Little Towns, Big (Government) Guns

mrap_3_0

The events in Ferguson, MO have drawn widespread public attention to the increasing militarization of local police departments. It’s a topic that has been discussed amongst civil–rights minded folks for the last decade or so and has both national and local impact.  For instance, Glenn Reynolds wrote in 2006:

The trend toward militarizing police began in the ’60s and ’70s when standoffs with the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the University of Texas bell tower gunman Charles Whitman convinced many police departments that they needed more than .38 specials to deal with unusual, high-intensity threats. In 1965 Los Angeles inspector Daryl Gates, who later became police chief, signed off on the formation of a specially trained and equipped unit that he wanted to call the Special Weapons Attack Team. (The name was changed to the more palatable Special Weapons and Tactics). SWAT programs soon expanded beyond big cities with gang problems.

Abetting this trend was the federal government’s willingness to make surplus military equipment available to police and sheriffs’ departments. All sorts of hardware is available, from M-16s to body armor to armored personnel carriers and even helicopters. Lots of police departments grabbed the gear and started SWAT teams, even if they had no real need for them. The materiel was free, and it was fun. I don’t blame the police. Heck, if somebody gave me a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to play with, I’d probably start a SWAT team, too—so long as I didn’t have to foot the maintenance bill.

Thus, the sheriff’s department in landlocked Boone County, Ind., has an amphibious armored personnel carrier. (According to that county’s sheriff-elect, the vehicle has been used to deliver prescriptions to snow-bound elderly residents, and to provide protection during a suspected hostage situation.) Jasper, Fla.,—with 2000 inhabitants and two murders in the past 12 years—obtained seven M-16s from the federal government, leading an area newspaper to run a story with the subhead, “Three stoplights, seven M-16s.”

This approach, though, has led to problems both obvious and subtle. The obvious problem should be especially apparent to readers of this magazine: Once you’ve got a cool tool, you kind of want to use it. That’s true whether it’s a pneumatic drill, a laser level or an armored fighting vehicle. SWAT teams, designed to deal with rare events, wound up doing routine police work, like serving drug warrants.

The subtle effect is also real: Dress like a soldier and you think you’re at war. And, in wartime, civil liberties–or possible innocence–of the people on “the other side” don’t come up much. But the police aren’t at war with the citizens they serve, or at least they’re not supposed to be.

National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke had a less-than-flattering take on what has been going on with the militarization of police departments: Barney Fife Meets Delta Force. Barney’s one and only bullet has been replaced by a MRAP.

A New York Times piece from June included a graphic illustrating the dispersion of military equipment amongst local police forces.

Further, a couple videos seem to prove Reynolds point about police departments using “cool tools”.  The first comes via Jesse Walker who found this video on the Doraville, Georgia (population 8,500) police department website.

The second comes via Radley Balko who contrasts the pleasant police-recruitment video of Decatur, Georgia with that of Newport Beach, CA.

It has happened in Rhode Island, too. As the ProJo reported in December of 2012 (h/t), the town of Johnston’s (pop. 30,000)  SWAT team has been building up:

The town of Johnston has received more than $4.1 million in military equipment over the past two years through a U.S. military surplus program that has supplied its Police Department with 30 M-16 rifles, 12 humvees, and military night-vision equipment, among others tools.

Supporters of the $2.5-billion surplus program see many valuable uses for municipal police departments. Johnston Police Detective Raymond Peters says the program is helping equip a SWAT team capable of becoming a “world-class hostage rescue team.”

Does Johnston need a SWAT team, much less a “world-class hostage rescue team”?  When was the last hostage situation in Johnston, anyway?

This is not to say that SWAT team’s are unnecessary: they are needed. The Rhode Island State Police should certainly have one as should major cities like Providence and possibly “cities” like Warwick or Cranston.  But does Johnston or Charlestown, which has a “part-time multi-jurisdictional SWAT Team”, need them? Part of the ramp up has been because we live in a post-9/11 world, and partly because the military is giving stuff away.  But even with the “free stuff” there are costs.  Tax-dollars are spent in equipment and training that could be spent better elsewhere (um, wait, this is Rhode Island, define “better”).  But most importantly, there are social costs when it appears local police forces are more ready to take on the public than it is to protect and serve them.



