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A riot police officer aims his weapon while demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fou
A riot police officer aims his weapon while demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 13,
The images coming out of the Ferguson protests—armored cars, snipers on top of those vehicles with their rifles pointed at protesters, riot cops in full body armor lobbing tear gas canisters—have achieved one important thing: They've elevated the discussion about the grossly excessive militarization of local police departments. That discussion has been bubbling below the surface for years, since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars created a huge surplus of weapons for the Defense Department to distribute locally (like to Boise, Idaho.)  Now that discussion has hit full boil, even in the traditional media, like CBS News. And it's rightly being identified as a problem.
The images out of Ferguson may finally serve as a tipping point needed to prompt lawmakers to reform the policies that allow local police forces to acquire Defense Department equipment without having to say much about how it's used or where it ultimately ends up.

With billions in equipment already disbursed across the country, it may seem too late to put the genie back in the bottle. But public advocates pressing for change say there's plenty Washington can do to curb the disbursement of such equipment—and even potentially take some of it off the streets.

"So much of the militarization of policing is fueled by federal programs, I think it's important for the federal government to take the lead here," ACLU criminal justice expert Kara Dansky told CBS News.

Already, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has prepared the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act to introduce when Congress reconvenes next month. He's backed up by congress people from the left and right, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul. Both have spoken out against the Defense Department program that has supplied military equipment to local police departments since the 1990s. That's more than $4 billion worth of discounted military equipment now in the hands of cops who may or may not have received any training on when and how to use it.

That's put the ACLU and the Gun Owners of America in the same camp—the camp that wants to end this practice and that is endorsing Johnson's bill. That legislation would limit the kinds of equipment that can be transferred to cops and create a tracking system for them. These weapons transfers happen under what's known as the "1033 program," a section of the National Defense Authorization Act enacted in the 1990s. At the time, the transfers were intended to fight the war on drugs. Since then they've been used, according to the ACLU, primarily for serving search warrants in drug cases.

There is no need for Boise, Idaho to have a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. It or any other city—many of which are a lot smaller—in this country. There is no need for a peaceful demonstration protesting the killing of an unarmed teenager to be met with a force that is more heavily armed than our troops were when they were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

12:04 PM PT: Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services committee, says his committee will review the 1033 program.

“Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents. Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended."
Weak sauce.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Share the idea of forfeiting military grade (27+ / 0-)

    gear to respective National Guard units.

    Simple, sane, sound.

    Of the almost 1,900 dead Palestinians, the IDF said it killed "900 terrorists" in Gaza. Add that to its long list of lies.

    by pajoly on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:39:01 AM PDT

  •  Remember when U.S. troops in Afghanistan... (35+ / 0-)

    ...couldn't get decent armored vehicles and the Pentagon actually argued about whether what they were getting was good enough? Talk about screwed-up priorities.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:41:22 AM PDT

  •  I watched the comedy "Paul" the other night. (21+ / 0-)

    Two British nerds travel to America to attend Comic-Con and pick up an extraterrestrial alien.  An American questions the pair about the fact that British police don't carry guns.

    "What do the cops do when they need to shoot someone?"

    "They don't.," both of the Brits answer, somewhat aghast.  

    "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

    by koosah on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:44:13 AM PDT

  •  with respect, (6+ / 0-)

    given the RW militias in the region, and with Boise as the capitol, it's probably one of the few places where an IED-resistant vehicle would be needed, OTOH, that should be in the National Guard, BATFE, or State Police inventory instead of the local cops

    There is no need for Boise, Idaho to have a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:45:19 AM PDT

    •  No, there isn't any need for ANY police (6+ / 0-)

      to have one.

      I can see the FBI, DEA, or Secret Service having them.

      Because if it's a militia, or a major drug dealer, that's who should be dealing with them. THEY'VE got the training on how and when to use it, and chances are pretty damn good that if it's militia or major drugs, they're getting charged in federal court, not local.

