Militarization of Police

More Reporting On the How and the Why of Police Militarization

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Over at The Daily is a good summary of a subject near and dear to long-time Reason readers — police militarization. The article mainly explains why every tiny town seems to suddenly have an amphibious tank and a sound cannon for its camouflage-clad cops.

Through its little-known "1033 program," the Department of Defense gave away nearly $500 million worth of leftover military gear to law enforcement in fiscal year 2011 — a new record for the program and a dramatic rise over past years' totals, including the $212 million in equipment distributed in 2010.

The surplus equipment includes grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles.

And the program's recent expansion shows no sign of slackening: Orders in fiscal year 2012 are up 400 percent over the same period in 2011, according to data provided to The Daily by the Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency.

Passed by Congress in 1997, the 1033 program was created to provide law-enforcement agencies with tools to fight drugs and terrorism. Since then, more than 17,000 agencies have taken in $2.6 billion worth of equipment for nearly free, paying only the cost of delivery.

Experts say the recent surge is simply the continuation of a decades-long trend: the increasing use of military techniques and equipment by local police departments, tactics seen most recently in the crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country. But critics of the program say that the recent expansion of 1033 distributions should be setting off alarm bells.

"The trend toward militarization was well under way before 9/11, but it's the federal policy of making surplus military equipment available almost for free that has poured fuel on this fire," Tim Lynch, director of the libertarian Cato Institute's project on criminal justice, told The Daily.

The rest here, and it's well worth treading.

But of course Balko has another exhausting piece over at Huffington Post which presents a laundry list of some of the more familiar victims of the drug war that he has reported on over the years, as well as the increasingly militarized tactics of officers, and the increasingly absurd reasons for SWAT raids. It's a good, terrible overview for anyone who still might not know the scope of the drug war. (Send it to your friends! Send it to your enemies! Send it to Gil Kerlikowske!)

But Balko also notes the partisan waffling that comes with police brutality; reminding all those who smirked at at the pepper spray drenched screams of deluded young Occupiers that those boots are not always stomping hippies.

In the 1990s, it was the right wing that was up in arms over police militarization. Recall the outrage on the right over Waco, Ruby Ridge, and that striking photo from the Elian Gonzalez raid. The left largely remained silent. Right-wing radio hosts continued to rail against jack-booted thugs and federal storm-troopers, but that all died down once the Clinton administration left office. The militarization of federal law enforcement certainly didn't stop, but the Sept. 11 attacks and a friendly administration seemed to quell the conservatives' concerns. So long as law enforcement was targeting hippie protesters, drug offenders and alleged terrorist sympathizers, they were the good guys, not the jack-booted thugs.

The rest here.

Reason on police militarization. 

NEXT: George Will: Newt Gingrich "embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive."

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  1. The partisan silence about bullshit like this when “their” side is in charge is disgusting. How do these people expect things to go when, inevitably, the other side is running things? Both parties are full of fucking thugs.

    1. Teh Politicians: That’s 18 months away. That’s a long time… maybe we can close the deficit by auctioning off the Constitution by then.

  2. Since then, more than 17,000 agencies have taken in $2.6 billion worth of equipment for nearly free, paying only the cost of delivery.

    Would you’s prefer they give it to the dopers and A-rabs instead, little goil?

    1. Idiot fist, are those the only alternatives little boy?

      1. You bet your sweet bipey! Just like TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE, there are no third choices!

  3. Hell, if they’re giving it away for free, I’ll take a tank! The Second says I can have one. Although, I don’t know where to get any JP-8, so it would just have to sit in my driveway.

    1. You have the champagne tastes. I’d happily take an M-60.

      1. Yeah, I’d take one of those too. I’d prefer an M240B though. The M60 that I had assigned would always overheat and runaway on me. I only had that problem with that particular gun, but it soured me on the pig altogether.

        1. I meant an M60 Patton (diesel). Sorry for not being clear. But yeah, an M240 would really clear out those pesky student protesters.

  4. We are being subjected to a police state where protesting is not being tolerated. These evictions exemplify the suppression of our civil liberties including the right to organize, one of the basis rights set forth by our founding fathers. Police brutality is running rampant under orders from Governors who have their pockets lined with Wall Street and Special Interest monies. Stand up and lend your voice with these free posters I was compelled to design on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot…..ement.html

    1. “Police brutality is running rampant under orders from Governors who have their pockets lined with Wall Street and Special Interest monies.”

      Such a party line…

    2. Why did you add an Illuminati eye to a guy Fawkes mask?

  5. We are being subjected to a police state where protesting is not being tolerated.

    How many cities are you fools occupying now? I’d say you’re getting quite a bit of tolerance.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L….._locations

      Practically all of them…

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…..ted_States

        US locations

  6. So is he (and you) really comparing to what happened to Waco & Ruby Ridge to the crackdowns at the Occupy movements?

    I’m sorry, but pepper spraying hippies is not comparable to shooting unarmed people or burning them to death…

    1. Isnt pepper spraying hippies a right under the constitution?

      1. no, but it’s a lawful authoritah of govt.when it’s justified as the new video of the UC Davis pepper spraying supports, or the seattle one…

        1. “.when it’s justified as the new video of the UC Davis pepper spraying supports”

          Still lying dunphy.

          1. +10 me!!!

            oh, for those who haven’t seen the MUCH MORE complete UC Davis video, here it is …

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..ture=share

            note, i stated that given what i saw on the UC Davis video, it looked like clearly excessive force.

            based on this video, … justified!
            (note: justified under UOF doctrine and case law… not “justified” in the sloopyverse)

      2. don’t you realize that if a cop tells you he’s about to kick your ass, that automatically then makes the ass-kicking lawful since you had ample warning?

        pepper spray is not only to be used in place of weapons to subdue violent offenders it is also a great tool for compliance, along with tasers.