  • Dan

    The problem – or at least the problematic justification offered – is the notion that only zero police casualties is acceptable. We don’t approach other hazardous activities in this way because we recognize the inherent trade off between safety and freedom (or simply being able to go about our lives). I’d rather have, say, 2 or 3 police die annually in my state than live in a military zone with machines of war turned against the citizenry. The number doesn’t have to be, and indeed should not be zero from a policy standpoint. Most police are killed on the highways anyway – a good argument for reduced traffic ticketing.

    • Guest

      Perhaps you should volunteer to be a police officer and take these risks. A mob has no restraint–I for one want the Police to have all the protection they deserve. Much different from traffic stops which, BTW, has nothing to do with this issue.

      • Dan

        Since traffic stops are how most police fatalities occur when they are struck by vehicles, yes, it is relevant to the topic of police safety.

        How does one “volunteer” to be a police officer? I don’t understand the suggestion.

        • Guest

          You take a test, pass it, get hired and then get vilified by the media, one assumes.

          • Dan

            I see. I should change careers to prove a point to someone in an online forum. That's a reasonable suggestion.

  • Warrington Faust

    Coming North on 103(?) a week or so back, I noticed a police recruiting billboard. It did strike me as having a military air to it.

    I once knew a cop, later killed in a shoot out with the Miami police., who worked in a gun store. He had served in VIet Nam, then went to Rhodesia before joining the police force. I asked him why he did that "All I know how to do is kill people". Probably some sort of bravado. He took his money from a job related injury and went to Miami to triple it in drugs. That is how he ended up in the shoot out.

    It some how annoys me ro be referred to as a "civilian".

    PS, Policeman is listed as the 16th most dangerous job in America. Nos. 1,, and 2, lumberjack, iron worker.

  • Dan

    "Civilian" is used as a thinly veiled put-down by members of the military and some police officers. The implication is you lack their special training and, as a defenseless weakling, require their protection. The reality is the only people I've ever required protection from are police officers who go on fishing expeditions on our highways and get off acting like jerks to people like me just minding our own business.

    • Guest

      Perhaps civilian means "a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization." Perhaps it's a put down to those who have a chip on their shoulder? Or lawyers?

      • Dan

        If it’s being used in a professional setting, such as in responding to a call, then it’s just as you described. In a nonprofessional context, however, the term is used to discount outside opinions on police or military matters. Of course it depends on context.

  • seirra1

    So Dan let me see if I have this straight. You believe that it would be better if I and 1 or 2 of my colleagues were murdered so you and your delicate sensibilities didn't have to worry about the local police having "machines of war." Is that about right?

    The term "civilian" is not used as a thinly veiled putdown. Since a police department is a para-military organization and a great many police officers are former military it's an easily adaptable term when referring to those who aren't first responders. Used interchangeably with "residents" or "citizens".

    It's obvious from this and other posts of yours that you've had your panties in a bunch about law enforcement for some time. It's time you grow up and start acting like a big boy. The police have a job to do. Sometimes you'lll be stopped and given a ticket for speeding. Sometimes you'll be stopped while you're walking along a street and you won't be sure why. But there's too many reasons to list why this might happen. We don't get off on harassing 'citizens' despite what you might think.

    And of course, we can always count on Warrington to provide some off topic pointless story about "someone" he once knew. Thanks for that.

    • Warrington Faust

      When the police begin describing themselves as "paramilitary", things have gone wildly wrong someplace. Perhaps that is the thinking behind the recruiting ads which show the police in camo gear throwing flash bangs into a building.

      "someone"? Google Robert Ferguson, Attleboro, Miami. I was also invited to the "Bush War" in Rhodesia, but passed on it. It didn't have a name then. Police work is honorable, but there are many who would dishonor it. See the Knapp Commission Report and similar. Or see what happens to your permits if you decide to dispute the need for a "detail".

      • seirra1

        The police have always been described as paramilitary. You wear uniforms, hold ranks, salute superior officers, etc. The term isn't something nefarious. It instills discipline and order.

