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Rise of the Warrior Cop: How America's Police Forces Became Militarized

Soulskill posted 1 year,9 days | from the i-blame-the-first-rambo-movie dept.

United States 835

FuzzNugget writes "An awakening piece in the Wall Street Journal paints a grim picture of how America's police departments went from community officers walking the beat to full-on, militarized SWAT operations breaking down the doors of non-violent offenders. From the article: 'In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred [raids] a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005, there were approximately 50,000 raids.' It goes on to detail examples of aggressive, SWAT-style raids on non-violent offenders and how many have ended in unnecessary deaths. Last year, after a Utah man's home was raided for having 16 small marijuana plants, nearly 300 bullets in total were fired (most of them by the police) in the ensuing gunfight, the homeowner believing he was a victim of a home invasion by criminals. The U.S. military veteran later hanged himself in his jail cell while the prosecution sought the death sentence for the murder of one officer he believed to be an criminal assailant. In 2006, a man in Virginia was shot and killed after an undercover detective overheard the man discussing bets on college football games with buddies in a bar. The 38-year-old optometrist had no criminal record and no history of violence. The reports range from incredulous to outrageous; from the raid on the Gibson guitar factory for violation of conservational law, to the infiltration of a bar where underage youth were believed to be drinking, to the Tibetan monks who were apprehended by police in full SWAT gear for overstaying their visas on a peace mission. Then there's the one about the woman who was subject to a raid for failing to pay her student loan bills. It's a small wonder why few respect police anymore. SWAT-style raids aren't just for defense against similarly-armed criminals anymore; it's now a standard ops intimidation tactic. How much bloodshed will it take for America to realize such a disproportionate response is unwarranted and disastrous?"

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835 comments

And it's only going to get worse (4, Insightful)

johnny cashed (590023) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341397)

Before things improve, they will get worse.

Re:And it's only going to get worse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341453)

Your subject line and message content say opposite things. Hey, you'll be right either way! I see what you did there.

Re:And it's only going to get worse (3, Informative)

shinobiX (28155) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341667)

Your subject line and message content say opposite things. Hey, you'll be right either way! I see what you did there.

you might want to consider reading things before posting.

"And it's only going to get worse" = going to get worse

"And it's only going to get worse, Before things improve" = going to get worse

"Before things improve, they will get worse." = going to get worse

no matter how you read it the subject and body agree.

Re:And it's only going to get worse (5, Interesting)

UPZ (947916) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341753)

Before things improve, they will get worse.

Probably and unfortunately. Public isn't interested in holding police accountable until the degree of brutality reaches to levels that everyone can see.

Hrmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341399)

How long is a piece of string?

Re:Hrmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341407)

knot any longer than the other

Summary of TFS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341405)

Police, and the government in general, are becoming more aggressive and oppressive at the cost of American lives and liberties.

How is this news (unless you've lived in a cave, or been a politician, for the last 20 years)?

Re:Summary of TFS (-1, Troll)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341475)

It's probably news because white people are being raided now, whereas previously it was only scary black people like Fred Hampton who got murdered by militarized police.

Re: Summary of TFS (3, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341689)

Ruby Ridge and Waco, examples contradicting your race baiting.

Re: Summary of TFS (2)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341723)

That was the 1990s, which was coincidentally exactly the time that libertarians like Radley Balko got interested in police violence.

IRS Too? (5, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341415)

As a Brit, the stuff I read about the cops in the USA freaks me out, maybe because of the relative lack-of-guns here.
  I read articles saying even your tax collectors are doing armed raids on houses, is this right? It seems like something from a Terry Gilliam film, nightmare-ish.

Re:IRS Too? (1, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341483)

Bear in mind that the US press prints only the most extreme incidents. Most police officers in the US never fire their weapons in the line of duty for their entire careers.

Armed raids by tax collectors, I can believe. If someone refuses to pay taxes long enough, it's reasonable to arrest him. If that individual is also known to be stockpiling arms, as happens in the US from time to time, then I can see how an armed raid is justifiable. That doesn't mean it's routine procedure. I think the point of TFA is that we don't want armed raids to *become* routine procedure.

Re:IRS Too? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341593)

Bear in mind that an officer need not brandish his weapon to violate your rights. Simple intimidation is often enough, ... and frequently used. I've seen it happen.

Re:IRS Too? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341603)

On TV, you watch the U.S. 'Cops' and you see violence all over from the cops.... ... you watch the Canadian show 'To Serve & Protect' and the cops are all,
"You've been driving drunk, eh!... I'll give you a warning this time. Did you want us to drive you home or can we call you a Taxi."
A much different look at police tactics (or TV show tactics?)

Re:IRS Too? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341643)

Your statements about Canadian police and drinking / driving are a daydream.

Signed,
An Actual Canadian

Re:IRS Too? (0)

o_ferguson (836655) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341775)

Lol, depends what jurisdiction you're in and if you're white...