    •  Can National Guard be used as "police"? (0+ / 0-)

      I thought maybe posse comitatus would prevent that.

      As for whether local police or state troopers have access to "military gear", I think it depends on the size of the police department.  Big city departments have had helicopters and armored cars for decades.  And it wouldn't surprise me if they're more trained in use of such (both technically, and judmentally) than state police (in my state, the state police don't seem to do anything except give out tickets on the freeways and clean up traffic accidents;  the "State Patrol" doesn't seem to play much of a role in dealing with real "crime").

      But I think it's kind of arbitrary to say that State Police should be allowed military gear but not local police.  Seems that overmilitarization can happen at the state level as much as the local level.

      •  "Can National Guard be used as "police"? (0+ / 0-)

        This is one of the questions being floated concerning Texas Governor Rick Perry's desire to send National Guards to the border. The National Guard is NOT a law-enforcement organization, they do not have the right to arrest.

        Republicans - A pathology, not a party.

        by storeysound on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:08:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  With respect, you're wrong. There may be militia (0+ / 0-)

      groups in the state, but they certainly don't operate in Boise. Boise PD does not operate outside of Boise. Therefore, Boise PD doesn't need MRAPs. Boise PD is perfectly capable of shooting offenders with their standard-issue weapons, as has happened many times since I moved here from Atlanta 15 years ago.

      Leave the armored vehicles to the military, where they belong.

      Republicans - A pathology, not a party.

      by storeysound on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:06:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The fact that the Gun Owners of America supports (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AndyZ, cocinero, Tony Situ

    this bill is a good testament to why we should take a step back and realize maybe it's a bad idea.

    Did people forget about the whacked out right-wing gasbags at the Bundy ranch? One of those loony toons killed a cop.

    America has a frighteningly large number of right wing buffoons who own semiautomatic weapons. As the Gun Owners of America's support of this bill shows, those right-wing nutjobs want to be more heavily armed than the police. Considering they have talked openly about wanting to kill police (and have actually done so), reducing the armament of the police is not a smart move.

    •  Do you really think a heavily armed local police (18+ / 0-)

      dept. would ever take on an equally heavily armed militia or RWNJ with equivalent force?  With respect, I highly doubt it.  The very most that would happen would be a stand-off like the Bundy Ranch.  And that would be swiftly turned over to the Feds.

      But you can bet the RWNJs absolutely can and do use the militarization of local police forces as a marketing ploy to SELL more and more powerful weaponry to ordinary people they've managed to frighten with tales of gubmint takeovers and such.

      "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

      by koosah on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:55:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Citizens have been witnessing (13+ / 0-)

      the increasing militarization of their local police forces for some time, now.  The images from Ferguson, of these weapons being used inappropriately against the People, has gotten EVERYbody's attention.

      I think many citizen gun owners are simply trying to keep up with what they see as an alarming level of disproportionate power in the hands of local law enforcement.  But they know that they can't keep up, with the tanks and gasses and heat rays and sound weapons and helicopters, etc.

      The logical way to proceed is to reverse this trend of military weapons being handed out to Barney Fife.  I think this is a goal that we should all pursue, for the same reasons, and I am not surprised to see a broad spectrum of the populace agreeing on this issue.

      The People should not feel compelled to participate in, or to even put up with, a military arms race with our own local police departments!

    •  Sorry I will never buy "the enemy of my (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrTerwilliker, slatsg

      enemy is my friend" nonsense for this or any issue.

    •  But apparently people are proposing that such (0+ / 0-)

      matters be dealt with by federal police agencies (FBI, ATF, DEA, and maybe US Marshals) so that only federal-level police would have need for access to military gear.  Which I think has some wisdom.

      •  The problem is that's too late (0+ / 0-)

        when the right-wing whackos are attacking local police. They don't have time to call the ATF to protect them. By the time they pick up the phone, they'd be dead.