        There aren't 'many' who dishonor police work. There's an infinitesimally small percentage of officers who shouldn't be employed as police officers. When they get caught you hear about them. The overwhelming majority of cops go about their careers in an honorable manner and you never hear anything about them.

        As for details, it's city or town ordinance, not police department rule.

        Marc's original article is something that is timely and a subject matter that could use some serious conversation. But of course we're subjected to Dan's hissy fit about how cops suck.

        • Warrington Faust

          Acting militarily does not make one "paramilitary", it means acting in concert with the military. I have always wondered why police salute superior officers. Military protocol for "rendering honors" does not permit the removal of headgear indoors when saluting, if under arms. I have never seen a police officer standing at "Parade Rest". I wonder if they stand not less than two paces from a superior's desk.

          WSJ did a series on the "Warrior Cop" http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127

          • Max Diesel

            The definition of paramilitary as have many other words in the English language been interpreted in varying ways. Sorry that round peg doesn't fit into your square hole but police departments are uniformed civilian agencies that use a military command structure and therefore have acquired the paramilitary description. Do you also have a problem with the term paramedic. I think you're making too much of one word.

  • Max Diesel

    I didn't know civilian was such a put down. I left law enforcement a long time ago and was happy to call myself a civilian. I didn't realize I was being self deprecating. Geez Dan, you'd rather the police sacrifice a few good men and women just to sooth your paranoia? It's not about the equipment and training. It's about how you use it. As someone that ended up on the wrong end of a shotgun in a Burrillville drug raid, I can tell you we were under equipped and under trained.

  • Dan

    Sierra – I’ve detailed power trips by police at my expense before, so I won’t list them again. I remember your response was something along the lines of, “Oh, you must be omitting details or have been somehow acting suspicious. The police wouldn’t do that without good reason.” You’re so obviously biased in favor of law enforcement it’s probably not possible to reason with you on the subject. In fact, I’m not biased against the police at all – I’ve worked with many as a prosecutor and I’ve been defending the officer in the Michael Brown case until we have more information, while most of my social media friends have been vilifying him without the facts. I don’t want any police officers killed, of course. It’s a simple recognition that zero police fatalities isn’t a reasonable goal and attempting to get there can cause more negative externalities than good. It’s like you have no concept of public perception or simply don’t care. Sorry, your safety is of high value to me, but it isn’t infinite, and if that is a shock to you, then that in itself is a problem.

    • seirra1

      I am a 3rd generation police officer so yes I am biased toward law enforcement, particularly when I know they're being unfairly attacked. As far as you not wanting any officers killed, that's not what you said, 2 or 3 a year in your state is a fair trade for you. So long as you don't have to think about them owning "machines of war."

      Zero police fatalities should be the goal. Why is it acceptable that someone be killed solely because he or she is in law enforcement. That's a ridiculous statement. There are necessary risks inherent in the job, however, any and all reasonable measures should be used to keep everyone, including police officers, safe from harm. If that means your local PD owns a repurposed APC they use once every year or every three years than so be it.

      "Street tanks" and "military weaponry"! You sound like a liberal calling an M4 an assault weapon! I've yet to see any PD owning a tank. As far as weaponry, why is it ok for you to own an M4 to protect you and yours but me the police officer can't own one and bring it to work to defend myself and the general public who isn't able to. People like you complain about the "optics" of the police walking around with an M4 slung over their shoulder but would be the first person to walk into a Starbucks with theirs slung railing about their 2nd Amendment rights.

      • Dan

        So you admit you’re biased. I give you a lot of credit for that.

        There is a difference (I would go so far as to say an obvious difference) between wanting dead police and tolerating a risk level other than zero on the basis that the social costs of reducing it further are too high. Your failure to make this distinction, after I have explicitly pointed it out to you, is what leads me to believe you might not be capable of a reasoned discussion on this topic. Of course I’d be quite happy to be proven wrong.

