Obama to Toughen Standards on Police Use of Military Gear


#1

President Obama announced today tightened standards on the provision and use of military-style equipment by local police departments.

After a review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police forces with military equipment, the White House concluded that the vast majority of these transfers strengthen local policing, but that the government should impose consistent standards in the types of hardware it offers, better training in how to use it and more thorough oversight.


#2

They shouldn’t be sending military equipment to civilian police, period. Poor oversight isn’t the problem, it’s that the transfers are happening in the first place.

At least now the issue is getting some traction.


#3

I would not want to be in law enforcement (local level) these days for a variety of reasons.
The days of Barney Fife and Adam 12 are long gone.


#4

I’d add that this issue is not limited to one partisan side or another. Mark Steyn has been very vocal about the problems of militarizing the police.


#5

Yup, the mainstream republicans are even worse than the democrats. There’s a foothold of libertarians who are starting to make abuses like this more known.


#6

If those days ever really existed…but yes, I agree that being a police officer seems to be much tougher today (as is most everything).


#7

Yep, those days existed! I was a small town police officer in the 1970s. Not quite like Mayberry, but we certainly didn’t need a SWAT team to kick in the door when serving a simple warrant. Our “military style” gear consisted of a helmet.

I wouldn’t take that job today, having to agonize that every serious decision I might make (whether right or wrong) might land me in court or destroy my career.


#8

Nope, sovereign immunity makes it almost impossible to prosecute a police officer. The worst they get is usually “administrative leave”, with pay of course.


#9

I hope the next time you need a police officer it’s one that hasn’t read your post


#10

It isn’t the equipment that’s the problem. It is the military mindset that starts to go with it. The view of the public as the enemy vice the folks you serve. The difference between seeing yourself as an occupying force vice simply enforcing the law amongst your fellow citizens. Us vs them vice We. I shudder anytime I hear someone refer to LEOs as non-civilians. No, they are civilians just like you and me, they happen to be paid to do a difficult job but they are still civilians.

Problem is once you have a hammer, everything start to look like a nail. The SWAT team isn’t doing anything-- send them.

If you remember Dave Koresh, he was arrested for murder by two cops going to his door and serving him with the warrant. He asked if he could get his jacket and he went with him.

They went to do whatever it was in Waco by sending fully armed/armored folks breaking in through the windows – didn’t work out very well.

Of course, if you’re worried about the equipment you should write your state/city/county representatives and insist that-- since the weapons the police carry are primarily for self-defense they should be restricted to use the same weapons available to the general public. They actually have less of a case for higher performance weapons since, unlike non-LEOs they are in constant contact with folks who can send them backup as a priority and operate as part of a team.


#11

I don’t believe Koresh killed any cops before the ATF showed up. Where did you get that info?

Watch WACO The Rules of Engagement on youtube. Truly shocking. The Davidians were nuts, but the feds were sociopathic murderers.


#12

Sorry, I was referring to an earlier incident in Koresh’s life. He was arrested and tried for murder, being found not guilty. The point was, that it didn’t take a SWAT team to arrest him in that incident, just a couple of officers knocking on the front door. His history and behavior- despite his establishing a cult- in dealing with the authorities was cooperative. It seemed the raid wasn’t really driven by Koresh and his followers actions or history but by the ATFs own attitude and posture.


#13

After a little research, here’s a bit more. And I should correct my last post, I didn’t realize or recall that Koresh didn’t establish the Branch Davidians but became their leader. Not sure how he influenced their beliefs.

I also didn’t remember that the prior arrest for attempted murder was during a time he was already in the Davidians.

saf.org/journal/6/6_Blackman.htm

"Was Koresh’s invitation valid? Would he have cooperated with federal agents without a warrant? Or, later, could a warrant have been served without massive violence by both sides? The indications are that Koresh was sincere, and that there was no need for violence, even if Koresh were in violation of federal gun laws. He had, after all, submitted without incident to an earlier arrest and seizure of guns for attempted murder in 1987. The district attorney at the time “recalled, ‘We had no problems’ with arresting the Davidians. The sheriff and a deputy simply called Koresh and told him that charges were pending and that he and his associates would have to turn themselves in and surrender their weapons. Deputies went to the compound and the suspects readily complied.” (Lee, 1993a:23)

The Treasury cover-up essentially denies any such cooperation occurred, noting that the initial arrest was at the incident, and asserting: “There was, in fact, no evidence that Koresh was prepared to submit to law enforcement authorities or that he had done so in the past.” (U.S. Dept. of Treasury, 1993:135) The chronology provided with that report, however, notes that Koresh visited the Waco social services agency on request regarding allegations of unlawful child abuse (U.S. Dept. of Treasury, 1993:Appendix D-3 and D-4); in addition, he was visited at least twice in 1992, and continued to have telephone contact with the investigator."


#14

So, if the grand jury in the Ferguson case had indicted the officer, he would have gone to trial. That’s a bit more than administrative leave.


#15

I do believe the police departments are too militarized.
This might be the only thing I will ever agree with Obama on.
The big tanks and the heavily armed swat teams are so scary!
I think they should only be able to use them in certain incidents.
Yes the days of the mayberry law enforcement days are long gone.


#16

I agree with his action as well. I also agree that most of these transfers strengthen police departments, something I think everyone here is missing. The President is not suggesting that military transfers be eliminated, only that the standards change. No, a SWAT team is not needed to serve a simple warrant, but not all warrants are simple. I think it likely that such heavy entry is over-used, but there is still a need for such tactics in some situations.


#17

They strengthen police departments when they are not overused and used appropriately. Why would a SWAT team be needed to serve a warrant?


#18

I very much doubt SWAT teams serve warrants anywhere, unless the person to be arrested is believed to be heavily armed and dangerous.

I see no reason to expect cops to be more lightly armed and protected than the criminals they sometimes go after. If the circumstance calls for heavy equipment, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I, at least, have never seen a SWAT-type unit or an armored vehicle on the street during anything resembling normal times. But do we really need to insist that police have inadequate protection when going after, say, the bomb-throwing, automatic weapon-carrying Tsarnaev brothers or perhaps worse?

To me, Obama’s pronouncement is just political hooey. It will end up being some foolishness like requiring police officers to take “LGBT sensitivity training” in order to get any kind of federal funding or equipment.


#19

Bull.

washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/02/17/shedding-light-on-the-use-of-swat-teams/

“Since the law passed in 2009, the data have consistently shown that on average there are about 4.5 SWAT raids each day in Maryland.”

“Half the SWAT deployments in 2012 were for “Part II” crimes, the nonviolent class of crimes. The vast majority of those raids were to serve search warrants on people suspected of drug offenses.”

Take a look at the toll of these sorts of raids:
cato.org/raidmap


#20

Like I said-there are appropriate cases where this is required.
I think the larger cities tend to use the extra police protection more which means more money spent and higher taxes to pay for the militarized vehicles, weapons and technology. I realize there are some really bad guys out there, but somehow we got along without them before the 1970’s and 80’s and there were some pretty bad people back then too.
Someone mentioned rules of engagement. That is a highly recommended documentary.


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