The Militarization of Mayberry

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Flemington, New Jersey has all of 4,500 people. It hasn’t seen a murder in well over a decade.

But it does have its own SWAT team. And now the town wants to buy assault rifles for its regular patrol cops, too.

Here’s a photo of the SWAT team, taken during a raid last June.


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36 Responses to “The Militarization of Mayberry”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    it’d be neat if the chief only gave each cop one bullet.

    the town should’ve used the money to buy a new playground for the park. at least that way they’d only get parents pissed about their kids’ broken arms vs a bunch of dead dogs and grandmas…

  2. #2 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Flemington has always suffered from delusions of grandure. Its mall stood empty for years because the city council (or whatever they call themselves) wanted vast renovations to a building that wasn’t going to bring in much in rent.

    I’m sorry to read tjat he PD has lost its sense of proportion , though.

  3. #3 |  marie | 

    The police department is encouraged to lose it’s sense of proportion because the federal government is throwing money at them. Guns, too. Congress needs to stop funding law enforcement by dismantling the TSA.

    Noticed the other day that my county is going to hire three more deputies; a federal grant will pay their salaries for the first two or three years. After those initial years, though, do you think those three positions will be cut? Nope, the county will be expected to ante up.

  4. #4 |  Mark Thompson | 

    Radley- I think your second link is wrong, as it’s the same article as your third link and doesn’t reference the chief’s desire to buy assault rifles. I assume the link you intended is this one:

    For what it’s worth, the SWAT team is technically Hunterdon County’s, not Flemington’s. That said, the notion that Hunterdon County needs its own SWAT team (rather than sharing a team with the only slightly higher crime neighboring Somerset County) is ridiculous enough, since the entire county of 100,000 or so averages about 1 homicide every 2 years.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    I have a question for my fellow agitatortots.

    So the federal gov’t has a ton of old armored vehicles and other equipment laying around that the military isn’t going to use anymore. There is a cost to house and maintain these things. So keeping them isn’t fiscally sound, and giving it out to local PD’s isn’t cool either.

    If you were in charge, what would you rather do with this stuff? Sell to other countries? Sell it for scrap?

  6. #6 |  c andrew | 

    Strip the armament and the engines and let municipalities buy them for playground equipment. Familarity breeds contempt so children growing up to be police officers would no longer be aroused sexually by the prospect of getting inside one of them.

    Sell the armament to re-enactors that are required, per terms of the sale, to convert them to non-lethal bean bag equivalents.

    Sell the engines to a new track racing circuit. Nitrous injection optional.

  7. #7 |  MikeV | 

    “The mayor and council want to buy four .40 caliber 30-shot Heckler & Koch automatic rifles for $10,000. ”

    From the descrption, it sounds like this is actually what they want to purchase:
    Heckler & Koch UMP40 submachine gun with a 30-round magazine firing the .40 Smith & Wesson

    Seems like a weapon more suited for forced entry raids than anything else.

    A longer range weapon, like an M-16, would probably be more suitable for the situation they described of dealing with an “Active Shooter”.

    I agree with the ex-officer who said “Everybody wants toys”.

  8. #8 |  30yearProf | 

    After the government “demilitarizes” it (often by destruction), surplus good are resold by the U.S. Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service.

  9. #9 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    My uncle is a producer in Hollywood.
    I asked him if he’d be interested in a new improved 21st Century Police State rendition of the Andy Griffith Show (“AG: Extreme Podunk”) wherein Andy and Barney are cops wacked out on steroids and power who shoot dogs and beat up hippies and Mexicans for fun, in addition to the Speed Trap they created on the edge of Mayberry, where $$ forfeiture is the goal and out-of-towners can find themsleves in a world of trouble.
    Opie’s an obese druggie and a registered Sex Offfender at age 14.
    Aunt Bee’s in jail for fraud. And you don’t even wanna know about

  10. #10 |  EBL | 

    There was a reason Andy did not let Barney have more than one bullet (that he had to keep in his shirt pocket).