          1. “.when it’s justified as the new video of the UC Davis pepper spraying supports”

            Still lying dunphy.

            1. +10 me!

              oh, and the UC Davis video — LONG version which shows the hows and why of the pepperspraying… which was justified

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..ture=share

  7. This is why theyre always bitchin about not having enough cops. They dont have enough people to use all the free shit they get. They should auction that stuff off at public gun shows.

  8. I’m bitching about not having enough apostropes.

    1. or h”””””””””””’s

      1. Good thing I’m not Spelling Bitch.

    2. Yeah, I’m done doing apostrophes on my smartphone. It’s a pain in the ass. Freakin’ touchscreens suck.

  9. Lucy, another revealing article about what is wrong with law enforcement.

  10. wow. shocking team red and team blue allow the same type of statist abuses when either are in office. i’m shocked.

    1. Shut the hell up. You constantly whine and bitch about how this is all democrats fault, how you work in a blue state and they’re all nanny fascists, blah blah blah.

      If only we lived in the glorious land of dunphy’s dreams, where only the republican party is authorized to exist, and the debate is solely between the “bomb the world and then rebuild” and the “bomb the world and then leave without rebuilding” factions of the party.

        1. “.when it’s justified as the new video of the UC Davis pepper spraying supports”

          Still lying dunphy.

          1. +10 me!

            new UC Davis video… longer and with actual CONTEXT

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..ture=share

          2. nah dunphy is pretty consistent on bashing TEAM PURPLE authoritarianism.

            1. yup, i live in a blue state, so lot’s of personal stories of the assmunchery here.

              and ime, red states tend to have less NANNYstate assmunchery.

              but they are still authoritarian fucksticks.

              bush never saw a spending bill he didn’t like, was relatively weak on gun rights, and was an avowed statist

  11. At first I was intimidated by the 4000+ comments on Radleys (excellent) Huffpo piece. But if the first 100 or so are anything to go by, 90% missed the point completely or were just looking for somewhere to type something about “the poor”.

    1. ctrl+f “1%”

      then leave

  12. So, at what point does it become plausible to claim that ordinary police are “military” and thus in violation of Posse Comitatus? I mean, assuming it even legally exists at that hypothetical point.

    1. Intriguing question! It’s all semantics, except that it isn’t…Hmm.

      1. when they are *so* military, that the para part is vitiated

  13. Lucy,
    Marry me.

    That is all.

  14. Through its little-known “1033 program,” the Department of Defense gave away nearly $500 million worth of leftover military gear to law enforcement in fiscal year 2011 ? a new record for the program and a dramatic rise over past years’ totals, including the $212 million in equipment distributed in 2010. The surplus equipment includes grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles.

    1. Stop the program.
    2. Cut the military budget by half a billion.

    How are grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles and armored vehicles “surplus” when we’re in the middle of two wars?

    1. When they have been replaced with new, even more expensive and technologically complex equipment.

  15. Police militarization = bad.

    But why is pepper spray part of militarization?

    Reason recently discussed pepper spray’s progressive origins: http://bit.ly/w0jeBf

    In the comment thread for that article, Mensan pointed to an incriminating statement by one of the UC-Davis protesters:

    “ELLI PEARSON: Well, we were protesting together, and the riot cops came at us, and we linked arms and sat down peacefully to protest their presence on our campus. And at one point, they were?*we had encircled them, and they were trying to leave, and they were trying to clear a path.* [emphasis added] And so, we sat down, linked arms, and said that if they wanted to clear the path, they would have to go through us. But we were on the ground, you know, heads down. And all I could see was people telling me to cover my head, protect myself, and put my head down. And the next thing I know, I was pepper-sprayed.”

    http://m.democracynow.org/stories/12355

    1. I just noticed: She starts saying that her mob was protesting police presence on campus, then she says the police were “trying to leave” but were blocked by the mob.

      Well, do you want to kick the cops off campus, or do you want to force them to stay?

      Dumb fickle mobs.

  16. Pepper-spraying hippies who ignore a lawful order is the same as grabbing a little kid from his family at gunpoint?

    1. To a liberal, probably. I heard a report somewhere (can’t remember where) that a bunch of the LA occupiers who got arrested say they were “traumatized” by their treatment and thus need therapy.

      Heh. OWS likes to claim the mantle of Dr. Martin Luther King but I suspect that he and those who marched with him would be embarrassed by these pussies.

  17. Militarization is a deceptive term. Militarization would also imply:

    Strong chains of command and supervision, with strict sanctions for stepping out of line (see UCMJ). A cop can kill the husband of his partner in adultery and not even get a loss of vacation days. A soldier can be shitcanned for the adultery, not to mention the shooting.

    Rules of engagement. Pima county SWAT would be up for general courts martial for the shooting they cleared themselves of.

    A code of ethics. Article 134 of the UCMJ is used to crush behavior that cops don’t bat an eye or drop a donut over. Falsifying a report is an offense your cop union will go to bat for you over. A lying Army officer has no allies.

    Overarming of the police is a better term. Cops don’t have the right to be compared to the military. There is no term / policy in the military equivalent o “Officer Safety”.

  18. Help Stop this!

    Sign the Petition:

    https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/end-pentagons-1033-program-which-supplies-high-grade-military-equipment-police-departments/rMZ3Sw32

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