Massachusetts Suspends Pentagon Giveaways to Local Police Departments

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

The Boston Globe has been doing some terrific reporting about how small town police departments in Massachusetts have been using the Pentagon’s surplus weapons program to acquire some ridiculously high-powered weaponry. The paper found that 82 police departments across the state have obtained more than 1,000 military-grade weapons over the last 15 years, including…

Police in Wellfleet, a community known for stunning beaches and succulent oysters, scored three military assault rifles. At Salem State College, where recent police calls have included false fire alarms and a goat roaming the campus, school police got two M-16s. In West Springfield, police acquired even more powerful weaponry: two military-issue M-79 grenade launchers.

In response, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has temporarily suspended the program to investigate.

The thing is, just about any decent-sized newspaper in the country could do a similar investigation. This has been going on since the early 1990s. The program was streamlined in 1997 when Congress created an agency called the Law Enforcement Support Program to facilitate the giveaways.  National Journal reported in 2000 that between 1997 and 1999 alone, the office handled 3.4 million orders for military equipment from 11,000 domestic police agencies, and gave away $727 million worth of stuff designed for use in war to be used in American streets and neighborhoods, against American citizens. That included…

"…253 aircraft (including six- and seven-passenger airplanes, and UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-1 Huey helicopters), 7,856 M-16 rifles, 181 grenade launchers, 8,131 bulletproof helmets, and 1,161 pairs of night-vision goggles."

The transfers have only picked up since then. The program is also how Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff Leon Lott acquired his M113A1 armored personnel carrier, which moves on tank-like tracks, and features a belt-fed, turreted machine gun that fires .50-caliber rounds. And he isn’t the only one.

If I may, here’s a passage about the program from Overkill, the 2006 paper on police militarization that I wrote for the Cato Institute:

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, bought an armored personnel carrier from the Pentagon for just $1,000. The seven police officers of Jasper, Florida—which has all of 2,000 people and hasn’t had a murder in 14 years—were each given a military-grade M-16 machine gun, leading one Florida paper to run the headline, “Three Stoplights, Seven M-16s.” The sheriff’s office in landlocked Boone County, Indiana, was given an amphibious  armored personnel carrier...

The New York Times reported in 1999 that the Fresno, California, SWAT team had two helicopters with night-vision goggles and heat sensors, a turret-armed armored personnel carrier, and an armored van…

A retired police chief in New Haven, Connecticut, told the Times in the 1999 article, “I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted."

In a 1997 60 Minutes segment on the trend toward militarization, the CBS news magazine profiled the Sheriff’s Department of Marion County, Florida, a rural, agricultural area known for its horse farms. Courtesy of the various Pentagon giveaway programs, the county sheriff proudly showed reporter Lesley Stahl the department’s 23 military helicopters, two C-12 luxury executive aircraft …a motor home, several trucks and trailers, a tank, and a “bomb robot.” This, in addition to an arsenal of military-grade assault weapons.

As you can see, there was some media interest in this story about 10 years ago, but it largely died down, particularly after September 11. But the transfers didn’t stop, and neither did the unfortunate trend toward a militaristic mindset that comes with domestic police officers using military equipment and tactics, and being told they’re fighting a "war."

It’s good to see the Globe to revisit this issue, and it’s great that the paper’s investigation seems to have won the attention of Massacusetts’ elected officials. It would be even better if it could attract the attention of some members of Congress, who might stop this ill-considered program once and for all.

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50 Responses to “Massachusetts Suspends Pentagon Giveaways to Local Police Departments”

  1. #1 |  Tom G | 

    I shouldn’t be surprised that Congress started this mess. I wonder how easy it would be to research the original law to find out who sponsored and co-sponsored it?

  2. #2 |  Someone | 

    I never understood police with assault rifles. Assault rifles are designed to hit something and to keep on going. But police work is meant to be about precision.

    They should stick to hand guns, sub-machine guns, and shotguns. If they want a leathal weapon.

