Training the Police State’s Next Generation

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Remember when the Boy Scouts were merely about helping old ladies across the street, learning how to tie a decent knot, and excluding gay people?

Meet the post-9/11 Scouts.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

This is really despicable stuff.

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87 Responses to “Training the Police State’s Next Generation”

  1. #1 |  claude | 

    “You too make a valid point, but you’re taking the “knee in the back” out of context. The scenario was with a vocal lookout during a raid on an illegal enterprise. What other option would you have them recommend? Asking politely? Sometimes the use of force is justified. That seems to be another thing most people here disagree with me about, there seem to be an awful lot of people around here who believe the use of force is never justified. I find that idea crazy.”

    Or maybe, just maybe, they feel that none of that is a job for a 13 yr old? I used to win knot-tie competitions when i was in scouts back around 1979.

  2. #2 |  claude | 

    ” I can see why people who don’t like or believe violence solves anything would have a problem with teaching kids small unit tactics.”

    How about we just teach them to make a fire by rubbing 2 sticks together?

  3. #3 |  Goose-stepping Our Way to the Fourth Reich | Probable Cause | 

    […] similarity between trends in the United States of America and the totalitarian regime of Hitler in an article about a new Boy Scout Explorer program.  It seems that we’re preparing our children to […]

  4. #4 |  Steve | 

    @ClubMedSux (#37) As for the fascist comparisons, I think that stems from WHAT they’re being trained to do. “‘Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,’ a Border Patrol agent explained. ‘I guarantee that he’ll shut up.’” Why are we teaching this to teenagers?

    Why are we teaching grownup LEOs to automatically put people on their faces with a knee in the back? I can understand doing that if you have a violent criminal (murderer, rapist, bank robber) who has the body strength to resist. But this seems to be SOP these days, even in cases not involving violence or similar risks. I suspect that most LEOs who do this unnecessarily are on a power trip, trying to humiliate and possibly hurt people who dare to question their authoritah.

    There are a number of medical conditions (spine injuries, recent surgery, etc.) which would put the victim in a great deal of pain, if not cause harm, or in the worst case death. I’m curious if anyone knows of any incidents in which a person with a medical condition actually died from the unnecessarily rough treatment? Have any other victims sued over such treatment?

  5. #5 |  Red Green | 

    Look at the photo again. Now, is what you see what we thought the boy scouts would look like in the future? Well, I guess “the future” is here, and it does not look right to me.

  6. #6 |  Matt D | 

    Well, I don’t think people have a problem necessarily with the use of force so much as they do the frequency and circumstances of its application by the police, and the fact that there’s rarely consequences for those officers who abuse it. And I’d agree with that position–I don’t really relish the idea of cops who can beat/shoot me with the flimsiest of justifications.

    Still, there is a real disconnect in terms of attitude. You know, anyone who wants to be a cop must be a power-tripping fascist, but all gun owners are responsible, upstanding and freedom-minded citizens. Of course, there’s a huge overlap between those groups. Likewise, the notion of police w/ military experience or training is apparently frightening, but gun-toting private citizens with the same experience, training, and attitudes is always a Good Thing. And all the pop psych analysis of why people become cops (attraction to power and all that) could just as easily be applied to private gun ownership, but you’re not supposed to admit such things.

  7. #7 |  Steve | 

    @Tokin (#46) you make a very valid point, but I obviously disagree. There is always going to be a need for these kinds of tactics and I don’t think anyone can seriously argue there isn’t.

    I can. There is no excuse to jam your knee in the back of a person who won’t “shut up.” That’s the behavior of a thug and a bully, not someone who is tasked with protecting people from criminals who would harm them.

    We need more Andy Taylors. Even a Barney Fife would be somewhat tolerable, rather than the corrupt, power-hungry robots we get now. Yeah, maybe there are a number of cops who don’t engage in the worst behavior, but the reason they aren’t “good cops” is that 99.99% of them will protect the bad cops, always. Whenever a cop crosses the thin blue line, he is branded as a rat and a snitch (look at how Internal Affairs are portrayed on pop shows–as the “rat squad” who are always out to get the poor, poor cops). Oftentimes the cops who cross the line are disciplined, fired, harassed, and even prosecuted–all for doing the right thing.

