protectionism, or greed. Any biological link to the act, events, or situation consisting of war must be limited to homo-habelus or cro-magnum as the nature of conflict and its mechanisms are so far away from these act to be orders of magnitude removed from anything that might have involved a sword, musket, knife, or sling.
Today war is much more a play or theatre with loaded weapons. People piloting drones to off some "bad-guy" is not an inherent or natural act. Soldier, sailors, airmen, and yes--marines are all pieces for the red-queen. Hasn't changed. What has changed is the engagement (NSA from behind optical splicers, the armed services with cruise missiles, drones, high altitude aircraft, etc.). We have taken the personal out of a "most, or the most" personal act. I prefer other intimate acts that have fewer direct risks (won't mention the brothels or seedy neighborhoods I occupy engage the other side).
it only takes a few to start a fight
--Then they can go fight it out; preferably as far away from me as possible.
You're twisting my arguments and trying to make it look like I'm saying things I didn't. Please don't. And actually that was the first time someone has pointed a gun at me w/ an intent to shoot; and I generally don't see any guns in public except on coppers which now are at my gym.
Another day not seeing a copper is a good day to me; and you make sure to smile and mind your P's and Q's when he gives you a ticket or make current legal activities illegal to fund their job of driving around violating my rights. My grudge stands.
@figure it out - what about the "few" individuals that flew airplanes into our buildings that started a fight you've been indirectly involved in for the past 10+ years?
And its estimated that 4-6 million Americans own concealed carry permits (though some may not carry and some carry illegally). So chances are when you're out in public there are still guns around you.
--They managed to start a steady track towards a police state and in the process waste a lot of money that should've gone towards energy/space research. And I don't care if someone has a gun, so long as I know the person is competent and isn't pointing it at me like an idiot.
"Yes, you can get a handgun or a rifle (w/ state permission) or on the blackmarket (had a friend used to know someone). Do citizens always carry it around and are always on edge ready to defend themselves? No. They are usually unarmed [...]"
The typical citizen is almost irrelevant as far as this goes. All that matters is that (because of the 2nd amendment) criminals can obtain weapons easily enough, and are likely enough to do so, that as a police officer the risk of being shot at unexpectedly is (or is perceived to be) non-negligible. (Of course the number of citizens carrying affects the behaviour of the criminals, but that's presumably a second-order effect.)
"So this officer is immediately assuming I'm a threat," ... I would imagine they are trained to do so, because otherwise they're liable to wind up dead. After all, if your life depends on guessing whether someone is liable to shoot at you, you'd only have to guess wrong once and it's game over.
... whereas for a police officer in New Zealand the odds of being shot at unexpectedly are so low as to be laughable. You're more likely to get hit by lightning.
So what do you want to do with them after they finished their mission? Just get rid of them? Its absurd to categorize them as all having "mental issues" and treating them like they're worthless and shouldn't be let back into society.
I don't think I said or implied any of that, and would actually be quite happy to support any intiative abolishing tax cuts for big oil/big finance and adding that amount to the veterans programs budget. They need and deserve it much more, especially those returning maimed or with mental issues. I don't however think the people that sent them off to war would agree.
Moreover, I would even make it mandatory for every sitting senator/congressman to have a family member serving time on any US battle field while in office, unless he/she has done so him/herself. Maybe then they wouldn't be as wreckless with the lives of young people as they are now. But I'm afraid that's even less likely to ever happen.
--Look. As long as the coppers don't point their guns at me I won't track them down and find out where they live. Maybe you should keep laughing in New Zealand b/c the FBI raided someone in your country lol. Stand up for yourselves christ.
I would even make it mandatory for every sitting senator/congressman to have a family member serving time on any US battle field while in office
--That's actually an excellent idea. They have to serve on the front lines too where they're actually engaging "the enemy". They need to have the horrors of war shoved in their faces and into their brains so they have the nightmares.
--As a matter of fact, why don't we send off the pussies that are our representatives to go fight? They're so brave, I want to see Barack Obama go and lead the charge into war instead of watching it from computer screen. That is unless he's too much of a pussy.
@figureitout: I'm not particularly interested in your opinion as to whether the police behaviour in question is acceptable or not. I'm talking about whether it is *necessary* or not, and whether it might seem to the police to be necessary even if it isn't, and if so, about what the possible causes might be.
It seems to me that you're exhibiting what I've dubbed "blame syndrome" - the belief that if you have someone to blame for a problem there is no need to take any other action, such as considering what the underlying causes might be or how they might be addressed. (Perhaps the canonical example is cyclists; whenever a cyclist is killed by a vehicle, the cycling community mostly just wants the driver to be punished as viciously as possible. They're not interested in trying to figure out how to reduce the risk; they've got someone to blame, rationally or not, and that's all they care about.)