    PS – A grenade launcher might sound insane but they’re used to launch a non-leather round that works kind of like throwing a baseball at someone. Hopefully they aren’t buying actual grenades :P

  3. #3 |  Tim C | 

    “It would be even better if it could attract the attention of some members of Congress, who might stop this ill-considered program once and for all.”

    And recall all the equipment.

  4. #4 |  Tom G | 

    Oh and we should send letters of support to the MA Department of Public Safety to thank them for the suspension of the program. GOOD behavior should be rewarded.
    Also, I live in NY. I don’t have a lot of free time and don’t work for a paper, but how can people find out what similar programs are going on in their own states? Is it worthwhile to prod newspapers into doing this more ?

  5. #5 |  Tim C | 

    #2 – by “assault rifle” I presume you actually mean “automatic weapon” (e.g, M-16). Generally the idea isn’t even “to hit something and keep on going” but to throw a lot of metal in the general target area and increase the odds of hitting something, which sounds closer to what you mean I think. Just thought I’d clarify for those not really familiar with the point here – you’re defintely right that the cops having automatic weapons is basically pointless (except in rare cases, where a SWAT team would be justified in being so equipped – why we are supposed to have them – such as the LA shootout awhile back), UNLESS the intent is to have a quasi-military-capable domestic force, then the point is rather pointy indeed….

  6. #6 |  Bill | 

    Radley,

    The guns are needed at Salem just in case the witches come back. Click my link for my book on the subject.

  7. #7 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

    Ever since I heard about the amphibious armored personnel carrier acquired by Boone Co, I’ve been disappointed that I didn’t see it cruising through the waterways of the county. It’s not like I pass through there very often, but I thought I would have seen it at least once by now. I guess the creeks and drainage ditches are just too narrow to accommodate the vehicle. Maybe I need to check out some of the fancy housing communities with retention ponds…

  8. #8 |  Someone | 

    No, by assault rifles I mean assault rifles. Submachine guns and handguns are also “automatic weapons.” Heck even shotguns are automatic weapons.

    By your post I can tell you know nothing about guns. So I’m going to end correcting you there.

  9. #9 |  Matt C. | 

    Just wanted to comment on Marion County, FL, where I grew up. That sherriff was later indicted for embezzelment of county funds. I believe somewhere in the 7 figure range.

    If I remember correctly I think they had to sell a bunch of stuff due to the impact on the budget. I believe it happened in 1999 or 2000, so my memory could be a little fuzzy.

  10. #10 |  Tim C | 

    #8, ok Someone, for one I accidentally dinged you up instead of down, just to clarify that. Second, I think it’s you – to clarify, “assualt weapon” is basically a meaningless/all-encompassing term; many semi-automatic weapons are in this (alleged) category and are appropriate for police use. Third, if you choose to insist on using this term, it logically follows that use of the gun can’t be restricted to “hitting something and moving on” or whatnot. Fourth, what I said IS true, equipping police with automatic weapons is retarded because they are used in military situations to put a lot of bullets down range – either to discourage folks from sticking their head out/firing back, or to increase probabilities of hits, so I was trying to say you’re right on police use really not being in this category. Finally, ok, I meant “fully automatic,” sorry. But of all the things to correct you sure picked the least important.

  11. #11 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    When I worked for the US, one of my cases involved 40mm rounds used in, among other weapons, the M79. There are a wide variety of non-lethal “grenade” rounds, including illumination rounds, sponge rounds, CS gas rounds, etc.

    That having been said, I think the typical town of 28,000 folks (per Wikipedia, for West Springfield, MA) has very, very, very few potential incidents for which a M79– either as an explosive grenade launcher, an illumination device, or as a stand-off crowd control weapon– would be appropriate. It sounds to me like it’s more likely the police wanting to have some fun way out in western Massachusetts.

    (In that case, they should have asked instead for a Mk. 19 grenade machine gun, which takes the same ammo, but fires it at 350 rounds per minute.)

  12. #12 |  Someone | 

    An assault rifle is a definition of projectile power. Traditionally they can be either auto or semi-automatic.

    Police should have the option of automatic weapons, but those should be as I said sub-machine guns.

    Assault rifles are too powerful and will go though a wall and kill people on the other side. A sub-machine gun will stop at the wall in most cases.

