Militarization of Police

The Militarization of Police is More Than Just Weapons and Tactics


In article that begins with a rehashing of the killing of former Marine Jose Guerena, The Atlantic describes a topic familiar to Reason readers, the militarization of police; not just the tools or tactics, but also a mentality that is different — a divide between "peace officers" that were and the warriors who now exist:

The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to "keep the peace." Those whom an officer suspects to have committed a crime are treated as just that – suspects. Police officers are expected, under the rule of law, to protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even the "bad guys." For domestic law enforcement, a suspect in custody remains innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, police officers operate among a largely friendly population and have traditionally been trained to solve problems using a complex legal system; the deployment of lethal violence is an absolute last resort.

Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups—the enemy and the non-enemy—and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier's mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, "try" not to kill the non-enemy. Indeed, the Soldier's Creed declares, "I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat." This is a far cry from the peace officer's creed that expects its adherents "to protect and serve."  

The rest here.

Soldiers, of course, should also be defusing situations and risking their lives and bodies so that they don't hurt innocent people. But it's still a good point about the correct mindset for police officers. If protesters, or whoever, are blocking streets or preventing bystanders from moving, police should perhaps step in. But not to instantly break out the batons and Tasers, but to try their best and defuse a situation without violence, even if one party is in the wrong. Otherwise, what good are police?

What's odd about The Atlantic article is its strong implication that the war on terror is the cause of this militarization of police. As Radley Balko has researched and reported, this started happening long before 9/11. It's strange that a tragically useful example like the case of Guerena is used by The Atlantic writer, but the war on drugs is never mentioned.

And realistically, the war on terror is often just an excuse to further the war on drugs. And more to the point, terrorism need not be involved in these military-style reactions at all.

Much more Reason on this subject, including Radley Balko noting that some soldiers think that calling police "militarized" is an insult to the military.

Note: That photo is mine. It's from last February in Pittsburgh. In preparation for football riots that did not happen, all of the Pittsburgh police's fancy toys were on display, including the LRAD sound canon and several hundred riot cops, some of whom, like those above, looked a lot like they were dressed for a war.

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  1. Today is the five year anniversary of the H&R commentariats greatest triumph and simultaneously its greatest shame. To honor the values that once made this blog great and to overthrow the oppression of the 1% of threadshitters, I call upon my fellow commenters to #OccupySaltyHamTears. They may crash our browsers, but they will never crash OUR FREEDOM!

    1. That thread is bloated and useless these days, it’s original, true and beautiful purpose distorted by years of misuse.

      1. Misuse? I’ll have you know that a beloved Hit & Run commenter actually lives there now.

        1. Beloved?

          Only Cthulhu’s mother could say that.

          1. Great Azathoth agrees.

        2. Oh yes, I know, the lake is lovely, yadda yadda yadda.

          1. Hey, be nice to VM.

  2. but the war on drugs is never mentioned.

    Why does this not surprise me?

    1. WOD is mentioned quite a bit in the comments which warms my heart.

    2. I think the main reason the WOT is being blamed is that it fits in with the “It’s Bush’s Fault” meme. It was actually under Clinton when the paramilitarization of domestic law enforcement really began to take off. That doesn’t fit the spin though. Not that Bush didn’t escalate it but he certainly didn’t start it.

      1. this is true i saw it firsthand. it’s also true that clinton was an ARDENT drug warrior. the WOD was significantly stepped up during his admin

  3. SWAT should be offered the G.I. Bill. Maybe get them out of law enforcement and into other vocations.

    1. For better or worse, the vast majority of SWAT jockeys in my agency are former military. Much higher then the percentage of former military in the dept, overall. Granted, they are entirely men (so far), and male cops are also more likely to have been in military, but it’s still disproportionately former military. Had a SEAL team leader, etc. I am helping train a female candidate. She does MMA ETC. AND is pretty strong. She failed the pull ups test last time but WILL pass this time imo

      1. Unless you’ve seen proof, I’d be highly skeptical of the SEAL pedigree. In my not nonextensive experience, the overwhelming majority of people (I say people instead of men, because I’ve actually heard a female claim she was a Ranger medic) claiming SOF are lying.

        1. i am well aware that most people who claim seal are lying. i am also well aware that this guy is NOT lying. remember, we do these pesky things called BACKGROUND checks. he was also reactivated TWICE to go to fucking afghanistan during his tenure with our agency. such are the perils of a navy officer.

          again, we do background checks. if he really wasn’t a seal, he would have been fired for dishonesty.

  4. Few people really care. We get the police we allow. For decades we have elected tough on crime politicians. Being soft on crime has been a good way to lose an election. Society doesn’t draw a line between suspect and criminal. How the cops treat you is what you deserve. Question a cop and get the shit beat out of you, well, you should have done as you were told. If you are involved with drugs and they tear you house up in a raid, pointed weapons at your kids’ heads, shot your dog, only to find a a small amount of pot, it’s your fault for having pot.

    We get what we allow.

