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The militarization of the Police
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is a favorite topic of Radley Balko, but today Glenn Reynolds talks about the growing threat of police militarization in, of all places, Popular Mechanics:
Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. Soldiers are aimed at enemies from outside the country. They are trained to kill those enemies, and their supporters. In fact, “killing people and breaking things” are their main reasons for existence.

Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.

It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences.
I noted yesterday, while discussing the anti-liberty aspects of the "War on Drugs" that some of the tools, such as 'no knock warrants' speak more of police state tactics than those of a nation worried about civil liberties. The militarization of the police forces around the country also lend to anti-liberty tendencies because they create forces within those departments whose operational tactics are exactly like those Reynolds describes - they act like soldiers.

All one has to do is watch video of a MOUT operation in any city in Iraq where soldiers enter a house and then a raid by a SWAT team in this country and they are identical.

It reminds me of an anonymous quote which says, "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". Special weapons and tactics are quite a hammer for a police department to have. Reynolds uses a couple of examples to point out both how unnecessary and how dangerous to our lives and liberties this trend has become.

First the ridiculous:
Thus, the sheriff’s department in landlocked Boone County, Ind., has an amphibious armored personnel carrier. (According to that county’s sheriff-elect, the vehicle has been used to deliver prescriptions to snow-bound elderly residents, and to provide protection during a suspected hostage situation.) Jasper, Fla.,—with 2000 inhabitants and two murders in the past 12 years—obtained seven M-16s from the federal government, leading an area newspaper to run a story with the subhead, “Three stoplights, seven M-16s.”
And the dangerous:
On Sept. 23, 2006, a SWAT team descended on the home of a farmer and his schoolteacher wife in Bedford County, Va. “I was held at gunpoint, searched, taunted and led into the house,” A.J. Nuckols wrote to his local paper. “I was scared beyond description. I feared there had been a murder and I was a suspect.” When the couple’s three children came home, the police grilled them, too. The family was held under guard for five hours as the SWAT team ransacked the place, seizing computers, a digital camera, DVDs and VHS tapes. Ten days later, the cops returned the belongings. It turned out that a special anti-child-porn police unit had made a mistake while tracing an computer address and sent the SWAT team to the wrong home.
A SWAT team to take down a suspected child pornographer? Talk about total over-kill.

Another example is that of Corey May who Dale has profiled here at QandO:
Sometimes, homeowners are killed in these actions; other times, it’s the officers. When a narcotics task force raided a duplex apartment in Jefferson Davis County, Miss., in 2001, they arrested one tenant, then burst into the adjacent apartment of Cory Maye. Thinking a burglar had broken into the bedroom he shared with his toddler, Maye shot the officer fatally. Maye was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, although irregularities in the trial eventually led to his conviction being overturned and a new trial ordered.
And we're all familiar with the case of 88 year-old Kathryn Johnson in Atlanta which has been in the news so much lately.

So what are the benefits of this militarization of our police forces? Not much that I can see. Do I discount that special weapons and tactics may be necessary occasionally? No, I don't. But I certainly don't think that every podunk police force and Sheriff's department in the US require one. In fact, I find it downright dangerous that they do.

Why?

Attitude.

When you train a soldier you train him a certain way and you expect him to develop a particular attitude. And that attitude isn't necessarily compatible with the attitude we prefer our police officers to develop. We want our soldiers to "own" the battlefield and destroy their enemies. And we teach them to do what is necessary to accomplish that mission.

I think it goes without saying that we certainly don't want our cops to have the same sort of attitude about their community and its residents as soldiers have about their enemies. But SWAT training isn't exactly geared to provide the preferred attitude to it's members:
Once you’ve got a cool tool, you kind of want to use it. That’s true whether it’s a pneumatic drill, a laser level or an armored fighting vehicle. SWAT teams, designed to deal with rare events, wound up doing routine police work, like serving drug warrants.

