Tanks for Nothing

So not even a week after narcotics officers plead guilty to killing an innocent elderly woman, the Atlanta Journal runs this story, about all the free military goodies Georgia police departments are getting from the Pentagon. Yes, that's a photo of an armored personnel carrier (note:  corrected from "tank"), built for fighting wars—for destroying cities and enemy combatants. And it's being used by a domestic police department against American citizens (it appears that they did at least have the courtesy to remove the standard 50 cal machine gun that's usually mounted on top).

The Pentagon giveaway program began in the late 1980s, and is almost certainly responsible for the dramatic rise in the number of SWAT teams across the country, which led to the 1500 percent increase in the number of total deployments over the last 25 years, and to the increasing use of paramilitary tactics for nonviolent crimes. Many criminal justice experts say the program, along with the fact that SWAT teams and narcotics officers are often trained by former members of elite military groups like the Army Rangers or Navy Seals is responsible for the "cowboy" mentality that pervades many SWAT and narcotics units.

It isn't hard to see why. Outfit domestic police officers in military clothing, arm them with military gear, train them in military tactics taught by ex-military personnel, then tell them they're fighting a "war" on drugs, and we shouldn't be the least bit surprised when they treat city streets like battlefields, drug offenders like enemy combatants, and victims like Katherine Johnston and Isaac Singletary as mere casualties of war. Posse Comitatus isn't some quaint relic from the Civil War era. It shows a clear understanding between the two institutions' missions. One is charged with protecting our rights. The other is charged with annihilating an enemy. It's probably a good idea not to get them confused, no?

There's a telling scene related to all of this in Evan Wright's terrific book Generation Kill. Wright was embedded with an elite U.S. Marine unit in Iraq. Throughout his time with the unit, Wright documents the extraordinary precautions the unit takes to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, and the real heartbreak the soldiers feel when they do inadvertently kill a civilian. About 3/4 through the book, Wright explains how the full-time Marines were getting increasingly irritated with a reserve unit traveling with them. The reserve unit was mostly made up people who in their civilians lives were law enforcement, "from LAPD cops to DEA agents to air marshalls," and were acting like idiot renegades. Wright quotes a gunnery sargeant who traveled with the reserve unit:

"Some of the cops in Delta started doing this cowboy stuff. They put cattle horns on their Humvees. They'd roll into these hamlets, doing shows of force—kicking down doors, doing sweeps—just for the fuck of it. There was this little clique of them. Their ringleader was this beat cop...He's like five feet tall, talks like Joe Friday and everybody calls him 'Napoleon.'"

The unit ends up firebombing a village of Iraqis who'd been helping the Marines with intelligence about insurgents and Iraqi troops. Yes, it's just an anecdote. But it's a telling one. It suggests that to say some of our domestic police units are getting increasing militaristic probably does a disservice to the military.

What I find baffling, though, is that after everything that's gone on in his city over the last six months, the Atlanta Journal reporter didn't think to consult a single critic of the Pentagon giveaway program (and there are many). It didn't even occur to him that there may be more nefarious consequences to outfitting Georgia's cops in military gear than the benefit of "recycling tax dollars."

MORE: Via the comments, some people have corrected my use of the term "tank," pointing out that these are actually armored personnel carriers. Fair enough, though I'd gather most non-military people think "tank" when they see an armored vehicle on tracks, turret or no turret. In any case, I don't think the distinction detracts from the larger point, which is that outfitting domestic police with equipment made for the battlefield isn't a trend we ought to be encouraging.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    This country is becoming very reminicient of days gone by in Rio, with a soldier holding a sub-machine gun standing on every street corner. Can you say junta, boys and girls?

  • ||

    Although I certainly sympathize with your views, when writing a persuasive piece, one should be as accurate and precise as possible. The M113 is not a "tank." It's an armored personnel carrier. Howeer, that doesn't change the fact that there still is very little reason for police officers to be imployong an APC, either.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Seems like the citizens of Atlanta should be stocking up on IEDs, breach bombs and sticky bombs.

    It's only fair, right?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Great piece. Sobering piece. In the days of my wasted yoot cops had 20" Remington riot shotguns and .38's. No tanks, er, ah, APC's.

    BTW, APC for Nothing doesn't have the cachet of Tanks for Nothing.

    Can't tell if that APC is sporting steel treads, but if it is, they will do a number on hot asphalt (or cold for that matter). Wonder if the city factored in road repair.

  • ||

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m113.htm

    Although I deplore the use of military and military equipment for law enforcement in the USA, our esteemed author ought to be able to tell the difference between an APC, a tank and a bulldozer. Having tracks does not make a vehicle a tank. Yawn!

  • me||

    can you say....-PAR-A-NOI-A-

    seriously,........seriously.

    -good thing that there are those on the far left who want to ban all kinds of handguns,rifles ect. so when this "military uprising", and oppresive totalitarian govm't occurs, no one will be able to defend themselves. Stop taking your selves so seriously. Put down the pipe.

