Militarization of the Police… Or Not

Posted: August 20, 2014 by ShortTimer in Crime, Culture, Government, Media
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The last couple weeks worth of rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri over what’s looking less and less like the outright murder of an unarmed teenager and more like a cop who had to defend himself against multiple attacks from a thug who’d just committed a strong-arm robbery has led some punditing pundits to pundificate over the militarization of police.

In the pundit mind, it goes “cops with cargo pants and rifles means militarization of police leads to warrior cop leads to police see people as the enemy to be oppressed leads to police start oppressing people everywhere”.

Rich Lowry at NRO turns around the point that the whole militarization theme has been overblown, and started without any militarization and helmets and rifles and MRAPs at all:

It was ridiculous and wrong for police snipers to train their weapons on peaceful protestors in Ferguson. But, when you get right down to it, the militarization of police has had basically nothing to do with events there, even though the Left and parts of the Right have wanted to make that the main issue.

When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, the officer was presumably wearing a typical police uniform and driving a typical police car.

Just so you get a visual of that, and the story from an eyewitness on scene discussing it:

No MRAPs in there, no fatigues, no helmets, no Wiley X goggles.  And the eyewitness’s own description as the body lies in the street is not what the papers and news have been saying for the last couple weeks, either.  None of it has to do with “militarization of the police”.

Lowry continues with this point:

Finally, there’s the argument that the militarized police were inciting the crowd. This wasn’t entirely implausible, although it seemed unlikely because it should be possible for lawful, well-intentioned people to restrain themselves from throwing things at cops whose uniforms and vehicles they don’t like. Sure enough, after a night of calm in the wake of the “demilitarization” of the police response and the insertion of Captain Ron Johnson, the lawlessness started right up again.

Yeah, actually the first part is implausible.

See this crowd:

>Tea Party Tomorrow

That’s the big DC Tea Party protest from a couple years back.  There was no violence there.  They even picked up their trash when they left.  Harry Reid called those people terrorists, though.

See this crowd:

guns across america slc ut

That’s from a guns across America rally in January 2013 in SLC, Utah.  And this one’s from January 2013 in Austin, TX:

guns across america austin tx 2

Lots of folks there.  Folks with guns, even.  Yet there was no looting, no rioting, and no violence.

By contrast, this is what a lot of “protesting” in Ferguson, Missouri looks like:

ferguson quiktrip

Not with signs, but with fire bombs.

ferguson molotov 1

ferguson molotov 2

ferguson molotov 3

The first protests and the last “protest” are not the same.

That’s the reason for the police response that looks like this:

ferguson mrap

Police riot gear and riot equipment may look more military today than in the past, but the “militarization of police” idea is due to media perception that molds public perception, sensationalizing the uncommon, and whipping up a new crisis.

Just for contrast, here’s a cop with a belt-fed machinegun – state of the art in 1918 – and what helped turn the Great War into an industrial slaughter that killed millions.

NYPD-traffic-motorcycle-policeman-Indian-cycle.-May-18-1918I don’t see the cops with the MRAP having any belt-fed weapons.  Instead their weapons are precise, and they have many non-lethal options that don’t consist of batons.  They are also filmed constantly.

Generally speaking, I have seen cops wearing kevlar vests.  I have seen a handful of law enforcement agents carrying longarms (and those were Border Patrol agents out in the boonies dealing with very different threats, or game wardens who are almost always approaching someone who’s also armed).  I have never seen an MRAP on the streets of the US.  Of course, I also don’t frequent places where looting is a pasttime.

I do know of Marines who went to New Orleans after Katrina to deal with the looters and rioters and anarchy… but I was on the other side of the globe at the time.  And of course I’m familiar with the National Guard having been called in to a lot of civil disturbances.

But the thing is, those are all still rare.

SWAT raids are rare.  They make the news because they’re exciting to the press, and the press principle of “if it bleeds it leads”, but they’re rare.  When I’ve asked people about if they’ve ever seen a SWAT raid in real life, the answer is almost invariably no – or is incredibly rare (unless they’re in law enforcement, but even then the answer still tends towards scarcity.)

Even SWAT raids that go bad are rare.  And the type of 2AM no-knock raid on the drug dealer’s house that gets the wrong address and results in overzealous swat clowns shooting an old man in his bed – are clearly unacceptable and should result in Hammurabic punishments for whoever okayed and participated in the raid.  But their seriousness makes us see them as more common, and no doubt the number of raids gone bad should be zero… but that discussion isn’t any part of what’s going on in Missouri.

Crime is on a downward trend, but political race-baiting and pushing class warfare in a classless society is on an upward trend.

From CBS St. Louis:

Protesters filled the streets after nightfall Monday, and officers trying to enforce tighter restrictions at times used bullhorns to order them to disperse. Police deployed noisemakers and armored vehicles to push demonstrators back. Officers fired tear gas and flash grenades.

One looter who came out of a QuikTrip told The Washington Post that he was proud of what he was doing.

I’m proud of us. We deserve this, and this is what’s supposed to happen when there’s injustice in your community,” DeAndre Smith told The Post. “St. Louis — not going to take this anymore.”

This goes to the heart of the matter – there’s an entitlement mentality where a looter has decided that since the facts aren’t all out there yet about the confrontation between Brown and the cop that by default the cop is wrong, and it’s right to loot local businesses.  Because A did something to B, then C is entitled to terrorize D.

Read that sentence again:

One looter who came out of a QuikTrip told The Washington Post that he was proud of what he was doing.

I’m proud of us. We deserve this, and this is what’s supposed to happen when there’s injustice in your community,” DeAndre Smith told The Post. “St. Louis — not going to take this anymore.”

He “deserves” to loot.  And looting and mayhem is what’s “supposed to happen” when there’s “injustice”.

The owner of that Quiktrip, the employees working at that Quiktrip, the people who shop there are all finding their livelihoods and lives wrecked or harmed or at the very least inconvenienced because he thinks he deserves to steal.  And lest they run to authorities demanding something be done, the reminder that “snitches get stitches” was put on the side of the building.

Number 7 of the Peelian Principles comes to mind:

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

When a large part of the public has decided that they will reject not just the police, but the concept of law and order, and threaten those who would want actual justice, there is a societal ill that is not caused by cops wearing jungle boots.

The problem isn’t some perceived militarization of the police – at least not there.  For all the hype of leftists and some libertarians screaming “MRAPs do not belong on our streets” – the answer is that they actually don’t – they don’t belong there any more than the actual military in the form of the National Guard does – but they will be there if the real problem strikes.

The problem is a lack of civilization of the society.

Comments
  1. […] militarization of police, or not…: thepatriotperspective.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/mil… #tcot […]

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