The subtle effect is also real: Dress like a soldier and you think you’re at war. And, in wartime, civil liberties—or possible innocence—of the people on “the other side” don’t come up much. But the police aren’t at war with the citizens they serve, or at least they’re not supposed to be.
There lies the growing threat. A warrior attitude, not a peace officer's attitude. A desire to use their equipment and tactics to the point that they're taking down suspected child pornographers and other routine arrests. And of course a chief who has to use them to justify their existence. All of these things conspire to create a real and present threat to our liberties and a perversion of the duties of the police in this country.

It is time to disarm these militarized units for the most part. Certainly large cities might need one. And perhaps regions within states might need one. But every little burg with 2 stoplights certainly doesn't.

When David Koresh and his followers were killed in Waco TX it should have served as a warning to us of this growing trend. There is little doubt that had the police (and then the FBI) applied a little common sense, Koresh could have been taken peacefully away from the compound anytime they desired (he traveled into Waco once a week and police were well aware of that). Instead they chose to confront him with weapons drawn on the steps of his compound backed by a full assault team. And we know the rest of that story.

Reynolds, quoting Balko, makes the following suggestions:
He suggests that accountability and transparency are what we need. I agree. Police raids should be videotaped, in an archival format that discourages tampering. And I think we need legal reform, too. Police who raid the wrong house, or who fail to give homeowners adequate warning except in truly life-or-death situations, shouldn’t benefit from official immunity.
I completely agree. We require video in patrol cars and there is no reason, given the technology, that the same requirement shouldn't exist for any raid in which police participate.

It serves two purposes. One it gives us a record of what happens on the raid which is invaluable to any subsequent investigation which may be required. It would also be useful at the criminal trial. Video evidence taken at the scene is hard to dispute. Secondly, and probably more importantly from the liberty standpoint, being aware they are on camera and their actions are being recorded may cool the jets of the more overly aggressive of our police officers. Most likely, if video were running, Mr. Nuckols wouldn't have been taunted by police officers and it is very likely Corey May wouldn't be in jail.

I also like the idea of removing official immunity in cases where the wrong house has been raided or when officers fail to follow procedure with adequate warning to the homeowner. Again, the presence of video would most likely solve the latter problem. Good, solid police work - you know, what we pay them for - would solve the "wrong house" problem.

Police exist to serve us and not the other way around. And while I understand it is a difficult and dangerous job, we don't need them acting like soldiers and viewing us as the enemy. We need them to understand and accept their roles as protectors of our rights, not violators of them. A gazillion SWAT teams are more of a hindrance than help in that regard.

Time to disarm the vast majority of them.

UPDATE: Watch the video here. Proper use of SWAT teams? Hammer. Nail. Any guess as to why SWAT might be interested? Check out the amount of money seized. Then think "civil forefiture".
 
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Comments
Some decent proposals...no spittle. Nice post, McQ.

And I would agree, we have too many SWAT units. I’m not sure how to "disarm" them...The Fed’s might consider limiting the amount of money they provide for SWAT units, I assume they do thru various grant programs. Also the Fed’s might consider the creation of a Federal Standard of SWAT certification, assuming none exists. You can’t get Federal money UNLESS you meet the National standard. States might do the same. They might dry up some of the money for SWAT units, whilst driving the cost of maintaining one up, end result being the overall DECREASE in their number. Finally, as private solution, too..somthing like Blackwater to provide SWAT on contract...guarantee that Blackwater can put a "Federally certified" SWAT unit in a given area in 2 hours or less. For a lot of communities that might be all the "SWAT" they need. Most communities don’t need a SWAT unit...until the one time in 15-20 years they really need one. So mayhap a private company OR the state government might be in a position to provide the service, when needed, rather than the creation of a SWAT-type unit in every town of 100,000-plus persons.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The simplest solution is to stop federally funding local, county and state police forces. Bill Clinton’s government promised 100,000 new cops on the street "back in the day". They accomplished that by subsidizing non-federal police forces. The money was used, among other things, to fund heavier weapons, para-military training, armored vehicles and SWAT teams. If local police departments must rely on local funding it will create more transparency for the citizens, more ability to ask why the are doing something and less likelihood of acquiring sexy toys.
 
