Militarization of Police

Police SWAT Lobbyists Mobilize to Cover Their Assets

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Wasn't wearing his seat belt.
Credit: Inventorchris / photo on flickr

In the wake of the heavily militarized police response to community activism and rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been drastically increased public attention to the absurd levels of armament being handed over by the federal government to local civilian law enforcement agencies.

As a certain level of outrage takes hold, lobbyists for SWAT teams across the country have swung into action to protect the flow of sweet federal military armament heading to police station near you. From The Daily Beast:

This week, the National Tactical Officers Association, the lobbying group for 1,600 SWAT teams across the country, emailed all legislative staffers in the House and Senate to express that they shared in "our nation's grief" over the events in Ferguson, Missouri. 

But their ultimate message was unmistakable: Don't take away our gear. 

"The police have to be one step ahead of the criminal element, have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You don't want a community to be taken over by one or many criminals," NTOA Executive Director Mark Lomax explained to The Daily Beast. "We're definitely for equipping our law enforcement officials out there properly, with proper training and proper policies."

After more than 30 years of fearmongering that drug lords are going to take over all our cities and suburbs, does anybody actually buy that argument anymore? And, of course, we're not even talking about high-crime communities. Even though they're 15 miles apart, Ferguson, Missouri, is not at all like crime-riddled East St. Louis, Illinois.

We should expect these kinds of arguments to attempt to distract us from the real issue of overarming police departments and overusing SWAT teams. In Los Angeles, in the midst of consideration of whether to press charges against a highway patrol officer who beat up a woman on the side of the freeway and an agreement to a $5 million settlement to the family of a man killed by the Los Angeles Police Department following a high-speed chase, the LAPD credits a BearCat for protecting police as they dealt with a violent shootout earlier in the week.

I doubt many folks would argue that police shouldn't have the tools to defend themselves from actual violent criminals. But this argument that police have to be constantly prepared for the "worst-case scenario" causes police to react to everything as though the worst-case scenario is likely to happen. Yesterday, LAPD's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force sent an entire heavily armed team to arrest one guy for suspicion of child porn possession. Maybe they figured he was potentially a violent threat because he was a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy?

In response to complaints that Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) trucks have the effect of intimidating the population, police reps take a familiar and at this point laughable "If you've done nothing wrong …" position:

"The presence of an MRAP for defensive positioning should not unnerve a law-abiding citizen," responded Jon Adler, the national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Tell that to the folks in Ferguson who had guns trained on them and got gassed and shot with rubber bullets for the scary, threatening act of walking around unarmed with their hands up or holding signs. When heavily armed police have the power to just decide who is and is not "law-abiding," there is plenty to be unnerved about.

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  1. This one can be laid directly at the feet of the federal government. They had to give this stuff to the locals for next to nothing in order to expand the police state.

  2. 1,600 SWAT Teams. Wow. That sounds to me like about 1,550 too many.

    1. Ah, you are shy fitty.

    2. Funny, that was exactly the number that I came up with.

  3. “We’re definitely for equipping our law enforcement officials out there properly, with proper training and proper policies.”

    He doesn’t know what proper means.

    And I assume the SWAT lobby is actually the tactical weapon manufacturing lobby.

    1. He doesn’t know what proper means.

      Sure he does, Fist. He’s just using the “adj. Strictly following rules or conventions” definition, as opposed to the “adj. Characterized by appropriateness or suitability” one. 8-(

    2. I suspect that sales to SWAT teams are decimal dust in the sale of military weapons and gear to actual armies.

  4. “The police have to be one step ahead of the criminal element, have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

    I agree that the police need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, but they don’t need to treat every scenario like it is the worst-case.

    1. Please, even listening to the sophistry that the “police need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario” is harmful to your intellect.

      1. Yep. “And we can’t even *allude* to the specifics of that scenario. National security, you know.”

      2. Look, whether we should even have police is a seperate argument. If you assume we’re going to have police, then their one and only job should be stopping violent people when they can and catching them for prosecution when they can’t. The only way to do that is if they are able to stop anyone who is using any tools available to the private citizen. In a free nation those tools include powerful firearms, body armor, explosive devices and armored vehicles. If the police can’t stop these things then they can’t do the one job they should be doing.

        1. If the situation arises where the police need to stop a private citizen who is using an armored vehicle, they can borrow the necessary tools from another private citizen.

    2. You mean like an Assault on Precinct 13?

      1. I never saw that. Any good?

        1. Mindless fun. It’s no “Four Brothers” level of Detroit Awesome, but I’ve sat through it more than once on a snowy night when I had a jones for some good old street violence on TEEVEE.

          I give it 2 High-Capacity Magazines (on a 5 Mag scale).