    The only exception to that is “sniper rifles.” Those are always assault rifles for obvious reason and I feel required for a modern police force.

    I’m honestly not trying to troll but I really feel you need to learn more about guns before showing your opinions.

    Assault Rifles, Sub Machine Guns, Shotguns, and Hand Guns are *classes* of weapons. Semi-Auto or Automatic are styles of fire. They have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

  13. #13 |  David | 

    The thing is, just about any decent-sized newspaper in the country could do a similar investigation.

    They could, but our “Heroes in Blue” are notorious touchy about any perceived criticism and it might cost them precious “access”. Without that, how would they serve as unofficial PR for the departments?

  14. #14 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    To Wikipedia this to a close:
    An assault rifle is a rifle designed for combat, with selective fire (capable of shooting in both fully automatic and semi automatic modes). Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies, having largely superseded or supplemented larger and more powerful battle rifles such as the M14, FN FAL and the Heckler & Koch G3. Examples of assault rifles include the AK-47, the M4 and the Steyr AUG.

    Key notes here, in this definition, are:
    1) selective fire
    2) designed for combat
    3) standard infantry weapon

  15. #15 |  Bob | 

    Huh. Well yeah, now that an ounce or less of pot doesn’t result in a sweet, sweet arrest and all, they don’t need any of this stuff. Check out this article:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/03/police_balk_at_ticketing_marijuana_offenders/

    I thought this was from the Onion. These guys are refusing to write tickets for pot because… it’s beneath their efforts? But dragging people to jail was? These assholes are fucked up!

    So… That was 6 months ago. Is everyone in Massachusetts on heroin yet?

  16. #16 |  mkvf | 

    Where do they keep these APCs/tanks? How do they secure them? I’m guessing that, like most big bits of kit, you don’t need a clicker to open the door, or a key to start the engine. Once you’ve got in the seat of a tank, you’ve got all sorts of possibilities for hijinks, from running over a rival suitors’ car to driving into your local bank.

    That’s not much of a problem on a military or national guard base, as you’ve got lots of guys with guns walking around. Ar a small police station though, surely you need to sacrifice a lot of cops who could be doing useful police work just to keep the thing in the garage.

  17. #17 |  ChrisD | 

    To be fair, they do have to keep control of Red Sox fans.

  18. #18 |  John C | 

    Okay, I hate to get into a pissing match, but “Someone” – dude; I think you are the one who needs to hit the Firearms 101 class…

    “handguns are also “automatic weapons.” Heck even shotguns are automatic weapons. “ Huh?

    Semi-Auto or Automatic are styles of fire Maybe in X-Box 360 world. For most of us in real world land; “semi-auto” = trip to the range; “Automatic” = visit from the BATFE.

    Back to the subject at hand… it’s interesting that Podunk USA gets the M-16s; but Ritchie Daley won’t let Chicago cops even have shotguns in their squads. Then again, I don’t think he has any relatives in the firearms business. Maybe someone from S&W or Ruger needs to marry into the Daley clan…

  19. #19 |  Whim | 

    Reality Check time:

    7,856 USED M-16 Assault Rifles divided between over 1,000,000 City, County and State LEO personnel is not a fantastic increase in firepower. That’s one M-16 for each 127 policemen.

    These jurisdictions can readily buy NEW fully-automatic M-16′s; as many as they want. As many as they want: NEW. The gruesome wounding capabilities of the M-16 is due to the ammo. The 5.56 round is designed to “Key-Hole”, i.e. tumble upon contact. Creates an enormous wound cavity.

    Heck, even the Indian Tribal Police guarding Indian Casinos buy fully automatic weapons. Legally.

    As to the armored vehicles, these are typically obsolete equipment with a lot of wear & tear.

    Substantial sums of taxpayer money has to be expended just to get them operational, and keep them operational.

    The armor vehicles are typically used for Shock & Awe: Of the citizenry.

    One well-thrown Molotov Cocktail, and the police are gonna bail out in a hurry….. smoking or non-smoking, please?