Written By: Adam Selene
URL: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/
Well Adam, there is one (1) objection to that proposal. 9/11 and First Response, a good case can be made that the first people to deal with Al-Qaeda or the John Birch Society nuclear attack will be New York’s finest or Peoria’s and that SOME Federal money needs to flow to local police/fire departments. Most localities have trouble keeping up with the requirements of NORMAL emergency response, much less of a response of an extraordinary nature. I guess you could forbid the use of the money for SWAT, but money is fungible, so money for WMD attack frees up money available for SWAT.

Bottom-Line: SOME Federal money really ought to flow to local first responders. So how to limit the support for SWAT?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, if first responders and 911 and such are needed, then a transparent funding mechanism at the local level should deal with the issue, not the feds. Aside from that, the money I’m talking about was provided by the feds long before 9/11 and the War on Terror.
 
Written By: Adam Selene
URL: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/
There is a priceless quote* from, of all places, Battlestar Galactica.

The president is asking Commander Adama for forces to act as police. Adama refuses, saying "The military is trained to defeat the enemy. When they are used as police, they tend to view the people as the enemy."

*paraphrased.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Joe, if first responders and 911 and such are needed, then a transparent funding mechanism at the local level should deal with the issue, not the feds.

I’m not sure I agree, OK, I don’t, you’re wrong. Prep’ing for the AQ or Jouhn Birch Society attack really is EXTRAORDINARY, and local governments really are stretched in meeting current requirements, much less planning, equipping and training for a distant, but potentially extraordinarily lethal sort of attack. I think Federal Money is not wasted on this.
Aside from that, the money I’m talking about was provided by the feds long before 9/11 and the War on Terror.
I understand, that. It has been flowing for decades. I’m just sayin’ that some Federal money really OUGHT to flow to locals. To include SWAT units, BTW. The question is how much and to who? That’s why I’d make it a requirment that any SWAT unit meet a fairly high level of proficiency, for Federal money.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"The simplest solution is to stop federally funding local, county and state police forces."

Such is the truth!

If these folks have to ask their friends and neighbors for the bucks for fancy toys they will get slapped down.

I for one am hoping that this Kathren J. death may finally break this subject open on the national scene.

Breaking them up should be easy, no money the operations stop. Happens all the time. Fed provided equipment goes back to them or is sold off or converted for search and rescue work.

Rent a SWAT? Hmmm interesting idea with merit as well.

But first off we need to get SWAT out of the warrant serving biz. Sans those calls that they know will be met with great resistance.
 
Written By: TC
URL: http://
I think Federal Money is not wasted on this.
The amount of money spent is completely out of proportion to the threat. If those taxes were NOT collected by the Feds, there would be more money left in the economy. If such capabilities are required, the taxes could (and should) be collected by the local governments to fund their local capabilities.

I find it highly unlikely that John Birch or AQ types will stage a major attack in Missoula, MT. Do you find it likely? The places it will happen are NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, LA. Places, in other words, that have the local capacity to create appropriate police, fire and ambulance services WITHOUT federal funding. No, federal money is a huge corrupter of local democracy and insisting it should continue is to insist that we continue to allow the corruption of DC to spread outside the Beltway.

This is another means of earmarking for our Congress critters. Consider that when you propose continuing it.
 
Written By: Adam Selene
URL: http://www.thelibertypapers.org/
find it highly unlikely that John Birch or AQ types will stage a major attack in Missoula, MT. Do you find it likely? The places it will happen are NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, LA. Places, in other words, that have the local capacity to create appropriate police, fire and ambulance services WITHOUT federal funding.