        I’m also confused why you don’t recognize the distinction between private actions and those taken in an official capacity – especially one involving such an inherent power imbalance as law enforcement. That’s like saying it’s unfair to ask police not to drink on the job when private citizens can, or that it’s unfair to ask them not to insult, curse at, and berate citizens when citizens are free to do the same to police and each other. Of course the nature of the position itself implies different standards. With power comes responsibility and all that.

  • Dan

    Max – There are no solutions in public policy, only tradeoffs. It’s not a simple question of how many police to lose. That’s magical progressive thinking. As Thomas Sowell would point out, the real question is at what cost? Pretending like armoring police and providing them with street tanks and military weaponry won’t change their perception by and relationship with the public defies all reason.

    • Max Diesel

      It's not like police agencies across the country are patrolling the streets or making traffic stops with street tanks and military weaponry. More importantly, maybe we could better understand if you would actual point out a freedom sacrificed in the name of safety. It seems you're creating a straw man argument to support your general bias against the police. If you're living in a 'military zone with machines of war turned against it's citizenry' then maybe it's time to move again.

      • Dan

        Max – Police shut down the city of Boston over a pair of young adults who used pressure cookers as improvised explosives. All of the military toys came out and were trotted down suburban streets, though nothing indicated this response was necessary. The problem with giving police these "tools" is every problem begins looking like a nail, and tools tend to get used one way or another.

        At a minimum, they foster the wrong kind of mentality in those who are supposed to be public servants. When faced with examples of incredibly hostile police behavior, those like Sierra are quick to point out that every traffic stop could potentially become a life-threatening situation. This mindset in itself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but even if it doesn't turn deadly, it's a disservice to the 99.9% of the population who are basically law abiding and compliant and have done nothing to warrant being treated like criminals or terrorists.

        • Max Diesel

          Really Dan? The hunt for cop killing terrorists using improvised explosive devices to kill and maim as many people as they could didn't warrant that response? I guess that would be the root of our disagreement.

          • Dan

            Yes, I suspect it is. I’m not of the opinion that wherever terrorism is involved – however small scale or low tech – any type of response is justified. Especially not shutting down a city of millions of people, costing billions.

          • Warrington Faust

            If I recall, the solution to the Boston situation resulted from a tip from a "civilian". All of the "anti terrorist" weapons did nothing. Seems to me a homeowner saw a stranger crawling into his boat, which was parked in his back yard.

          • seirra1

            Warrington, who did the "civilian" call his tip in to? Was it maybe the police? Did the "civilian" go out and drag the misguiding and misunderstood miscreant from his boat? No, as memory serves me an APC drove up to the boat, used its boom to pull off the boat cover and then armed officers took him into custody. Maybe that "ant-terrorist" weaponry had some use after all.

  • Dan

    Let's remove this from the police context (in which some commenters here seem emotionally invested).

    A Newport kid gets out of his yard one night, runs down to the beach, and drowns. The local progressives, politicians, and soccer mom's organize (never again/think of the children/one death is too many/we've got to act). They propose building a 10-foot wall along the entire length of the public beach at a cost of $20 million. They want a strict 8PM curfew, new state employees manning vehicular patrols on the beach at all hours of the night, and the passing of "Jason's Law" which makes it a felony to allow an accompanied child to stray more than 100 yards from adult supervision on the beach.

    Does anyone here support this type of reaction? If not, why not (and why do you want children to die)?

    • seirra1

      Ridiculous comparison. Completely off the wall.

      I'm more than capable of having a reasonable discussion on the merits or necessity of the PD owning surplus military equipment. That's what I would expect from most here at the Current. That's why I've been watching the OSC a bit more closely the last few days in light of what's going on in Ferguson, MO. I figured someone would post an article about the issue.

      I think, to paraphrase our dear leaders foreign policy doctrine, "don't say stupid $%@&" like, 2-3 dead cops is acceptable, should be removed from the discussion. That's when I get a bit passionate.

      • Guest

        Dan is emotionally invested but too blind to see it. His so-called abusive stops were due, IMHO, to his overweening arrogance and "I'm always right " attitude. You often get what you are asking for. I for one have never had a problem…but then again, I admit when I am wrong.