        •  Nothing wrong with local police having body armor. (0+ / 0-)

          Most police forces do. But when they dress up as soldiers, breaking out camos, helmets, and assault weapons, and climb into an MRAP, they are physically preparing to do battle - which raises the psychological state as well, which can lead to improper use of force as we have seen in Ferguson.
          And what the hell do they need camouflage for anyway? Who are they trying to hide from?

          Republicans - A pathology, not a party.

          by storeysound on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:18:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Yikes. (8+ / 0-)

    From the linked article:

    At one point, the office that oversees the 1033 program suspended the transfer of firearms to police forces because there were so many problems, the Associated Press reported last year, such as former military firearms being sold on eBay. In New York last year, lawmakers thought the job of tracking equipment from the 1033 program could be handled by an unpaid intern.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:51:51 AM PDT

  •  I would say some of the training... (7+ / 0-)

    they do receive comes straight out of military school -- not suitable for community law enforcement..

    That's more than $4 billion worth of discounted military equipment now in the hands of cops who may or may not have received any training on when and how to use it.

    "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

    by markthshark on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:54:54 AM PDT

  •  How quickly will the house pass anti-weapon laws? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, jck

    yeah- THAT house.

  •  I wonder how much of this weaponry will quietly (4+ / 0-)

    disappear from police inventory.

  •  When all you have is a hammer, everything looks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrindtheHills, mmacdDE, koosah, cocinero, RAST

    like a nail.

    If you give police superweapons, they'll find an excuse (or make up an excuse) to use them.

  •  Do we need any extra evidence that the War on (7+ / 0-)

    Drugs need to go?

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:24:57 PM PDT

  •  Youre absolutely right, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, SCFrog

    but it won't solve the larger problem. George Zimmerman wasn't a militarized cop.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:28:02 PM PDT

    •  George Zimmerman also wasn't driving an MRAP (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dagnome, I love OCD, SCFrog, Boundegar

      While Trayvon Martin is just as dead, he wasn't killed by a whackadoodle with the impunity that comes with a badge.  He was killed by a whackadoodle with the impunity that comes form living in Florida and being non-black.  These are different issues, and both need to be rectified,  But we can't let the fight against one hold up the fight against the other.

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:59:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ONCE AGAIN (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dskoe, occupystephanie, Risen Tree

    we have the opportunity to form an alliance of convenience with the Libertarians to not only advance a worthy cause but foster the deep divide in the political right.

    Marijuana Reform, Industrial Hemp, Prison Reform, Death with Dignity, Drug Sentencing Reform, Marriage Equality, Anti-War Foreign Policy, Right to Privacy, and now Police Demilitarization.

    We are fools to turn away from this just because there is other stuff we think they are wrong about.  We will never agree on Obamacare.  Fine, so be it.  But that doesn't mean we can't get some things done.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:28:45 PM PDT

  •  one's militarization is another's cost-saving (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Police Capt. Sam Dotson wants FAA approval to deploy surveillance drones over St. Louis to aid in crime prevention and reduce the burden on police helicopters, but not everyone is happy with the idea.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:29:30 PM PDT

    •  more cost-saving arguments (0+ / 0-)
      Nampa police had been using an armored car that was given to the department years ago. Last year, officers took the vehicle out to the range to test it, with everything from handguns to BB guns.

      "We shot it up and found that it really wasn't armored," Randall said. "Stuff was flying right through it."

      They looked into buying a civilian model of the MRAP, but the trucks range in price from $250,000 to more than $400,000 — too much for the department to afford.

      So when the MRAP became available for free, both BPD and NPD jumped at the opportunity. The only cost to police was gas money to drive the vehicles to the Treasure Valley from Fort Lewis in Washington.

      At 6 miles per gallon, that trip came to about $1,000, Randall said, but it was far less than trying to buy a similar vehicle outright. Both departments plan to paint their new vehicles; Boise will outfit its vehicle with response and rescue equipment for a total estimated price tag of less than $10,000.