    So, excuse me if I’m disgusted by your blind acceptance of a culture of thuggery, militarization, protection of corruption, and anti-thought which infects modern police forces like a cancer.

  8. #8 |  Steve | 

    @Mattocracy (#47) They are supposed to peace officers. Cops are supposed to keep the peace at home and not wage war against their fellow citizens.

    Amen!

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Let me make it clear that my comment in #2 was not an anti-gun comment. It was an anti-school-shooting-hysteria comment. I was simply pointing out the irony that behavior that would easily considered scary by many school administrators from one kid is being actively encouraged in others.

    I doubt you’ll find many people as anti-anti-gun as me. I don’t believe an interest in guns leads to murder anymore than an interest in women leads to rape.

    I don’t believe, however, that this program encourages an interest in guns. Gun clubs do that. This program encourages something more sinister. It’s selling violence as glamorous. It’s like trying to recruit kids into the military by telling them its an “adventure”.

  10. #10 |  Steve | 

    @Tokin (#48) Sometimes the use of force is justified. That seems to be another thing most people here disagree with me about, there seem to be an awful lot of people around here who believe the use of force is never justified. I find that idea crazy.

    I haven’t seen anyone saying that the use of force is never justified. The problem with the current law enforcement culture is that LEOs are encouraged to dress and act like occupying soldiers. They are taught to not think (always “procedure” “procedure” “procedure”), not to worry about being held accountable for using force when unnecessary (they aren’t), and to take relish in humiliating, hurting, and wrongfully arresting and charging people for the crime of Not Giving a Cop Proper Respect.

    You seem to be oblivious to this, which is the major objection of commenters (as well as Radley). Also, teaching minors actual tactics, and trying to instill in them this superior attitude is disgusting. Don’t you agree?

  11. #11 |  Steve | 

    @Tokin (#50) I’m unsure as to the “why” but for some reason almost every self-described libertarian I meet has an issue with the use of force and/or violence

    Go meet more people. A common precept of libertarianism is the non-initiation of force, not a blanket proscription on force. Indeed, many libertarians I read on this here web describe themselves as being well-armed and prepared to defend themselves.

    Another factor here, which you seem to be overlooking, is that many of the uses of force by LEOs these days is directed at people for “vice” crimes.

    Personally I don’t share that same fear of violence…

    Who fears violence, in and of itself? It’s all about initiation of the use of force, as well as use of force against non-violent “criminals” who aren’t hurting anyone else.

  12. #12 |  Wayne | 

    This program clearly does not encourage an interest in guns. I take my 7 year old down to the range and let her shoot a 22 rifle for that. I would have to draw the line at her “training” for a hostage situation and putting handcuffs on anyone, even if there were no guns involved.

    Instead of selling popcorn door-to-door, will these little kids be selling steroids?

  13. #13 |  Steve | 

    @Matt D (#56) You know, anyone who wants to be a cop must be a power-tripping fascist, but all gun owners are responsible, upstanding and freedom-minded citizens. … Likewise, the notion of police w/ military experience or training is apparently frightening, but gun-toting private citizens with the same experience, training, and attitudes is always a Good Thing. And all the pop psych analysis of why people become cops (attraction to power and all that) could just as easily be applied to private gun ownership, but you’re not supposed to admit such things.

    Straw man. I haven’t seen anyone arguing that all gun owners are good. Certainly, most people who respect the individual’s right to own the most effective means of self defense explicitly refer to the number of criminals with guns as a major reason why good people should be armed. So much for your fictional “all gun owners” and “always a Good Thing” nonsense.

    What you may be misreading is the reaction to the anti-freedom crowd who suggest that civilians can’t be trusted, that a hunk of metal has the power of mind control over anyone who holds it. Against such disgustingly false claims, it’s only natural to argue that most gun owners are peaceful and responsible, as a counter-argument.

  14. #14 |  Be Prepared…to Fight Terrorists - Think Free : Freedom Politics | 

    […] of the commenters over at The Agitator made a very pointed observation: Wow. When I was in JROTC in high school, the instructors and military guests were always extremely […]

  15. #15 |  Luke Johnson | 

    @Matt D (#56)

    A lot of that stems from the knowledge that a non-cop is a lot more likely to be held accountable if they do a bad thing than a cop under identical circumstances.