  • ||

    If they put the trim vane and the skirts back on they could swim their new PC.

    Fucking cowboys.

  • ||

    So if a terroist cell wanted a US civilian eliminated, all they have to do is plant some pot in the front yard. Even without GWOT, swat teams going after civilians is horrible. All together, it's just depressing.

  • ||

    off of topic-

    Anyone know how the pre-war Iraqis ended up with M113? I saw many of these during the invasion. Did we sell them to them or did they take them from Kuwait?

  • Nobody Important||

    www.theagitator.com/archives/026928.php

    August 16, 2006 More on Bearcats

    Several people have written to tell me not to make the mistake of calling Bearcats and other armored personnel carriers "tanks," which has a more precise definition. Point taken.




    If I recall correctly, Mr. Balko used the term "armored vehicles" or "armored personnel carriers" in Overkill, instead of "tank."

  • ||

    "cowboy" mentality

    Cowboys are fiercely independent, generally niece to small animals that they don't eat, work hard, drink beer and whiskey, smoke weed, mind their own business, and ride horses, not tanks.

  • ||

    Radley,

    Thanks for keeping up with this stuff.

    You provide a lot of good information that is unfortunately very depressing.

  • Brian||

    An M113 tank, specifically, built for fighting wars-for destroying cities and enemy combatants.

    If you want to get picky an APC is used to carry troops to the battle; the TC can use the M2 to support the dismounted troops, for air defense, or un-mount the gun and thicken up the firepower the dismounted squad has.

    Me, I wonder if the PDs have toted up cost of maint. for a tracked vs wheeled vehicle ...

  • ||

    Tank, schmank, APC. Quit being dorks.
    MB

  • wsdave||

    "Some of the cops in Delta started doing this cowboy stuff. They put cattle horns on their Humvees. They'd roll into these hamlets, doing shows of force-kicking down doors, doing sweeps-just for the fuck of it. There was this little clique of them. Their ringleader was this beat cop...He's like five feet tall, talks like Joe Friday and everybody calls him 'Napoleon.'"

    The unit ends up firebombing a village of Iraqis who'd been helping the Marines with intelligence about insurgents and Iraqi troops. Yes, it's just an anecdote. But it's a telling one."



    That's the last time I assume that the military is just a bunch of ignant yahoos who can't get any other kind of work. And the last time I assume cops aren't.

  • ||

    The Pentagon giveaway program began in the late 1980s, and is almost certainly responsible for the dramatic rise in the number of SWAT teams across the country, which led to the 1500 percent increase in the number of total deployments over the last 25 years, and to the increasing use of paramilitary tactics for nonviolent crimes. Many criminal justice experts say the program, along with the fact that SWAT teams and narcotics officers are often trained by former members of elite military groups like the Army Rangers or Navy Seals is responsible for the "cowboy" mentality that pervades many SWAT and narcotics units.

    I hate to get nitpicky, but the people who drive these tanks into other peoples homes are responsible for their behavior. Not the trainers, not the Pentagon.

    Until the President declares martial law or the Pentagon stages a coup, the blame for paramilitary police action against civilians is on the local agencies who use them.

  • ||

    BS, Hugh. You can't outfit and train a local PD the same way you outfit and train a military unit designed to hunt and kill terrorists and not expect them to react in a similar manner once they've been deployed to the city streets. No, the APC or whatever the fuck you want to call it can't roll in on an innocent pot farmer on it's own accord, but you also can't exactly equate military hardware of that nature with handguns or other weapons used for personal defense, which is what you seem to be doing.

  • ||

    It does remind me of something Neal Stephenson wrote in Snow Crash, which I can quote fully, due to some scummy site in Russia that has the whole text on the web:

    Ng blows out more smoke, thinking. "As we learned in Vietnam, high-powered weapons are so sensorily overwhelming that they are similar to psychoactive drugs. Like LSD, which can convince people they can fly - causing them to jump out of windows - weapons can make people overconfident. Skewing their tactical judgment."

    (The part about LSD is silly, but otherwise I think the quote is on point.)

  • ||

    me | May 1, 2007, 9:46pm | #
    can you say....-PAR-A-NOI-A-

    seriously,........seriously.

    -good thing that there are those on the far left who want to ban all kinds of handguns,rifles ect. so when this "military uprising", and oppresive totalitarian govm't occurs, no one will be able to defend themselves. Stop taking your selves so seriously. Put down the pipe.


    There is good reason to be paranoid. The Dems want to ban damn near all firearms (HB1022) make it harder to get any gun (HR297) make getting any mental help a disqualifier (see VA governor's executive order) and give the US Attorney General the power to stop anyone from getting a gun because he suspects they are "terrorists" (S. 1237). And we have police getting more and more heavily armed.

  • ||

    What I find baffling, though, is that after everything that's gone on in his city over the last six months, the Atlanta Journal reporter didn't think to consult a single critic of the Pentagon giveaway program (and there are many). It didn't even occur to him that there may be more nefarious consequences to outfitting Georgia's cops in military gear than the benefit of "recycling tax dollars."



