Militarization of police forces in the U.S.

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jnpy!$4g3cwk

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Feb 11, 2010
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Several people have brought this up, but, in the context of (disorder following the shooting of Michael Brown). But, it really is a much broader issue. You've seen it, I've seen it, in my own formerly sedate community. The militarization, the over-reaction to every incident that become large. For the first time that I can remember, I find that I am agreeing with Rand Paul:

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.
http://time.com/3111474/rand-paul-ferguson-police/

I also wonder how much this is costing us taxpayers -- the care and maintenance of military gear -- that could have been spent on community-based policing instead?

Does every police department need to become the National Guard? We already have the Guard for those instances when rioting threatens to become insurrection.
 

Happybunny

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Sep 9, 2010
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Seen from this side of the water, I do notice a preoccupation with the word war in US daily life. So I am not surprised that the police of the USA have become a para-military force.

War on Poverty, War on Cancer, War on Drugs, War on Gangs, War on Women, and the War on Christmas, War on Terrorism.
 

capathy21

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Jun 16, 2014
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It's a very real problem and it is the result of a country that is and always has been obsessed with violence and firearms. Can you really blame the cops for arming up? When you allow your citizens to legally possess far more powerful guns than should be allowed, you have to understand the police feel the need to protect themselves.

That being said, I do believe they are entirely too militarized as are our citizens. Nothing will change until American's stop viewing firearms and violence/war as a good thing.
 

jkcerda

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The gear is mostly free & already paid for by tax payers. It seems they use it under extreme circumstances. If you don't want to deal with police in riot gear & armored vehicles then how about they don't riot/loot the neighborhoods?

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It's a very real problem and it is the result of a country that is and always has been obsessed with violence and firearms. Can you really blame the cops for arming up? When you allow your citizens to legally possess far more powerful guns than should be allowed, you have to understand the police feel the need to protect themselves.

That being said, I do believe they are entirely too militarized as are our citizens. Nothing will change until American's stop viewing firearms and violence/war as a good thing.
They are dealing with rioters. Nothing wrong with extra protection
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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This video is an example of why the police have to have superior weaponry to those they are trying to apprehend. This shootout went on for 44 minutes in California back in 1997. The criminals had reactive body armor and automatic weapons. There were 11 police officers and 7 civilians injured in this mess. It could have been far worse. This is just an example of what could happen.

 

zioxide

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Dec 11, 2006
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This country is on the fast track to becoming the next USSR and there's no turning back now. Militarized police that are above the law and the citizens they serve, mass spying of ordinary civilians.. its only going to continue to get worse.
 

Southern Dad

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Here in Georgia most departments require that LEO wear vests at all times. Most departments wear the vest under the uniform shirt. It has reached a point where officers have to take these kind of protections because people are willing to shoot on officers. A couple of decades ago, this was not the case. There are even cases where officers have been shot and killed while serving a misdemeanor warrant… or having lunch at a restaurant.

Law enforcement has to suit up to avoid being easy targets for those that wish to do them harm.
 

hulugu

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Aug 13, 2003
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The gear is mostly free & already paid for by tax payers.
Well, all of it is paid by taxpayers regardless of the program, instead we're just shifting federal spending into local departments.

The 1033 program run by the Dept. of Defense basically shifts excess military equipment (M-16A2 and MPAPs) to police departments that want it. The DHS block grant system allows departments to buy everything from NBC suits to communication equipment. Some states also run their own programs to bring in money for aircraft and specialized police vehicles (mainly Lenco armored cars).

...It seems they use it under extreme circumstances. If you don't want to deal with police in riot gear & armored vehicles then how about they don't riot/loot the neighborhoods?


Largely speaking, most of the equipment is used by SWAT (or HST, etc.) to serve warrants. Police agencies are using military-grade rifles to seize a few pounds of marijuana or cash.

Except for the use of the LARP, the equipment used in Ferguson is largely overkill —armored cars and sniper rifles are the last thing you want to use in a crowd control situation. A fully-automatic M-16A2 isn't there to serve the peace, it's there to intimidate the crowd.