Re:IRS Too? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341617)

Does it pay well, being an apologist I mean?

Re: IRS Too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341623)

You don't seem to have reflected much on the gist of the story

Three words... (4, Insightful)

nbritton (823086) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341417)

Full disk encryption. & Call my attorney.

Do not talk to police without an attorney.

Re:Three words... (3, Insightful)

Calydor (739835) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341525)

Full disk encryption. & Call my attorney.

Do not talk to police without an attorney.

Last year, after a Utah man's home was raided for having 16 small marijuana plants, nearly 300 bullets in total were fired (most of them by the police) in the ensuing gunfight, the homeowner believing he was a victim of a home invasion by criminals.

I don't think either of those would have saved this man.

how long until they realize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341419)

probably when they invade poland ...

Pfft. If you have done nothing wrong... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341421)

...you have nothing to fear, right?

At least that is what the early proponents for increased surveillance and by extension armament of the police forces kept saying.

It is the lawmakers and the police that keeps escalating trivial issues to full out combat.
They did it during the occupy demonstrations as well. Kept battering peaceful demonstrations wearing riot gear, then go nuclear when someone had the audacity to tell them to stop.

It is a disgrace.

Re:Pfft. If you have done nothing wrong... (4, Interesting)

C0R1D4N (970153) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341477)

Dan Carlin does a great podcast on this subject http://dancarlin.com/disp.php/csarchive [dancarlin.com] episode 232

Bullies like being bullies (5, Insightful)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341425)

If there are no checks and balance to stop this from happening, then over the years it will creep forward slowly getting worse. Imagine being stopped for slightly speeding, you have your family in the car and the officer approaches with gun drawn, nice thought that... The police will say they do it to protect themselves, overwhelming force...perhaps sometimes it does go their way, other times it will not.

Re:Bullies like being bullies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341473)

Have experience with that, eh?

I'm sure people were complaining just as much in Wyatt Earp's time that shotgun messengers for Wells Fargo were too heavily armed.

Re:Bullies like being bullies (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341657)

No, no they weren't. See it wasn't asymmetric power in those days. Anyone could carry the same gun(s) and keep the power balanced between authority and citizenry. Today, not so much.

Re:Bullies like being bullies (2)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341505)

There are supposed to be Checks and Balances but they have pretty much failed - police and prosecutors tend to work hand-in-hand in any country.
It could be worse [guardian.co.uk] though, much worse [guardian.co.uk] .

Re:Bullies like being bullies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341661)

I keep an armed nuclear device in my basement.

Gotta do what it takes to protect myself man.

(And I am now on the NSA's watch list. *waves*)

It would be hilarious if this post caused a SWAT team to storm down my door. Oh think of the oodles of cash I could get out of that lawsuit.

I have one question: (1)

3seas (184403) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341433)

Who has the power to not pay for this?

I know the answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341513)

Who has the power to not pay for this?

The billionaire 1%'ers. Their money is off-shore - tax free.

Re:I have one question: (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341575)

SWAT teams are generally operated by municipal police. Depending on the size of your city, a grass-roots organization may indeed be able to steer policy. In a larger city, you'd need an alliance. You could probably get poverty, minority, and civil rights groups on your side.

American history is full of examples where citizens have stood up to injustice and won. Starting with our war of independence itself. The lesson of that history is that victory requires the weight of public opinion.

Police have seen The Untouchables once too often. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341439)

They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. Unfortunately the seem to be stuck on that last part.

'Merica (5, Funny)

Hypotensive (2836435) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341441)

Fuck yeah.

Wake up (-1, Flamebait)

BMoore60610 (1749398) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341447)

First things first- what does this have to do with technology? Having said that, let's deal with the rest. The answer to why police have become more militaristic is because criminals have become more murderous against cops. I'll be the first to agree that overwhelming force has been used in many inappropriate situations, but cops are humans who want to go home alive at the end of shift. They are tired of being shot at and, simy put, there is safety in numbers. Lest you question my credibility, I'm a medically retired cop (http://www.heroholsters.com/about-our-company.html) who was shot in the line of duty while investigating a massive marijuana grow(I don't want to hear the pro-weed arguments... It's still illegal in ohio). I was alone. We don't have huge SWAT teams here. If we had the numbers and the airplanes (or drones- there argue about that one) the odds are I would have a whole body and still be investigating major crimes. My bottom line is this, until you've put your life on the line on a daily basis, you can't understand why cops or soldiers do what they do. I'm not saying you shouldn't question it, that is the American way, but at least try to get beyond yourself and truly think about it a second. (Posted from my phone, paragraph breaks don't seem to work)

Re:Wake up (5, Insightful)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341493)

3 things 1. This site does not cover only tech, part of the stuff that matters. Even still if you wanted to argue it there is plenty of tech going into these militarized police. 2. When you became a cop you knew what you were getting into. You knew it was a dangerous field and this goes into number 3 3. You swore an oath to uphold the constitution. To violate it, like in this way, should mean instant termination, and jail time.