    Consider people love to purchase their own tracking device. I’m amazed how just 20 years ago the idea of your whereabouts being tracked was offensive. Now it’s business as usual.

    It will get a lot worse before it gets better.

    1. This^

      It’s amazing how people particularly in the media (Mostly, in my experience, of the Fox News variety) will bend over backwards to defend and praise LEOs.

      1. Just as most people …as the polling repeatedly shows have strong respect for the police. Media reflects public attitude in this respect.

        1. Absolutely… but it’s a chicken and egg sorta thing.

          1. sure, but it’s not like the media does not criticize the police and.or look to go after the police. i know that’s the reason meme, but it’s simply not true. the seattle-pi did (imo a largely hack piece) a series on both SPD and KCSO (two local agencies) and basically spent months trying to outline “corruption” etc. most of which was hogwash imo but it’s not like the seattle-pi is in any way, shape or form, PRO police.

            the seattle times has been a little more evenhanded, but imo most officers think that the local newspaper in most large liberal cities is hardly pro-police, quite the opposite.

            i think you’d be hard pressed to call the LA times, etc. “pro police”

            1. as one example of alleged “corruption”, the seattle-pi routinely publishes the top overtime “offenders” in those PD’s and how much they make

              while it may sound terrible that some local cop (SPD or KCSO or Bellevue or whatever) made a base salary of 85k but with overtime made like 130 or 140k, what they NEVER SAY is that

              many agencies PURPOSEFULLY understaff because it’s CHEAPER to understaff and pay overtime than fully staff. due to personnel costs PER employee (medical, vacation, sick leave, trainign, recruiting, etc.) it is cheaper to have an officer work overtime, than to have enough officers so that this is rarely required

              iow, those officers working OT are USUALLY saving the city money

              that’s the kind of crap i am referring to.

              sure, some “overtime sluts” love all the available ot, but the reality is that in my agency (and many others) we are routinely BELOW minimums required (and those minimums are WELL below the average of officer per capita in other parts of the countries), and that means our backup is farther away, and we often can’t spend enough time doing proactive/community policing because we are basically going call to call and writing paperwork on those calls.

    2. It’s not the tough on crime politicians that are the problem. It’s the politicians who look the other way (which is all of them).

    3. And for decades, we have seen crime DROP dramatically, to the point where it’s at the lowest it’s been in decades. Homicide rates are at a 4 decade low. Correlation doesn’t equal correlation, but the reality is that things are going well. Americans statistically speaking are the safest they have been in decades. This is true in both traffic safety and crime. Police involved shooting rates remain very very rare, statistically speaking.

      1. Doesn’t this mean the police should throttle back a bit? Instead every department seems to want its own SWAT team to take down druggies. The more crime goes down (particularly violent crime), the more armed the police become.

        1. Police DO throttle back. It’s usually known as “assaulting an officer,” though.

        2. the reality is that IMO SWAT is overused. however, imo SWAT is also very necessary in certain circs, and i see in my agency, they routinely take people into custody in high risk situations w.o harm to officer OR suspect where we would be LESS likely to be able to do so. they have MUCH better training and experience at certain kinds of operations because they have the time, resources, etc. to train specifically for those op’s hundreds of hours more than we do.

          but again, it’s a damned either way.

          if crime rate had been going up STILL, we could argue two things 1) see SWAT isn’t working or 2) woah. we need MORE not less tuff on crime and SWAT stuff

          there is an undeniable reality that

          1) SWAT was INVENTED a few decades ago.
          2) SWAT use has increased
          3) per capita officer involved shooting rates have gone down
          4) crime has gone down

          people are simply MUCH safer in today’s USA than before

          that holds true even if one looks at police shootings (setting aside that police shootings are almost always justified)…

          iow, shootings by cops are still exceedingly rare, people are safer

          those are facts.

          the reality is that while i think we OVERuse swat, there are “druggies” and other situations where the use of SWAT is a definite bonus. i see SO many situations where SWAT goes in and if WE (patrol) went in, there would be a much higher chance of a shooting, etc. because we don’t have the same tools, training, etc. nor the tactical gear (we are more likely to get killed in a shooting – they have better body armor, etc.)

          training every patrol officer to levels of SWAT competence would be very very very expensive, and would take away substantially from their abilities to provide patrol response, and would cost far far far more than having specialized units, especially when small PD’s pool their resources with regional SWAT teams

          your last sentence could also be analogized to “the more crime goes down, the longer the sentences become” when in fact, maybe the longer sentences and “tough on crime” shit helped PUSH CRIME DOWN in the first place.

          the guerana shooting was tragic, but the forensic evidence obtained showed pretty clearly it WAS justified, btw.

          iow, it’s largely a plea to emotion in that an apparently good man was shot down. however, the evidence supports that he pointed his gun at the officers, and they responded as they should when presented with a threat. however, their TACTICS prior to that imo were poor.

          again, i am 100% against the OVERuse of SWAT and the overmilitarization of police

          i am 100% for SWAT (imo it saves lives – both cops and bad guys and innocent bystanders) and police have ALWAYS been PARAmilitary. this goes all the way back to the peel principles.

          y’know, uniforms, rank structure, sam brown belts, etc.

