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The training video at the top of this post isn't from the U.S. military preparing for action in Afghanistan—it's not even from Ferguson, Missouri. It's from Doraville, Georgia, population 8,842, and home to a police department with a fully stocked SWAT team to defend a community that has had one murder in the last 5 years.

Doraville's police department is one of the dozens of law enforcement agencies in Georgia that have received $200 million in military equipment from the Department of Defense through a program designed to supply local governments with excess weaponry. This program is a big part of the reason that it's becoming harder to tell police departments apart from Special Forces teams, and if Congress wanted to put it to a halt, they could.

But the last time the issue came up in the House—just two months ago—Republicans and Democrats alike voted to continue funneling military equipment to local police departments. Just 43 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted in favor of curtailing the program. But that needn't been the final story: If Congress wants help end the trend of turning police departments into military forces, it could vote to end the Department of Defense program. And if it fails to act, then it's getting exactly what it asked for.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They ARE getting what they've paid for (11+ / 0-)

    and that is the squashing of our Constitutional rights in the name of security. I saw this coming when they signed the fucking Patriot Act into law. This was a natural progression, and exactly what these fuckers want.

    ... all that oration sounds like capitulation now.

    by Darwinita on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:47:57 AM PDT

  •  Congress ALREADY did something about militarizing (12+ / 0-)

    the cops.

    Now its time to UNDO it.

    Let's be clear.


  •  Doraville is full of Mexicans and Asians. (5+ / 0-)

    (which means the grocery stores there ROCK!)

  •  My idea is simple, and would require (15+ / 0-)

    all local law enforcement military grade gear to be forfeited to the respective state's National Guard units.

    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 Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:49:27 AM PDT

  •  the mayor of Doraville should be worried (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    When rebel forces entered the palace, the Ngô brothers were not present, having escaped before to a loyalist shelter in Cholon. The brothers had kept in communication with the rebels through a direct link from the shelter to the palace, and misled them into believing that they were still in the palace. The Ngô brothers soon agreed to surrender and were promised safe exile; after being arrested, they were instead executed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier by ARVN officers on the journey back to military headquarters at Tân Sơn Nhứt Air Base. While no formal inquiry was conducted, the responsibility for the deaths of the Ngô brothers is commonly placed on Minh's bodyguard, Captain Nguyễn Văn Nhung, and on Major Dương Hiếu Nghĩa, both of whom guarded the brothers during the trip. Minh's army colleagues and US officials in Saigon agreed that Minh ordered the executions.

    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 Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:51:18 AM PDT

  •  Dora-fukin-ville, Georgia?? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DerAmi, Decorina, Betty Pinson, indres

    Population 8,482??????

  •  Fools (6+ / 0-)
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin

    I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. ~ Malcolm X -8.62 -8.36

    by 4Freedom on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:51:47 AM PDT

  •  Cool! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duckhunter, divineorder, indres

    These guys are so totally bad-ass, what with running that drill in the parking lot with cameras rolling and all. Why do I think everyone of them has that clip on their personal device and/or posted in on their fb page? After that overwhelming show of force they all probably had a beer.

  •  Congress will do nothing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xxdr zombiexx, ditsylilg

    Using military equipment to kill black men is exactly what the GOP wants to see done.

    Black criminals are treated like animals. Black victims are treated like criminals. Black heroes are treated like punchlines. -@aemccarthy

    by docterry on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:53:40 AM PDT

    •  Only if we let them do nothing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We really need to apply some pressure. Tie up their phones with calls and faxes. Put the heat on and keep it on until they pass a good bill.

      Hold them publicly accountable, now not later.

      Seriously, lets get this done before election day. Make it a campaign issue.

      Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:38:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw that video (4+ / 0-)

    last night on John Oliver's show.  So very stupid, to give them this military equipment and turn them into storm troopers.

    I loved the comment from a veteran who served in Iraq that "these guys are better equipped than I was when I was in Iraq".  The militarization of the police has to stop!

  •  Repeal the Authoritarian "Patriot" Act (4+ / 0-)

    "The Democrats and the Republicans are equally corrupt where money is concerned. It's only in the amount where the Republicans excel." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:55:47 AM PDT

  •  How does a town of less than 10,000 afford to.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, Lily O Lady, divineorder

    maintain a tank, and train officers in its operation?  Who's training them to operate it, the military?