  16. #16 |  Tokin42 | 

    #60 Steve

    They are taught to not think (always “procedure” “procedure” “procedure”), not to worry about being held accountable for using force when unnecessary (they aren’t), and to take relish in humiliating, hurting, and wrongfully arresting and charging people for the crime of Not Giving a Cop Proper Respect.

    You seem to be oblivious to this, which is the major objection of commenters (as well as Radley). Also, teaching minors actual tactics, and trying to instill in them this superior attitude is disgusting. Don’t you agree?

    Short answer – No, I do not. My problem with the whole militarization issue is almost strictly based on training, I happen to agree with radley that the use of SWAT teams is completely out of control but that’s a different issue. The question here is why is it “reprehensible” to teach what these kids are learning? Why is wanting to become a cop/border agent/coroner fascist? I’ll say it for the 20th time in this thread, this is about professionalism. Teaching kids being a cop involves honor, duty, and sometimes the righteous use of force is a good thing, not “reprehensible”.

    Not to change the thread topic but IMO, the whole “non-initiation” of violence issue is b.s. spewed by people who are unable to defend themselves because they are either physically or mentally weak. Remember, the same non-initiation argument was made against ryan frederick….”if he had waited until the officer was through the door he would have known not to shoot”. It’s always a bad argument and a quick way to get killed, or at a minimum, get an ass beating. As a matter of fact I could easily argue that the whole problem behind our societies need of an aggressive police department is directly related to refusal of citizens to use force when necessary. Here is what’s disgusting and reprehensible, We’ve relegated ourselves to a police state because we’re too afraid to take care of ourselves.

  17. #17 |  Les | 

    Teaching kids being a cop involves honor, duty, and sometimes the righteous use of force is a good thing, not “reprehensible”.

    The fact that you think that current police culture has anything to do with “honor,” is no different than leftists who think the government can educate our kids and keep people from making bad decisions for themselves. What is “honorable” about teaching kids to put their knees on someone’s back to shut them up?

    Yours is a faith-based argument, devoid of analysis based on objective observation.

    And to suggest that I, or others hear, fear violence or think that it can’t be used for good, is disingenuous. It’s the government we fear, not violence as a tool for good. And again, to trust the government to use violence primarily as a force for good is no different than trusting it to effectively and competently hand out health-care to all its citizens. It’s ultimately a leftist’s position.

  18. #18 |  Les | 

    …others here

  19. #19 |  Ken’s Weblog » Blog Archive » History continues to repeat itself | 

    […] Training the Police State’s Next Generation. […]

  20. #20 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Maybe if the police actually showed restraint and maybe if there wasn’t a new story every fucking day about police misconduct and false arrests for breaking laws that don’t exist, then maybe I wouldn’t care.

    You mean like the El Monte police officer kicking a suspect in the face after the suspect was on the ground with arms and legs spread? That kind of abuse? I bet that shuts them up too.

    Tokin42,

    Here is what’s disgusting and reprehensible, We’ve relegated ourselves to a police state because we’re too afraid to take care of ourselves.

    Yes, and applauding these young Explorers for what they are doing isn’t going to help, but continue the problem. You are being amazingly inconsistent.

  21. #21 |  Oatwhore | 

    I love how they are in Imperial, CA learning how to be Imperial Stormtroopers.

  22. #22 |  Steve | 

    @ Tokin (#66) Not to change the thread topic but IMO, the whole “non-initiation” of violence issue is b.s. spewed by people who are unable to defend themselves because they are either physically or mentally weak.

    Nice ad hominem, there. Standing on the principle that you shouldn’t harm someone who isn’t hurting you is weakness? Do you realize that taking your remarks to their logical conclusion leads to justifying attacking innocent people? Maybe you better rethink this.

    … the … non-initiation argument [is] always a bad argument and a quick way to get killed, or at a minimum, get an ass beating.

    You seem to be confused about the concept. Non-initiation doesn’t mean waiting until there is actual contact. A credible threat of violence against an innocent person is the initiation of force. Point a gun at your neighbor’s wife and he has every right to shoot you. He’s not initiating force. You did that.

    I’m not even going to bother trying to discuss the rest with you. Pearls before swine.