        3. and you could argue that better equipped, better trained police, as well as the JUDICIOUS use of SWAT has helped.

          i personally think SWAT is overused. i also think the invention of SWAT, the usage of swat (judiciously) is overwhelmingly a net positive to society, etc.

          that’s tangential to the WOD, which is a fucking travesty, but that’s true regzardless of SWAT.

          GIVEN the WOD, law enforcement should use the means to address it. POLICY changes are needed. iow, the elimination of criminalized MJ, a ramping down of the WOD, etc.

          however, that’s tangential to the issue of SWAT being a net benefit (imo) and a life saver – for cops AND bad guys.

          1. There is also the fact that under the WOT and WOD large amounts of federal dollars are available to local law enforcement for military toys. There are also programs available that offer local and federal domestic LE departments military surplus toys that decades ago would have never been in their toyboxes. They’re going to take all they can get.

            1. GENERALLY true. if the feds offer you, a local agency, a toy. GENERALLY speaking, you are going to take it. there are exceptions. i know of one agency where a federal program offered to give them lifesaving (water rescue equipment) so every officer could have it IN THEIR CARS.

              WA state is lame btw in that we do not even require officers know how to swim. that’s ridiculous imo

              anyway, the agency declined the equipment because if they deployed it, they felt they would have to pay the officers to use it, and it would cost too much.

              1. typo: should be “TRAIN the officers to use it”

  5. Nice to know Pittsburgh can afford something these days. They’ve been crying poverty when asked about why they’re letting Schenley Park go to shit. The Westinghouse statue used to overlook a nice pond with a fountain, now you practically need a machete to get at it with all the weeds there. Meanwhile the Panther Hollow Lake is reverting to a swamp because the city doesn’t clean it out anymore.

    But I feel safer knowing the guys who beat the shit out of black violin students have a tank now.

  6. why are you SOFT on crime?

  7. Dear Lucy,

    Since a surprising number of my aunts-and-uncles-in-law work for the LAPD, political discussions at holidays have potential to be… tense.
    What topics would you suggest for a pleasant holiday conversation between a libertarian and his vice-squad relatives-by-law?

    Just Smiling And Nodding

    1. The weather is always a lovely topic. Just stay away from any discussion as to what causes weather patterns to change.

      Or perhaps you could discuss the poor officiating in a recent sporting event? I hear that’s a perennial topic for the sports viewer.

      Or perhaps you could politely inquire where the well-dressed LAPD officer-about-town buys his jackboots and how they keep them so shiny after kicking the crap out of people while wearing them?

      1. The weather is always a lovely topic.

        Especially in LA.

        Or perhaps you could discuss the poor officiating in a recent sporting event?

        There isn’t nearly enough time for me to learn sports before Christmas!

        1. Anybody in the family have cancer, MS, or other debilitating disease? The “illness roll call” is a good way to kill an hour with family. Also, fawning and cooing over any babies or pets is a great way to stay in good status with the in-laws.

      2. Or perhaps you could discuss the poor officiating in a recent sporting event? I hear that’s a perennial topic for the sports viewer.

        That may be treading dangerously close to questioning authoritah.

        1. Ja ja mensan.

    2. Launch into a endless exegesis about the failure of the riot grrl movement to ignite a feminist take over of popular music and collapsed into a parody of itself right around the time the lead singer of L7 threw her bloody tampon into the audience.

      They won’t get near you for the rest of the day. Promise.

      1. I think I may have been at that show. I loved me some L7, but the associated politics of the riot grrls was just fucking ludicrous.

        1. 1992 Reading Festival ring a bell?

          1. Nope. I’m thinking of the ’94 Lollapalooza show in WV. Donita Sparks did something retarded, but what exactly escapes me.

      2. But somehow it’s okay for male rockstars to throw offal and faeces off-stage?

        Traditional patriarchal rock-and-roll paradigms!

        1. i’m not aware it was “ok” for them. i didn’t sea a lot of GG Allin videos on MTV.

    3. Civil forfeiture is always a fun topic for any company.

      1. “Oh, nice TV! Thank God for civil forfeiture, eh?”

    4. While you’re carving up the turkey, repeatedly yell “STOP RESISTING!” For the lulz.

      1. Awesome.

      2. Hahaha!

      3. I think I damaged some internal organs laughing at that.

      4. +eleventy – I got some prairie-doggin in teh cube farm from laughing at that

      5. If they complain, tell them the turkey became combative and was struck with a carving knife. Reassure them that proper procedures were followed.

      6. Just be careful not to mess up the white meat to much.

      7. And remember your passive voice. YOU didn’t attack the turkey with the knife; “the knife then moved with a cutting motion and unfortunately resulted in the turkey being sliced”.

      8. fucking epic.