Re:Wake up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341549)

3 things for you unformatted person or the people that modded you up.

1. Okay, whatever.

2. It's a job. Cops are people too. Do you want to strip down the country of civility until no one wants to be a cop except Fear Factor rejects?

3. WTF? Can you point to what article of the constitution has a problem with this?

Re:Wake up (5, Insightful)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341631)

2. Logical fallacy, Violent crime is down. Loss of life of cops is declining, not rising. Gun ownership is down.. If anything is stripping down the civility towards cops it is their own actions.

3.Well we can start with the 4th amendment if you like ;

Right to feel secure in your persons. Right against unreasonable searches and seizes.

But there is also the right to privacy.,

Re:Wake up (1)

AHuxley (892839) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341511)

Hi BM, I did a quick google search and found the following chart:
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/27/16196680-police-deaths-down-23-percent-this-year-across-us?lite [nbcnews.com]
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/AJDocs/121227_PoliceDeaths.pdf [msn.com] has a chart.
Is the US counting in new ways? Trying to reduce compensation costs from the 1970's numbers?
Thanks.

Re: Wake up (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341531)

You got shot for investigating what the founding fathers called "gardening". That's what's truly f***end up about your story.

Re:Wake up (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341537)

As occupational hazards are concerned, Law Enforcement isn't even particularly high on the list. What happened to you is unfortunate, but is not especially common. If police cruisers came with grenade launchers and they blew up every car they pulled over then it would be even more rare, but I think we've long passed "eye for an eye" and are now looking at a situation where cops kill more people than people kill cops.

Re:Wake up (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341587)

IF they wanted to be in the military, they should have STAYED in the military.

Re: Wake up (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341633)

I used to be a pizza delivery guy in Niagara Falls, NY. I've delivered pizza to places with crack and guns on the table in the living room. Let me know when you've been standing in front of a cracked out gangbanger with hundreds in your pocket and nothing to defend yourself with but a 2 liter of diet coke. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Re: Wake up (5, Funny)

chill (34294) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341677)

Next time, carry a pack of Mentos with that Diet Coke and maybe you'll have a chance.

Re:Wake up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341647)

Carabinieri

It's so comforting to walk around on vacation and have the machine guns there, ready to protect me.

It's starting to look like Italy here.

There are plenty of SWAT in Ohio.

It's the definition of bad police work, lazy enforcement on purpose, until it's too late.

jr

Re:Wake up (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341681)

I love shooting dogs so much I made it my career.

FTFY

Re:Wake up (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341701)

The answer to why police have become more militaristic is because criminals have become more murderous against cops.

More murderous as compared to when? Crime rates have been falling in this country for years.

They are tired of being shot at ... there is safety in numbers ... I'm a medically retired cop ... who was shot in the line of duty while investigating a massive marijuana grow ... I was alone.

It sounds like you're talking about the opposite extreme. No reasonable person is going to complain about sending several officers when there is a potentially dangerous situation. Personally I'd complain if they didn't. But there is an enormous difference between that and sending fully militarized SWAT teams in under situations that clearly don't warrant it.

I wonder if the SWAT teams don't make things more dangerous for the police, especially in the long run. If you know you may come up against a military assault team, it's tempting to arm yourself likewise. Unless perhaps you're wanted for murder or something, the dumbest thing you can do is shoot a cop. I know many criminals aren't the brightest of people, but if military assault teams weren't the norm even they might come to realize that. Hey Charlie, you may do some time for growing pot or jacking cars, but it's a lot less time than for shooting a cop.

Arms races go both ways, and I suspect that this militarization, in addition to making police lose the respect of the public, ultimately may make things more dangerous for the police.

Re:Wake up (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341707)

It's an occupational hazard, the sort that is greatly amplified by stupid management. In your case, it seems a bit idiotic to send one man, alone, to investigate a "massive" marijuana grow. As idiotic as sending a dozen officers wielding submachine guns to get an unarmed optometrist who used to bet $50 with his friends.

Re:Wake up (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341743)

I served in Iraq. I know what it feels like to be under threat of death daily. Instead of a crazy crack head every so often, I dealt with roadside bombs, mortars, and snipers. Daily.

I disagree with you in the utmost.

If you are too scared to do your job without violating peoples rights, then you should not be doing the job. In fact the whiny attitude that you have about wanting drones and more officers because then you would be "whole" Just proves that you were never fit for the job to start with.

Lets say that all police officers are 100% honest and honorable (HAH!) We then trust them with equipment that allows them to violate rights at will. (Drones, license plate camera with massive storage, etc) This is not a problem because of how honest they all are. What happens when those honest cops get replaced with dirty cops. We have given the dirty cops the ability to violate our own rights.

