Militarization of Police

Rand Paul: Demilitarize the Police! New York: Bulletproof Everything!

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It's not pork if you yell "public safety" real loud.
Credit: Pulpolux/photo on flickr

Two supposedly unrelated stories that are totally related:

First, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is planning to reintroduce legislation next session to cut the more militaristic components out of the federal program that sends surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies across the country. He doesn't want to kill the whole program—just the parts that provide weapons and militarized vehicles to police. From BuzzFeed:

Paul's decision to keep the bill, which was crafted by the retiring Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, alive will be a significant test for the political viability of the issue. Paul will be trying to force a Republican-controlled Senate to examine federal programs that funnel millions in grant money and surplus to arm local police forces with weapons and vehicles designed for the battlefield. Paul's expected presidential run, which will likely launch next year, could put the issue back on the national agenda as well.

Coburn's bill — which is very similar to legislation Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia has vowed to reintroduce in the House next Congress — targets a small fraction of the millions of dollars worth of military surplus shipped by the Pentagon to local law enforcement each year under the Defense Department's so-called 1033 program. Most of the surplus equipment is mundane — office furniture, uniforms, etc. But the most controversial 1033 shipments see vehicles and weapons used by the U.S. armed forces sent to local police. Coburn's bill would ban that practice while keeping the non-lethal surplus flowing.

Second, a pack of Republican lawmakers in the New York state legislature want to use the violent killings of two New York City Police officers over the weekend to mandate every single police vehicle in the state to have bulletproof glass, paid for with money from the state extracts from settlements from banks for whatever wrongdoing it can pin on them. From the Journal News in New York:

The measure was proposed by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, Schenectady County; Sen. Phil Boyle,R-Suffolk County; Sen. Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn; and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island,

"This incident is extremely disturbing and is an attack on all residents of New York State," Tedisco said of Saturday's shootings in a statement.

"These men were heroes trying to protect innocent, honest law abiding citizens and keep us all safe. As legislators, we have a responsibility to support, protect and defend the police officers who wear the blue uniform because blue lives matter."

As Ed Krayewski noted earlier today, the New York Police Department has treated this terrible act of violence as a way to try to perpetuate the narrative that they're at a "war" of some sort, though these are the first officers to be killed in the line of duty in the NYPD since 2011 and even though violent crime continues to drop.

Whether the murders of the two officers will actually harm anybody politically (Matt Welch just responded to neocon Jennifer Rubin's concern-trolling here), it will most assuredly be used to try to stop any effort to scale back militarization. Police deaths at the hands of criminals are few and far between, but don't be surprised to see every single death of an officer in the line of duty presented in an extremely casual fashion to make it suggest they're all homicides (as happened in this recent, terrible McClatchy piece). Pushing for all police cars in New York to have bulletproof glass will lead to wasteful spending through which some well-connected vendors will cash in, if the legislation is passed. That an armored vehicle or surplus military guns would have done nothing to prevent the deaths of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu won't stop police representatives from invoking their names to try to stop Paul's efforts in their tracks.

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23 responses to “Rand Paul: Demilitarize the Police! New York: Bulletproof Everything!

  1. Rand has definitely got his shit-stirring rod in full use right now. I don’t know if this will translate in to electoral victory but it sure is fun to watch him call out the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle.

  2. Pushing for all police cars in New York to have bulletproof glass will lead to wasteful spending through which some well-connected vendors will cash in, if the legislation is passed.

    It will also further contribute to the war zone mentality.

    1. This. It’s going to start getting worse in that respect.

  3. I know – instead of bullet-proof (hah!) glass, why don’t we tell them to stop sleeping in their cars and get out and do some patrolling.

    You know, looking for crimes. Other than ‘standing while black’ crimes I mean – stuff that you can’t see from the roadway as you drive by.

    1. Careful what you wish for. The “crimes” they’ll search out will inevitably be those that generate revenue for the city.

    2. How about we tell them to stay at the station house where its safe.

  4. Coburn’s bill ? which is very similar to legislation Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia

    My Congressman! They should throw in an appropriation for pontoons to stabilize Guam.

  5. Is there some reason the more war-oriented material isn’t sent to the National Guard?

    1. I don’t know which would be worse.

  6. Stupid things about “bulletproof” glass:
    *It isn’t
    *It’s useless without armoring the rest of the passenger compartment, which adds thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds to every vehicle while increasing maintenance and fuel costs.
    *Windows several inches thick cannot be rolled down, decreasing awareness and increasing isolation from one’s surroundings.

    I used to occasionally drive the vehicle that had been used to take Hinkley to court (as a document courier–it was a motor pool vehicle by then), and it was a PITA.

    1. I imagine all the extra weight would make the cop car slower to accelerate and take longer to stop, too.

      It’s almost like legislation created in the heat of the moment is pointlessly stupid or something.

      1. It also wallowed like a pig on the suspension, even beefed up as it was.

        Reality cannot compete with the idea of never letting a crisis go to waste.

      2. I imagine all the extra weight would make the cop car slower to accelerate and take longer to stop, too.

        That won’t be too bad, considering that city cars almost never need to take a corner. Right?

    2. Windows several inches thick cannot be rolled down, decreasing awareness and increasing isolation from one’s surroundings.

      I believe this is a perk, not a drawback.

    3. That glass is also harder to break out of. Say if your patrol car goes into the river or get in an accident with your doors pinned or inoperable.

      1. I’m starting to warm up to this idea now.

  7. Oh, bulletproof glass, huh?

    I can deal with that in an ambush. Molotov made of a mixture of gasoline and polystyrene. When they get out of their burning vehicle, shoot them.

    Or I could just shoot through the door, sheet metal doesn’t stop bullets.

    Just saying.

    And I can totally see how a program being funded entirely on asset seizures couldn’t create any perverse incentives…

    1. IEDs; intermediate rifle rounds, etc.

  8. That makes no ense at all dude.

    http://www.Anon-Wayz.tk

  9. Well… At least the government (agents) are starting to fear the people.

  10. One reason local cops like military gear is that they get extra pay to train up on it. Whether they use it or not is beside the point, it’s a good way to pay off the second house or the boat. Cops are very money motivated. The Feds should stop selling locals this stuff at discount rates for sure. But locals need to stop buying it too. Just because the feds won’t sell it them doesn’t mean they can’t buy this equipment directly from suppliers.

  11. similar to legislation Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia

    Oh, dear.

  12. “mandate every single police vehicle in the state to have bulletproof glass, paid for with money from the state extracts from settlements from banks for whatever wrongdoing it can pin on them.”

    Well, another dumber than dirt idea… especially by specifying what pocket the money should come from… Maybe the banks’ fines or taxes should be INCREASED to cover the added cost of the glass?

    de Blasio is worse than Bloomberg, and I thought that was impossible!

    Morons!

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