  8. It does stand to reason that when the most high profile and highly rewarded activity of police is to break up victimless, non-violent crimes, the attitude will shift from keeping the peace to breaching it.

    A drug raid is quite clearly an instance of taking a peaceful situation and introducing violence, regardless of how it’s done.

    1. Under what metrics is it the most high profile and highly rewarded. Ime, when we catch violent scumbags,we receive by far the most praise and citizen support,as it should be.

      1. You don’t get forfeited assets for stopping a murderer.

        1. not usually. we get forfeited assets on all sorts of property crimes, too btw. not just drugs stuff

          1. you say that like it makes it ok.

            1. don’t confuse normative arguments etc.

              what i am saying is that asset forfeiture.seizure are HARDLY only used for drug crimes.

              it is true that in most cases of murder, there are no assets to seize because the assets must be FROM the murder.

              iow, cops could forfeit a murderers bank account if it could be shown he was a murderer for hire.

              and of course that has happened.

              the issue with asset forfeiture is that it is a CIVIL proceeding. like ALL civil proceedings, (i sued somebody myself not too long ago and won btw), the standard is NOT a criminal standard, one’s silence CAN be used against you, etc.

              my position is this

              GIVEN that an activity is illegal, asset forfeiture for proceeds of illegal activity SHOULD be a govt. function

              the issue is that many of the things that ARE illlegal – should NOT be (e.g. marijuana stuff)

              and that procedurally, in SOME cases, asset forfeiture proceedings have been too disrespectful of civil rights.

              however, to flesh this out… we both believe murder (for hire or otherwise) should be illegal

              should govt. be able to seize assets and go for forfeiture of a murder for hire enterprise?

              i would say – OF COURSE.

              should CIVIL standards apply? why not? they do in EVERY OTHER lawsuit.

              the issue here is that many people, myself included think the WOD is an injustice in itself as a CRIME thang, therefore doing civil forfeiture for drug crimes is ALSO bad.

              well, duh

              but that says more about the WOD than asset forfeiture

      2. I don’t know about your department but my department has 3 officers in its Children Sex Crimes Division and 14 in its Narcotics Division (it is the largest division). Any request for equipment made by Narcotics is quickly answered while the rest of us must patiently wait. Most of the surrounding departments in my area are the same. It is a highly rewarded activity (part because it’s the only division that brings in money).

        1. child sex crimes are actually pretty rare, especially when one eliminates a lot of bogus (relatively speaking) statutory offenses.

          i’m not aware in our agency of a lack of resources to investigate bona fide child sex assaults. again, i am against the WOD, so in a “perfect society” we wouldn’t really even HAVE a narcotics division

          i would also note that a very substantial # of our hardcore property criminals (burglars, etc.) are longterm meth users, etc. so, when these units go after scumbags, they are helping the property crime problem.

          burg/larceny often works with narcotics to go after the exact same people

          and yes, druggies who are known to be victimizing people via burglaries, auto thefts, etc. are given far more attention. as they should be.

          1. in a “perfect society” we wouldn’t really even HAVE a narcotics division

            Oh, we would, but the division would be tasked with investigating theft of legal narcotics from law abiding citizens.

            1. or, i guess that would be handled by whatever department is busy not investigating normal robberies.

              1. well, yea. fwiw, if a drug store is robbed, that is not (generally) handled by the drug unit. it’s handled by the same unit that would handle ANY other type of armed robbery.

                i am against the drug war, and specifically mostly against the war on MJ and the idea that people should go to jail for what they choose to put in their body (i won’t lose any sleep over hard drug dealers being imprisoned. sorry).

                but if we eliminated the drug war, we would of course remove those narcotic divisions and imo that’s a GREAT thing . narcotics work is inherently sleazy and corruptive. by its nature.

            2. It shouldn’t be a department, it should be a department store right next to Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

              1. … and Explosives.

                1. sorry. good catch.

  9. several hundred riot cops, some of whom, like those above, looked a lot like they were dressed for a war.

    Officer safety demands the ability to escalate any situation.

    1. They may not start it, but they’ll sure end it!

      And, let’s be honest: they’ll probably start it too.

    2. Officer safety and properly equipped riot officers helps to PREVENT escalation. When Seattle pd copocrat morons UNDEREQUIPPED riot officers at the start of WTO, THEY were literally overwhelmed and this helped incentivize the continued vandalism and rioting. See: perverse incentives. See also the kind of shit that “anarchists” etc. pulled in oakland. Riot cops WERE equipped with, for example snipers, etc. we’re they USED ? No. But they were there for lethal backup, and yet… Not a single riot related fatality, and frankly, a very low rate of injuries were sustained by both protesters AND cops at WTO. GOOD. Once we stepped up our response, we did much better, statistically speaking, then the response in Europe, where serious injuries and even deaths occurred

  10. Those olive drab unis on LEOs have been a pet peeve of mine for years. Not only do they show an overly militaristic attitude but they make NO SENSE in an urban setting. Except for posturing.