  20. #20 |  Rob Robertson | 

    Thanks for the insensitive comments, Bob. Yeah, I got addicted to Mary Jane as soon as the law went into effect. I quickly passed that stage and right into crack, crystal meth, and heroin (I’m not sure of the order; it was a hectic weekend) and then when I was all hepped up on goofballs, I finally got into Juicy Fruit and Diet Pepsi.

    Kids, don’t do what I did. Just say NO!

  21. #21 |  scott | 

    “Someone” is a tool. According to the anti-gunnies and the legislation they love, the definition of “assault rifle” has nothing to do with “projectile power” or rate of fire. Take a bog standard semi-auto rifle in any vanilla caliber and add any combination of: composite stock, folding stock, pistol grip, bayonet mount or a dozen other items WHICH HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CALIBER OR RATE OF FIRE and viola! You have an “assault rifle”.

    The NATO 5.56 round (standard caliber for the M16/M4 series of rifles used by US forces) is positively *NOT* designed to “go through a wall and keep going to kill people”. Hell, it’s a caliber very similar to a .223 round (standard caliber for AR-series rifles) which most hunters wouldn’t use to kill anything much larger than a beaver. The ineffectiveness of this round’s power to kill has been a serious point of concern among troops in Iraq/Afghanistan.

  22. #22 |  Tim C | 

    “It was a hectic weekend.” I’m dying here. “He’d see them soon enough.”

  23. #23 |  Stephen | 

    I’m OK with the helmets and night vision stuff. The rest seems too much for LEO’s.

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    That is just the perfect picture for this entry.

  25. #25 |  chance | 

    As mentioned above, the grenade launcher might have some legitimate uses with certain types of rounds. As for M-16 rifles – I dunno. I agree militarization is a bad thing, but on the other hand I am a much better shot with a M-16 than a pistol. I dunno if that is true for many police though.

  26. #26 |  Warren | 

    The LAPD used M-79s as tear gas launchers for quite awhile.

    You know, having a lot of these types of things mentioned in the article spread out amongst the population and housed by small departments might not be all bad…

  27. #27 |  Blaze Miskulin | 

    I’m going to have to go middle of the road on this one.

    I live in a city of 3,000 with a surrounding rural area of another 4,000. We’ve had 2 armed stand-offs (that I know of) in the past 6 years–one downtown, the other in a rural home. Bullet-proof helmets for the police would be welcomed in those situations.

    There’s a lot of wooded area here, and a fair amount of difficult terrain. It’s not uncommon for people to be injured in these areas. Night-vision goggles can be a godsend for night-time search & rescue (and the nights get to be pretty long here in the winter).

    Helicopters are also useful for S&R operations. Last winter during a severe storm, hundreds of motorists were stranded and LEO, CAP, and other agencies were scrambling for aircraft to help give overview and direction to the rescue crews. The problem was that too many of the available craft were fixed wing, so they couldn’t hover over the area to maintain a constant surveillance.

    Last summer during severe flooding, a Huey would have been extremely helpful for rescuing people trapped on high round in the middle of raging waters (unsafe for boats to navigate).

    M-16s? Eh. It’s a rifle. It all depends on how it’s used. Other than the ability to go full-auto, it’s really not that imposing compared to most of the hunting rifles people have in their homes.

    Just because something was made for the military doesn’t mean that it’s useful *only* for military-type applications.

    My question isn’t “What gear do they have?” it’s “How are they using the gear they have?”

  28. #28 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Whether the weapons are big or small, many or few, the problem is the militaristic, us-against-them attitudes the neanderthal bosses inculcate into their neanderthal subordinates that makes them dangerous. I don’t begrudge them the weapons they need to do their jobs, but when the weapons define their job, that scares me. This website doesn’t exist because of the weapons these guys have. It exists because they don’t have the oversight, integrity, and self control necessary to restrict their behavior to law enforcement instead of terrorizing and harassing people for the thrill of it.

  29. #29 |  Mattocracy | 

    Instead of bitching and moaning about what constitutes assault rifles and shit like that, can we just be happy that in this mad-ass-retarded world someone with authority finally executed some reasonable judgment? I know I am.