    The worst thing about St. Louis is Missouri.

    by duckhunter on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:56:26 AM PDT

  •  The Militarization of the cops is a feature (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, Lily O Lady

    Not a bug.

  •  You lost me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, xxdr zombiexx, Tim D M

    at "Congress could do something..."

    To My Colonoscopist

    I think that I shall never see
    so far up you as you up me.

    by shieldvulf on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:58:32 AM PDT

    •  'could' (0+ / 0-)

      not 'can' or 'will'.
      'Could' implies that they have to get off their rears and develop some guts.

      (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

      by PJEvans on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:20:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could... (0+ / 0-)

        Also implies that it is possible.

        At this point, I think there is a greater possibility that my blind Fiance will miraculously see one day than of Congress doing anything constructive.

        Put another way: I wouldn't trust Congress to not screw up a light bulb change. In a lamp. Unplugged.

  •  You're theory falls apart with the words (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Lily O Lady, MHB

    "congress can do something.' I'm sure this congress will get right on it.

    •  Yup, there are any number of things that (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, MHB, divineorder, PJEvans

      "Congress could do"

      but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to happen .. .

    •  Yes they can, make them (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Put them in the hot seat.

      The issue has 3 good things going for it:

      1 It saves money, costs nothing

      2 It has bipartisan voter support

      3 Its an election year

      Get a good bill introduced and flood Congress with phone calls to get co sponsors. Work the committees and their leaders.

      Talk about who is supporting it and who isn't on social media.

      They work for us, don't let them forget it.

      Hammer time.

      Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:44:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Defense Contractors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, divineorder, indres

    Have simply created new markets.  Who cares if kids get killed, profits are up.


    Republicans - No solutions, just reasons why other peoples solutions will not work.

    by egarratt on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:00:02 AM PDT

  •  Spend the money on firefighters (4+ / 0-)

    It's what we really need in the west from Congress - more money for fire suppression, not people suppression. But the House left town without funding our wildfire disaster. So WA, OR, CA and Idaho are spending down their fire prevention funds.  

    WA Gov. Jay Inslee is imposing a moratorium on the death penalty.“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility."

    by mrobinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:00:56 AM PDT

    •  Can you put out a fire with an MRAP? (0+ / 0-)

      Gee, who'd have thunk it!

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:16:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, but a tank, on the other hand (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polecat, indres

        when equipped with a water cannon, could conceivably cut quite a swath through the leading edge of a fire.

        Not all the equipment given is guns and ammo.  The big six by six cargo trucks can be refitted as overland fire trucks.  They can go through darn near anything-bogs, sand, over small trees and brush, and they can carry along a tankful of water, a smaller tank with flame retardant, and a pump to spray the mix out.

        I live in an area where we have prairie fires every summer, if only ones lit by random lightning strikes.  We use vehicles just like this to go through the areas with the most fuel:  overgrown pastures, cedar thickets, cottonwood, mulberry and hedge trees.  Our fires aren't quite the infernos that forest fires are, but they can be equally as devastating.  And when an overgrown pasture is right next to a field with cattle grazing, or even worse, my mom's house (and all the neighbors as well-lots of small farms in the area), they can be terrifying.

        Just a month or so ago, there was a dustup here in Kansas, because someone got wind that the military was going to stop selling old equipment to the rural fire departments.  The rumor was the EPA might disallow usage of retired military vehicles by volunteer fire departments due to lack of emission control equipment on said vehicles.  The army has a waiver.  Local fire departments do not.  It would have put nearly every rural fire department out of business.  The RVFDs can go to the local surplus auction and buy a truck for $5,000 to $8,000, refit it, and repaint it.  A new similarly equipped fire truck would run over $100,000.
        Thankfully sense prevailed, and the problem went away.

        To the left, to the left....

        by CWinebrinner on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:44:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Retrofit or melt it down for scrap (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Don't let them sell it overseas.

        Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

        by Betty Pinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:45:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Officer Down! (5+ / 0-)

    Cop: We have an officer down! Officer Down!
    Dispatch: What's the situation?
    Cop: He was writing a parking ticket and dropped his pen!
    Dispatch: Then he was hit by a car?
    Cop: No he couldn't get up! He's holding his back!
    Dispatch: Soooo...
    Cop: We need extraction NOW!
    Dispatch: Becaaauuuse....
    Cop: Because. Well...Bob hasn't exactly run through physical qualification in a while and he's frankly getting too heavy for me to lift.
    Dispatch: I see. So you'd like me to send an ambulance?
    Cop: No way, things are getting ugly. I think those kids over there have stopped eating popsicles and they're looking over here. Oh my gosh they have hoodies! HOODIES!
    Dispatch: Understood! Activating SWAT!