        • Dan

          You have zero knowledge of the incidents, so please keep your baseless opinions and assumptions to yourself. In fact, I’m always polite to law enforcement because I realize it’s counterproductive to argue in such a power imbalanced situation, but even if I weren’t, being “arrogant” is not a valid reason for abusive behavior by public servants.

          • Warrington Faust

            Dan may be louder about it than I, but I have certainly been harrassed by police. The one that stands out was being slapped around by a police officer trying to impress his female "trainee". My offense in that one was failing to have my smoke detectors inspected. I have had them come to my office drunk and request to borrow gas money to get home. They are just people, which is why, like Dan, I fear giving them too many toys.

          • Guest

            Actually, you posted a story once, didn't you? So, perhaps not so baseless. Though I must agree–arrogance isn't itself a crime, but it is, as you say, counterproductive in certain circumstances.

          • Dan

            I posted about a couple of negative experiences I had with police in my life, but nothing in the facts suggested I deserved the treatment I received. That you and Sierra would assume I must have done something to warrant the abusive behavior only shows you aren't capable of having fair and reasoned discussions about police misconduct. If either of you really cared about public perception, you'd listen to what people have to say about their direct experiences instead of insulting them or calling them liars off the bat. This right here is part of the problem.

  • Dan

    So my hypothetical about those who take a “one death is too many” approach to children’s safety is “off the wall.” And my example of people using the “why do you want dead kids” argument to shut down debate is “ridiculous.”

    Then, in the next sentence, you explicitly take a “one death is too many” approach to police safety and shut down the conversation by shaming me for supposedly wanting dead police.

    You’re right. You are not like the people in my hypothetical AT ALL. Where would I even get such a crazy idea?

    • seirra1

      Dan, in your first post you stated that 2-3 dead cops a year in your state was a acceptable price to pay for police not to have military surplus. I apologize for using your own words against you.

      The obvious difference (I thought) was that your hypothetical involved, at best, negligence on the part of the parent for letting the kid wander where he didn't belong. Purposely murdering cops for the sole reason that they are cops is something different entirely.

      • Dan

        You didn't use my words. I've been quite clear I don't want any police officers to die and I don't find murder "acceptable." The difference is I also recognize at a certain point social costs outweigh security concerns. Anything else you are reading into my argument is distortion.

        I hesitated to even point this out at first, but since you keep repeating it – people generally don't "murder cops for the sole reason that they are cops." People murder cops because they fear what the cops are going to do to them, like take them to prison.

        You have no basis to assume there was negligence in my hypothetical, nor would it be relevant even if there were. It's the mentality of the "one death is too many" crowd that the hypothetical illustrates.

        • seirra1

          Dan, this is pretty simple. Cops take people to jail, like you said. When they don't want to go to jail, sometimes they kill the person whose trying to make them go to jail. Therefore, people kill cops because the cops are going to take them to jail.

          In your hypothetical, no one forced the kid out of the yard and into the water. We're talking about the willful actions of people murdering police officers. That's why your analogy the same.

          • Dan

            It’s not solely because they are cops, as in they just wake up feeling like killing a cop one day. They would kill anyone who confronted them about their crimes or threatened to turn them in. Most people killed in this way are not cops. Bank tellers don’t get robbed solely because they are bank tellers. The profession is incidental.

          • seirra1

            No Dan. You are simply wrong. They get killed because they're cops trying to take someone into custody.

  • Warrington Faust

    Dan's point is well taken. Iron workers are killed at 4-5 times the rate of police officers, I wonder why no one is requiring safety harnesses. Why isn't OSHA all over it? As has been pointed out, the overwhelming majority of police officers killed in the line of duty die in traffic accidents. Is anyone checking those seat belts? How about more reflective gear when they are out of the car? Most officers working road details eem to refuse to wear anything that "lights them up".

    • Dan

      You couldn't pay me to do live-line bare-hand or industrial electrical work, knowing what I know. Arc blasts are the temperature of the sun and the mere shockwave can shatter every bone in your body. If the fatality statistics alone don't put a fear of God into you, the gruesome nature of the injuries will. Yet nobody calls these men heroes or demands more for their safety. The world needs power.