Yes, Missoula becomes a target when NYC or Seattle are too hard to penetrate. This isn’t the Air War Against Germany 1943-45. The Ruhr isn’t the target, and economic destruction of vital targets isn’t the goal. The Populace is the target and the goal is dead Americans and fear. I admit that AQ and the Birchers would PREFER 100,000 dead New Yorkers, but will ACCEPT 100,000 dead Missoulans. So yes, I accept the Federal money and the need for it...the question is how much, who gets and for what?
No, federal money is a huge corrupter of local democracy and insisting it should continue is to insist that we continue to allow the corruption of DC to spread outside the Beltway.


Or outside of Albany, Sacremento, Denver, Atlanta, Frankfort, or Pierre...I just don’t see the guv’mint as the enemy and the corruptor, or if DC is, certainly so too the state capital, or for that matter outside of city hall.
This is another means of earmarking for our Congress critters. Consider that when you propose continuing it.


I do, I work in public policy... Congress has been sending money home since there was a Congress. It’s "what they do." Rather than argue it, I just ask we limit it.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
If these folks have to ask their friends and neighbors for the bucks for fancy toys they will get slapped down.

From someone, albeit in a small "outlier" state involved in public policy, "Don’t Bet On It." Police are very popular and will generally get pretty much what they want, it takes a very, very egregious purchasing decision to get "Slapped down."

A number of small sheriff’s departments bought helicopters, or rather applied for them in the early 1990’s as DoD had a "fire sale" of OH-58’s no longer needed. Now WHY a sheriffs department needed such a piece of equipment was never really discussed. It was for "free" and the departments got them...Now the critical word was "free", but still no one questioned Sheriff Bob when his 10 man department in a 20,000 person county had a helicopter, for a while, at least. Alternatively, some emergency response units bought mobile command posts for hundreds of thousands of dollars...only then did the taxpayers begin to question. So, no don’t bet that just because DC isn’t footing the bill, your local police/fire/EMS won’t get the gear they want.

The above is why, it’s not too wise to rant too much about the poh-leece, because the p’leece are a WHOLE lot more liked than Radley Balko, Radley never having done a THING to investigate a burglary or rescue my cat from a tree.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe, thing is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) thinks rather highly of the arguments Balko makes. They don’t want to be paramilitary troopers attacking Americans, and regard it is immoral and dangerous to their own safety — crazy fools.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
I admit that AQ and the Birchers would PREFER 100,000 dead New Yorkers, but will ACCEPT 100,000 dead Missoulans.
The John Birchers were anti-communists who formed cells as a defense against communism. They don’t want dead Americans.

My dad was a Bircher. I went to one of his meetings in the ’60s when I was about 5 or 6. He died several years ago, and the last living memeber of his cell died in the last 6 months (he was one of the smartest and best people I have ever met, as well as a patriotic American).
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Rent a SWAT? Hmmm interesting idea with merit as well.
Back in the day, the SWAT Team role was filled by the local milita (sometimes called a posse).

Maybe we should relax gun laws and encourage local militias?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Uh thank you Mona, and I know there are Veterans against War, but I don’t think they represent a majority.
The John Birchers were anti-communists who formed cells as a defense against communism. They don’t want dead Americans.

My dad was a Bircher
As much a joke as a desire to be "diverse" in our threats.
the SWAT Team role was filled by the local milita (sometimes called a posse).

Maybe we should relax gun laws and encourage local militias?

Uh no...that’s the short answer. IF trained poh-leece ossifers is a threat to our precious life, property and freedom, myself and my neighbors would be even more of a threat.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"Is it any wonder that my mind’s on fire
Imprisoned by the thoughts of what to do
Is it any wonder that my joke’s an iron
And the joke’s on you"


(Blue Oyster Cult — "Flaming Telepaths")

"As much a joke..."

You’re the "joke" here, and there’s nothing remotely funny about you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Funny Billy I don’t remember anyone asking your opinion, but like the anal sphincter you have and are you are welcome to it....

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"I do, I work in public policy."
Big surprise.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"I do, I work in public policy."
Big surprise.
Meaning what?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Meaning that your work "within the system" probably makes you predisposed towards seeking compromise and middle-road solutions and =reflexively rejecting more extreme or non-traditional responses to problems. I’m guessing you probably would have argued against John Adams and declaring independence from England.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
"nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers"

Heck yeah! Its way cooler than being a regular old police person. You get to wear those nifty ninja-type outfits and shoot real automatic weapons. Just like being a real soldier without all the bugs and dirt and stuff.