      Read more here:

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:59:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clackamas County Oregon (9+ / 0-)

    suburban and rural, with a lower crime rate and higher average income than Portland (Multnomah County) got three quarters of a million dollars of this crap, including a MAEPS and nearly 100 assault rifles, more than any other county in Oregon.

    This is our Tea Party county that refused to pay $5 per household to replace the decaying bridge that is mostly used by residents of the county to go to work in the city they disdain.  This is the county that voted against light rail because (and this is a quote) "People from Portland will use it to come and rob us."  

    Anyone want to guess why they need all this?  Because I sure as hell can't figure it out.

    •  Isn't Clackamas the place that had some hinky (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      stuff going on with votes a couple of elections ago?  Something about "finding" votes uncounted?  It's definitely home to some paranoid weirdness.   Just the place you want to be heavily armed  :^P  

      "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

      by koosah on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:38:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, in a just universe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prognosticator, earthling1

      that fancy police tank would be too much for the rotting bridge to withstand and it would collapse, cutting the town off from the rest of the world. And they wouldn't rebuild it because then the people from Portland would use it to come out and rob them, so they could have their own little enclave with all the paint chips they can eat.

      Sounds like a win-win.

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where are we going with this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We need to stop this bullshit now.

    Infotainment news is not the news.

    Right wing liars need to be held accountable.

    We can put a stop to this.

  •  Some more "evidence"? (0+ / 0-)

    There is video being shown on social media and other sources that show Brown robbing a convenience store prior to the incident that ended up killing him.

    Now, I don't know the legitimacy of that video but I do know how I feel about whether or not that has anything to do with his killing.  A thief should not be killed by a police officer because he stole some skittles from some convenience store.  

    But, this is now the predominance of evidence being shown out there about Brown's character...thus meaning he should have been killed.

    Yeah...I have posted some remarks that were not so supportive of this guy here...but, the more I see these things, the more I'm seeing some kind of cover-up and some things that are being presented to take away from the truth in this situation.

  •  It'll probably die in congress because (0+ / 0-)

    of the political party he's representing.
    Sad to say that, but it's true.
    No, I think all the gun toting "civil libertarians" are perfectly content with staying in their echo chambers, stocking up on ammo and hoping the police keep them "other folk" underfoot, as long as the police are using that equipment to: "Keep them out of our neighborhoods" they will support it.
    As a person who doesn't support either party, I, (and others) have been screaming about this for years, and it seems so ridiculous to see the POTUS and the AGUS to act as if they didn't know the police were militarizing.
    It's been happening, we've been screaming, and yet no one's been listening.
    In Ferguson, they have said the police personal cameras were already in stock, but not deployed, yet they didn't seem to have any problems locating and deploying the heavy artillery.

  •  Joan, you Party Pooper!!!! We need the MRAP (0+ / 0-)

    ... to get all the supplies to the 4th of July Town Picnic!!!!!

  •  I went to my small town police department today, (8+ / 0-)

    a north of Detroit pretty affluent mostly white suburb to ask about their police equipment, swat type or military type equipment and find out their policy of when and how they use what they have. I used the term, military type gear. They acted like they didn't know what I was talking about. They were pretty defensive and at first said that they couldn't disclose. After I pressed the issue and brought up even stronger my concerns relative to the Ferguson situation, they shared more with me about their equipment, which they said wasn't that much. They would have to have equipment brought in, in case of civil unrest. They were incredulous about my concerns, very defensive, I thought. I'm a 71 y.o. Caucasian woman and not that threatening. I was respectful but persevering in my questions.  One young police guy denied even knowing about the Ferguson situation, like what are you talking about Lady. Another knew about the situation but was incredulous that I would be concerned. "Don't you want us to protect you".  