    Consider how many "anarchists", communists, and other obligatory Ameriphobes would the author have to trip over to get to someone like you who actually had something constructive to say. I agree that he should have sought some dissenting voices, but most of the more readily available ones wouldn't have carried any weight with the sane.

  • ||

    They can put road shoes on the tracks to keep them from eating up the asphalt. As I understand it, they use them on the M1 tanks in Germany to get around the country instead of trucking them everywhere. And the M1 is a shitload heavier than the M113.

    By the way, the French make some sweet APCs with wheels.

  • highnumber||

    I agree that he should have sought some dissenting voices, but most of the more readily available ones wouldn't have carried any weight with the sane.

    Rimfax,

    Right. Why should the reporter do some actual work on the story? A reporter's job is to tell us what the gov't agents say, not to do some searching, make some phone calls, and gather and sort through info before presenting it. The anarchists were the only others to issue a press release, so it's just whackjobs, right?

    Rambling rant over. Carry on.

    BTW, Véhicule Blindé de Combat d'Infanterie sounds so much more elegant than Armored Personnel Carrier.

  • ||

    The M113 is not a fighting vehicle-it never has been, and never will be. It is just used to transport people and equipment, like computers and radio into the combat zone, with a small degree of protection. It thin walls will stop some small arms fire, but will not stop rockets or other anti-tank weapons. A used M113 is no different than an armored truck or SUV that have been used for the same purposes by police agencies operating in gang or sniper environments for decades. The fact that the Pentagon found a way to get rid of some of these now obsolete workhorses of the Korean and Vietnam era, by giving them to police agencies. If the columbine police had a couple of these, perhaps they would have been able to approach the school and stop the killing much earlier.

  • ||

    If the columbine police had a couple of these, (grabs objects hanging between legs) perhaps they would have been able to approach the school and stop the killing much earlier.

  • ||

    Although I certainly sympathize with your views, when writing a persuasive piece, one should be as accurate and precise as possible. The M113 is not a "tank." It's an armored personnel carrier. Howeer, that doesn't change the fact that there still is very little reason for police officers to be imployong an APC, either.

    I fought in Imployong during the war. The big one. In Korea.

    Never been to Howeer, though. That's in India.

  • ||

    Oui, oui, ze are fabulous vehicles. Ze have five speeds in reverse and one forward, for incase the enemy gets behind zem.

  • ||

    If the columbine police had a couple of these, perhaps they would have been able to approach the school and stop the killing much earlier.



    A tankarmoured vehicle has one weakness.


    Stairs.

  • ||

    A tankarmoured vehicle has one weakness.

    Stairs. - Deus



    Same as Daleks.

    Kevin

  • ||

    "Robocop" seemed like some crazy shit when it came out. Now?

  • ||

    If Klebold and Harris had had Jesus, and I mean a true conversion, not the lukewarm got my fire insurance junk most of us kling halfheartedly to, the massacre would not have happened.

  • ||

    And if Jesus had had an armored personnel carrier....

    CB

  • JohnD||

    The more I read the comments on this web site the more I realize that libertarians are dolts

  • ed||

    There was an episode of Hill Street Blues way back in the 80s that featured Lt. Hunter's acquisition of a tank for his SWAT duties. At the time it was considered farcical. Yeah, he ended up ramming his way through the front of a building with it. No one was killed. Laughs all around.

  • ||

    JohnD | May 2, 2007, 8:12am | #

    The more I read the comments on this web site the more I realize that libertarians are dolts.


    Not all the comments on this web site are made by libertarians.

  • Tym||

    The only appropriate use of a SWAT team is a hostage situation.

  • Jim Bob||

    The first time I heard a police officer friend of my father's refer to ordinary citizens as "civilians," I nearly gagged. The level of paramilitary hard-on undoubtedly varies from county to county and city to city, but high-and-tight hair and militia-type rank on a little man with a big gun=trouble brewing.

    I always wondered why some cops just didn't join the Marine Corps, if they wanted to play with super-weapons and blow shit up.

    But we know we've gotta give cops M-16s to point at those pesky marijuana users, lest the stoners, I don't know, throw junk food at the cops. I can see it now: a cop Stryker Brigade helping to win the War on Marijuana. It's For the Children™!

  • Dave W.||

    Cut military spending at the source. Have those cuts fund a tax cut. That is the true libertarian way.

    (and, yes, drink, of course.)

  • Dave W.||

    MORE: Via the comments, some people have corrected my use of the term "tank," pointing out that these are actually armored personnel carriers. Fair enough . . .

    Don't ever forget that this is first and foremost a gunnuts blog, even more than a ganja blog. You've got to respect weapons terminology in all its arcane detail and beautiful nuance. Or else it means ur stoopid. I learned that the hard way.

