Letters Re: Militarized Police

SurvivalBlog was privy to an email exchange of readers when Mike Williams, SurvivalBlog Editor at Large, sent us this link about the militarization of police in the U.S.: Just Shoot: The Mindset Responsible For Turning Search Warrants Into Death Warrants, And SWAT Teams Into Death Squads. We thought that our readers might like to see this exchange as well.

o o o

I gotta tell you, part of the problem causing this has been:

  1. Force reduction efforts in the services. A lot of guys get out, and because we’ve been doing COIN for so long, think that being a soldier and being a cop are essentially the same things,
  2. A lot of those guys don’t really have too many other marketable skills, if they came straight from combat arms. I’m not bashing them; this is the honest truth. Their recruiters, also the transition programs in the services, aren’t much help to them,
  3. Money. Many police departments see a cost savings in training former military; also there are federal incentives to hiring veterans. It sounds like an immediate “win-win”,
  4. Plenty of cops have “small pee-pee syndrome” because they couldn’t make it in the military, didn’t go in to begin with, or just plain old “tryhards, me-tops, wannabes”. Lots of smaller police departments are this way too, and all that DHS money that flowed over the last 10 years, combined with Excess Defense Articles and DRMO gear (because the army just wanted to UNLOAD as cheaply and quickly as possible) also helped foster this mindset,
  5. A lot of former soldiers are just better soldiers than they are cops. It IS NOT THE SAME THING, and too many people assume they are. At best, LEOs and soldiers are “kissin’ cousins”.
  6. Lots of police departments have envy of the Feds, in terms of equipment, training, missions, and funding. It’s somewhat like what happened to SOF– the more direct action took prominence. The less attention and development traditional and foundational SOF skills, like special recon, Foreign Internal Defense, Building Partnership Capacity, took a dump because they’re less fun, less sexy, and that’s not where the money is.

I’m active military, and I’m saying that too many former service members go into the police force, and too many cops want to be soldiers or want to be Feds.

It’s a cultural problem and one of professionalism and mindset, AND, what we incentivize. – D.C.

o o o

I think that there is something more than what you are saying. I have been concerned about the militarization of the police for years. It used to be that there was like one SWAT team for a major city, but now, it’s like each small city and town have them. It bothers me that the average cop in a police car has more firepower than most soldiers normally carry. I can understand the side arm and the shotgun on the dash, but most of the police have AR-15’s, and some are even carrying fully automatic AR’s in the trunk. That bothers me.

The idea of a No-Knock Warrant is also foreign to me, other than for a murder suspect or for a Major Crime (Kidnapping). Why a judge would issue a warrant of this nature is unbelievable to me, unless for a major crime of the nature presented before. Judges who do, should be removed from the bench. Police should never enter a house without a warrant or without major probable cause, unless invited by the resident. Serving a warrant ain’t one of them.

The idea of a policeman being ex-military doesn’t bother me very much, but the training for the police should be for police actions and not for military actions. Some of the training techniques discussed in the article are frightening.

Maybe I am just naive, but I have thought of the police as the friends of the average citizen and not necessarily their guardians. I hope that I am making some kind of sense here.

BYTW, since you are on active duty, stay safe. – B.T.

o o o

Thanks. Just to be clear, I am NOT placing the bulk of blame on the former soldier/recruiting aspect. I do think it’s contributed to the cultural shift, but to dig into it even more, I see it more so when we’re discussing direct active duty to police transitions than in say career Guard and Reserve personnel who have a law enforcement career. Those individuals, generally older and with moral ties to their communities, understand the hazy separation between the two worlds; they know it’s there. They understand why it’s there, and most of them are glad it’s there. I’m speaking only from personal experiences here.

There is that equipping aspect to this as well. There really is so much gear available, fairly cheaply, and it’s like a smorgasbord. A lot of that is like I said, due to the rush of money pumped into DoJ and DHS agencies post-9-11. You had small towns buying decontamination kits from DoD and defense contractors obtaining full-on decon suites used post-chemical attack. The truth is, the MRAP is mostly excess above need now, and DoD is anxious to not have to pay for their maintenance or to keep them in the inventory. If a bureaucratic pencil-whip can move them from DoD to DHS, or then to a city or town’s police force, then what’s the harm? Some places, unfortunately, have a legitimate need to keep a couple of those around. Many, if not most, do not; and yes, I would rather towns have it and never use it then need it and be SOL. However, when you have a really neat toy, the temptation becomes strong to justify its continued existence.

The No-Knock is a scary thing, but I’m curious as to how it originated, genuinely curious, because I want to see what the justification was for the doctrine.

I think qualified immunity is in DESPERATE need of reform. – D.C.