  30. #30 |  CEH | 

    Just a couple of comments:

    The police deal with possibilities, not probabilities. For instance, in this country, it is not “probable” that an officer will be shot in the line of duty or that they will need to shoot someone in the line of duty. Statistics alone will bear that out. Many 30 year veteran officers will tell you they never fired their weapons at another person or have been shot at. So, why do they need protective vests or even hand guns for that matter? This speaks to Radley’s comment concerning the LA bank robbery. Just because it is not statistically likely to happen, doesn’t mean it “possibly” won’t. That is why officers need to have the tools and training necessary to confront a wide range of “possibilities”. Patrol rifles, whether purchased directly from a manufacturer or gained via military surplus, do have a legitimate use in today’s policing environment. Assault-style weapons (i.e semi-automatic rifles), not necessarily military grade automatic machine guns, are out there and in the hands of criminals. This firepower is above and beyond any handgun. Patrol officers should have the capability to defend against and confront this threat (see http://www.pilotonline.com for a recent incident in Chesapeake, VA) that does happen. Gun enthusiasts like to say something to the effect of “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away”, well when seconds count for an officer presented with an individual using a hunting rifle or assault-style weapon, SWAT is only minutes, and a lot longer in smaller jurisdictions, away. Patrol carbines/rifles provide a tool for officers to confront these threats.

    Regarding other military-type tactics used by the police: building clearing has been perfected (as much as it can be) by the military. Don’t we want the police to know how to enter a structure, stay alive, and rescue hostages and attempt the arrest of the bad guy? Yes, they have different missions, and there isn’t a tactical officer or patrol officer in law enforcement that doesn’t know the parameters for the use of deadly force. Mistakes, accidents, misconduct will happen on occasion (in this country – enough for Radley to post a few examples a week – hundreds more are done by the book and the right way), but the tactics are used EVERY day to successfully arrest the bad guy and protect victims. Law enforcement owes some of their training in this area to the military and what they have learned in combat. (Speaking of Columbine: a paradigm shift took place in law enforcement after that event. No longer is the “sit and wait for SWAT” mentality cutting the mustard. Active threat training is profession wide. The first 4 or 5 guys on the scene need to have the training and equipment necessary to enter the building and attempt to eliminate the active threat. This is not a barricade, not a search warrant, this is someone going classroom to classroom killing kids. The cops need to do their job and go get him, but they need the tools to do it, handguns sometimes aren’t it.)

    Protective vests, helmets, patrol rifles, helicopters, night vision, training, etc. all have legitimate and beneficial law enforcement applications. Armored vehicles, well had one been available during the LA bank robbery that situation would not have taken as long to resolve as it did.

    I agree the “war” and “us vs. them” mentality needs changing, but that doesn’t mean we should restrict law enforcement from having the tools they may “possibly” need to do their jobs to protect us and catch the bad guys.

  31. #31 |  Tsu Dho NIhm | 

    The armor vehicles are typically used for Shock & Awe: Of the citizenry.

    That’s a perfect assessment. And I’d like to add that Shock & Awe is nothing more than a euphemism for terrorize.

  32. #32 |  CEH | 

    #31, Perception is reality to some, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Police are not some occupying army, they are your neighbors and their kids go to school with your kids. A few bad apples, even if that’s a thousand of them, is not all of them or anywhere near all of them.

  33. #33 |  Dan Z | 

    I live in Lenawee County where one of those armored vehicle links is from. Its a bustling county ins outeastern michigan, largest city is Adrian at about 22,000 people, I can only imagine what they would use this for in a county where the most arrests seem to be drunk driving.

  34. #34 |  Andrew | 

    As much as I am horrified/disturbed/enraged by the whole trend of police militarization I don’t get all worked up over the DoD passing out free M-16s. The AR-15/M-16 is the most popular rifle in America for any number of reasons and is a perfectly acceptable firearm for a peace officer to have in the trunk of his squad car. It’s the lever action Winchester of today. A utilitarian customizable rifle.