          1. Shouldn’t you be measuring in clips? As in I give it two movie clips.

        2. There is the original John Carpenter one and then a remake. The original is pretty good (it’s early Carpenter, after all), and I don’t think I bothered with the remake.

          1. Thanks. I’ll check it out

  5. “You don’t want a community to be taken over by one or many criminals,”

    If by “criminals” he means “out of control cops waging war against the people,” then yes.

    1. Seriously, if one guy wants to strong arm Orlando, Walt Disney aside, good luck staying out of rifle range buddy.

      1. Ya, even our liberal bastions in this state still contain a sizable lead composition.

  6. SWAT lobby = special, entrenched interest working against and feeding off the taxpayer.

  7. From where I’m standing, the police going mad with power and shooting up crowds of law-abiding citizens is the worst-case scenario.

    1. See?! They’re prepared!

  8. “community activism”

    whut

  9. National Tactical Officers Association Director Mark Lomax said in the original article. “[Let’s not] throw the baby out with the bathwater? We believe that the 1033 program has done a lot for law enforcement over the last 20 years, and that it should continue, with reservations.”

    I’m sure he is absolutely right. I’m quite sure that the 1033 program has done a lot for law enforcement. But, what has it done for the people law enforcement is supposed to protect and serve?

    1. what has it done for the people law enforcement is supposed to protect and serve?

      The political class? Who cares about them?

    2. This is it in a nutshell. The police have become an entitled special interest group that view themselves as separate from the job that they are supposed to perform. The politicians treat them the same way.

      In a “proper” world, the police would not be unionized and would be subject to dismissals and prosecution for violations of the law.

  10. Maybe they figured he was potentially a violent threat because he was a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy?

    Of course they were. They know what kind of violent psychos work for police departments these days.

  11. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, we probably won’t shoot you down like the sniveling dog we know you to be.”

  12. My muni only received 30 5.56mm rifles *cough* AR15 *cough* in 2008 and a utility truck in 2011. What’s the deal??

  13. Rent. Seeking. Bastards.

    1. This isn’t exactly rent seeking. This is direct parasitism.

  14. Funny how the “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about” always seems to go away when it comes to body cameras…

  15. “We’re definitely for equipping our law enforcement officials out there properly, with proper training and proper policies.”

    Proper training to include every employee take and pass the online course on the Constitution by Hillsdale University?

  16. The tactical training industry is a huge moneymaker. Lots of retired federal agents and police make ridiculous amounts of money providing training to the now-ubiquitous SWAT teams and tactical policing units of various agencies. It’s not just about weapons and equipment manufacturers anymore. The industry is a morass of parasites providing services at inflated cost to satisfy the “proper” training requirements, which are of course defined with heavy input from the trainers and trainers’ lobbyists.

    1. “Lots of retired federal agents ..”

      Like Hank Schrader?

    2. Yup – retired local cop in my VFW post makes bags of cash in this racket.

  17. “The police have to be one step ahead of the criminal element, have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You don’t want a community to be taken over by one or many criminals,” NTOA Executive Director Mark Lomax explained to The Daily Beast.

    Eat shit and die, Lomax, you terrormongering parasite.

  18. “The presence of an MRAP for defensive positioning should not unnerve a law-abiding citizen,” responded Jon Adler, the national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.”

    Interesting, let’s reword this:

    “The presence of Russian police for defensive positioning should not unnerve a law-abiding citizen,” responded Boris Kolesnikov, Major General of the Interior Ministry.

    “The presence of an North Korean police for defensive positioning should not unnerve a law-abiding citizen,” the Ministry of People’s Security

    1. “The presence of a police officer in the home should not unnerve a law-abiding citizen.”

  19. So what exactly is a law-abiding citizen? To the modern day warrior cop like this Jon Adler, it’s a citizen that acts immediately responds by saying ‘Yes sir, how high sir?” when an officer says “Jump or I will shoot your as..”. It matters not whether the command (formerly known as a request) is legal only that it was given and that all citizens who are by nature potential perps, must COMPLY! Non-compliance is not only justification to use lethal force but it will add to your arrest (assuming you aren’t beaten to death or ginned down by the officer) record a charge of resisting arrest.

    For those of you who are disabled and unable to jump or unable to jump fast enough, all I can say is stay home and pray that the cops don’t take notice of anything you have that they may want since modern assets seizure laws give law enforcement the legal authority to steal anything you own so long as they bust you for drugs. The charge doesn’t even have to stick. If you are cleared of the charge then they simply ignore your request to get your stuff back or if they really don’t want to give it back (perhaps the car they stole from you has been used for target practice) then they claim its lost/damaged and stick the bill with reimbursing you. They don’t care if you get reimbursed since that is tax money coming from you and the rest of the citizens. It’s not like as if the officers are going to be held accountable.

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