...They are dealing with rioters. Nothing wrong with extra protection
The body armor is only part of the equation. Instead, I think people are very concerned about the number of rifles they see and the armored vehicles.
 

vrDrew

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This video is an example of why the police have to have superior weaponry to those they are trying to apprehend
No reasonable person disputes the need to have well-equipped SWAT teams to deal with active shooting situations.

What is concerning is when the police deploy SWAT teams to conduct routine drug warrants; and when camouflage-wearing cops point automatic weapons at protestors exercising their first amendment rights.

You can always find some sort of emergency to rationalize literally any tyrannical reaction from the police. The difference between the United States and a dictatorship (I hope) is that we the people will have the courage to stand up and say: No! Main Street Police departments don't need armored personnel carriers - even if they are "free." And that police officers on crowd or riot control duty need to be trained to only point loaded firearms at people they intend to shoot.

Lastly, I would say this: It is a fundamental precept of human relations that absolute security is an impossibility. The only way you can be absolutely certain you won't be attacked is to kill everyone else.

If someone is looking for absolute security - then they ought not to be a police officer. Accepting a certain amount of risk is part of the job. And that a "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude on behalf of one police officer has ultimately contributed to the societal breakdown we are seeing in Ferguson.
 

chown33

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The criminals had reactive body armor and automatic weapons.
I see nothing about reactive body armor:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout#The_events_of_February_28
... Phillips wore roughly 40 lbs of equipment, including a Type IIIA bulletproof vest and groin guard, a load bearing vest and multiple military canteen pouches for ammunition storage, and several pieces of home made body armor created from spare vests, covering his shins, thighs, and forearms.[17] Mătăsăreanu wore only a Type IIIA bulletproof vest, but included a metal trauma plate to protect vital organs. Additionally, both robbers had sewn watch faces onto the back of their gloves to check their timing inside the bank.[18] Before entering, they took the barbiturate phenobarbital, prescribed to Mătăsăreanu as an anticonvulsant, to calm their nerves.[19]
 

hulugu

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No reasonable person disputes the need to have well-equipped SWAT teams to deal with active shooting situations.
Right and the LA incident has led many agencies to place automatic or semi-automatic rifles in squad cars. This incident also led to a great emphasis on SWAT training for a larger number of officers, so the first on the scene still has some training.

...What is concerning is when the police deploy SWAT teams to conduct routine drug warrants; and when camouflage-wearing cops point automatic weapons at protestors exercising their first amendment rights.
Exactly. It's interesting to see how police forces look increasingly like the modern military, complete with helicopter pilots in tan flight suits and jump boots and SWAT team officers in digital camo with olive-drab support gear.

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I see nothing about reactive body armor:
...
I didn't catch that. I don't think there is such a thing even today for people, much less in 1997.
 

Southern Dad

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May 23, 2010
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No reasonable person disputes the need to have well-equipped SWAT teams to deal with active shooting situations.

What is concerning is when the police deploy SWAT teams to conduct routine drug warrants; and when camouflage-wearing cops point automatic weapons at protestors exercising their first amendment rights.

You can always find some sort of emergency to rationalize literally any tyrannical reaction from the police. The difference between the United States and a dictatorship (I hope) is that we the people will have the courage to stand up and say: No! Main Street Police departments don't need armored personnel carriers - even if they are "free." And that police officers on crowd or riot control duty need to be trained to only point loaded firearms at people they intend to shoot.

Lastly, I would say this: It is a fundamental precept of human relations that absolute security is an impossibility. The only way you can be absolutely certain you won't be attacked is to kill everyone else.

If someone is looking for absolute security - then they ought not to be a police officer. Accepting a certain amount of risk is part of the job. And that a "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude on behalf of one police officer has ultimately contributed to the societal breakdown we are seeing in Ferguson.
How long do you want to wait for these SWAT teams? How many people will die during that time.

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I apologize for calling it reactive body armor. Let's say that they had dang good body armor that could take the hit of the police officers bullets and they lived through it to be able to keep firing. Was anything else I said inaccurate? These two men were able to fire with impunity because the LAPD on scene were underarmed to deal with it.
 

