For some time, millions of Federal dollars and decommissioned military equipment have been falling into the hands of local police departments through grant deals which serve two purposes: Giving local cops cool toys like tanks and riot gear to test out on small-time criminals and putting local law enforcement agencies in the back pocket of Federal agencies.
Personal Liberty Digest™ has kept readers informed about the ever-growing militarization of America’s police forces for years. And, gradually, other media outlets have begun to wake up and recognize that Federal money and equipment are turning local police into militarized forces that focus far too little on community and far too much on force.
A Wall Street Journal essay published over the weekend, titled “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” chronicles a number of examples of local police forces acting like military units, using undue force and terrorizing residents who are involved — and sometimes mistakenly believed to be involved — in nonviolent criminal activities.
Some highlights from the piece:
- “The country’s first official SWAT team started in the late 1960s in Los Angeles. By 1975, there were approximately 500 such units. Today, there are thousands. According to surveys conducted by the criminologist Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University, just 13% of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team in 1983. By 2005, the figure was up to 80%.”
- “The number of raids conducted by SWAT-like police units has grown accordingly. In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005 (the last year for which Dr. Kraska collected data), there were approximately 50,000 raids.”
- “Among the new, tough-minded law-enforcement measures included in [the War on Drugs] was the no-knock raid—a policy that allowed drug cops to break into homes without the traditional knock and announcement. After fierce debate, Congress passed a bill authorizing no-knock raids for federal narcotics agents in 1970.”
A similar story appeared in USA Today in late June, illustrating how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has begun using entrapment as a favorite means to make arrests.
Here’s a video summary of that story:
As mainstream media outlets begin to report more frequently on the militarization of American police forces, Americans have an opportunity to speak out and attempt to put a stop to the trend by talking to local law enforcement officials and legislators about the dangers of too much military equipment in the hands of local police.
Brush up on your knowledge about the militarization of America’s cops with the following Personal Liberty stories:
Police, like those in Fargo, N.D., have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets similar those used by soldiers in foreign wars. The onslaught of purchases for military-style equipment is being carried out with Homeland Security funds allotted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Following what seemed like a rash of stories like this that saw people calling police for help and ending up being detained, arrested, abused and/or killed at the hands of the “men (and women) in blue,” we started to name this new feature segment “Why You Should Never Call Police.” But while we still hold the sentiment that calling the police for help can be hazardous to one’s health (and, therefore, should not be done), that name seemed too restrictive.
You should never consent to a police search of your vehicle and never volunteer information when being questioned. Of course, not consenting doesn’t mean you won’t be subjected to an unConstitutional and illegal search. But two recent cases drive home the point of why it doesn’t pay to cooperate with police.
Law-abiding citizens are no longer safe from police. Once the motto for police officers was “To protect and serve,” but now it seems to be “To harass, assault and attack.” Across the country, police officers are increasingly militarized and increasingly militant.
Residents of the Arkansas town of Paragould — population barely 25,000 — will soon begin noticing a constant presence of militarized police patrolling the streets and asking to see pedestrians’ papers.
This week, two decades ago, Americans were watching reports of the horrific escalation of the events that occurred in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where agents of the Federal government terrorized and killed members of Randy Weaver’s family after he failed to appear in court on a charge of selling shotguns that were slightly too short to an undercover Federal agent.
A Florida man was shot dead by deputies of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department at 1:30 a.m. Sunday when they failed to identify themselves as police officers and banged on the door of his apartment. The officers were pursuing an alleged attempted murderer when they knocked on the apartment door.
A Fitchburg, Mass., woman and her 3-year-old daughter fell victim last week to the product of increasingly militarized and invasive tactics used by police officers throughout the United States. At 6:04 a.m. last Thursday, just before her alarm clock was set to go off, Judy Sanchez was awakened by pounding at the door of her apartment.
The past year has been a bad one for democracy, and the Republic that once was the United States seems to live in name only. Because of the extreme abuses of power the Federal government has exercised just in the past year, the people of the Nation have been broken and discouraged and must now only be controlled.
During the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the teenaged Boston Marathon bombing suspect, local and Federal law enforcers shut down the city of Boston. No mass transit. No taxis. No moving about of any kind. “Stay inside, don’t go to work, don’t go to the store,” said the “authorities.”
In the comments below, tell us if you’ve noticed a militarization of your local police force — and, if so, what impact it has had in your community.