  • ||

    Nice framing, Dave. W.
    So if you think people should have the right to defend themselves, or have the right to make most other adult decisions for themselves, you're a 'nut.' Now,isn't that a bit ironic?

  • Guy Montag||

    Although I deplore the use of military and military equipment for law enforcement in the USA, our esteemed author ought to be able to tell the difference between an APC, a tank and a bulldozer. Having tracks does not make a vehicle a tank. Yawn!

    Actually, in the update he seems to want everybody to confuse the two. Orwellian journalism at it's finest.


    MORE: Via the comments, some people have corrected my use of the term "tank," pointing out that these are actually armored personnel carriers. Fair enough, though I'd gather most non-military people think "tank" when they see an armored vehicle on tracks, turret or no turret. In any case, I don't think the distinction detracts from the larger point, which is that outfitting domestic police with equipment made for the battlefield isn't a trend we ought to be encouraging.



    I happen to be on the same side as Mr. Balko on the militarizing of the police, but I do find this sort of intentional confusion in well defined terms to be a major distraction from a good point.

  • ||

    'Fair enough, though I'd gather most non-military people think "tank" when they see an armored vehicle on tracks'

    Yes, it's really only a technical distinction that industry insiders or military fanboys ( while rehearsing for WW2 re-enactment battles ) care about. It's like people in the Merchant Marines or the Navy who jump down your throat if you say, "The Queen Mary" or "The Titanic" as supposedly a ship captain always drops the article before the title.

  • ||

    One of these things ain't worth shit when the terrorists take over Nakatomi Tower.

  • The Quarterback is Toast!||

    aaron- toldja the police really shoulda had an RV!

  • Guy Montag||

    Yes, it's really only a technical distinction that industry insiders or military fanboys ( while rehearsing for WW2 re-enactment battles ) care about. It's like people in the Merchant Marines or the Navy who jump down your throat if you say, "The Queen Mary" or "The Titanic" as supposedly a ship captain always drops the article before the title.

    So I guess you and Radley won't have any problems when 'journalists' call revolvers automatics in the future.

  • ||

    I rather like the idea of the police being limited to weapons that you and I can have. I suppose there could be heavier weapons held in reserve for certain situations, but that should be a rarely invoked exception to the rule.

    That, or give every cop a flame thrower. Woo, hoo!

  • ||

    The M113 is not a fighting vehicle-it never has been, and never will be.
    Unless it was an IFV.
    Sure hope the cops don't need TOW.

  • Guy Montag||

    I rather like the idea of the police being limited to weapons that you and I can have. I suppose there could be heavier weapons held in reserve for certain situations, but that should be a rarely invoked exception to the rule.

    That's where I sit on that too. One modification would be I prefer the heavier stuff be with well trained National Guard units.

  • ||

    One modification would be I prefer the heavier stuff be with well trained National Guard units.



    Which would no longer be so easily seized by the federal government if I had my way.

  • ||

    'Militarization' of western police forces may be a good issue to debate, but I don't think those old M113 carriers are a good starting point.

    The M113 was never a tank like armoured fighting vehicle. It was a battlefield taxi, designed to get soldiers from A to B whilst sitting in a bulletproof box.

    I've never been to Georgia but I understand a lot of the state is rural. If you had to resolve a hostage crisis on a rural building with long, open approaches to it, would you really want to drive up to the door in a sedan?

    When complaining about the militarization of police, we should also think about the other end of the problem- namely, the increasing lethality of criminals. The beat cop of fifty years ago wasn't dealing with todays meth addicts, for instance.

  • ||

    I always wondered why some cops just didn't join the Marine Corps,...

    Many cops are former Marines.

  • Mike Rentner||

    It's a bit simplistic to say the Marine Reservists are brutal while the regular units are more circumspect with their use of force. It has less to do with regular/reserve and whether some of them were cops. It has to do with the command climate set by the unit's leaders.

    As a contrast to your example with the reservists and regulars cited here, I would point out that a reserve battalion, 3/25, had no incidents of atrocities, despite being in the main area of enemy actions while short one company of infantry. They were replaced at the end of their tour by a regular Marine battalion, an army battalion and three Iraqi battalions. The regular Marine battalion, 3/1, despite being responsible for half of the same the area with two Iraqi battalions to assist them, went on to massacre two families in their homes in Haditha.

    So, while I deplore the growing use of SWAT teams and armored vehicles for domestic use, it is too facile to blame anything happening in Iraq on that development.

  • ||

    "I always wondered why some cops just didn't join the Marine Corps, if they wanted to play with super-weapons and blow shit up."

    Probably because there's a very real chance that they'd actually be going up against people who are likely to shoot back at them.

    As to the tank vs. APC difference, it is indeed important to get such details right, but I will point out that for your average person in the US, going up against an APC would be no different than going up against a tank.

    One of my few gripes with Radley's work is that he tends to play up the "ooh, scary miltree guns" aspect of things, seemingly without much firsthand experience of such things.