Moyank24

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Aug 31, 2009
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Here in Georgia most departments require that LEO wear vests at all times. Most departments wear the vest under the uniform shirt. It has reached a point where officers have to take these kind of protections because people are willing to shoot on officers. A couple of decades ago, this was not the case. There are even cases where officers have been shot and killed while serving a misdemeanor warrant… or having lunch at a restaurant.

Law enforcement has to suit up to avoid being easy targets for those that wish to do them harm.
Like 2 year olds? :rolleyes:

It certainly goes both ways, don't you think?


I've said this before, but I really do find it ironic that as guns and gun ownership have become the norm here in the US they only seem to be exacerbating a situation they are trying to solve.

We have home owners shooting through doors because they fear the person on the other side is an armed threat. We have teachers arming themselves because the threat of someone walking into a school and shooting at children is real. We have police officers shooting unarmed civilians because they may possibly draw a weapon.

We really do seem to live in a society of shoot first and ask questions later. It's scary.
 

rdowns

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Jul 11, 2003
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How is it that comedians, in this case John Oliver, can do in 15 minutes what our media can't do in a week?


 

hulugu

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How long do you want to wait for these SWAT teams? How many people will die during that time.
Well, by that argument, how long do you want for the armored car to roll up? How long do you wait to pack on body armor and helmets?

Instead, as I noted just a minute ago, many police forces have opted to include semi-automatic or automatic rifles in squad cars and agencies have expanded the number of officers with training that used to be reserved for active SWAT officers.

And, departments are training for active shooter situations which means that officers will not wait for the scene to be controlled and SWAT to roll up. Instead, more officers are ready to go in and immediately engage the shooter.

The difference in doctrine might make the biggest difference. The armored baby carriage and the cool gear will be part of the reinforcements.


...I apologize for calling it reactive body armor. Let's say that they had dang good body armor that could take the hit of the police officers bullets and they lived through it to be able to keep firing. Was anything else I said inaccurate? These two men were able to fire with impunity because the LAPD on scene were underarmed to deal with it.
I also think that the police officers were doctrinally untrained for this kind of situation and made some mistakes in how they approached the situation.
 

hulugu

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How is it that comedians, in this case John Oliver, can do in 15 minutes what our media can't do in a week?..
Love John Oliver, but this critique is unfair

Oliver uses videos and photographs from reporters who are on the streets in Ferguson, getting harassed and tear-gassed. The facts that Oliver uses come from an Al Jazeera America story and Washington Post reporter Radley Balko.

Oliver is standing on shoulders.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
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Love John Oliver, but this critique is unfair

Oliver uses videos and photographs from reporters who are on the streets in Ferguson, getting harassed and tear-gassed. The facts that Oliver uses come from an Al Jazeera America story and Washington Post reporter Radley Balko.

Oliver is standing on shoulders.

My criticism isn't for the reporters on the ground. I have nothing but respect for their work. My criticism is the media in general, more specifically the TV media and what a **** job they are doing.
 

hulugu

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My criticism isn't for the reporters on the ground. I have nothing but respect for their work. My criticism is the media in general, more specifically the TV media and what a **** job they are doing.
Then please criticize specific outlets, otherwise you're including friends of mine who have been gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and arrested by police while trying to bring you the news.
 

anonymouslurker

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May 16, 2012
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Then please criticize specific outlets, otherwise you're including friends of mine who have been gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and arrested by police while trying to bring you the news.
It kind of sucks when everyone in a certain profession gets lumped together, doesn't it?
 

Southern Dad

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You know if we cut off federal grant money to local, county and state police departments most of them wouldn't have this military type equipment. They'd have to convince the local taxpayers they needed it.
 

thekev

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Aug 5, 2010
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Love John Oliver, but this critique is unfair

Oliver uses videos and photographs from reporters who are on the streets in Ferguson, getting harassed and tear-gassed. The facts that Oliver uses come from an Al Jazeera America story and Washington Post reporter Radley Balko.

Oliver is standing on shoulders.
Perhaps parts of it, but around the 10 minute mark is spot on. Note the comment about escalation of force.
 

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