It sounds like you are trying to sell us a war against ourselves? I just listened to you for 2 hours trying to use emotion to convince us that the answer to people wanting to be free from government intrusion is to make them the enemy??? Most people just want to be left alone. I will tell you right now that I am peaceful, but if an armed individual approaches me attempting to generate revenue through extortion I would think that he was the aggressor… how could I be the aggressor just because I am pulled over submitting to the emergency light? I am waiting for my chance to use litigation in federal district court to help you realize what it really costs when you have your organization unnecessarily escalating your revenue generating (and also unconstitutional) “traffic stops”. I don’t care if you redefine “constitutionalist” or “patriot” to “violent racist extremist”… but I see what you are trying to do there.
I’ve already given you my opinion on the Sheriff and his positions, if you want to read more about that, you can check out my previous post on the subject. The topic of discussion here will be the so-called “myth of police militarization.”
Criminal Justice Professor Peter B. Kraska defines police militarization as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.” So basically, a militarized police would strive to appear and act more like soldiers and less like peace officers.
In November of 2013, the Washington Post reported that “165 of the MRAP trucks were distributed” to local police departments. In June of 2014, around the same time that Sheriff Knezovich was giving his presentation about the “true threats” facing local communities, the New York Times reported that “according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” Sounds to me like they have all the same tools an army would have, but just because they have all the same things the military does, that doesn’t mean they use it the same way, right?
The LA Times reported earlier this month on findings by the Police Foundation regarding what they called an “excessive” and “unnecessary” use of force displayed by Stockton police in July of 2014. During their pursuit of bank robbers “32 officers unloaded more than 600 rounds during the hour-long rolling gun battle, which spanned three counties, 63 miles of highway and reached speeds of 120 mph“. In their defense, 14 police vehicles were disabled during the chase, but because of their actions, one of the hostages was struck by ten of the rounds coming from police. Investigators found that some officers engaged in “sympathetic fire” meaning that the only reason they shot their guns was because others were doing the same. That’s what’s called a mob-mentality and it’s not an uncommon experience during military operations.
The most talked about example of military-style tactics being used by police in recent history is what happened in Ferguson. CNN was just one of the news outlets that reported on what took place there.According to their report, police in Ferguson opened fire on the crowd. They attacked civilians and reporters with rubber bullets, pepper bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. No matter what you think about the events surrounding Ferguson, tear gas is considered a chemical weapon and it’s use is strictly prohibited in warfare by the Geneva Protocol. Technically these restraints don’t apply to local police, but that doesn’t mean we should accept this treatment.
There are plenty of examples of excessive force by police. Another common problem is the training these officers receive. It’s obvious that they are being taught a shoot-first mentality where the ends justify the means. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. I don’t think we should totally disarm police, but there needs to be some restraint. Even more important is accountability. It probably comes as no surprise that the officers in Stockton and Ferguson didn’t face any severe punishment – that’s a problem.
Sheriff Knezovich would have you believe that police militarization is a myth – something made up by anti-government conspiracy theorists. It’s as clear as day to anyone who chooses to recognize the truth. It’s admitted that the police are given military surplus and we can tell by their actions that they intend to use it. My fear is that things will have to get much worse before they get any better.
The police are being told that we, the people are the enemy. The people are being told by the media that the police are the enemy. The truth is that both groups are being played off against each other. If we really want to get past all this, the people and the police have to come together and find common ground. We all want to live peaceful lives. I don’t believe that anyone wants to live in a vicious police state, even those who would be on the enforcement side of it, but that’s exactly what we’ll get if we don’t recognize our common humanity. Denying there’s a problem only makes it worse.