Some truth about the militarization of police

BLUF – we think a helluva lot of what the ‘militarization of the police’ doomsayers and critics is just errant fuckery. This does not mean the DoD’s 1033 program is organized or administered properly (or even well) and it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t some things that could stand a hard eye. For instance, should departments be transparent (barring cases of officer survival, undercover, etc.)? Of course. Much of what is currently seen as police militarization, however, is based on misunderstanding, misperception and a lot of misrepresentation by the press. But if you’re one of those who think that LEOs wearing cammies and riding in an armored vehicle is a new thing, or that it heralds the impending subjugation of Free America by jackbooted police thugs, well…how about you take the aluminum foil off your head, come back to the real world and we’ll have us an intelligent and amicable palaver.

NYPD Machine Gun Squad
A motorcycle of the NYPD’s “machine gun squad” from about a century ago.

Maybe if we focus on real LE issues that genuinely need attention we can quit wasting energy and fickle public/political attention on those that don’t.

Grunts: palaver

We’re gonna start this discussion with excerpting some material from our friend Ross Elder’s blog. The author brings up a great point about the recent resurgence in the such discussions, to wit:

I do not find it a coincidence that this is occurring at the same time as unprecedented “displeasure” with the federal government. As I have taught officers from all over the globe, as a police officer you are generally the number one most visible and accessible representative of government. This is true of a brand new patrolman walking a beat in Mayberry NC. To some, he is the embodiment of Washington DC, despite the fact he has nothing to do with it and does not take orders from Washington.

He addresses the whole MRAP issue as well, because, you know, possession of an MRAP gives your average police department firepower roughly equivalent to an armored battalion.

An MRAP is a big bullet-proof box on wheels. It has no gun mounted on it, therefore it is not a “tank”. It allows officers to approach danger safely and to evacuate people safely. If you have never been shot at, you may not get it, but most of you will. This is usually the point where (and I have had this asked of me) I must state that it does not exist to transport you to some fictional FEMA camp. Seriously, do you really think that some tyrannical government is going to entrust me to enslave my fellow citizens, the ones I swore to protect and serve? Stop reading InfoWars…! I was involved in the acquisition of an MRAP for my old agency and, before that, an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. The reason? We found that we could not reach the most distant school in our jurisdiction fast enough if an active shooting occurred with a ‘113, therefore we got an MRAP. Nothing to do with the United Nations, Martians, or FEMA.

Police Armored Vehicle Breach Bang Clear
This M1A2SEP police Abrams Main Battle Tank, seen here with militarized police chobham armor and TUSK kit, was recently captured on undercover video by a media outlet that needed a picture to go along with their hyperbole.
Joint Task Force Awesome Member 5.11 Tactical
Joint Task Force Awesome

We won’t even try to justify the vast number of LE units that have, as some reporters have described it, so many ‘attack helicopters’. You may have seen this report already and may thus already be aware the average Sheriff’s Office can call more CAS support than the 75th Ranger Regiment. Shocking, that, and unforgivable.

(Note: in case you missed it, that was sarcasm.)

Recent events in Ferguson, MO have called attention to the militarization of law enforcement agencies. Recently national news reporters spotted this Rooivalk CSH-2 assault helicopter with police markings, possibly obtained through the 1033 program, over the skies of Tulsa.

Now, our minions have various opinions on the matter writ large, but one thing pretty much all of us are agreed on is this – while there are problems with modern policing, and an occasional tendency to want to be “too operator” in some departments and in some officers, the idea that the cops are out to get you, or that they’re “over equipped” is ludicrous. Fact is, most of us think ‘lack of training’ is a far more egregious problem with many LEOs than is the possession of militarized equipment (and that’s coming from some of the LEOs among our staff). We’re interested in hearing your opinion, agree or disagree, as long as we can maintain an academic discussion. If you’re going to just start bashing LEOs, or if you cannot differentiate between an old Peacekeeper, a Bearcat, an M113, an MRAP and a Stridsvagn 103C, then don’t bother chipping your teeth.

Start first with reading this article on The Elder Statesman. We’ll run some more articles on this topic in the days to come.

Mad Duo Over

61 thoughts on “Some truth about the militarization of police

  • September 19, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I do not believe police as a rule of thumb are more militarized, it’s just more publicized. Everyone is carrying a camera and recorder today. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. But look at it this way, there are thousands upon thousands of police officers and the media keeps providing us examples of the same few. I’m pretty disheartened with the media these days, it is really more for entertainment than knowledge. Why do i need days of what some ex playmate did before she overdosed and not the current situation in Ukraine?

    I agree totally that most of the time military equipment isn’t needed, but there are times when it is needed. Why should I go and arrest a two strike thug in a crack den with only a polyester shirt and a glock when he’s doped up and holding a stolen firearm along with a few of his freinds? It’s a job, nothing personal, fuck them. I’m going home to my wife and family when I’m done taking them in. My brother is current military, many of my freinds are current or former military. Many of my co-workers are current or former military. Yeah we discuss the pros and cons a lot. But i have up agree, our bearcat has no machine gun, grenade launcher, or unicorn tosser.

    But training and selection of proper police candidates is what is needed. I saw plenty and hear of plenty of fuck tards in the military and the police force. It’s pure human fucking nature, we fuck shit up sometimes, we’re not fucking robots.

    Yeah, it get me mad as shit when i see and hear folks down talk police knowing how hard i work and having folks hurt or dead doing the same. Yeah, the military and police are similar but they are differant fucking animals. You don’t hear about people screaming baby killer at returning servicemen anymore but you still hear donut chase, pig, etc. Shit, i would love it if cops weren’t needed but hell, people keep fucking up and will continue to want to fuck over their fellow man. It’s the 21st century, i can’t challenge a man to a dual in my front yard for insulting my woe anymore.

    • September 19, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Sorry for the rant and terrible grammar had a couple of scotches watching the Falcons game. Guys keep kicking doors and sending bad guys where they need to go.

  • September 16, 2014 at 12:46 am

    “if you cannot differentiate between an old Peacekeeper, a Bearcat, an M113, an MRAP and a Stridsvagn 103C, then don’t bother chipping your teeth.”

    Well that’s pretty close to a description of me. Now as I was never one to follow the commands of strangers and I’m too damned old to change my ways, I will chime in anyway. If my bona fides aren’t up to your standards just don’t read my post.

    After reading several articles on this blog I am amazed that the similarities of the murder of civilians by military units and the perception of local police role playing as para-military goon squads is so similar. The perspective is just from opposing view points.

    Military units gone ape shit is viewed as a break down in unit cohesion and sloppy leadership, while the preception of para-military police goon squads is viewed as some sort of assault on the sacred cow of the thin red line between Citizen and a world of El Salvadoran serial killers. It’s neither of those things and both of them. The trick is to try to see the point from the other guys vantage point.


    When I was a smart assed kid of 13 I had the local cop slap the snot out of me for being out after curfew. I resented that smack down but I also made sure I was home or on the way when 10PM rolled around. That cop probably saved me from a lot of trouble and grief. That cop, his name was “Bobt The Cop”, rode around some very tough streets on an old Harley 3 wheeler. He had no protective gear except his night stick and a vintage .38 S&W revolver. He knew everyone, including me, on his beat, and generally he was never alone. We all watched for him and out for him. He was “our” cop and no matter what the circumstances of our association with him, he was generally loved and respected by our neighborhood. He was in retrospect the ideal Protect & Serve Police Officer . To my knowledge he retired and I hope, passed on with a fishing pole in one hand and a cold one in the other.

    When I was a much older and wiser adult of 66 I was pulled over by a patrol car for exceeding the speed limit by almost 15 mph. I pulled over, shut off the engine of my truck, slowly placed both of my hands on the top of the steering wheel and watched in the rear view mirror as two officers approached my truck from the rear. This is a rural area with lots of space on both sides of a two lane highway.

    Officer #1 approached slowly, right hand on his pistol, up the drivers side of my truck as officer #2 walked toward the passenger side and out and away 10 yards, his pistol was drawn and in his right hand, pointed at the ground or his right leg, depending on his step.

    The rest of the story was uneventful from my perspective. I wasn’t shot by the fool on my left and the officer on my right didn’t die from the terror of having to contend with an old man who drives too fast.

    The opposing views is found in the examples. “Bob The Cop” served his community. He knew when to push and when to pull. Officers #1 and #2 were primed for the fight of their lives and had there been one they very possibly would have shot each other. Training, love of the community and the job, and confidence in yourself go a long way in projecting yourself as a Citizen and Community Servant or as Para-military Police Goon Squad tough guy.

    Others have mentioned more or less, that if you are fearful in your job, you probably won’t be very good at it. Lack of training, lack of dedication, lack of confidence are the ingredients I find sadly lacking in some, in many, but fortunately not in all police officers of our modern communities.

    Sorry about the long post but you know how it is with us old dogs.

    • October 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you say but unfortunately, the days of Andy Griffith and Barney Fife strolling around Mayberry protecting and Serving are too far gone. In those days, the average Joe living on the street corner in a suburban home did not have body armor, fully automatic machine guns, Large caliber or Long range rifles. My uncle was a lot like your Bob in ways that he properly used his discretion and knew when to throw the punch or hold it. If you look at the statistics though, you may find that when people started to arm themselves.. especially with large weapons and military style gear, far too many patrol officers were killed trying to do “the right thing” Your traffic stop about the two officers is totally justifiable in your thoughts that they severely escalated the situation and caused more harm than good. I only ask that you understand that things today are truly complex and sometimes are far from being able to be defined. There is one thing that i do not understand though. Why is it wrong to feel afraid or fearful? Why can’t I be scared when i go into the unknown? I am an 8 year Veteran of the Army who deployed three times to Afghanistan as an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Technician and now am an LEO in rural Northern Maine. There was not a day that went by when I was deployed that I wasn’t scared, that I wasn’t in fear of losing those who are close to me or losing my own life. I actually found it to beneficial because it truly made me think of others and to make the appropriate steps in my job. It stopped me from being reckless and putting others in jeopardy of being injured or killed. I am honestly more worried about those who are not scared because those are the ones who don’t feel emotion.. who make snap judgements with disregard to others and those who have no control of their discretion and are constantly escalating rather than deescalating situations. having emotions doesn’t make a cop a bad one.. it makes then a good one and it makes us human. I am very sorry about your traffic stop and how they made you feel but basing your argument with a small sample like these two hooligans is not fair for the rest of the Law Enforcement Community who would place their own lives before yours.

  • September 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Those who bemoan the “militarization” of our local, county and state police are the same progressive idiots who objected to body armor for officers back in the 70’s.

  • September 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Just a few thoughts from a combat vet who had a very brief career in law enforcement before coming to his senses:

    1) Violent crime overall is reaching historic lows, but it’s getting out of control among certain (smaller) sectors of society. Military gear that was developed for urban combat serves extremely well in a minority of highly dangerous circumstances for some departments. There is nothing inherently wrong with police departments generally acquiring gear that helps them protect their officers and the civil population at large.

    2) With greater infrastructural sprawl (developed roads, telecommunications, etc.), greater mobility within the United States and between the US and her neighbors, and growing civil population, the bad guys are likely operating as a smaller percentage of society, but the raw numbers of bad guys are growing. It is to be expected that there will be more SWAT-style raids now than there were even ten years ago.

    3) That greater mobility means that, instead of confining themselves to the bad parts of town, bad guys are operating among the ordinary civil population more often, rather than only in the rotten neighborhoods in towns. Because of this, more raids are taking place among populations that aren’t used to seeing raids. So it makes the headlines and everyone is outraged.

    4) EVERY Soldier knows that body counts sell newspapers. And if EVERY cop (or even a majority of cops) were corrupt, authoritarian, evil, crooked or assholes, it wouldn’t make the news when a cop abused his authority. I’ve lived in Latin America. I know. Much of this stuff makes the news because it IS the exception, not the rule. Americans are shocked and outraged by this because we don’t expect this kind of stuff out of our cops. Because for the most part, our cops don’t act this way.

    5) The proliferation of cameras is helping this stuff make the front page, where this stuff never surfaced before. That is, in turn, helping address the problem. No shift sergeant or captain or chief or sheriff wants their departments to make the headlines this way. I guarantee you many departments are addressing this problem, whether proactively because they see what’s going on around them, or reactively, after their butts get chewed by armies of attorneys, journalists and angry citizens. Look at Ferguson, MO. Their cop was probably 100% justified in shooting their beloved gentle giant, and the presence of Jesse Jackson is almost proof positive of a media/civil rights/race hustle shakedown on the cops. What are they doing now? Oh, all of a sudden THEY’RE ALL WEARING CAMERAS. They got negative attention, so positive change is happening.

    6) Cops all have their hands tied by budgets and bureaucrats. Much of our society is getting more violent because instead of executing our rapists, murderers and drug dealers, the cops arrest them, they go to prison for a few years, and then they’re right back on the streets. Cops can only put bad guys away for as long as the states and the courts let them, and the state legislatures have put revolving doors for the most violent offenders on our prisons. So yes, cops are dealing with more violent offenders in larger numbers, often in geographically static or shrinking areas. They need technology to deal with that, and a lot of that tech is military.

    7) There is virtually no reason for a cop to wear camouflage, and any department that allows them to do so is making their job harder. Cops should be issued camouflage only when raiding rural drug grows and armed resistance is expected. Any other time they ought to be in blue. The uniforms they issue send a statement about how they see themselves. Blue=public servant. Camouflage=kickin’ your ass. Pick your uniform, and you pick your message. Your civil population will react to the message you send.

    8) Most cops have families and homes that live in the areas they work in. If you think they want the local population rounded up and sent into a FEMA prison camp, you’re off your nut.

    TL/DR, there are valid reasons cops are using military tactics and equipment. Departments need to focus on community policing and professionalism. They should use military tactics and equipment as a last resort, and they should almost NEVER pull out camouflage uniforms. State legislatures and city councils have a duty to support the police in getting bad guys off the streets, and have been failing at this for decades. Authoritarian and/or abusive cops make the news because they’re the exception, and we should recognize this. Most cops are decent people trying to help out their communities, and are as interested in Agenda 21 being brought about as you and I are. We need to give props to good cops as often as (or more often than) we condemn the bad apples. Painting all cops as asshats because there are a few messed up departments and a small minority of officers only makes things worse.

  • September 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    For starters, I think the over-use of SWAT raids is an issue.

    Others have mentioned Boston after the bombing. For the sake of two felons on the loose, they basically imposed martial law on the city and conducted warrantless house-to-house searches. There are *always* felons on the loose in any major city in the US…so who gets to decide when we do this again? Having observed how Israel conducted a manhunt for a terror cell known to be moving in an urban area such as Tel Aviv at a time when there was a bus bombing almost every week, it did not look anything like Boston during the manhunt, and the public’s movement was not restricted other than some checkpoints on major roads to check cars passing through.

    As for gear, I have absolutely no issue with providing officers with as much protection as possible, but *perception* is important. When vets point out that they conducted raids overseas in hostile territory with less kit than many SWAT units are being issued, the question is raised as to whether that creates a good or a bad perception among the population.

    Also, remember that many of these complaints about militarization are based upon emotional reactions. Many SWAT units are outfitted in patterned BDUs. Is there a compelling *need* for this? The public associate the color blue with law enforcement. It’s a dark color. Navy is low-viz at night anyway (and there’s always the new 5.11 grey stuff). Cammo patterns are associated by the public with the military. Is the operational gain of outfitting officers in patterned BDUs so significant that it is worth the price of how this is perceived? Do I think the color of clothing makes a difference? No, I don’t…but I think to many in the public who form emotional opinions will think so. (Well…it might actually support a few individual officers’ perceptions of themselves in an operator-everything mindset as opposed to law enforcement). The public want to be able to easily see the difference between an officer and a soldier.

    • September 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Oh…and yes…TRAINING!!!!!!!! I couldn’t agree more with that.

  • September 15, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I’m sure my view is a tiny fraction of a percentage here, but I have no issue with the police being as armed as they want, so long as “we the people” can be so armed as well. The Constitution guarantees me the right of self defense, it does not guarantee me protection by law enforcement (this has been a federal court ruling, not my own opinion). The “militarization” of police is not something new by any means, it began with the prohibition, and worsened with the passing of the NFA.

    Safety, security, these are delicate issues, and not as black and white as we may like. Is there a legitimate need for the police (still people, just like everyone else) to have tools at their disposal to do their job; absolutely! Should LEOs expect to be blindly trusted; Absolutely Not!

    People are people, uniform or not, oath or not. A uniform is no guarantor of trust.

  • September 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    The US Forest Service has been using old Cobra gunships for years so all you paranoids need to bit the pillow and be afraid. Very afraid.

  • September 14, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I’m still puzzled at how you can militarize a para military organization?

    I’ve been on a department w 800+ officers for 24 years and we have had a 50 person swat team for longer then I’ve been there.

    In the 90s the team had years where they did upwards of 700+ high risk warrants a year. Today they average under 300 a year with a threat matrix that is followed and the team is only used when there are bonafide and confirmed bad people that need to be brought to justice.

    How is it again that swat use is out of control and growing? Oh yeah, camo, armor and the ACLU!

    Ah we wear regular street uniforms w body armor or O/D green and if you haven’t noticed the police have been using PPE equipment for decades, nothing new there really.

  • September 13, 2014 at 1:26 am

    My take on police militarization is that its BS to criticize cops for getting kitted up in plate carriers and ARs because they look intimidating, when so many of us call someone a liberal pussy for saying regular folks shouldn’t have plate carriers and ARs because they’re intimidating; we shouldn’t base our opinions on an emotional response. As others have touched on, mindset is key. Having proper training is key. Using the right tools for the job is key. Yes, the villains of the world today are more sophisticated and better armed. But how often have our police engaged in a gun fight with someone armed with an “assault rifle”? Or an RPG, grenades or IEDs? Whatever that number is, compare it to how often they get kitted up for general warrant service, or 30 minutes after an active shooter blew his brain out? I want a well equipped police force. I want a well trained police force. What I don’t want, is a police force that acts like they’re operating in Fallujah….I don’t think they do, as some seem to hyperbolize, but I think we might be on the edge of a slippery slope that could probably be corrected with a little more discretion from law enforcement.

    • September 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm


  • September 13, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Flashbanging grandmas house and coming in full force isnt always the best approach. I lost count of the number of raids I did in iraq. Often times using less force than what police are using now days. I agree police need swat teams im all for it but theres a time and place. In my opinion there being utilized far too often.

    • September 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Yes indeed

  • September 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    It’s true about the lack of training. Some cops will seek out training on their own but most cops get very little training from their departments and when budgets get cut, training is first on the chopping block. As long as it’s cheaper to bury us, the importance of training gets overlooked.

  • September 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Spend some time looking over these posts and articles about SWAT raids and make sure to read the comments:

    More military, veterans, gun owners and patriots than you seem to realize are disgusted with the out of control

    and abusive SWAT raids that are used for absolutely everything. If your only talking to cops you are definitely not reading the tea leaves correctly nor conducting a proper IPB.

  • September 12, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Your wrong, if you want to be a solider/ door kicker/ operator there is a place to do this. It’s called the military. Your a PUBLIC SERVANT not SEAL TEAM 6! More Andy Mayberry less War movies!

    • September 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      A public servant isn’t a slave! High risk warrants are for high risk violent crimes and criminals. The public doesn’t have a right to put a Police Officer in danger because he might hurt there feelings while using proper tactics. Or maybe your right and who cares how may cops are killed as long as you aren’t offended !

      • September 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

        If your afraid of the water don’t go for a swim. Stop shooting un armed civilians because of frightening thoughts in ur scared mind.i can’t even count the time I’ve been stopped for a traffic violation by three or four squad cars. Even dough my record shows no reason for the over used of public tax dollars.The word hero is used so many times to describe selfish egotistical maniacs. Whom take no pride in there work. Not to take credit from the few exceptions of men and women who are humble enough to take selfless actions every day with no fear in their heart yet they don’t consider them self heroic For doing their job protect and serve! By the way look at how many unarmed civilians have been killed as opposed to cops in the last ten years if anything cops don’t get killed enough I would say balance tilts the wrong way for someone who’s job claims to be so unsafe. More shipyard workers die a year and we don’t consider them hero’s now do we? High risk grow some balls officers when is your time it your time that’s life I would be a shamed to call my self a police officer these days

        • September 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm

          Ravn72, are you for real!? Just because someone is “unarmed” does not make them not dangerous. And your concept of “if anything cops don’t get killed enough”, wow……just wow. That is not an attitude I expected from a rational person. Wishing more of ANY profession to die is deplorable! Also, your comment regarding the dangers of shipyards – no one has claimed that law enforcement is the MOST dangerous job, but I will tell you this – how often in your line of work do you face an unknown person (to you anyway) knowing this could be the moment when your life could end? I have no idea what you do for a living, but this is the risk EVERY LEO faces at EVERY traffic stop, EVERY call, EVERY time they stop at the local quick stop for a quick bite and bottle of water, EVERY time we face someone. The statement you made about “men and women who are humble enough to take selfless actions every day with not fear in their heart…”, let me tell you this, we have PLENTY of fear. We put it aside to do our job. I am not expecting you to understand, but such statements show an ignorance that I find hard to ignore. As far as you being ashamed to call yourself a police officer, then I am guessing it is a good thing you are not. I hope you are the paragon of professionalism in your chosen field. I made every effort to be one when I was on patrol.

        • September 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm

          Dude, seriously?

      • September 15, 2014 at 4:46 pm

        Bill, the problem is that the no-knock warrants are being issued far more than ever, and quite often for situations that don’t pass muster as being high-risk.

        If there is a reasonable belief that the person will respond to a knock at the door with violence, then I absolutely support the idea of not putting officers at risk. However, if the home of a person with no history of violence needs to be searched, I do not agree that a no-knock warrant should be executed.

    • September 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Andy Griffith would get shot on day one in Compton or Watts or NY. Our police are, largely, a reflection of our society. Even in supposedly peaceful rural areas, the threat of violent drug dealers is high these days. Some cops are out of control, but most departments and officers react to their environment.

  • September 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Your picture from early 1900s NYC is invalid, as 1 NYC cops were (are still, but had less oversight then) extremely corrupt and brutal, and 2, this is prior to NFA 1934 when children could mail order a machine gun from a Sears catalog.

  • September 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Rod, facts man, tell me something I can sink my teeth into. Your argument is lame at best. Please, come back with facts that support your statements. It just seems like maybe you got arrested or a family member did and you now don’t like cops.

    • October 24, 2014 at 10:20 am

      It’s not an argument, it’s my opinion. Facts? read for christs sakes, that’s half the problem people want shit spoon fed to them, do some research I did, that’s how I formulated my opinion. I served so people like you and I could freely voice our opinions. It wasn’t meant for you to “sink your teeth into” It’s my public opinion that you’re more than free to agree/disagree or ignore.

  • September 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Good write up! The equipment mentioned is just one of many tools in the tool box. Nothing more. Anyway, MRAPS suck out loud in a tight urban environment. My single biggest concern vis a vis law enforcement interaction with the public is the (sometimes) rapid escalation of a conflict coupled with a very visible MINORITY of cops that get off on adverse situations. I truely do not know if it’s always been the case or we’re just seeing more of it, but everybody has a video camera now. Here’s a simple rule to live by…don’t do anything that your wife/mom/pastor/etc would be embarrassed by. If you see a fellow cop doing something that violates ones civil rights, run it up the chain of command! If you saw it happen,you and I both know it’s probably happened before, but without witnesses. My dad was a cop 20+ years ago. He told me of the shit they got away with and it was amazing someone wasn’t killed. I actually think law enforcement is much more professional today than just a few years ago. We just have further to go. A good cop is part marriage counselor, part mediator, a good listener, and a protector of those who can’t protect themselves. I’m not a revenue generator, nor am I a thug that uses force or authority to get what I want. I treat everyone I encounter like a human being (even if there is good reason to question their status as such) and have fewer instances where situations go sideways.


    Ex U.S. Army

    20+years as a public servant

    • September 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

      I agree wholeheartedly. I wish every public servant had your mindset.

    • September 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Well said sir

    • September 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      While I still think that the article is right, that is, military gear is often well-suited to a law enforcement role, and I also think that most departments are using SWAT-style raids more often as a result of more dangerous threats (MS-13, etc.), a LOT of departments need a lot more training in community policing, that is, building relationships in the local community that makes police A) approachable so crime can be reported effectively, and B) familiar with the community so that investigations can be faster, more proactive and as non-intrusive to law-abiding citizens as possible.

  • September 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t believe the issue of ‘militarization of police’ hinges solely on police departments obtaining milsurp equipment; it is however, the most VISIBLE example. Police over the last 30-40 years have begun responding to an increasing number of situations with ‘shock and awe’ tactics. This began with the War on Drugs and accelerated after 9-11.

    Police went from being the guys in blue like ADAM 12 and even Sheriff Andy Taylor to an obvious military look.

    They went from an officer or detective knocking on the door to ask if a subject was home or to serve a warrant to dynamic entry tactics. They say they do this for “Officer Safety” but officer safety DOES NOT trump the public’s right to a civilian police force, especially n a time when violent crime is DECREASING.

    In the 1970s when SWAT teams first appeared they were used ONLY for active shooter/hostage situations. Now, 75% of their uses are for warrant service…too often at the wrong house, where they shoot the dog and the startled homeowner, they ‘investigate’ themselves and their actions and find departmental procedure was followed so no big deal….they have to be sued to fix the door hinges at the wrong address.

    Police call us civilians now…but so are COPS, and we are all CITIZENS.Many special teams cops try to co-opt the term “Operator”.


    Overwhelming force is the go to tactic taught police now and instant submission is what police are taught to expect.This isn’t a police state. I will give you Boston after the marathon bombing as an example of too much militarization of the police. After basically treating the city and its citizens like it was Fallujah- de factor martial law was imposed and people were ordered into the street by machine gun toting up armored cops- it was a ‘CIVILIAN’ having a smoke on his back porch that found the perp.

    When the general public begins to perceive the police as heavy handed AND THEN see the police not only using military tactics BUT ALSO using military gear I do not blame them for becoming concerned.

    • September 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Hate to burst your bubble but using swat for drug raids is dropping out of favor and most teams are going back to only high risk/ hostage use. The old rhetoric is not being supported by the facts anymore but anecdotal examples. Look through current articles relating to tac teams. The truth is out there.

      • September 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm

        Let’s see, “In 1980, there were approximately 3,000 SWAT raids in the United States. Now, there are more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country.”

        “There has been more than a 1,400% increase in the total number of police paramilitary deployments, or callouts, between 1980 and 2000.”

        and “only 7% of deployments were for hostage, barricade or active-shooter scenarios.”

        Nice try but I’m not sure which facts you are referring too as the real facts are quite staggering in support of the ongoing militarization of the police and the use of SWAT for absolutely everything. Hell, they even man the DUI checkpoint where I live but then I live in Collectivistafornia so what can I say.

        • September 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm

          Since these numbers, which you and everyone else seems to want to site, come from the work of one guy, who wrote them in a book that is almost impossible to find without dropping big money (it’s out of print), are you able to actually say how he arrived at those numbers or are you just assuming that since they are on the interwebs they are accurate? I’ve searched all over and my google-fu is strong, but the closest I can come to figuring out where Karska (the academic that published these numbers) came by these numbers is through a “survey” of the agencies. There also does not seem to be an differentiation between a “raid” and a “call-out” made by Karska (two obviously different things). Not to mention, Karska stopped his data at least 14 years ago (his work was published in 2000), which, while interesting from a historical perspective, hardly makes this current. So yes, are some SWAT teams utilized for high-risk warrant service? Yes they are. Is there over 80,000 SWAT “raids” each year in the US? Highly unlikely.

        • September 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

          Untrained militant ass holes with military capacity is just what the world needs.the give mrap’s to school districts in california u never know if a six year old kid insurgency might rise to power and cause a riot with ied’s and all what a waste as the crime rate goes down we militarize our police force. Isn’t free coffee and donuts enough to thank them for the outstanding over use of force . Of course not lets give them tanks so our roads get more f $!# up way to go america!

    • September 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Great comment Smedly!

    • September 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm


      You’re basing your perception of how policing should be based on a TV comedy show based in the 1930s – The Andy Griffith show and a TV crime drama of the 1960, which I might point out introduced the world to SWAT and never talked about Viet Nam; They are both Television shows made for entertainment purposes. They are not real life.

      When people have warrants issued for their arrests or a warrant has been issued to search their homes they have been accused of having committed a crime in the case of an arrest warrant and the court believes they have evidence of a crime in their possession in the case of search warrant. That is the way they get issued. In other words, the police did not simply pick a person or home at random and say, let us arrest that person or search that home.

      How the warrants get served is based on what the warrant is for. A white collar criminal, a non-violent crime is almost always going to be arrested by patrol officers during the normal course of their day. Either by chance or through an active warrant service. Crimes of violence or those individuals with a history of violence will get their warrants served very differently indeed but they’ve earned that extra level of service by the crime they have committed or their history.

      No detective is going to knock on a door by himself and ask for a guy with a warrant for murder, or robbery or ADW etc. It would be stupid.

      You make a statement that most warrants are served “too often at the wrong house”. If you mean warrants should be served at the right location every time I agree. If you meant to say a lot of warrants are served at the wrong places most of the time, I strongly disagree. Police officers who search the wrong home have violated the civil rights of the occupants and are subject to being sued under 42 U.S. Code § 1983. The outcome for being found guilty of violating someone’s civil rights is substantially more than simply fixing a door.

      As to Boston. It was a no win situation for the police. If they did not lock down the city and Tsarnaev escaped the media and the public would have called them incompetent and demanded their heads on a pig pole. They would have demanded to know why more wasn’t done to catch the terrorist. How dare they allow him to escape and endanger the public. As it is, they did catch Tsarnaev and they called them incompetent and they have demanded their heads on a pig pole. BY the BY, no officer that I saw on TV in Boston and a machine gun. Rifles (M4) yes, but no machine guns (M60, M249 etc).

      • September 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

        I think a major factor in this is the technological and manufacturing advances that have lead to cheap, readily available body armor and the like. Not to mention the whole tacticool movement and its impact on society’s perceptions. Back in the day the only way the police could look “military” would be to throw on some flak jackets and gas masks. The fact that they are now wearing body armor warps most people’s perception to favor these “shock and awe” tactics you’re talking about. But honestly, it makes sense. Body armor and military tactics are used because they work. The police aren’t engaging in full-frontal assaults or ordering drone strikes on suspects’ houses like the term “shock and awe” implies.

  • September 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

    @JBgleason – QuikClot was developed/invented by a private company; ZMedica and was adopted by the military after testing by the Navy proved its effectiveness. Its a good thing and I am glad LE has it available to them but your facts are not entirely correct.

    • September 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      @msmartt – Any idea where the funding for the development program and a lot of the ideas came from? I know and the location is just outside Fayetteville, NC and in Bethesda, MD. My facts are correct but that doesn’t matter. The more you know… From an old article on the subject. “QuikClot is the flagship product of Z-Medica Corp. in Wallingford, Conn., which worked closely with the Office of Naval Research to develop and package the product, and which will have received roughly $150,000 in Navy research and development grants by the end of the year…” It’s almost as if I was involved in the program back then… Hmmm…

  • September 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I loved the article, even caught up with the sarcasm. We recently had two officers shot – both applied tourniquets to stop heavy bleeding. Okay, we didn’t crank up our MRAP. All that was used was training sponsored by…. Maybe if I whispered it no one would notice. But, seeing as how I’m just an over-authoritarian geek with control issues what do I know.

    • September 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Deal with it you took the job. What u expect a lifetime of nothing ever happening. And with that said sell your unnecessary military equipment and buy some well trained instructor. Live rightfully serve and protect. So your family members could have something to be proud of. May you have a full life and if you die serving your life purpose may you have and intact memory of your life to be remembered for ages. Be safe not scared friend

      • September 15, 2014 at 6:34 pm

        “Deal with it you took the job”?

        Is that what you tell Soldiers who sent their buddies home in meat sacks?

        You make a valid point that good training is needed. But when you imply that cops’ families have nothing to be proud of and that they have no right to complain when their buddies get killed, you’re being an asshole.

        I’m a decorated combat vet, and I’m friends with more than a couple of cops. I know guys that have put in 60+ hours of unpaid personal time to conduct surveillance on drug houses so that they could have a neighborhood with less drugs being dealt in front of schools, guys that wade through blood and shit on a daily basis to try and keep the streets clean and safe for me and my family. Are there abusive assholes in law enforcement? Yes. And there damn sure are in the Army as well. The difference is that cops don’t get to just shoot their enemies on sight, and they LIVE in their warzones. Jimnden appears to be accepting criticism of his profession. That means he’s probably a professional and a good man. Want more good cops? Try recognizing them when you meet them.

  • September 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a thousand posts on FB asking, “When did this (shows picture of Norman Rockwell-esque picture of a police officer sipping coffee and smiling) become this (shows picture of the afore mentioned police M1A2 main battle tank)?” While officer Wilson’s guilt or innocence remains to be seen, the absolute fact is that if Barney Fife had shown up in Ferguson with one bullet in his pocket the result would have been significantly different. Violent crime being at historic levels has forced the hand of the local LEO. New threats require new tactics to defend against them. Even Andy Taylor couldn’t have talked down those rioting hooligans. Well written article, agree 100%.


    father, Marine vet, EOD tech.

    • September 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Andy Griffith didn’t live during a war on drugs.

      That’s what has caused most of this adversarial attitude. I think without it, and the things that have come because of it have eroded the trust the law enforcement community has of the people and vice versa. If Andy was out doing no knock raids on Otis, Otis would have changed his attitude.

    • September 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Well in contrast to the Norman Rockwell painting there is the opposite picture today of the black clad ninja-wannabe with black ski mask and I happen to agree with Col. Jeff Cooper on the subject when he said:

      “I have been criticized by referring to our federal masked men as “ninja”… Let us reflect upon the fact that a man who covers his face shows

      reason to be ashamed of what he is doing. A man who takes it upon

      himself to shed blood while concealing his identity is a revolting

      perversion of the warrior ethic. It has long been my conviction that a

      masked man with a gun is a target. I see no reason to change that view.”

    • September 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      I think we’ve evolved past the town drunk being our greatest threat. Accountability is key here. When Otis is the biggest problem in your town then shame on you for owning an MRAP. Unfortunately that’s not the case anymore

    • September 15, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      No Andy Taylor would have done something he very rarely did, strap on am iron, grab a shotgun, and enforce the law. Sheriff Taylor was what law enforcement was, i did a few years as an explorer, or junior deputy, and I was witness to the miracles of the principles of community policing. The Deputy that I often rode with, learned from formed bonds with the community leaders, and helped clean the neighborhood up with the help of code enforcement, and county ordinances. I find that agencies rely too heavily upon the sword and shield, and not the word of the land. Its just like tinted windows in a cop car, i hate it, the public should see you, and you should see them. Now I am under no delusion that the world has changed since my years as an explorer, and the day that the towers fell our lives were changed, and law enforcement has to change too, but i find it sad that the number of ways a deputy can subdue a person has increased and so has the toys in the car and on their belt.

  • September 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I just got back from Urban Shield in Oakland where there was a sizable “anti Militarization of Police” protest. As I walked back to the hotel post-dinner and several adult beverages down I encountered a group of protesters. Since I don’t cruise about as a walking billboard for 5.11, they didn’t immediately recognize me as a US participant. So I engaged them in a few questions that went like this…

    Me- So you guys are protesting against the militarization of police?

    Hairy arm pitted Girl and nasty dreadlock hair Guy- Yeah. Their tanks and machine guns are what’s wrong with America!

    (Series of questions back and forth as I set them up for what I came there to do.)

    Me- Hmmm. So all military technology is bad because it makes the police more aggressive and that harms citizens?

    Protestors- Yep, now you are getting it.

    Me- OK. Gotcha. Hey, I checked out the trade show they had today (They clue to the fact that they should have been spitting on me all along.) and I saw this QuikClot stuff that the military designed and a bunch of military medical kits. The military helped invent all that stuff and has been using it for years. The military is the primary source of medical advancements if you didn’t know. Now police agencies are adopting it and have been using it to save citizens injured and bleeding out before EMS arrives. How is it again that is bad thing? Explain to me how police using military medicine hurts people.

    Protestors walk away. I express disappointment at them not even attempting to engage on this.

  • September 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I can only speak on that which I’ve been exposed to, I agree that lack of training is the biggest culprit but if one stands back and looks at policing through the larger prism of time you’d see that the LEO profession like any other, where authority and power are held (clergy, politics, the military) people with control issues gravitate to these professions and are the root of some of the problems. I would rather see an MRAP piloted on the streets of my home town by sensient, psych evaled, trained professionals than any goof in a squad car that got picked on in high school and has a badge and an attitude.

    Rod McNeely

    Navy puke, Father, and inquisitive minion.

    • September 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

      “any goof in a squad car that got picked on in high school and has a badge and an attitude.”

      When this is your attitude about the majority of police, I don’t see how the conversation can go any further.

      Please support this with facts. Thanks.

      • October 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

        I apologize for your misunderstanding, I do not look at the majority of LEO’s this way, it was an “either or” situation which I thought I conveyed pretty clearly but for the record once again, that is not my opinion of the majority of LEO’s.

    • September 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      Your right, you have no experience as to this topic or any related subject. So let me add some intelligent input based on my experience. The world of crime and terror has become sophisticated beyound comprehension. There are orginizations that have weapons budgets greater than most police or federal law enforcement agency. That knowledge is no surprise for the people who put on the outdated gear and uniforms to keep that evil at bay. People only see in the news that the latest arrest was made and drugs were found with a cache of guns. Those minions such as Mr. Mcneely fail to grasp that someone had to go through that door to effect the arrest and seizure of the evidence. Most of the time that person is your average street cop with no automatic weapon or wazoo high tech gear. That type of gear is reserved for highly trained tactical professionals that normally go into situations that Mr. Mcneely would never understand. Our police agencies are only trying to keep up with the weaponry available to the world they are sworn to fight against. As far as I know there are no policing agencies allowed to carry grenades, RPGs, IEDs, poison aerosols etc, etc, etc. The average cop does not have the proper defense capability to repel a criminal with a semi/full auto rifle simply due to the fact that the technology to do so surpasses the any policing agencies budget. Criminals however can order up or steal an impact resistant vehicle with the latest body armor to do what they will do. Which is normally crime against the average public. So Mr. Mcneely, it takes an above average person with an above average ability to push his/her personal feelings aside to get the daily job done.

      Highly Trained Navy Veteran still protecting the cluless minions.

      • September 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

        Cobravenom067, your response is exactly what Rod McNeely was talking about. Your extreme examples of sinister agencies out to destroy the world as we know it are not what 99.999% of LEOs are facing one time in their entire careers. Furthermore, by trying to belittle us as poor minions who can’t grasp or comprehend simple concepts shows that you view yourself as superior to your fellow citizens. You also said that “our police agencies are only trying to keep up with the weaponry available to the world they are sworn to fight against”. That sounds a lot like the military’s role, not the police force. As far as I know law enforcement is meant to serve and protect, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. More cobravenom, “the average cop does not have the proper defense capability to repel a

        criminal with a semi/full auto rifle simply due to the fact that the

        technology to do so surpasses the any policing agencies budget.” Guess what? Average criminals aren’t running around with assault rifles. “Criminals however can order up or steal an impact resistant vehicle with the latest body armor to do what they will do.” Really, where do I get one of those? Is there a criminals only SEARS catalog for them? I mean there are so many stories of reckless criminals tearing up main street America in armored vehicles. Luckily, we have above average highly trained Navy veterans such as yourself who are able to push your personal feelings aside to protect us poor clueless minions. In summary, I don’t mind police departments getting surplus military gear. I just don’t want people with your mentality behind the wheel or trigger of that gear. I want a humble officer that thinks of his district as his home, not a war zone filled with targets.


        simple minded, clueless minion

        • September 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          When I was a police man in new York on numerous occasions I have had run ins with drug dealers in armored Mercedes and land rovers, they are avaliable. Also isn’t it the right of each police officer to protect themselves? Who give anyone the right to take that away?

        • October 24, 2014 at 10:06 am

          I appreciate your candor, and yes Cobravenom is right in the fact that I could be ill informed but to that fact I have witnessed enough in 48 yrs and have enough LEO’s in the family that I feel pretty confident in my statement and the overall snide and condescending tone of Cobravenoms response does nothing to either deter or disprove my opinion (in fact, as mentioned above you kind of exhibit that mentality) and it is just that, an opinion. It is also just my experiance where I live, I hide behind no fake nondeplume my name is right here, google it and see where I’m coming from.

      • September 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

        So the swat team raiding a fraternity in a small bf college town I lived in for half an ounce of coke? Or maybe a member of that same police force who was a high school drop out and was caught on record saying he took the job so he could carry a gun? Mr. Mcneely was not speaking about the majority but the clowns like those mentioned here.

      • September 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        Sure thing voice of experience but you kind of lack spelling experience. Makes it a lil hard to take you seriously. Just my unexperienced opinion. And I love how u include terror with crime as if a 14 year old pot dealing child is to become the new isis recruit. beware of the terrorist next door!

        • September 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm

          Irony – Picking on someone for spelling and then writes lil instead of little and u for you. I won’t even comment on the grammar. SMH

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