... Unless I've missed a fairly major local news item, I think you're mistaken about an FBI raid in New Zealand. My guess is that you're misremembering or been misinformed about the Kim Dotcom raid. That case was and is a mess, true enough, but despite left-wing winging the raid itself appears to have been soundly executed - and it definitely was not executed by the FBI!
--Don't f*cking diagnose me w/ a "syndrome". Then use some software engineer terms to try and diagnose me; fail. You will never understand me or my situation so never try and f-off.
I'm not interested in your opinion either so stop talking to me and let's end this conversation b/c it's going no where.
BTW, you may want to double check what's happening in your country...
@figureitout and @Dick Paret
Having congress critters AND their kin serving in the armed forces as a result of their willingness to have citizens sons and daughters execute their ill planned wars is not a bad idea. In fact, when as with the Iraqi war, there existed some level of deceit that at a minimum rises to the level of criminal negligence, it should be necessary to insure that their kin are the ones on the firing line for the next war.
First let me summarize the issues this brings to mind:
1.) Specific authority is designated to the federal government via the constitution, all other statues and laws must be derivative. If a statue or law grants the government new authorities, it must be done using the constitutional convention process. In other words, original law or authority must be ratified by both the congress and the people.
2.) A whole raft of authorities have been granted the government over the years that have side stepped the constitutional process. And, the framers were brilliant, they required that states convene constitution conventions where the states needed to ratify the amendment (at least a super majority) and then the congress (again by super majority) passed the amendment. The beauty of this is that insures that the states are co opted instead of "told by the federal government" about their new, self anointed, authorities.
3.) The number of arguments that can be made with any number of statues, public law, and regulation passed by congress that don't meet the requirements under the constitution is astounding. We are so far from the original framers vision of not only the functional aspects of governance--but--its very character. The distance from our past, and thus our potlical relevance would not be recognized by the framers (if travelig by time machine and they arrived here to witness it for themselves).
4.) Constitutional precedent; the Constitution under Article 2, section 8, specifies that congress shall maintain a navy and raise armies (there is a whole cadre of issues about having a permanent or standing army). specifies that a navy will be maintained and the ability to raise an army is provisioned to congress. This to me suggests precedent, that the constitution specifically enumerates these force structures (and their is no mention of the intelligence agencies or the FBI). And, because the Bill of Rights, under the 10th Amendment, deliberately constrains the federal government (that is the executive, congress, and the court) the use of the amendment process was seen as a way to curtail excesses by government. Since the last time a constitutional amendment was passed in 1992, I could cite many instances where congress, the executive, and the court has exceeded their authority-and now it is habitual. I cannot say if their is a conspiracy to avoid the actual constitutional processes but there is ample evidence to support the excesses of government by way of circumventing their constitution requirements.
Let me also summarize some of the areas I believe are at issue based on the previous statements.
1.) There are a number of funded agencies (not under different umbrellas, that would be rational under statue or public law), that require the constitutional process of amendment.
2.) The framers realized that tyrants had standing armies, and again Madison did an excellent job of partitioning the use of war to restrict the federal government from rising up against its own sovereign. The Constitution stipulates that the states, using federal guidelines or standards, maintains a militia that can be called upon in cases of exigency (France just stole some cheese from us and we need to strike back) while the federal government intervenes when it looks like there is a protracted engagement (the French stole our cheese again, this means war!) In other words, the states provide the first responders and if that's not enough then the feds organize (raise) an army. What Madison addressed were the fears by the states that some invasion force would overtake the new republic, but, they also understood (by way of King George the III) that armies are the instruments of tyrants. We need to ride ourselves of a permanent war machine.
3.) In the Federalist Papers the issue of soldier and sailors included the understanding that besides "NOT" maintaining a standing army, that personnel for the armed services would only serve under a temporary basis--this served two purposes:
A.) Conscripted soldiers have a way of incurring the cost of going to war on to the citizenry--thus indirectly holding the congress critters to account.
B.) Conscripted soldiers answered the call of duty, and when done--went home. This allowed the government to disband the army after a protracted conflict.
These folks are probably lucky that no one got hurt. People have pointed out that they had some code violations. Yeah, makes me feel good to have SWAT teams coming to enforce weed abatement.
Around here, the local police wonder why they have problems with outreach in various ethnic communities. Hmm, let's see, call them about a family member fruiting out and making threatening gestures. Responders shoot family member. Yeah, that makes everyone trust the response...
@Figureitout: keep your hair on, it was just an expression. I'm not accusing you of anything.
The major news items here at the moment are about fishing regulations, the public float of a major energy generation company, and some other similarly fascinating stuff. So I'm going to need a hint; or we can just forget the whole thing.
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