Posts Tagged ‘police militarization’


We’re not in Mayberry anymore

October 6, 2016

Radley Balko writes about a recently released documentary.

‘Do Not Resist’: A chilling look at the normalization of warrior cops

The haunting thing about the new policing documentary “Do Not Resist” is what it doesn’t show. There are no images of cops beating people. No viral videos of horrifying shootings. Sure, there are scenes from the Ferguson protests in which riot cops deploy tear gas. But there’s no blood, no Tasings, no death. Yet when it was over, I had to force myself to exhale.

What makes this movie so powerful is its terrifying portrayal of the mundanities of modern policing. I watched the movie weeks ago, but there are scenes that still flicker in my head. We all remember the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson. We’ve seen the photos. We saw the anger and the animus exchanged across the protest lines. What we didn’t see were the hours and hours before and after those moments. We didn’t see the MRAPs and other armored vehicles roll in, one at a time, slowly transforming an American town into a war zone. We didn’t hear the clomp of combat boots on asphalt in the quiet hours of the early morning, interrupted only by fuzzy dispatches over police radio. […]

Fittingly, the most chilling scene in the movie doesn’t take place on a city street, or at a protest, or during a drug raid. It takes place in a conference room. It’s from a police training conference with Dave Grossman, one of the most prolific police trainers in the country. Grossman’s classes teach officers to be less hesitant to use lethal force, urge them to be willing to do it more quickly and teach them how to adopt the mentality of a warrior. Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castille in July, had attended one of Grossman’s classes called “The Bulletproof Warrior” (though that particular class was taught by Grossman’s business partner, Jim Glennon). […]

The trailer:


Let’s show them how that would work

June 28, 2014

Radley Balko points out something interesting in an ACLU report:

Massachusetts SWAT teams claim they’re private corporations, immune from open records laws

As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.

Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests. Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.

How clever of them, eh? I think we should let their claim stand and then start working out the consequences of that claim. Here’s a start:

1. SWAT companies give up all public funding and have to sell their "services" in an open market. No more police payroll and pensions. As my friend Paul said, we could hire the Keystone SWAT company.

2. SWAT companies give up their qualified immunity and become financially responsible for violating victims’ rights, destroying property and blowing holes in 2-year-olds.

In short, they’d have to provide commercial liability insurance to protect their clients (i.e., governments that hired them). Why not? Any other contracting company does.

Here’s a short video by the ACLU about using SWAT teams on drug raids.

Here’s the ACLU page on militarization: War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.

Weren’t unreasonable searches and seizures part of the reason we rebelled against British rule? Just sayin’.


Bambi gets SWATted

August 13, 2013

Just in case we needed a reminder that the police have become too militarized, what follows is the first half of a post at Popehat.

Mutants. Secret Society members. Communists. Baby deer.

In other news, someone brought an baby deer that had been abandoned by its mother to a no-kill animal shelter in Wisconsin.

The no-kill shelter placed a few calls, found a licensed wildlife refuge that would take the baby, and kept the animal in their fenced wooded facility for two weeks until the slot opened up at the refuge.

But, thankfully, this evil criminal conspiracy was stopped in its tracks. Thanks to brave government employees, aerial photos were taken, surveillance was performed, a SWAT team was assembled, and then nine agents of the Department of Natural Resources and four deputies “all armed to the teeth”, raided the no-kill animal shelter.

And shot the baby deer and stuffed its corpse into a body bag.

Because, you see, the law forbids private possession of wildlife. And those villains at the no-kill animal shelter weren’t going to send the deer to the licensed wild life refuge until tomorrow


The Popehat post is about a news article reported by WISN in Wisconsin. The WISN page includes a 3-minute video of its TV report.

Thirteen armed officers to serve a warrant for a wildlife regulatory violation? It must have been a very slow day at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


The Army of the State

July 20, 2013

What a coincidence: yesterday I posted an article about a St. Louis cop who had been fired for assaulting a suspect but then found not guilty (of 3rd degree assault) by a judge who hadn’t seen the video of the event. Watching that video, it’s hard to see how justice was served by that decision.

That same day, I got e-mail from Jeff G. containing an article from Not a sterling source, IMO, but in this case I had no problem believing the article: Florida Nurse Terrorized by US Marshals in Warrantless Raid.

Update: The Infowars article appears to be based on this article from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Those articles read like one of Radley Balko’s "Raid Of The Day" posts at his blog The Agitator.

The subject line of Jeff’s e-mail read: "This stuff is not supposed to happen in the U.S. folks. This is not unusual anymore. What the heck is going on?"

As I replied to Jeff, what’s going on is described in Balko’s new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

Balko also described this problem in Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, his 2006 white paper for the Cato Institute.

Radley’s been on this beat for years (along with others) and he’s documented many cases like the one reported by Infowars, the Herald-Tribune, and by KSDK in St. Louis.

If you haven’t checked out his writing on the topic, you’re missing an important trend.

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