  11. #11 |  MikeV | 

    This is the kind of police boot-licking that seems to be way too common in our elected officials:
    “…Council candidate Joey Novick, a former councilman, said he is offended by the statement that Becker is “asking for toys.” He said that Becker and police officers “put their lives on the line every day” and if the police chief or the fire chief “ask for equipment, they are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”…”

    Like the council has no duty to look at this purchase to see if it really needed, and a citizen is out of line for questioning the need.

  12. #12 |  dg1013 | 

    I would have no problem with officers in NJ getting AR-15’s.

    but ONLY if NJ would also allow it’s citizens to own the same exact hardware……Checks and balances, an such.

  13. #13 |  Scott Lazarowitz | 

    Banana Republic Amerika is militarizing everyday life. The schools now have police stationed in them, and the sports stadiums and malls insist on frisking or cancer-scanning you on the way in (to make sure you’re not a terrorist, of course).

    When they aren’t stuffing themselves into a moment of ecstatic obesity at Dunkin’ Donuts, the local Gestapo and Stasi goons play with their “toys,” and yes, they are “toys.” And when they do their unnecessary and un-American raids on innocent people’s homes and murder them or their dogs, the goons are really acting out the exciting scenes they see on their favorite TV shows.

    Yes, we here in Amurca really have a lot to brag about, certainly more than Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry (who?) did.

  14. #14 |  anarch, chaneling Isaiah 2:4 | 

    @ Mattocracy #5: Plows and pruning hooks.

  15. #15 |  Steve Verdon | 

    And you don’t even wanna know about

    Sounds like you might have better luck with Rob Zombie….

  16. #16 |  David | 

    I wholeheartedly support any measure which will drive people away from New Jersey.

  17. #17 |  MikeV | 

    #12 dg1013
    They are not looking to get AR-15s; an AR-15 might actually be useful in the situation they describe.

    They want to buy Heckler & Koch UMP40 submachine guns. A submachine gun doesn’t sound like the type of weapon you would use with an “active shooter” because the average cop would be un-willing to try to get close enough for a submachine guns to be effective. Better to call the SWAT team and stay out of the line of fire.

    Sounds like they just want to be able to have fun shooting full auto weapons on the range. Or maybe for kicking in some doors and shooting puppies.

  18. #18 |  Brandon | 

    #5, open auctions. Private citizens, foreign countries, companies that think they can make money letting people operate old military equipment, anyone who’s not using American taxpayers’ money. Also, keep a lot less of the crap around so there is a lot less of it to dispose of. Defending the country without playing world police wouldn’t take a whole lot of hardware.

  19. #19 |  Rune | 

    @5 Not replace the equipment. This would require a scrapping of a lot of unnecessary R&D programs and replenishment deals, but booh-fucking-hoo on the MIC that will be the ones loosing out on that solution.

  20. #20 |  Aresen | 

    @ Yizmo Gizmo | September 25th, 2012 at 11:39 am


    (You forgot to mention that Otis is now Mayor and prepping for a run for Congress.)

  21. #21 |  Quiet Desperation | 

    @Yizmo Gizmo

    And? What did your uncle say?

    You know, you might actually have luck pitching an animated version for Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Ordinary people are those who look at video games and think, “This is a fun form of entertainment!”. Cops are those who look at video games and think, “Why stop there?”

    I could be wrong, of course. It’s entirely possible that they are just equipping themselves to be “the fittest” for the coming total global economic collapse.

  23. #23 |  Package delivered to wrong home; Followed by no-knock raid 10 minutes later - Page 4 - INGunOwners | 

    […] They are already here. Flemington, NJ. Population 4,500. 1 SWAT team. 1 APC Rifles in every car. The Militarization of Mayberry | The Agitator Hot off the wire. The militarization of […]

  24. #24 |  Kurtz | 

    By Christ, I need to stop reading the comments sections of the websites linked here. Someone actually said (sic) ‘There’s no reason one needs to treat the government as their mortal enemy’…. let me give you several dozen reasons…The comments sections of the morning links websites were even less encouraging.

    Reading some of the heinous apologist tripe that some people utter will give me a veritable conniption. Call me irrevocably cynical, but I feel that we are reaching near the utmost peak of cognitive dissonance among Americans.