    What’s worse is that departments often wear faded patches and badges on their uniforms also. A civilian police officers uniform is his symbol of his authority to use violence. (I know, but…). The wearing of faded badges makes them look just like any other gang.

    Do full color badges and u is stand out more, make them more noticeable, yeah, but that comes with the job oe shoo.d anyway

    1. i totally agree with this. SWAT jockets love the camo crap. it’s rarely needed, and USUALLY is a net negative not positive.

      iow, for a sniper, depending on the post, there is good reason for camo (although not usually jungle camo – depends on his location

      for ENTRY TEAMS, visibility and obvious identity as POLICE is key

      iow, camo etc. detracts from what should be paramount- easy, quick, and obvious visual cues that the officers are in fact POLICE OFFICERS and NOT a rival drug dealers squad, etc.

  11. i am delighted that the right is as uncomfortable with the militarization of the police as I am. Another dimension is the keeping of large files
    on “suspects” by the NYPD, a truly scary quasimilitary group which seems to be accountable to nobody.

    1. I love the scare quotes. Law enforcement I agencies are legally restricted from keeping all sorts of, and specifically sharing … No criminal intelligence. You have far more to fear from private industry, They have way more surveillance intel, data, etc.on people. When I seek out intel on people, the best source I have, as a cop, is PRIVATELY owned intel databases. THAT’s where we get the best intel, By far. Kind of ironic

      1. I got nothing more eloquent to say other than that you’re a weasel-mouthed, chicken-shit cop who probably doesn’t even believe the lies that come out of your cop mouth.

        1. thanks. ad hom emotional responses like yours are pretty telling of your lack of REASONable thought on this issue

          1. DRINK!

            You’re just trying to drive up DUI arrests, aren’t you dunphy?

            1. Everybody’s got a quota…

              1. actually, we don’t have a quota. i know nightshift officers who have worked years with nary a DUI arrest. why? understaffing and laziness

  12. Pretty good description of the differences between the police and military. “Keep the Peace / Protect” vs. “Break Things and Kill People”.

    I absolutely disagree with the statement of “Soldiers, of course, should also be defusing situations and risking their lives and bodies so that they don’t hurt innocent people.” That is purely situational and depends who the “innocents” are.

    Obviously police situations can escalate beyond protection and into the need for deadly violence.

    1. “That is purely situational and depends who the “innocents” are.”

      That (peacekeeping) seems to be the main role our soldiers are placed in these days.

      1. One reason I’m out. Fuck that – send the Peace Corps.

  13. If protesters, or whomever, are blocking streets

    If it’s not, please correct it.

    Thank you.

    1. Good call. Non quemquem, sed quisquis.

  14. speaking of public respect for police… friend of mine just posted this on his facebook page. this is the kind of stuff we see EVERY day, but will never make the pages of reason…

    So I am sitting in my work vehicle and this very nice Somalian Woman comes up to me to tell me thank you for protecting her neighborhood and how her mother said I am so nice. She gives me a cup of Somalian Tea. After talking with her for 15 minutes I learn she and her family fled Somalia during the 1990’s to escape the civil war brought on by General Farah Adid for a better life in America. By her own admission she used to be scared of the police, but not any more. I…..LOVE…..THIS……JOB!!!

    1. Not all of us here are anti-cop. I think there is a consensuses that there ought to be a serious debate on what police should be allowed / ordered / expected to do. And what an American citizen can expect in terms of protection of privacy and freedom.

      1. i readily agree. personally, we can agree that the WOD is a miserable failure, and our country would be a better place if these policies (laws) were changed

        we can also agree that in many cases, SWAT has been overused

        1. Yeah, it’s the policies that are the problem. I think most cops do treat people with respect and the presumption of innocence. I also think most of the time the police use physical force it is justified. It’s easy to lose site of that coming to a site where every over zealous or dirty cop gets their own article. The paramilitarization of domestic law enforcement (federal/state/local) is a real problem that needs to be reversed. These “Wars” need to stop. The State is not going to give all those powers up without a major shakeup in the Washington power structure.

          1. i agree. it IS an institutional problem,. also, reason often highlights cases where cops didn’t necessarily even commit a crime (or excessive force) but mere allegations at their outset. when the case is further looked into, what is seen as MURDER OMG OH NOES. isnt’. e.g. the guerana case. that shooting WAS justified. the forensics showed pretty conclusively he was actually pointing the rifle AT THE COPS. were the tactics bad? yes. but it was not murder.

            the kelly case is a counterexample. that case looked bad from the outset, and it became more and more clear over time that it was probably bad, and then almost certainly bad.

            but the reasonoids (some of them) will ALWAYS rush to judgment on the anti-cop side. that’s how biases work.

            i accept that.

            the militarization (cops have ALWAYS been paramilitary to an extent. always) *has* gone overboard in many communities.

            there have ALSO been positive changes, which again, will of course never be addressed in reason, because it runs counter to the meme that it’s ONLY getting worse. in my agency, it’s gotten BETTER. we have significantly DECREASED SWAT useage by making the criteria MORE strict.

            i helped lobby FOR that change.

            but yes, in general, anytime we call for a “war” on anything, abuses will ensue and the very institutional mindset sets this up as a near certainty. a certain level of abuses are inevitable. cops are human. they fuck up, and a smal %age are just dirty as fuck. but the WAR ON (terror/drugs/ and domestic violence) ensure WORSE abuses.