This is compounded because cops never rat each other out. It is one big circle jerk that falls back to the old canard that the dirty cops just wanted to make sure they went home every night.

If the police actually monitored themselves, and kept their own house clean I would not worry about them having powerful new technology. As long as "clean" cops protect dirty ones, I think poorly of all police officers, and do not trust them.

I will again reiterate. If you are too scared to do the job, then find a new profession. I do not want you to be scared after all.

Ohh and the pro weed argument. You will hear it. The ban on weed it an over reach of the state. What right does the state have to tell me what I can and cannot put into my own body. In fact I feel that federal regulations on it are an inherently unconstitutional abuse of the commerce clause.

Violent crime rates (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341455)

Violent crime in the US is occurring at the lowest rate in my lifetime and still declining rapidly. There are some, I'm sure, who would say that SWAT teams are a contributing factor to that. I'm skeptical of that claim. I would argue instead that declining violent crime rates make SWAT teams irrelevant. The wasted money alone is reason enough to quit using them; the number of extra-judicial "accidental" killings is a stronger reason.

I've lived in the Boston metro area for over 15 years, and the only incident I've seen or heard about that justified use of a SWAT team was the apprehension of the marathon bombing suspects. Frankly, something that we need that rarely, we would be better off without. Let the governor call out the National Guard when the threat to public safety is enough to justify military force.

Re:Violent crime rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341679)

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/06/14/arlington-police-chief-angry-over-steroid-scandal/

The cops are on steroids, so they can't control themselves when they pop off.

These raids are to prepare us for the future ones. (5, Informative)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341467)

These raids being discussed above are to get the populace to accept them as normal, and to eventually get immediate compliance and prostration on "routine" raids in the future. Then disarming people, or shooting them, "for their own good" so that "misunderstandings" don't happen in "routine" raids in the future. These early raids will weed out those who will resist, as they ramp up eventually they'll get everyone who would resist.

People think there are sheep and wolves. Truth is there are sheep, wolves, and sheep dogs. The job of the wolf is to get the sheep to fear the sheep dog - and it's working. The sheep dog is the biggest threat to the wolf, and the wolves are systematically weeding them out.

A near miss [heraldtribune.com] .

Nowhere near a miss. [wikipedia.org]
My thoughts [google.com] on that one.

Re:These raids are to prepare us for the future on (1)

Splab (574204) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341545)

Saw the near miss on fark earlier, and I must say, the thing that got me the most was Wiggins comment:

Goldsberry wasn't arrested or shot despite pointing a gun at a cop, so Wiggins said, âoeShe sure shouldn't be going to the press.â

Re:These raids are to prepare us for the future on (1)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341553)

I did find the link on Fark but I hadn't read the comments. HOLY FARK - it's over 500, I'll look for Wiggins.

Re:These raids are to prepare us for the future on (1)

pecosdave (536896) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341565)

Nevermind, Wiggins was the cop, not a Farker. When I shared the link on Facebook I copy pasted it - here's what I shared there:

Goldsberry wasn't arrested or shot despite pointing a gun at a cop, so Wiggins said, “She sure shouldn't be going to the press.”

She absolutely positively should have gone to the press, and the court system and brought the press along there. Not that the the press cares about real justice anymore, just steering sheep for their kickbacks.

Hey FuzzNugget, don't bother answering your door. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341489)

Way to put a SWATarget on yourself. I commend your bravery.

In WA State: Man shot 16 times (3, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341491)

In Auburn, WA a corrections officer was seeking another person. [komonews.com] The DOC officer and King County police shot an unarmed man (Theoharis), the officers later claiming say they thought he (Theoharis) was reaching for a gun, though no weapons were found in the room.The independent review also found evidence the sheriff's office was more interested in advocating for its officers than uncovering the facts behind the shooting.

Another notable example (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341499)

Cheye Calvo, then mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD: His crime was bringing a package inside his home. It turned out that this was a package of pot that the police had been tracking and put on his porch, and as soon as the package was inside the SWAT team stormed his house, shooting his dogs, nearly shooting his mother-in-law (cue jokes), no knocking or announcing. It turned out that the only reason that the package had been addressed to his home was that some drug dealer had gotten his wife's name and address at random, and then have the local UPS delivery guy just take the packages to whoever was really supposed to get them. There was also an obvious entrapment issue, as Calvo would never have seen the package without the police putting it there.

Nowadays Calvo spends most of his time traveling the country giving talks about out of control SWAT teams. He also points out that there are lots of people who this happens to that nobody paid attention to because they were poor and/or not-white, rather than relatively well-to-do, white, and the local mayor.

Re:Another notable example (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341693)

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/06/14/arlington-police-chief-angry-over-steroid-scandal/

Cops on steroids.

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread879760/pg1

GIS for cops on steroids to see what out-of-control ultracops look like.