"A SWAT team to take down a suspected child pornographer? Talk about total over-kill."

Yes indeed. But I thought it was the war on drugs that caused all this militarization and overkill.

"We require video in patrol cars and there is no reason, given the technology, that the same requirement shouldn’t exist for any raid in which police participate"

If you watch the TV show "COPS" they do follow the police during arrests and warrant services. Sometimes you can see the officers glance over their shoulders at the camera, to see if it is watching them. Some of the arrestees are fortunate that a camera crew was there.
To be fair, though, after watching some of the lowlifes and weirdos the police have to put up with, I think the police show great restraint overall. I don’t think I would last too long as a police officer.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"But first off we need to get SWAT out of the warrant serving biz."

There really isn’t enough business, even in large cities, to keep a SWAT team busy full time, so they have to do something to keep those skills honed.


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
To rephrase your hammer line, when one is vehemently against something, such as no-knock raids or the ’militarization’ of the police, everything looks likes a reason to oppose it...
When David Koresh and his followers were killed in Waco TX it should have served as a warning to us of this growing trend. There is little doubt that had the police (and then the FBI) applied a little common sense
Aside from pointing out that it was the ATF and not the local police that conducted the initial raid, and saying that Koresh and his followers "were killed" implies they were killed by the FBI (which would contradict the official report that said Koresh’s followers set the fire), and that this was no no-knock raid, as Koresh and his followers were well aware the ATF was coming, and that the purpose of the raid was not solely to arrest Koresh (which arguably could have been done offsite) but also to search the compound... how in the world does this raid become the poster child of the evils of police militarization?

While I certainly wouldn’t think you were doing so, it sure seems that you are operating under the delusion that had the local police department shown up with their 6 shot revolvers holstered and knocked nicely on the door that the crazies inside would have opened their doors to the police, that it was only the ATF showing up with weapons drawn that provoked the otherwise peaceful folks inside to pull out their automatic weapons and start shooting.

This sad episode is a perfect example of why our law enforcement needs to have the resources they do and why they need to train to handle situations in which the suspects don’t come out just because a cop flashes his badge at them. Sometimes our cops have to deal with people who don’t conform to societal norms. Unfortunately, sometimes the cops fail to use common sense or themselves go off the deep end, but, as I have argued before, the relatively few times that this happens does not justify the blanket condemnations of them and their tactics that are sent their way.

And another quibble:
Maye was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, although irregularities in the trial eventually led to his conviction being overturned and a new trial ordered.
Actually, if I have it right, only his death sentence was overturned, not his conviction. The cop killer is still in jail, waiting a second sentencing. And Ron Jones, the cop who Maye murdered, as I understand what happened, didn’t go into Maye’s apartment with a full SWAT assault, nor did he go in with his gun out. Perhaps had he gone in with a full assault, he would still be alive... but Dale and Radley and others wouldn’t have their poster child for claiming the real threat to society is out of control police. Ah, small sacrifices, right?

And finally,
Do I discount that special weapons and tactics may be necessary occasionally? No, I don’t. But I certainly don’t think that every podunk police force and Sheriff’s department in the US require one. In fact, I find it downright dangerous that they do.
Well, on first blush your position doesn’t seem out of line, "Three stoplights, 7 M-16s" does seem a bit strange.... unless, of course, your loved ones are in Podunk’s 7-11, being held hostage by a guy high on crank who’s threatening to kill them... and Podunk’s finest have neither the weapons nor the training to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, hostage situations and the like don’t take place only in the big cities. And I’d rather have my local force prepared to deal with such situations and, hopefully never have to, than to have the need and not be able to. A lot of homeowners have weapons for self-protection. Are they all facing imminent threat of someone breaking in and terrorizing them and their loved ones? Of course not. But we don’t limit ourselves to dealing with what will happen, but what might happen. And so do - and should - the police.
 