  15. Where are the editors? I am really tired of basic errors like “diffuse” being used in place of “defuse” — Matt, Nick, send the minions to for starters, then have them bookmark the site, eh?

  16. Hey dunphy, in your experience how do female cops react to being hit on while on duty? I ask because there is a gorgeous female officer who seems to stop at the same place I do for coffee at the same time most days of the week.

    1. i don’t know specifically. i would assume they would take it as a compliment, much as i do, but YMMV.

      being a cop was GREAT as a single guy.

      from what i hear from (hetero) female single cops, a LOT of guys are either intimidated by them because they are cops, or it is some kind of weird fetish for them, neither of which is particularly appealing

      i would suggest if you are polite, and complimentary that the officer would be flattered.

  17. Dunphy,

    Guerena shoot was justified? Are you out of your mind? The SWAT team created the situation, riddled an innocent man with bullets, let him bleed out, threatened the lives of his innocent wife and toddler over what?

    And what did they find in the house? Nada. What justified the kicking if of the door in the first place? The SWAT shield doofus tripped so his fellow doofuses fired 70 rounds like they were suppressing a squad of Iraqi infantry.

    Read a little about the case.

    1. i read plenty about the case. the SHOOTING was justified in that there is ample evidence he pointed his rifle at them (iow not only was he holding it but he pointed it at them).

      i’m not aware that the SWAT team ‘created’ the situation. did they WRITE the warrant?

      i am referring to the UOF being justified.

      i have yet to see the PC vitiated.

      again, you are confusing concepts here. i said the shooting was justified. i also said the tactics were poor, and most of the other stuff is irrelevant to whether the SHOOTING was justified.

      i read plenty about the case. including the ACTUAL evidence revealed after the COMPLETE investigation was done


  18. Eventually, after it becomes apparent we will never get justice, these kind of situations will be handled with citizens dragging the offending SWAT team members from their beds and necklacing them in front of their wives and children.

    Bad idea shooting at those of us who still remember how to shoot. We will not keep our powder dry forever. God help the boys in blue the day the scales tip.

    1. yawn. another internet tuff gai speaks!

  19. You actually don’t know anything about the case, do you. If you had read the PDFs they were forced to release, you would have a tougher time sentencing an innocent veteran to death.

    And as for Internet tough guy, I am just biding my time. And further, as an Army officer I would never even consider aiding the domestic Stasi in their BS. I’ll drop my retirement packet first. And I hope most of my fellows who swore the same oath would do likewise.

    1. i know plenty about the case.

      nice godwining though. very mature

  20. Internal investigation was done. I declare myself justified in shooting a man while invading his home on the flimsiest of justifications.

    I can imagine the payout is going to be huge. Too bad it does not come directly from the pension fund. Then maybe it would not be so easy to murder citizens.

  21. You are like a Bishop defending the altar boy diddling priests.

    Dead guy. No reason. But we were just adhering to policy when we let him bleed out. 70 shots into an inhabited house were justified. We were there to PROTECT the toddler who’s father we riddled.

    Doesn’t it get old? Normal people see senseless death. You see policy.

    Words fail me.

    1. normal people do NOT see senseless death. normal people see a guy who pointed a rifle at cops and got shot

      which is why the case got no traction

  22. That is why it will come to tires and gasoline. A normal sensible world view (we shouldn’t shoot people just because we can play world games with acronyms and get away with it, and bribe the family as they grieve) and a cop world view (suppressive fire in the suburbs is a fine idea) cannot exist together. One will prevail. And YouTube and the Internet are fast lending support to one side…

  23. If he cops had not been there would he be dead?

    And Stasi is post Nazi. It’s red baiting actually.

    1. you got me there. my bad

  24. Didn’t just get shot, got shot 29 times. And lay bleeding out while SWAT medics pleasured themselves and kept paramedics away until they were sure he was dead.

    You are a master of understatement and casual justification.

    1. you are a master of letting your inner manic masturbator out in this thread. does the term “grandiose mania” mean anything to you?

      meds much?

  25. Should “Grandiose Mania” mean something? Grandiosity is a characteristic of delusions associated with mania, specifically Bipolar Disorder not associated with MDD or Hypomania. But “Grandiose Mania” doesn’t ring a bell.

    I get my copy of the DSM-IV out to confirm. My psych rotations were quite a while ago.

  26. Nope, not there. And not in the Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders either.

    But it has some peachy chapters on Personality Disorders, the kind that allow casual dismissal of death as policy.

  27. I didn’t realize Dunphy was a cop, fireman and psychiatrist, too.

    Are you also an astronaut?