    Clearly I will need to pursue higher ups to discover policy, training procedures, safety mechanisms, etc. I found the Ferguson situation frightening and wouldn't want something like that to happen around here in case of civil unrest. I'm wondering how much I can count on my local police dept? I certainly wasn't impressed with them Monday night in the case of a massive but simple flooding. It was pretty chaotic and they were not much help. And at least these two cops had an attitude that I couldn't quite fathom: defensive and argumentative.

    The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

    by sydneyluv on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:44:41 PM PDT

  •  Gangs and terrorists that require military-grade.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, Prognosticator

    weaponry should be handled by the military.

    It should not be part of the responsibilities of local police to engage in combat operations.

    The Italians have a branch of their military called the Carabinieri that handles those aspects of domestic security that required heavy equipment. The local police do what local police are supposed to do.

    Maybe we should look into that. Take SWAT-style duties out of the hands of agencies charged with patrolling the streets, and give them to an agency that don't have anything to do with people walking down the street in their neighborhood.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:48:07 PM PDT

  •  I can hear Wayne LaDerrierre now: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koosah, Risen Tree

    "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a tank!"

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:48:10 PM PDT

  •  There is a time for "militarization" (0+ / 0-)

    I could go into myriad examples when the police in America need to "militarize", as you call it.  It would take a diary to do that so I won't attempt to do that here.  But, truth is that it was over-kill here to do what was done in St. Louis.  It did more harm than good.  Once there was a sane voice and a sane strategy put in place to stop the violence and rioting, everything settled down.  It should have happened to start with.  But, it didn't.  When other incidents like this happen....hopefully this will be a learning experience.

    •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I could go into myriad examples when the police in America need to "militarize"
      Because I can't think of a single example of when local police should go all military on our asses.  Not one.

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:09:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Local" (0+ / 0-)

        I understand that you can question a town of say...30,000 or so...going all military on some situation.  Sure, that's not likely.  Possible, of course, but unlikely.  A town of 300,000?  Well, depending on the situation and the magnitude of what happens there, I'm not ignorant enough to believe that to contain mass killings/burnings/looting etc., a police force there might very well have to "militarize".  Now, that might not be what you'd like to see...but it's what I believe they'd have to do.  People that own businesses have personal things/important things in their businesses and homes close to businesses have to be protected.  Until the big guns get called in and show up, I can see it.  You?  Maybe not.  Maybe you think it'd be fine to just let it all burn up and let all the stores to be broken into and looted from an uncontrolled mob...but, we have to disagree.  Sorry.

        •  Can you point to some statistics and examples (0+ / 0-)

          of when that has happened and how often it has happened?

          I'm not ignorant enough to believe that to contain mass killings/burnings/looting etc., ...

          "I'm not a number" --84,414

          by BentLiberal on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:53:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Key word (0+ / 0-)


            Not sure what you're looking for, but I have been the block a few times and have seen so many people on blog sites ask "point to statistics" to thwart what someone says they believe, it's unreal.

            Read what I'll eventually get what I'm saying.

            •  That's what I suspected (0+ / 0-)

              It's my contention that the situations you theorized about don't happen nearly often enough to justify the over-the-top military buld-up of civillian and civic police forces.

              I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, so that's why I asked you for examples of what you were talking about.

              Without concrete examples, I'm afraid that your "belief" is not enough to sway me nor it is justification for the massive weaponization you desire.

              "I'm not a number" --84,414

              by BentLiberal on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 04:12:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  And maybe you (0+ / 0-)

          Think it would be fine to have police gun down peaceful protesters, chase people screaming from a public park with microwaves or with sound cannons, arrest people for being in a public place, or lock people into their own homes as if war had actually broken out.

          Oh, wait.  I was aiming for ridiculous, offensive hyperbole, not current reality.

          As for your disgusting accusation and snide "sorry", that's flaming BS.  Go to hell.

          I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

          by tle on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 03:10:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The 1% will not allow the Johnson Law to pass (0+ / 0-)

    They know the pitchforks are coming and this is how they will be defended. What is happening now is only practice for when the crowds are much larger and far angrier.