Written By: steve
URL: http://
"and that this was no no-knock raid, as Koresh and his followers were well aware the ATF was coming, "

I think the term "no-knock" refers to the actions, intended actions in this case, of the police and not the actions of the residents. Is it your position that the ATF intended to knock?

" it was only the ATF showing up with weapons drawn that provoked the otherwise peaceful folks "

From what I remember they were peaceful folks. What had they done prior to the raid to prove otherwise? Why is it a delusion that they would have reacted peacefully to a regular warrant service?

"Sometimes our cops have to deal with people who don’t conform to societal norms."

I am going to assume that was intentional understatement.

One final quibble;

" the blanket condemnations of them and their tactics that are sent their way"
"Do I discount that special weapons and tactics may be necessary occasionally? No, I don’t."

I am not quite sure what you mean by blanket condemnation. There is certainly a blanket condemnation of the misuse of such tactics, but there seems to be a clearcut affirmation of the utility and legitimacy of them when used appropriately.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
While I certainly wouldn’t think you were doing so, it sure seems that you are operating under the delusion that had the local police department shown up with their 6 shot revolvers holstered and knocked nicely on the door that the crazies inside would have opened their doors to the police, that it was only the ATF showing up with weapons drawn that provoked the otherwise peaceful folks inside to pull out their automatic weapons and start shooting.
Actually, what I’m suggesting is they could have taken Koresh into custody away from the compound anytime they wished as it was well known by the police that he traveled into Waco once a week. Think those 6 shot revolvers would have been adequate then?
This sad episode is a perfect example of why our law enforcement needs to have the resources they do and why they need to train to handle situations in which the suspects don’t come out just because a cop flashes his badge at them.
Except this was a situation of their manufacture and didn’t have to go down the way it did if they’d simply arrested Koresh outside the compound.
And Ron Jones, the cop who Maye murdered, as I understand what happened, didn’t go into Maye’s apartment with a full SWAT assault, nor did he go in with his gun out.
Nope ... he just broke down the man’s back door all by his lonesome and we all know that’s how police officers enter one’s home unannounced, don’t we Steve? And, of course, the biggest problem Maye had was he didn’t know the intruder he shot was the son of the police chief of Prentiss, Mississippi.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Steve, have you ever considered that it is the state that needs to show good cause for why they shot a citizen? We have stood that on its head and the citizen has to show good cause, right now, for why they should not have been shot. Is that really how you want things to be? You must be operating under the theory that you have no need to worry if you aren’t doing anything wrong.
 
Written By: Adam Selene
URL: http://www.thelibertypapers.org
Uh no...that’s the short answer. IF trained poh-leece ossifers is a threat to our precious life, property and freedom, myself and my neighbors would be even more of a threat.
We actually had a long history of locals acting as the SWAT team. Particularly those of us with a long Western tradition. I’m in California, but my family has been here since about 1870, and the local militia worked out well for a long time.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
We actually had a long history of locals acting as the SWAT team. Particularly those of us with a long Western tradition. I’m in California, but my family has been here since about 1870, and the local militia worked out well for a long time.


And if you’re willing to let PROFESSIONAL Peace Officers face criminal charges for their actions (don’t know if that IS the case) I think that the civilian SWAT/Militia idea is a non-starter. Simply put I’ll let the local "militia" handle the bank hostage situation:
1) As long as no one who owes me money or is related to me is in the bank; AND
2) The ATLA has been disbanded.

Plus, Populism does not = libertarianism, BTW. It the Common Man is not the end-all-be-all...in fact, libertarians would argue that SPECIALIZATION is the optimum idea. Why hire or use a PhD in Neurology as a "peace officer" when that person may have neither aptitude or inclination to BE a Peace Officer.

Would you use the "militia" suystem when you have a heart surgery pending? If you had a brain aneurism would use a militia system to find a surgeon.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The big problem is not simply SWAT or Tactical teams, it’s the mindset. Which was the factor, from what I’ve read, in the Corey Maye situation.

