With the events in Ferguson, MO playing constantly on the news and talk radio, a particular topic is also being brought to the forefront, the "militarization" of Law Enforcement. With the state of the world and the Supreme Court's decision supporting the Second Amendment, it is necessary for our Law Enforcement Officers to have the equipment that will protect them in their line of work. One point the talking heads push consistantly is, "why do they need tanks? What purpose do they serve on patrol?"
Let's start with the "tanks." First off, no Law Enforcement agency in the United States has a tank. They use Bearcats, varients of the Bradley, varients of the Hummer, and various other armor trucks. These vehicles are never used for Patrol Purposes. These are incident specific vehicles, and have been used more in training than in real world call outs. While there have been countless stories of police officers encountering IEDs, no event has brought it to light more than the Boston Marathon Bombing. Ask any US Soldier that has served in Iraq how unarmored vehicles react to IEDs, and you'll understand why Law Enforcement needs these vehicles today. They need equipment that will allow them to respond to a threat that will not hesitate to use explosives against them. They also need these vehicles in support when another officer is gravely injured and needs to be rescued.
While it is great for private citizens to have access to a wide variety of firearms, it is a very dangerous world for Law Enforcement. You cannot expect an officer to respond to a call with just a Glock, when the call is about a person armed with an automatic assault rifle and heavy body armor (North Hollywood Shootout, Febrary 28, 1997). Officers need the necessary firepower that will give them the advantage. Do they need weapons like the Barrett? Yes they do, why because the private citizen does. Do they need weapons like the Mk 19? Yes, they need a weapon that will allow them to deploy gas and non-leathal rounds from a safe distance. Do they need flashbangs? Yes, when used properly they are an effective tool that can save the life of the officers, the innocent, and the suspect.
There is the argument, "Patrol Officers don't need rifles or shotguns, or specialized weaponry that is carried by SWAT Teams." Very few agencies have full time SWAT or ERT Officers. Less than 5% of all SWAT and ERT Teams are full time in this country. That means that those officers are doing other duties, and are on-call as a SWAT/ERT Officer. For full time Teams, their average response to a call is 20-30 minutes. For a part time team, the average response is 1 hour to 1.5 hours. The first responding officer needs the equipment necessary to confront a situation that necessitates the use of special weapons.
The Posse Comitatus Act 1878, prohibits the use of the US Military from being used to enforce the laws of a State or the Country. This does not apply to National Guard units or the Coast Guard. Since the US Constitution grants protections to all persons, citizen or not, equal protection, any act of terrorism or aggression within the boarders of this nation or a US territory is considered to be a Law Enforcement Matter. Due to this, Law Enforcement needs the equipment and the training to allow them to combat a terroristic threat. Once they are caught, how the Government and the Judicial System treats them is beyond the control of the Law Enforcement Agencies.
Let's face the "Natural" Truth about Law Enforcement. Yes, they are Government Employees. However, unlike other Government Entities, Law Enforcement is not here to "Protect and Serve." Police Officers do not and never will work for us, the citizens of the community. They are not a Concierge Service. Police Departments responsibilty is to provide order and to uphold and protect the laws of a provided jurisdiction. They work for the Government to insure that the governed are abiding by the laws and ordinances that are put in place. This does not mean that a Police Officers job is to protect you. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Police have no Constitutional duty to protect the citizens, even when there is a court issued protective order in place (Castle Rock v Gonzales), which was also used as part of their decision to uphold the Second Amendment. So when you hear police have to, "Protect and Serve," it's just a motto, not a job requirement.
When you hear people talking about how Police shouldn't be "militarized," or you yourself are making the same argument, let me present you two important questions. 1) Do they or you understand the threat that Police Officers must face everyday when they walk out the door? 2) If you take away all their equipment that you deem "militarizes" them, how do expect them to police a society that will have access to heavier firepower, stronger armor, and other weapons used for mass casualties?
No other job in this country requires its employee to accept the fact that when they put on their work clothes and walk out the door, they may never return home again. Everyday, when they kiss their spouse and children goodbye, it could be their last. Police Officers around this country deserve and need the equipment necessary to insure that they will return home when their shift is over. So, yes, they do need to be "militarized." They need the necessary protection to face the threats that are out there, even if that threat has only happened once in the last 20 years (San Diego, May 18, 1995).
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