    • Max Diesel

      Are you sure?

      1926.760(a)

      General requirements.

      1926.760(a)(1)

      Except as provided by paragraph (a)(3) of this section, each employee engaged in a steel erection activity who is on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge more than 15 feet (4.6 m) above a lower level shall be protected from fall hazards by guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems or fall restraint systems.

      • Warrington Faust

        Max, I was unaware of that. I suspect it may be largely ignored. When I worked in Boston, a steel worker went past my window, I will never forget that. That was 15-20 years ago, perhaps things have changed.

    • seirra1

      Warrington, the overwhelming majority of line of duty deaths is not traffic accidents. Please visit odmp.org for an accurate year by year break down.

      • Dan

        Seirra – Please educate yourself: http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-da

        Car crashes, motorcycle crashes, and struck-by-vehicle deaths outweigh homicides by shooting and stabbing for all but three years in the past decade.

        • seirra1

          Dan, as my wife frequently tells me, "seldom right and wrong again."

          Warrington said the "the overwhelming majority of police officers killed in the line of duty is from traffic accidents." Of the dozen or so causes of police officer fatalities over the last 10 years I would consider the categories 'automobile accident', 'motorcycle accident', 'struck by vehicle', and 'vehicular pursuit' to be generalized as "traffic accidents' as stated by Warrington.

          I would further consider 'gunfire', 'stabbing', 'vehicular assault', and 'assault' as intentional deaths at the hands of another. This leaves out 'bombed', 'drowned', aircraft accidents', electrocuted', 'weather', 'accidental gunfire', and a few other catagories as they are neither "traffic accidents" nor "intentional deaths" as best we can tell without looking at them on a case by case basis.

          I'd hate to get all PolitiFact on you and Warrington but when you add up those two groups of numbers in all of the last ten years intentional killing of a police officer always out numbers what could be defined as a traffic accident.

      • Warrington Faust

        I just went to that site. Five line of duty deaths are listed at top of page, two heart attacks, one traffic accident, killed killed by driver being pursued in a high speed chase, and one shot during traffic stop. So, 3of 5 (a majority) died of natural causes, or a traffic accident.

        • seirra1

          Warrington, you're looking at the last five line of duty deaths. If you take just those five, 2 of 5 were killed in what you claimed was the "overwhelming majority of line of duty deaths." Not a majority. Had you said that the majority of line of duty deaths were the result of something other than an intentional killing then you would've been correct. But that's not what you said.

          Go back to the site and look around. The info you're looking for is under 'the Officers' and then 'Current Year Deaths' from which you can find the data. It may be enlightening.

  • mangeek

    I think the "2 or 3 a year" was meant as more of a concept. Rhode Island has had 20 officer deaths from gunfire since 1884, and only two since 1994. The real numbers might be more like "one per decade", and I'm not sure if arming-up the police actually changes that.

    Meanwhile, if you're suspected of downloading illegal pornography or slinging dime bags in 2014, you can expect a no-knock SWAT raid at 3AM… A knock on the door from two uniformed officers at 6PM would suffice.

    I don't know how one would do the analysis, but I know a lot of folks assume that the better-armed a person is, the less likely they are to be harmed. I'm not so sure about that. Police militarization escalates the entire situation, and it makes me very uncomfortable as a citizen.

  • Mike

    "Meanwhile, if you're suspected of downloading illegal pornography or slinging dime bags in 2014, you can expect a no-knock SWAT raid at 3AM… A knock on the door from two uniformed officers at 6PM would suffice."

    Please provide some evidence to back your assertion–or is this your experience? :)

    • Dan

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpfLLtPJvxA

      ""The Feb. 11 raid ended with a misdemeanor amount of marijuana discovered and two of Whitworths dogs shot, one of them fatally. Whitworth pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia." http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/local/chief-warrant-...

      • Max Diesel

        I'm not sure what point you're example makes Dan. Are you saying that two uniform cops wouldn't shoot an attacking pit bull or are you suggesting that drug dealers don't shoot cops?

        • Dan

          Mangeek said dealing small amounts of marijuana can result in a no-knock SWAT raid at 3AM. Mike asked for evidence. I provided evidence.