    The only modification I would like to see made is for the police to be required to replace the full auto or 3-round burst feature to limit the weapon to semi-auto only fire. 1. Police have no requirement a fully automatic firearm and 2. the citizenry isn’t allowed to have them (for the most part) so neither should the police.

    As for tanks, military uniforms, M-2 machine guns, attack dogs, helicopters, tanks and armored cars they shouldn’t be allowed to have them. One really has a difficult time seeing a circumstance where they need a .50 caliber sniper rifle since most police precision shooting/sniping is done at under 100 yards.

    And yes the police are indeed becoming an occupying army. It’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between the two no matter where they live or where their kids go to school. They’re being used as a means to instill fear and blind obedience among the citizenry, generate revenue and enforce the dictates of the ruling aristocracy by any means necessary.

  35. #35 |  Max D. | 

    I’d like to get some of this stuff. Do you think I could pull it off with just some official-looking letterhead?

  36. #36 |  UNRR | 

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 6/18/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  37. #37 |  CEH | 

    #34 “And yes the police are indeed becoming an occupying army. It’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between the two no matter where they live or where their kids go to school. They’re being used as a means to instill fear and blind obedience among the citizenry, generate revenue and enforce the dictates of the ruling aristocracy by any means necessary.” = Community Policing? I guess the authority inherent to the law enforcement profession, even when used appropriately, safely and effectively, just doesn’t fit with the ideals of some folks. Deal with the misconduct and mistakes of a few, don’t paint the entire profession with such a broad brush.

  38. #38 |  billy-jay | 

    Scott @ 21 beat me to the point about the penetrating power of an M16. Sorry, man, I can’t give you more than a +1.

  39. #39 |  billy-jay | 

    And cop’s kids go to school with the everyone else’s kids? I wonder what would happen if someone’s kid kicked one of the police kid’s ass. I shudder to think.

  40. #40 |  John and Dagny Galt | 

    Dear Radley Balko,
    You can share a foxhole with me ANYTIME brother!

    Seriously though, and this point requires a complete article in and of itself, local police are “created” by an assemblage of local people. These same police/police-departments can be defunded and disbanded by the local communities AT ANY TIME. Then the city council may, on behalf of the local people of the city, take physical possession of the property and buildings and equipment and resources that were formerly loaned by the city to the department so it could “protect and serve”…

    So all this heavy hardware may be repossessed and claimed by the citizens of the region as they so desire.

    now…Now…NOW…

    Exactly what do you think would happen if the city fathers were to actually attempt to do that?

    Do you honestly believe that the local jackboots are just going to “give-up” turn in their shit and go home?

    You’re kidding right?

    Guaranteed they would do exactly the opposite:

    There would be an immediate call of all personnel to BATTLE-STATIONS!

    And all that military-grade hardware would be brought to bear against the city, it’s people, and it’s council/city-fathers/leaders…

    At the same time they would call for reenforcements from other jackboots and mercenaries of all sorts…to include other police/deputies/staties/federales/even the mercenaries of the military would be called in to put down a legal and binding citizen dictate that the local yokel jackboots put-em-down and go the hell home…

    Don’t think we’re serious…

    The Nazi-SS militarized jackboots of all stripes and colors are most definitely NOT going to “allow” themselves to be “fired” and/or “disbanded”…

    Guaranteed they are prepared/preparing to contain and control ANY such attempts to reign them in…

    You’d better get busy if you want to wake-up your fellow “citizens” and neighbors to what WILL be brought against them…

    Sure, today they are bringing that stuff to bear in their “war against some plants and drugs” and tomorrow it will be the “war against some immigrants of one color or another” and then the next day it will be the “war against some religions and beliefs” and then after that it will be the “war against anyone doing business without gunvernment permission” and then they will hunt down those who simply hide away in the forest eating whatever they can find(just like the other forest creatures…except that those creatures can attain “endangered species” status…YOU most certainly will be hunted down and kidnapped and even murdered…for just trying to exist alongside the other creatures of the forest…

    Hey, got my beer and my big-screen and my football and some smoke…no worries…

    Indeed…

    Be afraid…very afraid…

  41. #41 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #40 John and Dagny Galt
    The Nazi-SS militarized jackboots of all stripes and colors are most definitely NOT going to “allow” themselves to be “fired” and/or “disbanded”…

    Don’t be silly. That Nazi stuff can’t happen here in the good ol’ US of A. Here the jackboots are the good guys (except for a very rare “bad apple”). No self-respecting “assemblage of local people” would even consider taking the cops’ guns and APCs away and/or firing them (which I didn’t even realize was part of the discussion). They’re the only thing that stands between us innocent civilians and total murderous blood-in-the-streets anarchy. Only criminals would even suggest disarming the cops. I have my eye on you.

  42. #42 |  chance | 

    I meant to mention this earlier, but to the best of my knowledge the M-16 and most of it’s variants only have 3 round burst, not full auto.

  43. #43 |  Alex Goristal | 

    #30; 32; 37: Apologist, you grade out with a result of “FAIL FAIL FAIL”. I assume that by “bad apples” you intend to describe active criminals or active abusers among LE. Even if you were correct that only a small minority fall into those categories (your contention is false; becoming more so every day), the vast majority (nearly unanimous) who would fail to identify or who would actively cover up for the misconduct of those cretins because they are “brother officers” are accomplices after the fact to their crimes, and are equally the enemy of the people as the perps themselves. The police are just as much of a gang phenomenon as any throng of armed thugs in the ghetto, the salient difference being that recently the ghetto gangs seem to show better moral sense in choosing their victims. Tase anyone lately, bro?

    -AleG

  44. #44 |  CEH | 

    #40,#41, Damn guys, I must apologize, things are obviously bad in this country. I’m sorry for having my head in the sand! What do we do, what do we do? All of the oppressive law enforcement and government agents have to be dealt with some how, since of course they face zero sanctions from anyone when they screw up. I’m still a little fuzzy about some things though, can you pass some of the kool-aid you’re drinking so I can think more clearly and get on the same page?

  45. #45 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Typical American attitude: It must not be happening because it hasn’t happened to me.

    The “Land of the Free” has the highest incarceration rate in the world. If that doesn’t alarm you, then the fact that you’re “a little fuzzy about some things” is the least of your problems.

  46. #46 |  Jeremy | 

    #44: both sides of this argument can point to evidence to back up their position. To me, the real issue is, “What kind of law enforcement do WE want?” Because, after all, civilians are the ones who are supposed to say jump, and law enforcement are the ones who are supposed to ask how high. It is not supposed to be the other way around with respect to policies; just as with the military, we’re supposed to have civilian-controlled law enforcement. The problem is that we can’t make up our mind, and institutions take advantage to advance their own power in the confusion, playing different interests off against one another.

    I view the entire philosophy of policing – the idea that we need protection and law enforcement provided by professionals – as in need of change. But certainly if we’re going to have professional cops, they need to know who’s in charge of their policies. They don’t have a set of legitimate interests separate and apart from ours, which is why the us vs. them mentality is so absolutely disturbing.

  47. #47 |  nemo | 

    Contrary to what many may think, this paramilitarizing the police stuff has been going on since Nixon’s days. Look up the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and you’ll find the same thing happened long ago. It was stopped for the same reasons, too.

  48. #48 |  Marion | 

    Seeing as how insecure this country is becoming (mainly due to open borders) I don’t see how it can be a bad thing for the police to get this sort of weaponry. If we’re so concerned about the police becoming more powerful than the people, why don’t we take a look at the government? Our rights are dying faster than the police is becoming paramilitary.

  49. #49 |  joe banana | 

    Asset forfeiture, military police force, judges with immunity to everything, the “patriot act 1&2″, torture, no knock warrants, warrantless wire tapping, a government that hasn’t used the “truth” for years, ex-war criminals running around free, governmental grand larceny, judges that disregard the law(again, with immunity).
    We’ve been infiltrated by a terrorist regime, everything our government has done for the past 9 years, is the same thing we’re in Iraq, and Afghanistan fighting against. We are the united terrorist states of Amerikkka (or the USSA).

  50. #50 |  J Salmeier | 

    sorry typo: “occasional” not “occupational”

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