Take a look at the group in the image below and guess which branch of the military they below to.
Marines? Nope. Army Rangers? Nope. These are Michigan cops who graduated from Emergency Support Team 11th Basic School.
The picture was mentioned yesterday by Washington Post blogger Radley Balko, who published a post on the image after it appeared in a tweet from the Michigan Department of State Police and was retweeted by Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
The original tweet has been deleted from the @MichStatePolice Twitter account.
There are good reasons for state police agencies to have SWAT teams. In fact, it's far preferable for a well-funded, well-trained, full-time SWAT team from a state police outpost to respond to emergency situations than for every small town in America to have a SWAT team of its own. (Typically, most places have both.) But until Canadian troops start marching on the Upper Peninsula, it's hard to envision a scenario under which state troopers would need to don camouflage uniforms, face paint and ghillie hats.
Even if one could fathom such a scenario or two, it's also regrettable that this is the face the Michigan State Police want to project to the public. These guys aren't the military. Their mission is not to annihilate a foreign enemy on a battlefield. They're domestic police officers who serve the residents of Michigan. Their mission is to protect the constitutional rights of those residents. It's important that they, our elected officials and we all know and appreciate the difference.
More from Reason on the militarization of police here.