As a devils advocate (1, Informative)

giorgist (1208992) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341517)

When you have 50,000 raids a year ... you will get the ones that will swing wide off the mark. I am sure they will get the address wrong, a cat will fall on the officer's face as they break in and they will gun down a whole convent. The officers are shit scared that 12 year old is holding a fully automatic weapon as per it's God given right.

Re:As a devils advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341551)

Unfortunately this is where our society has taken us. We should all respect each other enough to not succumb to mindless fear over powerlessness. Ironic that its those we give the most power who are unilaterally the most fearful.

ermm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341519)

>> How much bloodshed will it take for America to realize such a disproportionate response is unwarranted and disastrous?

Still trying to figure that out with all the invasions, what luck do you think the government will have with it's local policy.

Don't think you can have it both ways. (0)

taxman_10m (41083) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341539)

If gun ownership in a society is as ubiquitous as in the United States then the police necessarily have to be at least as well armed and trained in military tactics.

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341559)

No society just has to be able to manage itself without a fearful power elite.

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341567)

Gun ownership in the US has been decreasing at the number of police raids has been rising.

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (1)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341577)

Actually you can.. Do you think that until the 1960s the populace was not as well armed as they are today? Back when they only carried a pistol if that? And even still, no one is arguing against the need for a SWAT team in some situation, but not even close to what they are used for now adays.

http://www.inquisitr.com/860668/louise-goldsberry-police-swat-team-raids-wrong-apartment-59-year-old-nurse-pulls-gun/ [inquisitr.com]

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341773)

My grandfather had a machine gun he brought home from germany. 100% legal for him to own... we would shoot it on the 4th.

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341585)

If gun ownership in a society is as ubiquitous as in the United States then the police necessarily have to be at least as well armed and trained in military tactics.

which, in turn, stems from the stance of the government. The Second Amendment isn't about deer hunting or self-defense, per se, it's about being able to overthrow your government when you need to, as the guys who wrote it had just done.

This massive military government was never envisioned - the Army was only to be able to be stood up for two years at a time.

It's a failing of the highest order, and makes the People less safe. The answer to "does the Second Amendment allow people to own a nuclear weapon" is clearly, "if that's a problem then the government should get rid of its nuclear weapons."

A constant escalation by both sides cannot end well. Actually, just that we have 'two sides to the conflict' is damning evidence enough.

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341629)

Sorry, that doesn't pass the sniff test. What about the other 200 years of U.S. history, during which gun ownership was at least as prevalent and we didn't have out of control SWAT teams?

Re:Don't think you can have it both ways. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341711)

Wow, what a dumb statement. The people are less well armed then they were in the 70's and before, yet back then we didn't need Rambo in uniform to get through the day.

The US has been at war for over 60 (4, Interesting)

hsmith (818216) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341555)

Years - and people wonder why the police are militarized, why violence is prevelant, why mass shootings happen, why bombings happen. It is because our culture is one of death and destruction, because 'merica. Endless war has done this, the value of life is nonexistent in our government.

Re:The US has been at war for over 60 (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341709)

Do a google image search for cops on steroids to see picture proof of why our police are turning from public servants into testosterone-fueled monsters. One cop fires a single round and triggers a rage-induced killing spree, is what happens. It's not about guns, or violence, it's about cops with no self-control because they are hyped up on performance enhancing drugs.

Re:The US has been at war for over 60 (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341735)

Violence in the US isn't "prevalent", it's "publicised".

Most of the US is quite cozy, with violent crime being largely confined to areas where toxic people prey on each other.

Much crime is VERY geographically restricted. For example I live in a county with an impressive number of assaults and propertly crimes, but I don't live in the "bad part" of that county. I've never had a problem in thirty years.

It's also an area where anyone burgling a home would expect to be shot, so crooks only hunt familiar territory. We pay the police to make sure their operational radius is short, so to speak. "If you don't belong there, stay the fuck out because it's not yours."

This is where Police States are formed. (5, Insightful)

gallondr00nk (868673) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341569)

The police are increasingly regarded with fear and distrust, which insulates them from the community they work in, which makes their behaviour in turn more aggressive and antagonistic. This widens the gap to the point where the police are not a part of a community, but something that oppresses it.

History has proven that a lot of people are happy to mistreat or kill or torture others, assuming they see the other as an "enemy".

The Warrior Cop seems to me to be not just a result of militarisation, but politicalisation. Cops are told again and again they are fighting wars against drugs, or terrorism, or crime, and unsurprisingly they turn into a war making institution. Not only that, but an institution that sees everyone as an enemy.

This seems to me a result of consistently electing lawmakers who are too fucking stupid for words.

Re:This is where Police States are formed. (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341767)

Mostly because a large number of cops act like complete assholes.
Officers should be forced to be courteous and professional at all times. They speed off duty? Instantly fired. The problem is that most cops act like they are above the law and treat EVERYONE as a threat.