    I have said it before, how many 1%er's have we seen in Ferguson.....Zero!!! A few maybe we should take action, or this is terrible, too everyone should play nice. How fucking brave of them.

    We have no real Leadership in this country today I am so sad to say. People are so thirsty for it that you can see it in their eyes and feel it in their actions.

    That is why the only person who comes close to leading us is Captain Ron Johnson of the Highway patrol. If he decided to run for office I am guessing he would raise thousands in a day. As he should.

    "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein

    by lynn47 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:00:41 PM PDT

  •  Great that we're now "having a conversation". (0+ / 0-)

    But let's face facts, these bills are going nowhere. Our political process is too paralyzed. Too many powerful interests are vested in the status quo. And in the end, I'd wager that a majority of white Americans & their Teabagger representatives are quite satisfied that their local police have the means to contain black criminality & put down black rebellion.

  •  While I agree (0+ / 0-)

    the police can be "over-armed" and flouting their weaponry can be counter productive as in the Ferguson case,  the next time a crazy walks into a school, mall, or airport with several automatic weapons, I hope he can be met with someone well-armed enough to prevail.

  •  Yep. We need to demilitarize the police. (0+ / 0-)

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:14:07 PM PDT

  •  I have been saying since the 70s (0+ / 0-)

    that there is something fundamentally wrong with any society in which the first response of an average citizen upon seeing a policeman is fear. It is becoming more so in this country every day. The Rubicon has not just been crossed- it has damned well been drained and paved over...

  •  Militarization of Police: Not just the gear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I posted this comment earlier today on another thread but will put it here, too:

    I've been concerned about this trend for at least 20 years; I was a newspaper reporter back then, covering police, fire, and courts among other beats. As have others, I trace its beginnings back to the formation of 'elite' SWAT teams and their adoption of military-style gear--what we see now being sold by Cabella's and all those other 'sporting goods' stores that are branded as 'tactical' stuff: Guns, pants, shirts, boots, etc., all in black.

    Most commenters  point to the problem as stemming from the Dept. of Defense (DOD) passing along used/surplus military gear--arms, vehicles, etc.

    I think there's another dimension to the problem: The police themselves. This is my observation, based on what I've see here in my geographical area; don't know if it applies to other parts of the country...but here goes:

    A lot of cops belong to National Guard/Reserve units and a lot of them were called up to serve in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Many of the county sheriff's departments and city police departments in our area had as much as 10% to 15% of their sworn officers called to active duty.

    A lot of veterans coming back from the wars chose to go into police work; they were heavily recruited by law enforcement agencies because of their training, experience, and personal outlook.

    Basically, they're using their experience kicking in doors and intimidating civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan as their model for dealing with citizens here at home. They see civilians as 'them' and not 'us.' Civilians, people not wearing uniforms, are a threat.

    It's not just the equipment that's militarized--it's the cops themselves.    

    When atlatls are outlawed, only outlaws will have atlatls.

    by wheeldog on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:27:42 PM PDT

  •  Citizens need to question their PD's need for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    equipment, especially Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles if only due to the cost of training and maintenance for the vehicles, and in the case of StL County buying them.  That's right, the pentagon did not give StL County their MRAP's.  Their MRAP Bearcats were purchased with department funds.  

    I don't want to see the police outgunned by the bad guys but I have yet to hear of a bad guy with a tank.

    Focused Long Range Acoustic Devices, or sonic weapons, for crowd control should be banned.  The use of tear gas or CS gas should be banned domestically, as it is banned internationally for use in war.

    Police need better training on how to deal with crowds, how not to turn a crowd of protesters into a mob.  Police do not need more equipment that is designed to forcibly subdue crowds.