    Radley:

    Get thee to GunSigth for some training and familiarization!

  • ||

    "The beat cop of fifty years ago wasn't dealing with todays meth addicts, for instance."

    Tell you what, Warren, when I see cops giving the same consideration for defense to us mere civilians, I'll acknowledge that you have a point.

  • ||

    And dammit, I meant to type GunSight...

  • Brendan||

    I can agree with some of the problem here - but at the same time there are areas of the worst cities that are like a battle zone no? How do you ask cops to go in under protected? Do you call up the National Guard for every gang intervention? Do you put large areas of cities under martial law to keep the peace?

    On the other side of things since the entire country pays for these vehichles, I'd prefer to see them sold in a more market oriented approach to States, instead of as give aways. If my State doesn't have the need - should I be forced to finance Georgia and California, etc? It might also make the states and towns more reasonable in these kind of purchases...

    Then again maybe I just watch "The Shield" and "The Wire" too much.

  • Jim Bob||

    I know many cops are ex-military- like my old man- but I'd really hate it to be true that the ones who left active duty and entered law enforcement did so because they wanted to push people around.

    As a side note (and slightly off-topic), I lived in Atlanta when the Johnston case went down and now live in the ATL metro area. The local media has been absolutely tight-assed about covering the case; it's like they don't want to talk about it.

  • ||

    Goddammit.

    GunCite.

    I'm going for another cup of coffee.

  • ||

    "On the other side of things since the entire country pays for these vehichles, I'd prefer to see them sold in a more market oriented approach to States, instead of as give aways."

    You know, once upon a time, the government didn't have a huge problem with stuff like this being sold to various collectors. There's a rather interesting subculture of people who's hobby is collecting, running, and maintaining old military vehicles.

    (Of course the .gov demills the weaponry first.)

  • Guy Montag||

    You know, once upon a time, the government didn't have a huge problem with stuff like this being sold to various collectors.

    I call that time "the good old days".

  • ||

    I live in Atlanta. I've driven through some pretty nasty parts of the city, but have never seen a house outfitted to withstand an armored siege. Indeed, I suspect that most of the houses are ordinary, wood framed, non-bullet proof houses.

    As seen in the movie Dragnet the LAPD M113 had a ram mounted on it so it could force entry into barricaded houses and whatnot. Since M113s do not have firing ports as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle does, officers would have to deploy out the rear or follow on foot to do anything but be along for the ride.

    I would like to quote from an article on the excellent website Defense and the National Interest, www.d-n-i.net:

    …Yet it is precisely as a summary that The Changing Face of War has value, and not just to undergraduates. Chapter Six, "The New World Disorder, 1991 to the Present" summarizes what a state needs to do to prevail over non-state forces. It does so most usefully in looking at the British Army's success in Northern Ireland, one of the few cases where the state's armed forces have won.

    How did the British do it? Van Creveld puts it best:

    First, unlike President Bush in 2001, the British did not declare war, which would have removed a whole series of legal constraints and put the entire conflict on a new footing. Instead, from beginning to end the problem was treated as a criminal one…

    Note that, in contrast to what we hear from the Bush administration and the U.S. military, van Creveld sees the removal of restrictions on what troops can do as a disadvantage. He understands that in Fourth Generation war, the counter-intuitive is often correct.

    Second, much of the day-to-day work was left to the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary). Its members, having been locally recruited and assigned lengthy stays at their posts, knew the area better than anyone else. Accordingly, they were often able to discriminate among the various factions inside the IRA as well as between terrorists and others…
    * * *
    Fourth, and in marked contrast with most other counterinsurgents from the Germans in Yugoslavia to the Americans in Vietnam and elsewhere, not once in the entire struggle did the army bring in heavy weapons such as tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, or aircraft to repulse attacks and inflict retaliation…
    * * *
    The most important insight of all, though, (came) over dinner in Geneva in 1995. My partner on that occasion was a British colonel, regiment of paratroopers, who had done several tours of duty in Northern Ireland. What he said can be summed up as follows…

    the struggle in Northern Ireland had cost the United Kingdom three thousand casualties in dead alone. Of the three thousand, about seventeen hundred were civilians….of the remaining, a thousand were British soldiers. No more than three hundred were terrorists, a ratio of three to one. Speaking very softly, he said: And that is why we are still there."


    I submit that this is evidence that the militarization of law enforcement encourages a militarization of criminal activity. If we ever get to the point that instead of squad cars we have M113s rolling down the street, I would not be surprised if we started seeing IEDs on those same streets.

    Law enforcement personnel used to be known as peace officers. The war on drugs pretty much ended this. Communities, neighborhoods have a much easier time getting on the cops' side if the cops are after actual criminals instead of busting some kid for possession. In the long run, it would be better for the cops, too.

  • ||

    My point is that the cavalier attitude of police officers existed before they had access to military equipment. Getting the equipment merely enables them to act upon thier desires to kick down doors and drag old ladies out by their heels.