          • Max Diesel

            From your article:

            "Information provided by an informant led investigators to believe Whitworth was in possession of a large amount of marijuana and was considered a distributor. In 2003, Whitworth pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana in federal court and was ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison, according to court documents."

            The end result was a small amount maybe because they waited to long to execute the warrant also mentioned in your article.

          • Warrington Faust

            "Information provided by an informant" One must always wonder why the chose to "inform" and what "information" was desired.

            Katherine Johnston, a 92-year-old woman killed by an Atlanta narcotics team acting on a bad tip from an informant in 2006; Alberto Sepulveda, an 11-year-old accidentally shot by a California SWAT officer during a 2000 drug raid; and Eurie Stamps, killed in a 2011 raid on his home in Framingham, Mass., when an officer says his gun mistakenly discharged. Mr. Stamps wasn't a suspect in the investigation.

            Does anyone have a source for the number of people innocently killed by the police. I have seen data that indicates they shoot the wrong person twice as often as armed citizens.

          • Warrington Faust

            About my post above. Fairness requires me to point out that the "armed citizen" probably shoots someone in their home. That is not usually a "target rich environment". Advertisers in Proceedings of the Naval Institute love that term.

          • seirra1

            "I have seen data that indicates they shoot the wrong person twice as often as armed citizens."

            Absolutely absurd! Where do you come up with this stuff! Please link to the "data" you've seen.

          • Warrington Faust

            NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS:

            • And although only 2 percent of those involved in civilian shootings are misidentified, 11 percent of individuals involved in police shootings were later found to be innocents misidentified as criminals.

            Of course, police must enter situations in which they are not personally involved, while the private citizen is likely to be under attack and unlikely to mistake the target, so there is a greater likelihood that police might make a misidentification.

          • sierra1

            Rather small snippet of a study. What is the title of the research so I can follow up on it. I'm interested in reading it.

  • Warrington Faust

    While in a coffeee shop today, the fellow next me had his tablet tuned to a life feed of a SWAT team surrounding a municipal kids swimming pool. I didn't have time to stay for the whole story, but none of the kids seemed to have an M4.

    To be fair, I just looked up the story on the SUn Chronicle website, something about the neighborhood being sealed off. Not a subscriber and couldn't read whole story. I do wonder if a SWAT team was required. Wouldn't one SWAT team, perhaps tow, do per county? It would be a huge savings to the taxpayers, perhaps not so good for recruiting.

    • Max Diesel

      Actually, any prepared municipal police department that doesn't have a SWAT team should have memorandums of agreement (MOA) with the nearest SWAT equipped agency. I believe this is CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) standard. That said, I agree county SWAT is not a bad concept.

      • Warrington Faust

        "Actually, any prepared municipal police department that doesn't have a SWAT team…"
        Where have we gone when it sems to be assumed that a police department without a SWAT team will be exceptional?

        What little I could read of the story mentioned above indicated that the SWAT team was called out against a man wielding a baseball bat. Wasn't he bringing a knife to a gun fight? I hope the SWAT team had a Barret .50 so they wouldn't have to get close.

  • Max Diesel

    "Where have we gone when it sems to be assumed that a police department without a SWAT team will be exceptional?"

    What does this mean and where does it fit with my comment you quoted?

    • Warrington Faust

      "Actually, any prepared municipal police department that doesn't have a SWAT team…"

      To me, this assumes that every police force requires a SWAT team to be "accredited".

      Why don't I like it? Try this link to the story of a SWAT team throwing a flash bang into a toddler's playpen. This is America.
      http://archive.hattiesburgamerican.com/VideoNetwo

  • Max Diesel

    "To me, this assumes that every police force requires a SWAT team to be "accredited". "

    I don't know how you got this from my comment. My point is that any department without a SWAT team needs to have one they can call and thereby should have an MOA in force. The point I made about accreditation was that the MOA is a CALEA standard. It does not require the outside team to be accredited but that said, you would prefer a SWAT team from an accredited agency if for nothing else, that department is required to follow the same standards.

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