  23. #23 |  ZZMike | 

    This is way cool! You get to wear neat uniforms, carry guns, boss people around, and make sure the Bad Guys don’t take over. And the Government will tell us who the Bad Guys are. The Government is never wrong.

  24. #24 |  chance | 

    On the other hand, when I was 16, standing next to a girl saying “I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” would have totally made my day.

  25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #71 Oatwhore

    I love how they are in Imperial, CA learning how to be Imperial Stormtroopers.

    Haha! Good catch.

    You hit the nail on the head. They aren’t being prepared to be police officers and they’re learning about law enforcement in the traditional sense. They’re really learning how to be storm troopers. They aren’t learning about solving crimes or tracking down robbers and rapists. They’re learning how to be mindless attack dogs.

    They aren’t learning how to deal with terrorism, they’re learning how to deal out terrorism.

  26. #26 |  Tokin42 | 

    72

    i was yanking your chain, kinda. I’m a firm believer that society started downhill as soon as people decided that assholes were allowed to be assholes without fear of retribution and that started because people were afraid to take care of things themselves. People want to believe they’re better than the animal in their DNA, but they aren’t.

  27. #27 |  the friendly grizzly | 

    The Police Explorer program has been around for a long time. Back in the mid-70s I had a PE working for me part time as a salesman in my Radio Shack store. Full of bravado, a lot of racist talk (REAL racist talk, not what passes for it today). And of course a Good Christian.

    Little bastard also stole out of my shop, and I proved it. I fired him, and got flack from the local police force. I stood my ground, showed proof. They backed off, but he remained in the PE.

    Imagine my shock and surprise.

  28. #28 |  Xanthippas | 

    It would be nice to find one blogger who understands the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Exploring program. Hasn’t happened yet. This ain’t exactly a new program.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploring_(Learning_for_Life)

  29. #29 |  matthew | 

    I don’t feel like the problem is kids wanting to be cops or border agents. I’m completely fine with that, and used to play cops and robbers as a kid. I also played out that I was a doctor. I think the difference here is that telling a physician that I wanted to be a doctor would elicit a response encouraging me to read and study biology and anatomy, while these programs are the equivelant of handing me a scalpel and telling me to have at it. A rather distinct difference for such young minds…

  30. #30 |  GreginOz | 

    “Kill the pig…kill the pig…”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies

  31. #31 |  Aspasia | 

    @#59: I don’t believe, however, that this program encourages an interest in guns. Gun clubs do that. This program encourages something more sinister. It’s selling violence as glamorous.

    Exactly. We all know that there are a myriad of ways to be extremely violent without any guns brought into the equation. We all also know that the presence guns do not automatically equal violence. Nothing good comes from the mentality that physical violence needs to be initiated to “shut someone up” for talking “too much” or saying something you object to.

  32. #32 |  Noumenon | 

    I don’t comment here often, but I’ve been on enough comment forums to know that Tokin is a troll. He absolutely will make it hard to form a respectful commenting community if you don’t ban him.

  33. #33 |  akromper | 

    http://www.ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?S=10366961

    Some people don’t need training to be bully’s, it came naturally. Haven’t the PD’s a large enough pool to choose from? Or are they just trying to gain credibilty by saying “over 50%” of our officers were former scouts and explorers. Can’t help but ask if Testilying is going to be a new merit badge. Only offered on Sundays.

  34. #34 |  TheHiker | 

    Had seen the news article about the “Explorer Scout” SWAT-Team Wannabe Program … which is certainly quite unlike any of the life-skills I learned as an Explorer (thank g/God!). Then I discovered this blog.site, with the range of comments.
    Seems to me that the summation of the discussion is pretty well covered — and confirms explicitly why I strongly oppose The Newly Militarized Explorer Scout program — just a click or two away:

    Posted in Police Militarization | 83 Comments »