    1. i actually went to grad school for counseling psychology, but god knows i am not a psychiatrist.

      although again, grandiosity and mania scream from your posts like the lambs, clarice

  28. Surprising you made such a goofy sounding error. I only had to do a short psych rotation, but Grandiose Mania sounded like something an 19th century Freudian coke fiend would call me.

    Is that an actual term from the DSM-IV or did you trip over your keyboard?

  29. interesting editorial from 2006 magazine Law Officer…

    Dale Stockton | From the January/February 2006 Issue | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

    If You Get Occupied
    Heroic Save by CHP Officer
    Make Time for Family
    Principles & Values
    Change in the Air
    Feedback: The Trainer’s Trainer
    Shooting a Suspect’s Pet

    The relationship between police and the members of society is built on a degree of trust, and the authority given cops is an extension of that trust. When abuses of power exist, whether real or perceived, society reacts by restricting the level of authority given to cops. This may take the form of court decisions, funding limitations or increased scrutiny of police actions.

    Few things in police work are more controversial than the use of force. In recent years, societal expectations and scrutiny of police have increased dramatically. Although officers must make decisions in an instant, their actions are reviewed extensively, often by pundits with no idea of the complexity or challenge of police work. So be it; we have an awesome responsibility and should not be surprised when questions are raised.

    However, we must act responsibly or we may lose one of the best tools ever to come along in policing. I’m referring to electro-muscular disruption (EMD) devices, the most common of which are the TASER and its primary competitor, the Stinger. These devices have taken policing by storm and for good reason. In case after case, the number of officer injuries, suspect injuries, officer-involved shootings and workers’ compensation claims has dropped dramatically after an agency begins using EMDs in the field. According to the folks at TASER, there are now more than 8,000 police agencies using its equipment. Many of those agencies are outfitting every patrol officer with a device. Considering per-unit cost of the equipment, this is an incredible testament to the accepted effectiveness of this innovative tool. Even more notable is the fact that many officers opt to buy their own equipment when given the option. For a street cop to put out $1,000 for something other than a firearm is mind boggling.

    For as long as I can remember, the search for an effective alternative to deadly force has been somewhat of an elusive holy grail. Many efforts have come and gone, dismissed as ineffective or impractical. We’ve seen nets, ropes, glue, giant water cannons, chemical solutions, sound waves, impact weapons of all shapes and, well, you get the idea. The approach that offers the most promise, though, appears to be the use of high-voltage, low-amperage electricity to incapacitate a subject by disrupting neuromuscular control. While nothing is 100 percent effective, EMD devices show a consistently higher effectiveness than any other alternative offered to date; many agencies place them fairly low on the force continuum, meaning their deployment in the field occurs frequently.

    So, what’s the beef? We may be on the verge of winning the battle and losing the war by overusing these valuable tools in situations that may not necessarily warrant the application. In other words, we may be playing right into the hands of those who would gladly take away all force options if given the opportunity. Just because you might be authorized to use an EMD device on a subject does not necessarily mean it’s the best choice considering the totality of the circumstances. I don’t intend to second-guess a field decision made in a split second by a well-meaning field officer, but you do have to wonder about some of the well-publicized deployments on small children and grandmothers. Officers must exercise some degree of discretion and use this valuable tool carefully or risk drastically curtailed deployment. If we don’t, the outcome is predictable: Weak administrators will not authorize EMD purchase or will overly restrict their use, and juries will increasingly question the judgment of field officers.

    There is yet another component to this situation I must mention. Law enforcement must do a better job of educating the public as to the effectiveness of responsible EMD deployment. Take advantage of opportunities to point out the injuries prevented and tax dollars saved. When the use of an EMD device saves a life or prevents a shooting, these points must be stressed when interacting with the press. If you think this isn’t part of your responsibility and that the public will just have to accept our actions, wake up and look around. Those who oppose the use of these less-lethal devices seize every opportunity to exploit questionable deployments. There is even an organized effort designed to ban all less-lethal weapons (of course they don’t discuss the natural outcome of eliminating less-lethal options). Trainers should make discussion of this topic part of any less-lethal course curriculum, and supervisors should ensure reports fully articulate an officer’s thought process and actions. Remember the old adage, “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”

    Bottom line: If we lose these valuable tools because of questionable deployments or failure to sufficiently justify our actions, it’s our own fault. ?Dale Stockton, editor

  30. Also, stop using the bullshit term “excited delirium” when you shock or suffocate someone to death with positional asphyxia. Anyone not in the thin blue line with a passing familiarity with physiology knows what a crock of shit it is (and before you buck up, exactly one medical organization recognizes it. And phrenology was accepted at one time too).

    Tasers kill people.

    1. oh christ, not this shit again.

      excited delirium is a hell of a lot less “bullshit term” than SIDS, which basically says “the kid died suddenly and we have NO reason why”

      the reality is that people who die AFTER being tased (or in many cases just in long struggles) almost always have some of a host of specific ailments in common, and those are also often manifested in behavior. the cues are there.