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:01:52 AM PDT

    •  30 minutes later: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indres, BeerNotWar


      Reporter: I'm at the corner of Fifth and Main where police have staged a daring rescue of a downed officer. I'm standing up wind because officers with Localtown Police have sealed off the area, and deployed tear gas over a twelve square block area. I'm here with Commander Jack Boot, Commander, can you tell us what's going on?

      Commander: We had an officer go down at about 1300 hours at the Grocery store behind us. Backup arrived and immediately called in for an armored extraction due to the number of unruly youths in the area. We have the place pretty well under control, but as you can see the unruly mob required us to take twelve blocks into custody.

      Reporter: We have video from twitter showing officers attacking an 85 year old woman in a walker with pepper spray...

      Commander: You're in my way!

      Camera dropped, camera man is heard running before being shot.

      Anchor: Uh... We seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties. Uh. Now back to Dr. Oz!

  •  Redneck boys love their toys (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, indres

    and things that make lots of noise and big explosions

    I ask him if he was warm enough? "Warm," he growled, "I haven't been warm since Bastogne."

    by Unrepentant Liberal on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:01:54 AM PDT

  •  Lobbying (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ditsylilg, divineorder, Lily O Lady

    $635 billion has been spent on militarizing US police departments since 2001, according to That pays for lots of lobbyists to keep that cash cow for arms manufacturers in place.

    We must never let the weight of this combination [the military and industry] endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Dwight Eisenhower, January 17, 1961.

  •  Grouse all you want about entitlements (6+ / 0-)

    But they at least actually HELP people.

    If you really want to cut the budget, start by targeting the Military Industrial Complex.

    Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

    by nightsweat on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:04:09 AM PDT

  •  Lethal Force Us-Versus-Them Training (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's not even so much the weapons, it's the training with the double-tap drills that end with shooting the suspect terrorist in the head in the head until he stops twitching.  

    It's no longer about subduing a suspect by shooting them, it's that they are trained to react like everyone has a suicide vest and body armor and a submachine gun, so they must be shot in the head.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:09:59 AM PDT

  •  Very good Vanity Fair article on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, indres

    what happened in Congress two months ago

    •  That'll probably end Biden's Presidential Ambition (0+ / 0-)

      Tour... at least it is a huge amount of ammunition to be used against him in the Primary were he to declare.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:15:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When pigs fly. (0+ / 0-)

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:12:15 AM PDT

  •  Maher New Rule (0+ / 0-)

    For anyone who hasn't seen it, very good Maher New Rule piece on militarization of police. I believe it was from July. Timely and spot on.

  •  The gov't should stop buying so much of this stuff (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, CWinebrinner, indres

    in the first place. The reason the military has excess weaponry is because the government keeps spending too much money on weapons!

    Has America become such a one-dimensional economy that the only thing we can make anymore is weapons (and exotic financial products)? Is the government afraid to cut back on military spending because they think it would hurt the economy? If so, then our nation's problems are deeper than we realize.

    Or, if the reason the government refuses to cut back on military spending is because they want a "kick ass" military that can get involved in lots of wars around the world, and they also want "kick ass" police departments that can have tanks rolling through the streets and cops armed with machine guns, then our government is insane and the entire government needs to be replaced.

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:13:02 AM PDT

  •  Just a bunch of boys (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with big-boy toys. What else are you going to do in Doraville?

  •  OK, got to defend my SF Brothers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CWinebrinner, Gusterbear

    Please, please please, these guys are nto even close to an SF Team:

    A typical ODA contains 12 team members, each with his own specialty: Weapons Sergeants, Communications Sergeants, Medical Sergeants and Engineering Sergeants. A Commander, Assistant Commander (Warrant Officer), Operations/Intelligence Sergeant and Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) complete the team. These teams can change according to the type of mission.
    The medic on an SF Team is usually at or very near the qualifications for a Physicians Assistant.  When my daughter was born an SF medic was there doing his "learn how to deliver babies" time.  The Engineer can build (and blow up) everything from a simple bridge to a small structure.  Everyone on the team has to speak at least one foreign language and they have to be able to do one job for another member of the team.  They get extensive training in adapting to the culture they are in and working with the local population.  Getting in a fight is the last thing they want to do.  I dont think I have ever seen an SF dude getting out of an M113.  BMW M3, sure.  113, never.  