    Fifth Circuit Says No SWAT Teams for Regulatory Inspections
    Monday, May 11th, 2009
    It’s a “Well gee, you’d hope so” sort of victory, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that using a SWAT team to conduct an administrative or regulatory search is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
    The case stems from what was clearly a drug raid conducted on a bar in Louisiana by the Rapides Parrish Sheriff’s Department. But the raid was conducted under the auspices of an alcohol inspection, which allowed the department to get around the need for a criminal search warrant.
    The Fifth Circuit ruled such a raid violates the Fourth Amendment, and is allowing a civil rights suit against the officers involved to go forward. From the opinion:
    “Taking plaintiffs’ factual allegations as true, defendants did not enter Club Retro as would a typical patron; instead, they chose to project official authority by entering with weapons drawn in a S.W.A.T. team raid. They lacked any particularized suspicion or probable cause when they subsequently searched Club Retro, its attic, and the separate apartment and seized and searched all of its patrons and employees. Thus, defendants’ entry and search was not a reasonable acceptance of Club Retro’s invitation to the public. Any other conclusion would be an invitation for S.W.A.T. team raids by law enforcement officers of any business that is open to the public and would severely undermine the Fourth Amendment protections afforded to owners of commercial premises.
    “We are likewise not convinced by defendants’ second argument that they conducted a permissible administrative inspection. Although Louisiana statutes and Rapides Parish ordinances authorizing administrative inspections may have provided justification for an entry and inspection of Club Retro, no such law permits the scope and manner of the raid that plaintiffs allege occurred here…
    “Administrative inspections, by their very nature, require more limited, less intrusive conduct than is alleged to have occurred here. We thus conclude that defendants’ S.W.A.T. team entries and extensive searches, as described in the amended complaint, unreasonably exceeded the scope of Louisiana and Rapides Parish administrative inspection laws. Any other conclusion would allow the administrative inspection exception to swallow the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement for searches of private property.”

    Why should any sane citizen be vehemently opposed to the militarized Explorer Scout mentality? Because it leads DIRECTLY and irrevocably (learn your history, nay-sayers!!) to what this court case addressed.

  35. #35 |  TheHiker | 

    PART II:

    Where’s the Explorer Scout SWAT-Team Wannabe Program going?

    http://injusticeinseattle.blogspot.com/2009/05/national-police-misconduct-reporting.html

  36. #36 |  Raideo | 

    Let me preface this by saying, I am an Eagle Scout, I was practically raised on a gun range, I have been involved with competition rifle shooting since I was 11 including “practical” shoots , and I have several friends in the local police and SWAT team. This is not what the BSA in tradition, or even a couple years ago when I was involved, stands for, and by my recollection of the Scoutmaster’s handbook this very seriously violates a number of rules, if I had a copy handy I would be a little more specific. But even in the venture program, which had alot more leniency with what activities qualified as scouting activities, we were expressly disallowed from any activity which involved pointing any firearm (real, fake, airsoft, paintball or otherwise), anywhere but downrange at an approved target.

  37. #37 |  officer B | 

    Well, first let me tell you a little about myself. I was a scout in my youth, early 80s. Im a former member of the us navy. I have worked in emergency rescue, roadsside assistence, firefighting, and currently im a Corrections officer.
    With that being said, most folks might consider me a right winger. On the contrary it was my experience in scouting that has kept me “moraly strait” I try my best to do my duty all the time. To serve honorbly and to not discrace that flag i were on my uniform.
    All 3 of my kids are in scouting. My girls in girlscouts, soon to be crossing over to venturing. my son was a cubscout, now boyscout. the story above is about an explorers group. ages 14-20. explorers go out to job sites and lern about careers… in the story above police and border patrol.
    the explorer program explores other jobs aswell. firedepts, rescue, construction, farming and more… but what you must consider is that these groups are planned by the boys and girls that participate. in the story the local carreer market was limited to “law inforcement” so its logical for these youths to wanna learn more about that field.
    I personaly hate it when people assume that just because there are bad reports out there about cops… that we all are in some way trained to be that way. The training has a purpose. to save lives and quickly turn bad sittuations into managble ones. In my daily rutine i am respectfull of the rights of the offenders i manage, and afford them common curtesy and patience. Im aware that they could become dangerous at any moment and i need to “be prepared”.
    Its people skill training that i think is lacking. you gotta know how to talk to people without disrespecting them. everyone has a right to “life, liberty and the persuit of happyness”
    That being said, we can’t allways be 100% politicaly correct in every situation. alot of times its just following policy and following orders. but without my scout training, I would not have the Moral compass to recognize when policy and orders should be questioned.

    thanks for your time,