      Tasers kill people in the same way a prolonged wrestling match kills people – when those people are (choose any # of above) profoundly obese, malnourished, have various serious medical conditions, have ingested usually a polydrug combo, are often severely sleep deprived, electrolyte imbalanced, etc.

      frankly, people died in similar situations BEFORE the taser. and they would be dying even w/o the taser in many circs.

      i DO agree that it is almost never justified to tase somebody more than 3 times. it substantially increases risks, and if the taser hasn’t worked by the third time, it’s stupid not to use another method.

      1. fwiw, thousands of cops, journalists, college kids, etc. have volunteered to be tased without any deaths.

        the taser is not the issue

  31. SIDS is a garbage can diagnosis, used in exact the way you characterize it.

    Excited Delirium is a pseudo medical justification that sounds better than “we tased him 11 times and he died, but by no means do we think that had anything to do with him dying”.

    The thousands of volunteers do not volunteer to have a sadistic motherfucker drain the batteries zapping them after choking them half to death while yelling “stop resisting”. Add that to the demo and I’ll buy that the taser is benign.

    1. nobody said a taser is benign

      now, setting aside that strawman, i would readily agree that tasing somebody 11 times is prima facie evidence of excessive force and it would be an astonishingly rare set of circ’s that could ever justify that

      like i said, for response to a non-letjhal threat, 3 should be the max # of tases.

      however, plenty of people have died from excited delirium after far fewer tases (or no tases).

      i’ll also set aside your “sadistic motherfucker” crap

      we can agree on SIDS.

      excited delirium is an interesting diagnoses because it deals with people who are so similar in so many ways

      we simply almost never see the “normal” guy die of excited delirium. we see people with (usually) several of the factors i mentioned


      because excited delirium is a serious condition brought on by things that are sometimes choices (polydrug use, etc.) and sometimes not (so muhc) such as electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, etc

      in brief, human beings have vulnerabilities

      if you take an unhealthy person (lets say chronic heart condition, and obesity), jack him up on several street drugs, let’s say he also happens to be obses, and he is involved in a protracted fight or flight struggle with ANYBODY, taser or not… there is a chance we wil have ED syndrome.

      it’s sad when these deaths happen, but tasers are remarkably safe.

      like i said, i once had a guy (probably ED) stop breathing on us after about 5minutes of wreslting into handcuffs.

      he was a known longterm drug user (abscesses, needle marks, toxicology report confirmed etc.), street person (terrible nutrition, dehydrated), etc.

      the struggle actually di cause him to flatline briefly.

      that shit happens. ALAWYS has and always will, regardless of tasers, the boogieman of the reason ignorati

  32. The taser issue will work itself out soon enough. It’s use as a first line “respect my authoitah” tool in annoying people is all over the net. A few more granny or pregnant woman zappings and your first class torture tool will be no more. Then you will have to consider personal risk before escalating a situation.

    Take away sovereign immunity and the taser and cops might start acting like public servants instead of an occupying army. One can dream.

    1. tasers often de-escalate, not escalate a situation

      and fortunately, the mere threat of being tased, often brings about compliance in subjects who OTHERWISE would fight or flee. thus, injuries, and even deaths are prevented

      i’ve carried one for many years and never tased anybody

      i can agree that tasers HAVE been overused. THAT is problematic. it’s “new toy syndrome”, and it’s fucking unacceptable

      and most cops , the overwhelming majortiy ARE good public servants. taser or not

  33. That OVERWHELMING term you use is unrealistic. In my experience, about 10% of soldiers are complete pieces of shit, which probably equates pretty well with the civilian complete piece of shit percentage.

    But a PFC who is a complete piece of shit is limited in his ability to cause harm. We don’t release him to cause havoc after minimal training. That is why you don’t see thousands of YouTube videos of war crimes.

    A new cop, on the other hand, is released to do his thing with little accountability. Someone dies, it was excited delirium. Policy was followed. All of the dash cams malfunctioned. Bribes to the family will be paid.

    If my convoy teams had failed so utterly as the Pima County SWAT team to protect innocent life I would have resigned my commission. In a year of Ops we held fire much more often than we fired. None of my guys died, and as far as I know exactly one Iraqi did (charging a convoy with his car at 90 mph).

    We need tighter ROE for cops.I would gladly see three times as many cop deaths per year (50 to 150) if it would halve the number of dead grandmothers or 7 year old girls in Detroit.

    A cop should prefer his own death to shooting a kid. Period. But “officer safety” trumps everything, even lots of dead civilians.

  34. Amazingly enough, I gave back toys I thought would be counterproductive in Iraq. The group I relieved had a MK-19 automatic grenade launcher and a pile of light antitank weapons. Turned it all in.

    I was there to run missions and to engage only if required to. A grenade machine-gun is cool, but kinda pointless in traffic. I have heard of SWAT teams with their own 50 cal. I can imagine what they would do with my MK-19.

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