Reduce the number of assholes in uniform, and you will reduce or reverse the decline of the public image of the police.

Fuck tha police (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341571)

But take off the gun so you can see what's up
And we'll go at it punk, I'ma fuck you up

If there was any doubt how over the top this is (4, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341583)

All you needed to do was watch the coverage when they were trying to get the other Boston Marathon bomber. As far as I could tell they literally had thousands of these basically soldiers running around which was surreal to me given that they were trying to catch one guy.(Who had some homemade bombs and a pistol.) I think I saw FBI, CIA, ATF, plus Watertown, Cambridge, and Boston police soldiers. I mentioned to my brother if anything this would only encourage more terrorism since basically 2 guys for probably well under a $1000 shut down at least 3 cities and probably induced a cost in the several hundreds of millions. Oh and the worst part, they didn't even catch the guy. BTW should I mention even libertarian with conservative leaning sites like instapundit think this is horseshit?

many factors (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341589)

Not sure where to start as far as how to fix law enforcement. It's become positively mired in internal as well as external failures. Last time I went into a police station, the officers were staring blankly at their screens, doing absolutely nothing. Anytime anyone moved, that person would receive angry scowls and sneers. And whenever people are in trouble, they're 1 hour away. Our streets are so cluttered and gridlocked that it's just impossible for anyone to move effectively. It's kind of amazing just how angry the officers I meet are these days. I remember 10 years ago the complete opposite was true. Used to see police in the fun run, being useful at community events, keeping the peace... Now there's a new mentality, and it's frankly a disgrace. It's like the crippling immaturity that we see daily in our culture has somehow even changed our police. You know, the good guys. It's really sad.

Police SWAT (3, Interesting)

w4r0nc0re (2613419) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341595)

I am the victim of a Police SWAT which happened in 2007. I lost my (food svc.) job at the time. When it happened I was visiting with a couple of neighbors in my apartment. The police at the time did not read a Miranda warning, and called the judge to obtain a warrant and permission to hold trial right there. After being asked a few innocuous questions, I was taken to the local hospital behavioral medicine unit. The police were frantic, and I believe this took place on a Sunday night. The Landlord had indicated I was going to be evicted, but IIRC I was well within the allotted time-frame to prepare to move. A number of years have passed since that time. Only a few years ago, a thief broke the lock on my storage unit and stole a few computers and most everything I had except my books and files. I am and was nonviolent. I am not and was not addicted to any drug, and I had not drunk nor smoked. I did not shout nor yell. The above happened in the freedom-loving community of Provo, Utah.

Why to learn proper gun use, even if you don't .. (0)

3seas (184403) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341597)

...support the Second Amendment.
I recently received a DVD in the mail. I did some research on it and found there are those who have over the last couple years also received such videos. Confusion happens as they did not order the DVD and mistakenly perceived it as a scam to get them to pay for it. Had they simply paid attention to the paperwork that came with the video they would know paying for it is optional, by law. They could keep it at no charge or they could return it in a prepaid envelope that the content of the video may benefit another.

The simplest view to take is that of perceiving the dvd as a direct mail advertisement containing potentially useful information that you can do with it as you please within copyright boundaries as it is with any direct mail promotion you receive.

Other than the confusion cleared by knowing the law, many of those who disapproved might also be the same who would say advertisment that contains genuinely useful information woudl be better than sales pitch BS

This video I received was branded NRA as it was the NRA mailing list used in the mail out. But the DVD itself is from http://video.personaldefensenetwork.com/ [personalde...etwork.com] which has many free videos online. This video is titled- Advanced Personal Defense: Combat Focus (TM) Shooting and Home Defense Tips.

Given the effort of government to violate the second amendment and the buildup of cops turned unskilled (lacking the bootcamp and other psychological conditioning to make proper judgement calls) military style swat thugs ..... It is a wise thing to make use of the information the PDN videos provide, even if you are not a gun supporter, for it can help you recognize whether someone with a gun is a threat to you or not - by recognizing weather or not they are making proper use of their gun.

Being a cop can be boring (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341605)

One other pressure is that being a cop can be pretty boring. Wrestling drunks, traffic patrol, walking/driving the beat, arguing with crazy people. Then you have the relative lack of genuine promotion opportunities most communities only need a tiny number of detectives or major crimes investigators. Plus the reality is that via tickets issued and petty crime prevention being high priorities for most local governments, they don't really want many cops to be anything but uniforms driving marked units.

So then comes along SWAT. With the occasional columbine the cops are able to convince the local politicians that they don't want to be caught with their pants down. Internally they wont meet much resistance because who doesn't want to play soldier and act all tough. You get to do cool training (pit maneuvers, kicking down doors, and lots of shooting). Basically action hero stuff; who didn't become a cop without at least a small hero fantasy in the back of their brain.