    If cops had respect for (among other things) the oaths they swore, the people they served, and the distinction between violent and non-violent offenses, hardware like this would be collecting dust in a municipal motor pool.

  • ||

    The M113 is a fighting vehicle. It may not have been designed as one, but it was regularly used as a fighting vehicle in Vietnam and elsewhere around the world. In fact, modified M113s are being used as fighting vehicles in Iraq by the US military.

    By the way, the M113 was introduced in 1960 and was never fielded during the Korean War.

    Wikipedia: M113 Armored Personnel Carrier

  • ||

    Walk a mile in a cops shoes and then tell me how safe he feels toting a 9mm Glock when the yahoo drug dealers in the local housing project carry MP-10s and AKs.

    Is there are use for an M-113 in most cities? Probably not, but for NY, LA or Chicago it might prove useful in a stand off situation. I bet the police responding to those body armored bank robbers in LA in the 1990s would not have minded an APC.

  • Scooby||

    Does this thing have a special compartment for throw-down dimebags?

  • Jennifer||

    I bet the police responding to those body armored bank robbers in LA in the 1990s would not have minded an APC.

    So would the cops who murdered Kathryn Johnston. After all, if you're going to carry drugs to plant on the innocent people you just murdered, a personnel carrier has a hell of a lot more cargo capacity than a police cruiser.

    Walk a mile in a cops shoes and then tell me how safe he feels toting a 9mm Glock when the yahoo drug dealers in the local housing project carry MP-10s and AKs.

    I'd be a lot more sympathetic toward cops fighting murderers or rapists who carry scary weapons. My sympathy for drug-war enforcers is about on par with my sympathy for patterollers who had to capture runaway slaves.

    Also, since cops are in theory supposed to protect the populace, I don't buy the argument "cops must endanger the populace to keep their own butts safe."

  • ||

    "Walk a mile in a cops shoes and then tell me how safe he feels toting a 9mm Glock when the yahoo drug dealers in the local housing project carry MP-10s and AKs."

    You're utterly full of shit.

    Even the BATFE admits that such firearms are vanishingly rare in crime.

    Most crime guns are .380's, .38's, 9mm, and .22.

  • ||

    Incidentally, what the fuck is an "MP 10"?

  • dhex||

    seriously, when cops get shot in ny, it's not because some dude popped out of a window with an ak.

    no more rap videos for you, dude!

  • ||

    Incidentally, what the fuck is an "MP 10"?

    Probably meant MAC-10. Or maybe that's what it's called in a video game that Doug played.

  • Guy Montag||

  • ||

    Oh, yes, the MP5-10.

    From memory:

    Manufactured in extremely small batches specifically for the FBI in the wake of the Platt & Mattox (sp) incident.

    The odds of these being used with any regularity in crime is almost zero. (I say almost, because I vaguely recall a news story about one being stolen out of a Fibbie's car in Washington DC a few years ago.)

    To sum up:

    Doug is a fucking retard with no clue what he's talking about.

  • ||

    Fuck, I'm cranky today.

  • ||

    We're starting to see cops with submachineguns on every corner?

    Cops like to kick in doors and drag out old ladies by their heels?

    BATFE admits such firearms are vanishingly rare? Your cite on that please? Baloney.

    What a bunch of kooks and ignoramuses with axes to grind. What ever examples you may be thinking of, real or imagined, are exceedingly rare. Is there an apparent militarization of police work? You bet. However, there are plenty of uses for APC's in plenty of areas. Armed suicidal nutcases are a dime a dozen, as there are occasional hostage situations as well in most cities. Cops need the cover for rescues and approachez, as shields and their vests just don't cut it.

  • Dave W.||

    one being stolen out of a Fibbie's car

    Now that sounds like poor gun safety technique. Don't they have some kind of technology that allows the gun to be locked in place when unattended?

  • Jennifer||

    Cops like to kick in doors and drag out old ladies by their heels

    That's a lie. They kick in doors, shoot old ladies multiple times, cuff them as they die and plant drugs on their bodies.

    But they DO NOT drag them out by their heels.

  • ||

    Your cite on that please? Baloney.
    ...
    Armed suicidal nutcases are a dime a dozen, as there are occasional hostage situations as well in most cities. Cops need the cover for rescues and approachez, as shields and their vests just don't cut it.


    You may want to do some homework first before spouting your tarnished bullshit.
    According to the US DOJ, Bureau of Stats, most US homicides are committed with handguns. As are most law enforcement (weapon caused)deaths in the line of duty. Both of which are showing a decrease in occurrences. In other words, as it becomes safer for people and police to walk the street, the police ramp up their war arsenal. Bit odd I feel.

  • Guy Montag||

    In other words, as it becomes safer for people and police to walk the street, the police ramp up their war arsenal. Bit odd I feel.

    It is not odd when you add that more citizens are allowed to walk the streets with basic personal defense weapons.