I don’t have the details available, but a couple of years ago I read of several agencies, mostly in western states, who got rid of their SWAT teams; they’d had several wrong address and/or excessive force problems, causing big lawsuits, and decided they weren’t worth the expense of both maintaining them and dealing with the legal crap. From the article I read, haven’t missed them, either.

Ref the Waco mess, one point I’ve read of that bears out the ’we have all this stuff to use’ was that the ATF people in the original raid were using armor-piercing ammo in their sub-guns. Question then, as now, was why? Unfortunately the real reason was "We’ve got it and we want to use it". Which goes back to the mindset problem with having a tac team and wanting to use in whenever possible.
 
Written By: Firehand
URL: http://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com
"From the article I read, haven’t missed them, either."

You are probably right. I will bet their are more situations requiring a SWAT team on prime time television than in real life.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"The big problem is not simply SWAT or Tactical teams, it’s the mindset."

One of the things that caught my attention during the Waco incident was the FBI shining bright lights on the compund and playing extremely loud noises over loudspeakers. The stated intention of this was to disorient the inhabitants and prevent them from sleeping, causing them to make bad decisions. I guess it worked.
Here we had a group of people described by law enforcement as delusional, dangerous religious fanatics, and they were employing tactics which would only result in them becoming even more delusional, dangerous, and fanatic. But that is what the manual said to do, so that is what they did.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Joe:
And if you’re willing to let PROFESSIONAL Peace Officers face criminal charges for their actions
What are you suggesting? That the current immunity laws are a good idea? Basically, unless it is horribly egregious, cops get away with, literally, murder. It is nearly impossible to win a civil suit for damages as well. Apparently you think this is a good thing?
 
Written By: Adam Selene
URL: http://www.thelibertypapers.org
And if you’re willing to let PROFESSIONAL Peace Officers face criminal charges for their actions (don’t know if that IS the case) I think that the civilian SWAT/Militia idea is a non-starter. Simply put I’ll let the local "militia" handle the bank hostage situation:
1) As long as no one who owes me money or is related to me is in the bank; AND
2) The ATLA has been disbanded.
Coffeyville and Northfield are good examples of the militia handling bank roberies.

And once Charles Whitman received return fire from the militia, he failed to kill any more victims.
Plus, Populism does not = libertarianism, BTW. It the Common Man is not the end-all-be-all...in fact, libertarians would argue that SPECIALIZATION is the optimum idea.
Last I checked, specialization was not a core libertarian concept. Libertarians certainly embrace is when it derives from individual choices. They don’t tend to embrace it when it derives from state coercion.

In any case, while my views are libertarian, they derive from a "leave me alone" Western background. My dad, the Bircher, grew up a cowboy. My family is long time Republican, but in fact my dad and I have always leaned more libertarian.
Would you use the "militia" suystem when you have a heart surgery pending? If you had a brain aneurism would use a militia system to find a surgeon.
Would you use a SWAT Team for heart surgery?

Nancy Tompkins-Gallagher says she would rather have one of her girls act as sniper if she was a hostage rather than a secret service sniper.

SWAT has largely evolved into snipers and entry teams. Quite a few civilians would do just as well or better as snipers. Incidently, some time back I shot with a fireman who won some police/firman precision shooting competition, beating out SWAT snipers (he outshot me to, but by only a few points). Few civilians have the entry team training (although Iraq might be changing that), but primarly I view that as a way of grabing the dope before it’s flushed, and since I’m not a supporter of the drug war I’m willing to let that slide.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Ref the Waco mess, one point I’ve read of that bears out the ’we have all this stuff to use’ was that the ATF people in the original raid were using armor-piercing ammo in their sub-guns. Question then, as now, was why?
They claimed that Koresh was known to have body armor. Several ATF MP-5s were seized by the Davidians, IIRC they were later part of the "seized" firearms the gov touted as justifying the raid.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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