    The worst thing about St. Louis is Missouri.

    by duckhunter on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:41:32 PM PDT

  •  I don't think Levin's comment is "weak sauce". (0+ / 0-)

    It's measured, resisting the calls to ban all military gear from police access, which I think is an overreaction to stupid decisions made in Ferguson by the police there.  I that situaiton, no military gear should have been used, and certainly no camo should have been worn.

    However, there are situations where such gear is required (like the LAPD tried to use armored vehicle to deal with the terrorist/thieves in the movie Die Hard hehe).  In such situations, if police have been prohibited any access to such gear, then it would fall to the miliary itself to handle the situation because they'd be the only ones with the gear required.  Which raises posse comitatus issues.

    And there are situations where the police are outgunned.  Denying them firepower or denying them body armor makes no sense.

    Ferguson police used their "military gear" in a situation where it was not required, and indeed, was counterproductive.  And wearing camo was beyond stupid.  But outright banning police from having things like helicopters, armored cars, night-vision goggles, body armor seems to be an overreaction to the opposite extreme.  Most police departments use their military gear judiciously, more than Ferguson's police did.

    And most police suppression, the real problem, takes place without use of such gear.  Such suppression normally uses riot shields, clubs, and pepper spray.

    •  Can you cite some statistics and example (0+ / 0-)

      of when that has happened and how often it happens?

      However, there are situations where such gear is required (like the LAPD tried to use armored vehicle to deal with the terrorist/thieves in the movie Die Hard hehe)

      "I'm not a number" --84,414

      by BentLiberal on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:56:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'll amend my comment by agreeing with above (0+ / 0-)

      sentiment that police access to "military gear" be kept at the federal level (mainly FBI, but I guess DEA, ATF, US Marshals, etc).  If a situation arises in which such military gear is required, it's likely to be a situation in which the feds should be brought in anyway, rather than the local police dept trying to handle it.

      However, there is still certain "military gear" that I don't have a problem with local police having, such as Kevlar body armor and night-vision goggles and such.  I'm not sure where I draw the line. hehe

  •  Someone needs to tell them 24 is not real. (0+ / 0-)

    Too many of these would be he-men seem to want to be Jack Bauer.

    News flash!  24 is a TV show.  It is not real.  You don't work for CTU.  Those people you are brutalizing are not existential threats to you or our society.  They are citizens whose taxes pay your salary and who you are supposed to be serving.

  •  I now fear and harbor a deep disrespect for pol... (0+ / 0-)

    I now fear and harbor a deep disrespect for police more than ever ... and mine is not the fear of a coward. It's time for some serious changes ... start by disconnecting Home Land Security ... and turning cops in to attitudes with guns.

  •  Just remember, we pay for all this stuff ... in... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just remember, we pay for all this stuff ... including their (ab)use of it Go TO youtube sometime .. type in police brutality ... then be afraid.

  •  This 'automatic' signing of petitions has to stop. (0+ / 0-)

    This 'automatic' signing of petitions has to stop.

    As soon as I figure out who is the intended recipient(s)  I'm going to send a letter advising that my signature was added to this without authorization.

  •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

    The first nights they seemed very heavy handed and chasing people off the streets when it was dark. So they changed tactics and the next night it was peaceful. But then last night they turned ugly after dark and started destroying private property which kinda supported the tactics of the first nights.

    It is the duty of the police to protect private property also. Protests are fine but when it turns into a riot force is justified. We also expect the police to be prepared for situations that can quickly get out of hand. Last night they were not prepared and perhaps the heavy handed approach was called for after all.

    There is no reason protests should extend into the night when things can get ugly and residents want some peace and quiet. I am starting to think the police should not have changed tactics. They know there neighborhoods, after the fact it seems apparent.

  •  Subject. (isn't this a stupid requirement?) (0+ / 0-)

    I read of a super militarized swat time storming a barber shop that had an expired license.

  •  There never was a good time to militarize policE! (0+ / 0-)

    It was always a bad idea--police and military have totally different and incompatible missions.

    Police are to protect even probable criminals.

    Military is to destroy potential enemies.

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