    TL;DR version - these guys have as much in common with SF as Fox News does with truth.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:15:52 AM PDT

  •  I just checked the roll call vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on H.Amdt.918 which was sponsored by Alan Grayson and discovered that my Tea Party Congressman Tom McClintock voted in favor of Grayson's amendment.

    McClintock has consistently stood up for my constitutional rights and I'm starting to like him more and more.

    Since I'd never heard of the Democrat who opposed him in the last election I voted for McClintock and I might just do it again.

    Here's a link to the roll call vote.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:19:51 AM PDT

  •  Congress could do something about... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's funny.  You actually used "Congress" and "do something" in the same sentence.  I first thought I had clicked through to "The Onion".

  •  Excess Weaponry? Really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert

    How is it that the DOD has excess weaponry? I think it is obvious that this surplus was designed into the budget in order to have federal tax dollars pay the costs of arming local police departments under the umbrella of the Homeland Security Act, which resulted from our fears of 9-11. Seeing things spin out of control at home as a result of those fears is not surprising.

    I cast a shadow, therefore, I am. You stand on my shadow, therefore, you are.

    by glb3 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:27:45 AM PDT

  •  I don't know if I agree here (0+ / 0-)

    Can police authorities be "too armed"...."too protected"?  I mean, this world of ours is becoming more and more violent and like them or not, the cops are who protect we regular citizens.  I don't think we should be too quick to criticize how armed they are or are becoming.  

    In my view, I'd much rather see these folks carrying bunches of weapons they don't really need than to see them not carrying enough weaponry when they do need it to protect me and my family and my community.

  •  Want to know where the Fire Power is? (0+ / 0-)

    Check out this map from the NYT:

    What interesting from my state is the in the Democratic Counties it was only Assault rifles asked for.

    The smaller Republican Counties were getting the Vehicles.

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

    by lynn47 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:37:01 AM PDT

  •  Live near Doraville, and am a bit disturbed. Of... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Live near Doraville, and am a bit disturbed.

    Of course, I'm mighty white, not Hispanic or Vietnamese, so I would be invisible to these guys. But I'm still going to think twice about going to Buford Highway for my banh mi; I could end up in the crossfire.

  •  Extremely sloppy, surprised they kept the video. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen

    1) dude pops hatch and throws grenade without marking the downed officer first. If you watch closely, the flash bang he throws lands dangerously close the person they are intending to save

    2) they left the back hatch down during departure to get some sweet Hollywood-style shoots off. You know, instead of securing the safety of the package and their own team.

    3) They left the top hatch open the entire exit. If there had been baddies, say with a molotov, they would have all burned on the inside of the vehicle after it popped down.

    This is why these tools should only be the hands of professional soldiers.

    These are just boys playing with toys.

    Contrary to popular belief, zombies are quite intelligent and excel in anagrams.

    by Patience John on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:11:18 PM PDT

  •  That is an... (0+ / 0-)

    M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. I drove one of those for two years while stationed in Germany. The maintenance alone is a a full time job. Why in the hell a small town police department needs something that was purpose built for an infantry squad to use during combat is beyond me.

    For crying out that thing can ford freakin' many rivers is the Doraville police department going to encounter where there is no bridge?

    "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

    by Mark E Andersen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:13:45 PM PDT

  •  They are doing it all wrong (0+ / 0-)

    The armour should be placed between the victim and the assailants. At least that's how we did it in the real Army.

    In this demo the cops running out of the back toward the victim are exposed to small arms fire assuring more wounded. It's a sniper's wet dream.

    A rising tide sinks all boats that are anchored to the bottom.

    by Zwoof on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:54:14 PM PDT

  •  Comment from my son the Iraq vet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Damn cops have better equipment than we did both times I was in Iraq!"

    Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

    by Jilly W on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:57:29 PM PDT

  •  Its pork barrel spending (0+ / 0-)

    if the feds give the police their shiny toys the locals won't have to spend their own money for the toys.

    if the feds had any sense they would give the local cops shoulder or chest cameras. That would reduce crime more than the explosion-proof armored vehicles.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 03:22:09 PM PDT

  •  Rockland, Maine, where I live, pop. 7,300 has (0+ / 0-)

    no need for an armored vehicle. I would be aghast to learn that we have one.

    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:57:19 PM PDT

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