Letters Re: Militarization of LEOs

HJL,

I am a Peacekeeper, otherwise known as an LEO. I am a firm believer in being part of the solution, not part of the problem. I teach my children “dont fuss, fix it.” The first step to fixing it is understanding the problem. I will do my best to not respond with bluff and bluster. I took this job by choice. I do not expect nor look for sympathy or a medal for my career choice.

There are a few issues at work here. I will highlight a few recent incidents that will shed some light on part of the problem, as I see it.

First, realize we, as a nation, re-elected Obama. That means that a majority of our fellow citizens like and want more of nanny statism in our lives. A majority of our fellow citizens want the federal government involved in more aspects of our everyday being.

To highlight this, after the recent tragic shooting in Santa Cruz, the media and public were calling for laws to make it easier for police to detain people for mental evaluations. This is frightening. Again, this is people calling for the government to take care of them, because they feel we are incapable of doing it ourselves. In all 50 states, families can petition the court to have loved ones checked in for a 72-hour evaluation against their will, but why would someone take responsibility for a family member when we can call the government to do it?

With the recent shooting of the two Las Vegas police officers and the concealed carry holder who died in WalMart, the vast majority of media coverage talked about how this brave citizen “wasted” his life, and he should have left it up to the “professionals.” Again, we are declaring ourselves incapable of protecting ourselves and our loved ones, which is the most basic human right, and they’re asking the government to do it for us.

I can’t count the number of calls for service we receive for children who won’t go to bed or who won’t get in a car at the mall or for a snake in the yard. People are relying more and more on the government for everyday needs, usually ones that should be handled by the head of the household.

My agency had DoD M-16s. (We gave them back.) After the north Hollywood bank shoot out, DoD offered them out. We, as a local agency, did not have money to purchase patrol rifles, so we took them and issued them out. Our government was being fiscally responsible and recycling things (and not in the Lois Lerner hard drive way!). We got some six digit serial number A1’s that were beautiful, as a side note. Our helicopter pilots fly with surplus NVG’s at night. I can’t tell you how many missing hikers have been rescued by the glow of a cell phone at night in night vision. We always lambast the government for wasting money. We waste so much money; it is absurd. So what starts out as a pretty wise idea turns into sending MRAPs to towns of 5000. I want people to realize the dichotomy of this. I would rather re-use what we can of what our taxes already bought. There is a right and a wrong way to do this.

Fire departments do an excellent job of making use of their down time. When not fighting fires or going to medical calls, they routinely train or do outreach at schools about fire safety. When police are not responding to calls, we write tickets. Communities want stats. They want their money’s worth, and a full 10-hour shift of it. We have a hard time paying for what we might use if that makes sense; we want to see results. It always amazes me when we receive numerous calls about speeders in an area. When we go to run radar, one of the people who gets stopped always says, “Oh, I was one of the ones who called about the speeders.” We, as citizens, want results and stats we can see on paper; the end result is we are turning peace keeping into law enforcement. It should be okay for police to be bored. It means you live in a nice place. The public does not want bored police, so we have cops in nice areas writing window tint tickets.

So to the important part. What can we do about it? How can we combat this?

First, get to know your neighbors. Help each other. The more you can solve yourself, the less you rely on the government. Have a snake in the yard and you are scared of snakes? Call your neighbor. Is there a dog in the road? Stop and get it. Keep a fire extinguisher in your car. Put out small fires before you have to call the fire department. Keep a tow strap with you. When you get stuck, call your buddies, not the police. That being said, report crime. Crimes are tracked. If someone has broken into your car three times and you have not called, police have no way of knowing to increase patrol in the area.

Get to know your local police. If it’s a big agency or city, find your local precinct. Go for a ride along. I’m serious. See where your tax dollars are going. It’s a lot more impressive when you call a complaint in and can say “I rode with your agency”.

Go to community meetings the police hold. We hold meetings once a month. No one comes. When they do, it is usually far left activists. The conservative silent majority has been silent too long. We need to speak up. Hold your elected officials accountable. If your town is getting surplus gear, ask about it. See what they turned down. See if there are other ways to pay for it.

If you are a LEO, talk to your fellow officers. My squad has talked. We know what our line is. We know when we will walk away from the job. Dirty cops disgust me more than you; believe me.

Lastly, if you come in contact with the police, remember one phrase. Am I free to leave? If they say yes, leave. If they say no, request a lawyer and do not talk.

God Bless. – A Peacekeeper.

o o o

Sir,

I have been following your column for quite some time now and have responded to a few articles, but this one in particular needs to be addressed.

To 15fixerI would like to ask what has made you so fearful of LEOs? You say that you have had several run ins with LEOs over the years, so is it safe to assume that you regularly and habitually break the law? I am asking this because I am a current LEO serving in a mid-sized town in central Texas.

I can tell you that as a BIBLE-believing, GOD-fearing Christian that I am a minority in the law enforcement community, but THAT does not mean that I am corrupt! I am also a member of my department’s SWAT team, and I am a former Army Ranger with 20 yrs of service.

What gives you the right to say that ALL LEOs are corrupt? Have you ever spent a day in our shoes? Have you ever stopped a vehicle for a minor traffic infringement and had to worry if you were going to be shot or not? Have you ever responded to a domestic disturbance only to be attacked by the very person you were there to help? Have you ever been “sucker” punched by a drunken tourist when you were trying to do your job in maintaining the peace for the rest of the “law abiding” patrons? I would say that the answers to all of these questions are “no”.

I can also tell you that as a member of a SWAT team, 100% of the search or arrest warrants that I have served were against violent offenders with multiple felony convictions. I can also tell you that we never use a NFDD device (flash bang) in a location were young children are present. Does that make me corrupt that I serve search/arrest warrants on these individuals? – M.C.

o o o

HJL,

War surplus is nothing new to local law enforcement. Some police armories still have old “tommy guns” from WWII!!!

At least one coastal town here has a few surplus army trucks for emergencies, like flooded roads, so it’s not all bad.

Sadly, there are other departments that do promote SWAT-like tactics, but it’s up to us as the citizens to curb this mentality amongst our local police.

The Feds are another story, but it’s still up to us to let our elected officials know being pushed around by government bullies will not be tolerated as by evidence during the recent incident involving that Nevada rancher.

Something may indeed be afoot with ammo stock up and militarization of our police, which means it’s even more important to have an open dialog with our police instead of trying to further alienate them.

The police are our neighbors, and we have to remind them of that. – U.G.

o o o

Hugh,

While reading your comment today concerning the recent letters about LEOs on the site, I found myself mostly agreeing with you in your overall assessment and counter-argument to some others, but I absolutely cringed at one comment that you made, to wit:

“If it is hard to find a civilian that will always tell the truth, and LEOs come from the same population pool, it’s obvious that LEOs are going to have the same problem.”

Yes, I understand. LEOs are people, too. I agree. But I am getting really, really impatient with people, and particularly law enforcement officers, themselves, who differentiate cops from non-cops by using the word “civilian.” Law enforcement officers are civilians. We have a civilian law enforcement structure, not a military one. The only people who are not civilians are people in the military.

I say again: LEOs are civilians (unless, of course, they are on active duty with the military, such as military police). Otherwise, civilians.

Please help to stop perpetuating this improper use of the word, so widely and incorrectly used by the media and by the cops, themselves. Remind them that they, THEY, are civilians.

Two Dogs in WV Lt.Col. USMc (ret)

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