  • Guy Montag||

    Wait, that reads all wrong. Hope you know what I mean. Working at home today has my little brain all fuzzy :)

  • ||

    "BATFE admits such firearms are vanishingly rare? Your cite on that please? Baloney."

    I'm about to make you look very, very, fucking stupid in front of a lot of people.

  • ||

    Per the BATFE's most recent "Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative" study, the Top Ten Guns by Manufacturer, Caliber/Gauge, and Type are...

    SMITH & WESSON .38 Revolver
    RUGER 9mm Semiautomatic Pistol
    LORCIN ENGINEERING .380 Semiautomatic Pistol
    RAVEN ARMS .25 Semiautomatic Pistol
    MOSSBERG 12 GA Shotgun
    SMITH & WESSON 9mm Semiautomatic Pistol
    SMITH & WESSON .357 Revolver
    BRYCO ARMS 9mm Semiautomatic Pistol
    BRYCO ARMS .380 Semiautomatic Pistol
    DAVIS INDUSTRIES .380

  • ||

    For those of you keeping track at home, that would be from Table 5 on page 17 of the Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative, available as a free PDF download from the www.atf.gov

  • ||

    Why, there's nary a 10mm-chambered firearm on the list, let alone the uber-seksay Heckler & Koch MP-5/10 boutique submachinegun.

    Why, I dare say that there isn't an "assault weapon" on that list at all!

  • ||

    So, what are the odds that Bruno will recant his previous statement?

    I'll go ahead and re-post it here in bold:

    BATFE admits such firearms are vanishingly rare? Your cite on that please? Baloney.

    So, bruno, care to change your point of view, or is this thread going to devolve into one long argument where I will rub your nose in a giant, steaming pile of how wrong you are?

  • ||

    APC

    Armored Pedant Carrier.

    Trust me. They need them.

  • Fodder||

    What's important about tank vs. APC is that as bad as APC's are as a tool / weapon in civilian police hands, APC are just rolling armored boxes. Tanks are pure military offensive weapons. When the police come in tanks, "we the people" will essentially be at war with the governments of the US.

  • ||

    Since my claim was in doubt, here is a link to a video of an old woman being dragged out of her house.

    http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025475.php#025475

    I stand corrected, though, she was dragged by her wrists, not her ankles.

  • ||

    I only see two guns on that list that could possibly use the evil "hi-cap" magazines also. The S&W and Ruger 9mm's.

  • ||

    The solution is harder to achieve than merely acquiring (or not acquiring) APCs. Imagine how crime would decline if, whenever a criminal opened fire on a police officer they were immediately brought under fire by law-abiding citizens. Or at a minimum, the citizens cooperated with police in the investigating crime and police could crush any attempt to threaten/harm witnesses.

    It is not just crime - if we don't take care of each other re: terrorism, then we are hugely vunerable. Could you take care (food, water, medicine, communications, and yes, weapons) of your family, neighbors, church/affliation group, etc, in the event of a huge natural or terrorist-created disaster? Think Katrina only more pervasive. Cops in APCs would be overwhelmed immediately - that is to say if the APCs had not been stolen or commandeered by someone else.

  • ||

    Well, this is just another example of the militarization of law enforcement under the aegis of "homeland security." I'm not a fan of the rubber-tired armored trucks by Lenco often used by SWAT teams. There is just no reasonable law enforcement use for a tracked, freakin' APC. And while everyone talks about the military "freebies," someone has to pay to maintain this equipment. It's not like you're going to run to the NAPA store and pick up parts for an M113A1 APC. If some law enforcement type thinks an armoured vehicle is necessary (which I just don't see), at least buy something that people can operate, maintain and use efficiently.

  • Guy Montag||

    Or at a minimum, the citizens cooperated with police in the investigating crime and police could crush any attempt to threaten/harm witnesses.

    Remotly sounds like something Soljenitsin complained about in the first chapter or two of The Gulag Archipelago. I am sure the Soviets began the practice in a nice manner too. Not saying it is a bad idea, it just has an easily abused history.

  • ||

    "What's important about tank vs. APC is that as bad as APC's are as a tool / weapon in civilian police hands, APC are just rolling armored boxes. Tanks are pure military offensive weapons. When the police come in tanks, "we the people" will essentially be at war with the governments of the US."

    Tell that to the victims of the BATF raid at Waco. Isn't the BATF a civilian law enforcement agency? It seemed pretty easy for them to get M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles and I heard there were a couple of M-1's there too.

    Both of these vehicles are available at the Governor's pleasure through the National Guard, just like the helicopters used to look for and rip up weed patches. It seems to me that military hardware is available to civilian LEO's with the right phone call, this is a "red herring".

    IMHO the real tragedy is how this tranfer of weaponry from the military to the civilian LEO's represents a mind set which is the direct opposite of what civilian law enforcement should be about.

    Sad as it sounds, with today's WOT, terrorists are linked to drug dealers in the politician's mind and military equipment is just a logical extention of the "war time" mentality.