But then the last factor is that most police departments are by nature separate from the politicians. This is sort of a requirement otherwise politicians could too easily interfere with investigations "I can vouch for him personally, he would never do anything like that, I think you should drop it, Now." Plus the police need to be able to distribute their resources as they see fit. Again the politicians would distribute the policing according to political needs which would generally be very different than distributing the resources for crime prevention.

But the real question becomes one of authoritarianism vs libertarianism. This is the true divide in North America, not left wing and right wing. There are those who believe that we should be exposed to no risk and aim to impose some kind of perfect Disney society. They believe that with enough rules that this society can be achieve. The war on terror and the war on drugs are perfect examples of this. Yet the simple measure of the impossibility of this would be maximum security prisons these places are full of drugs and violence. If near 100% removal of liberty and relentless monitoring can not work in these facilities, what hope is there outside in "free" society? Bizarrely the various police agencies are slowly turning "free" society into those very failed prisons.

This sort of behavior often has many unintended consequences. This us against them mentality might first pervade the police but it then pervades the public. You end up with a public who stop cooperating with the police as a rule thinking that any cooperation will be used against them. This significantly reduces the usefulness of the police while reinforcing their mentality of us against them.

But then this feedback loop seems to get worse. The authoritarianism begins to spread to the legal system where you get angry prosecutors and hanging judges trying to prove that the system still works. The politicians are then harangued to make the penalties stiffer and stiffer as toleration of any libertarian policies would be to admit failure.

But luckily fantasy can only hold out so long against reality and as we are seeing a few jurisdictions have effectively eliminated their marijuana penalties. The world did not come to an end. Money is being save and lives aren't being ruined. But the authoritarian types are still desperate to hit people with sticks. So they are now making DUI laws where you will test positive a week or more after smoking up. Also these involve taking a blood sample. A fairly invasive and nasty privilege to give to the police.

So my suggestion is to fight fire with fire. New fundamental laws need to be put into place that will severely punish any members of the legal system who violate people's rights. There should be a people's jury that can be called that can permanently remove from office any official who is accused of abusing rights (judges, police, prosecutors). Freedom of information laws should be massively strengthened to the point where when a FOI request is issued that the officials will place it at the top of their todo list with little recourse to say no. Information is truely the lever of power and by giving information back to the people the people will regain the power that is rightfully theirs.

Re:Being a cop can be boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341757)

How about drug-testing the cops? Just search for "cops on steroids" and you'll see the simple explanation for why there is so much rage and hate in the police force. These guys are making themselves dangerous to society and should be locked up.
It's not about guns, it's about guys with tiny dicks overcompensating into roid-rage by doing the Lance Armstrong.

No consequences for the officers (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341609)

I have a question for the police chiefs around the country. When an officer conducting a raid "accidentally" shoots an unarmed person, why are there no consequences for that incident? It would seem to me, someone who will accidentally pull the trigger during a raid is exactly the kind of person who should not be trusted to participate in raids.

"a home invasion by criminals" (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341613)

Well he was right. The US Constitution had to be amended to prohibit alcohol, as the Federal Government did not have that power. It was repealed. Nothing was added to the Constitution to give it the power to prohibit ditch weed, or anything else of the sort. The whole War on Drugs is illegal - at least if the Constitution is still in effect.

When people swear to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic, these are the domestic ones they're talking about. I'm saddened that this veteran saw death as his only way out.

Somebody in DC thinks we're better off now then we were before, when he had 16 plants in his house.

GBI guns blazing for missapropriation at college (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341621)

Here [georgia.gov] is another example where armed officers with assault rifles came into the engineering building at Georgia Tech to arrest an unarmed professor for misappropriation of funds.

The worst part is that the GBI (State of Georgia's version of FBI) swat team went to other offices of professors unrelated to the incident and pointed these assault rifles in their face. Talk about overwhelming force.

Obama, in his own words (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341627)

"We can not continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We gotta have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."

- candidate Barrack Obama, 2008 [youtube.com]

Re:Obama, in his own words (2)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341761)

Dont try to turn this into a left vs right. This has been happening just as much under the right.

Cops on steroids (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341639)

The cops are taking steroids. There's no stigma against it like in pro sports, but just as much pressure to perform. You all know there are many performance enhancing drugs, not just steroids but even something as simple as ritalin or adderal. Cops have easy access, too.
I'd like to see random drug testing of cops, and drug testing of cops following these ridiculous events where they fire hundreds of rounds for no particular reason other than that all the other trigger-happy cops are firing. You can't substitute calm, rational peace-keeping with hyped-up cops over-compensating for their tiny guns.

We need to raise awareness of cops who are pulling a Lance Armstrong.

Map of botched raids (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341649)

I'm surprised the (otherwise excellent) article neglected to include the Cato Institute's map of botched paramilitary police raids [cato.org] .

This really is a serious problem. I teach home defense along with my concealed weapon permit classes, and the question always comes up "If someone is breaking into my house, how do I know if it's the police?" The answer, of course, is that you can't know, but if you guess wrong it could cost you your life. Good luck.