    Radley, you do this world an invaluable service by shining light on the ludicrous excess and heinous imbecility present in this country. I greatly enjoy all the articles you post and the thought-provoking banter of the commentators here. I fear though that, over time, my reading of these incidents, and the people who seemingly line up in droves to defend their piss-poor execution, will literally drain years from my life. You are a man of great patience and fortitude, Mr. Balko, and I wish you many long and productive years.

    When you stare into the abyss, the abyss farts right in your face.

  25. #25 |  croaker | 

    @6 I disagree. Sell them to private citizens, who can use them as a check on militarized police who like to kill dogs, invalids, Hispanics and other unwanted.

  26. #26 |  Ted S. | 

    David @ 1:26PM:

    Please stop driving people away from New Jersey. The rest of us don’t want you New Jerseyans! :-p

    (We don’t want Californians, either.)

  27. #27 |  demize! | 

    “lives on the line everyday” #sigh

  28. #28 |  AlgerHiss | 

    Flemington’s website:

    And their Chamber of Commerce:

  29. #29 |  Dave | 

    The comments on assault rifle link are appalling! It’s so depressing that the vast majority of Americans so easily buy into an attitude of fear and are so willing to blindly trust politician, bureaucrats, and law enforcement to save them from media boogeymans.

  30. #30 |  MikeV | 

    Looking at the big news on the Flemington Police web site

    Looks like a couple of guys passed bad checks at Walmart. A submachine gun would really help if they manage to arrest those guys.

  31. #31 |  Personanongrata | 

    The Militarization of Mayberry

    These turd stains aren’t interested in knocking; they want to terrorise.

    The SWAT terrorists depraved turd stain selves get off on the fact they can wield the power of life and death over complete strangers 100% accountability free.

    They shoot first and spin all questions later with full backing of the state.

  32. #32 |  deathofliberty | 

    you can buy surplus military vehicles from the government . they just have to be demiliterized (ie. weapons and the electronics *targeting computers* removed) then thier crushed or cut up into pieces really a great deal if you like puzzles . in england (you know the country we fought a war with over liberty) you can buy a fully operational surplus tank (- the breach from the guns and radio/computers). pay for the fuel tax stamp and drive it anywhere you damn well please, even around buckingham palace.

  33. #33 |  Rev. James | 

    I have an idea. . .

    There are over 4,000 residents of this town – there are far fewer cops.

    How about, every adult with a firearm heads over to the Terrorist Campl – I mean, Police Department – and disarms the Terrorists – I mean, Police.

    They can’t arrest (or kill) everyone. Not even with MP40s.

  34. #34 |  jeg | 

    An “assault rifle” is a MACHINE GUN. Not a scary looking black rifle (usually an AR-15) that gives soccer moms the vapors and causes emasculated males to fall into a dead faint.

    I applaud the article, and think the militarization of the police forces in the USA is a short road to totalitarianism. We need way more emphasis on “peace officers” and way less emphasis on “law enforcement officers.”

    That said, the wailing about “assault rifles” just makes you look stupid and uninformed. An AR-15 is only an “assault rifle” to tie died granola crunchers who think that saving the world will come by sitting around in a drum circle.

  35. #35 |  Angel | 

    Dear Jeg, Well, if the military, totalitarianism path is not working perhaps we could try the drum circle. No machine guns needed, no frisking and no radiation or money. Just an open heart, love and the willingness to visualise peace breaking out everywhere. Particularly the Middle east, Palestine and the Gulf states . No cameras for this yet, but how powerful when millions do it.

    Don’t believe me?

    Try Awakening the world, Every Heart makes a difference

    And your reaction primed by the bought press…… Read anything by him? Met him? Watched a video??


  36. #36 |  GoodAsh | 


    Do you mean the same David Icke that says the royal family of England are a bunch of shape shifting aliens? You mean that guy? And your suggesting we give his peacenik drum circle a shot why again?

    Because you read him, watched a video by him or met him must make it all true. Perhaps you should look into how well the drum circle tactic worked for the people at Tienanmen square. Then after that, wake up and realize the only thing bullies respect is force. If you don’t represent a stronger force and will, you can be sure they will make you stand aside as they climb on top of your sister and have their way with her. After all? What are you going to do to stop them? Oh yeah, you’re going to peace and love them to death. Silly me!