  • Russ 2000||

    What I find baffling, though, is that after everything that's gone on in his city over the last six months, the Atlanta Journal reporter didn't think to consult a single critic of the Pentagon giveaway program

    The military used to dump their surplus in the ocean. My father was in the Air Force and one of his occasional assignments was to drive year-old unused jeeps onto aircraft carriers because they were being replaced with the new models. The aircraft carriers would then take the surplus out to sea where the stuff was dumped. Later it was decided that we could dump the surplus as giveaways to any foreign country that claimed to be anti-communist. After militarizing the mideast and parts of southeast asia, thanks in part to China and the USSR doing the same, we've realized it's a bad idea. But since it would now be a PR disaster to dump shit in the ocean again, the stuff gets dumped onto state and local authorities.

    Massive surplus is an issue that is always ignored, but the Pentagon (and DEA) has annual budget increases that must be maintained.

  • ||

    It's not like you're going to run to the NAPA store and pick up parts for an M113A1 APC.

    They could always use the internet.

    http://www.stock-number.com/

  • ||

    When complaining about the militarization of police, we should also think about the other end of the problem- namely, the increasing lethality of criminals. The beat cop of fifty years ago wasn't dealing with todays meth addicts, for instance.

    BS flag for Warren. How soon you forget about cocaine-crazed Negros. Not to mention that 9mm is a weaker round than the .38 let alone the .357.

    Lethality is a matter of properly placed shots, not loads of poorly directed ones (i.e. "spray and pray").

    Nothing disturbs me more then the sight of balaclava wearing "public servants"; much more worrisome than the weapons they are carrying or the vehicles they ride in.

  • Guy Montag||

    Tell that to the victims of the BATF raid at Waco. Isn't the BATF a civilian law enforcement agency? It seemed pretty easy for them to get M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles and I heard there were a couple of M-1's there too.

    If you are talking about the ones with the Arkansas National Guard flags on them, they were not BATF.

  • ||

    """What ever examples you may be thinking of, real or imagined, are exceedingly rare."""

    Rare enought to keep Radley busy writting stories.

  • Guy Montag||

    Rare enought to keep Radley busy writting stories.

    Very true and even the ones I have thought were exagerated on factual terms turned out to be just my failure to go to the source article (he writes as sneeky as I).

    However, Fairbanksing about on what the cops are actually using is really uncalled for. If they are using tanks, yes say so. If not, don't make it up. If they are using revolvers, don't call them full auto assault weapons.

  • William Adama||

    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.

  • Guy Montag||

    Somehow, amazingly [feigned gasp], reason missed the perfectly good employment of police in a riot situation (yes, I agree it is rare, so it is worthy of praise) in Los Angelas on 1 May 2007.

    Yes, reason chose not to tarnish May Day by praising the cops for doing a proper job (especially LA cops) against a bunch of Mexican flag waiving, USA hating nuts, but they did a great job.

  • ||

    Such a great job that "Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said today that some actions taken by officers trying to clear a crowd of marchers at MacArthur Park were 'inappropriate' and that he has launched two investigations. [emphasis added]"

    http://www.latimes.com/

  • ||

    I can agree with some of the problem here - but at the same time there are areas of the worst cities that are like a battle zone no? How do you ask cops to go in under protected? Do you call up the National Guard for every gang intervention? Do you put large areas of cities under martial law to keep the peace?-Brendan.


    I would point out the fallacy of your argument. In all those places you speak of as war zones, citizens are forced to go in there without protection. In every one of those dangerous cities, guns are disallowed or so strictly regulated as to be under a de facto ban. If Willie Teasdale can walk home through those streets every night from work without protection a bunch of armed cops have no complaint just because they don't have an APC.

    Remember South Central L.A.? No more evidence of cowardice in our police forces is needed. Bad asses 13 on 1, or against old women. Hiders otherwise. The surest way to tragedy is to give a coward an unbeatable edge. I would disarm all cops in all venues where the law disarms the citizens.

    Want to bet on how many would quit before end of shift?

  • ||

    "So I guess you and Radley won't have any problems when 'journalists' call revolvers automatics in the future."

    So how'd you do on the G.E.D. analogies test, Montag? I'm guessing not all that well.

  • Guy Montag||

    Apparently a lot better than you.

  • charles||

    I see some merits to both sides of this discussion, and I also see that this APC is a kind of symbol to both sides; to one - the militarization of the police -- to the other -- protection from wrongdoers. the symbol overshadows the conversation.

    Suppose Chevrolet -- or Toyota -- had made some kind of militarized version of a pickup truck (see-through bulletproof glass, lightly armored cargo compartment -- would that keep one side from imagining Waco happening to their neigbor who is abusing Rx. meds?

    (actually ... a humvee would be a good place to start ..)

  • ||

    When your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Not a perfect analogy, but you get the point. Police running around in military garb, in military vehicles, carrying military weapons, using military tactics will likely metamorphose into a military force. "Possunt quia posse videntur"

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement