Come Be a Badass With Garner PD

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

There’s so much wrong with this story:

It’s a recruiting video created by high school students to attract their peers to the Garner Police Department.

The 30-second video spot features a pounding electric guitar spliced over footage of officers in SWAT gear, a revving police chase and lots of guns. The Garner Police Department hopes to use the video to attract high school and college graduates.

Dawson Harris, a senior at Enloe High School and 1 of 5 students who created the video, says young people like to see SWAT-team action. The high schoolers worked for seven months in a video production class to produce a commercial that appeals to people in their early 20s.

Not that Garner is struggling with a crime problem. The suburb of Raleigh is enjoying its lowest violent crime rate since 2000 and hasn’t had a homicide since 2005.

You can watch the video here.

In researching Overkill, I interviewed one former police chief who’s quite wary of the whole SWAT phenomenon. He told me the following:

“The best way to staff your SWAT team is to get your department together and ask for volunteers. Then you write down the name of every guy who raises his hand, then you make sure those guys are never on the SWAT team. Not only that, but you keep an eye on them. Guys who are attracted to that kind of thing shouldn’t even be cops, much less SWAT guys.

Now watch that video again. A few things come to mind.

(1) You’d think that the Garner police chief would be disturbed that local high school kids think the best part about being a cop is kicking down doors, toting big guns, and loosing dogs on suspects. Instead, he’s flattered.

(2) Not only that, he’s using the video as a damned recruiting tool. Think for a sec about the mindset of the guy who watches that video, then gets so revved up, he decides he wants to be a cop, and heads down to the police station to sign up. That’s the guy to whom you want to hand over a gun and a badge?

(3) I’ll make my usual point here about why a town that hasn’t had a murder in three years and has virtually no violent crime needs a SWAT team in the first place, much less needs to make the SWAT team the focal point of its recruiting video.

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