In my opinion, raids are simply too risky to be justified unless there's an imminent threat to an innocent's life. The reason for using aggressive entry tactics in the vast majority of cases is to prevent the destruction of evidence. That's simply not a good enough reason the kind of high-risk situation the aggressive tactics produce.

I think there are very rare circumstances in which SWAT really is appropriate, and we should scale SWAT capabilities appropriately. Perhaps each US state should have a single group of state troopers who form such an elite force, and are equipped with transportation that allows them to respond quickly anywhere in the state. A big, populous state like California may need two or three such units. But when every podunk PD has its own SWAT team, their mere existence is going to guaranteed that they get used for all sorts of other things. They're too expensive, and too cool (to the police), to just leave sitting around all the time.

So how do we stop it? (1)

valley (240947) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341659)

Do I just go down to the local police station and ask them to give up all their cool body armor and to please refrain from raiding unarmed civilians in full gear with automatic weapons drawn? Do I write my congress critter and ask them to quit sending millions of dollars to local police forces (and then be called out by their colleagues for "not being tough on terrorism")? Not to be cynical - I seriously would like some recommendations for a course of action for the average man.

"AN criminal assailant" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341671)

What is it with Americans and writing "an" instead of "a" all the time? It's not as if you can't SEE that you just typed something incorrect, nor that you can't FEEL that you typed TWO letters instead of one. And yet still, wherever there are Americans typing 'on the internet', there are these irritating 'ans' turning up all over the place.

The fox in charge of the hen house (2)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341673)

Given free reign, most authoritarians will opt for the most egregious display of power they can muster. Their goal is to intimidate all who might question or oppose them, even within their own ranks or among their allies. Of course, such as an Edward Snowden is to be nipped in the bud. Furthering this agenda is the fact that SWAT teams burn huge amounts of money on each outing, requiring larger budgets and thereby aggregating more power to the commanders. It is a vicious circle owned and managed by those who profit from it. Unfortunately, that condition has developed in many of society's institutions, such as Wall Street or Congress.

And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,9 days | (#44341675)

they haven't synced with the actual military on any permanent scale. As a vet, I'd like to keep that distinction at least lest they tarnish that service. But living here as an ordinary citizen who encounters over-militarized and over-budgeted police all the time, I'd have to say that the latter is at least part of the problem.

Plus, the police use that Pla-Skool phonetic alphabet rather than that used by the rest of the planet. Sort of amplifies how stupid the whole thing is when you see a decked out SWAT team trying to spell something.

Summaries that advocate (0)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341705)

"Last year, after a Utah man's home was raided for having 16 small marijuana plants, nearly 300 bullets in total were fired (most of them by the police) in the ensuing gunfight, the homeowner believing he was a victim of a home invasion by criminals. The U.S. military veteran later hanged himself in his jail cell while the prosecution sought the death sentence for the murder of one officer he believed to be an criminal assailant."

So, a dealer or heavy pot user (16 plants...I don't think the law cares about whether they were "small") believes his home is being broken into. He used deadly force to protect his pot plants. Turns out he killed a cop.
Honestly, I'm sorry to hear he was a veteran, but that doesn't exonerate him from a few catastrophically bad decisions, something he finally figured out.

Re:Summaries that advocate (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341741)

If the cop did not announce himself, he deserved to die. If a cop comes crashing through my door or window unannounced, they will get 2 maybe 3 deer slugs to the chest.

There is a solution. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341727)

Interestingly, These same scumbag cops dont have the balls to do that to a Motorcycle rally or a Gun rally.

Cops only use these tactics on soft targets, they act exactly like street gangs.

And the UK is heading the same way (1)

hughbar (579555) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341729)

Robert Peel, the founder of our police, believed in 'policing by consent'. We, in the UK, are drifting further and further from that with armoured police vans, tasered up thugs 'patrolling' and [one recent incident I witnessed] 10 police for one angry unarmed man in a incident in a bus queue. Birghtly painted cars including one I've seen recently marked 'interceptor', they've obviously been watching Mad Max. They are rude and patronising if you ask them something and violent towards any protestors. Crime is declining here too.

Most of the bad trends tend to drift in here from the US and this is one.

I was mugged last year. It wasn't very serious, but, in spite of 12 similar incidents they couldn't catch the guys because their main 'method' was 'look at CCTV footage', they are not 'near' the community, something that would enable them to do 'police work'. Go figure.

NASA? (4, Interesting)

joelville (1180631) | 1 year,9 days | (#44341751)

TFA says NASA has its own SWAT. "Along with the formidable force of standard security at Kennedy, a highly trained and specialized group of guardians protect the Center from would-be troublemakers. They are the members of the Kennedy Space Center Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and they mean business. " http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/main/swat_feature.html [nasa.gov]
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