Barney Fife Meets Delta Force

Barney Fife Meets Delta Force July 9, 2014

Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway. The ACLU reported recently that SWAT teams in the United States conduct around 45,000 raids each year, only 7 percent of which have anything whatsoever to do with the hostage situations with which those teams were assembled to contend. Paramilitary operations, the ACLU concluded, are “happening in about 124 homes every day — or more likely every night” — and four in five of those are performed in order that authorities might “search homes, usually for drugs.” Such raids routinely involve “armored personnel carriers,” “military equipment like battering rams,” and “flashbang grenades.”

Were the military being used in such a manner, we would be rightly outraged. Why not here?

Why not indeed?  The militarization of our police is one of the most pernicious trends in American government.  Our Ruling Class no longer see us as fellow citizens but as subjects and threats.  They are breeding police state warrior cops accordingly.  See the rest here.

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  • Pete the Greek

    “Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will
    consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent
    crime hit a 50-year low”
    – They will also consider it to be odd that there were people who were screaming for more and more gun control laws aimed at the populace too.

    • freddy

      I think these things may be related. As the military gets better and higher tech armaments, some of that trickles down to the police, and some trickles further down to the populace. Our t.v. and movie heroes are increasingly better armed badboy toughguys, and mentally ill loners try to buy into the club by murdering innocents. This causes frustration and a certain amount of helpless rage, which leads to clamoring both for tougher gun control laws and increasingly better armed badboy toughguy cops, who, like their military counterparts, get bored if they can’t play with their new toys. (And just to be clear, I’m primarily talking about the leaders, planners, and politicians, not the grunts in the field.) It’ll probably escalate until we have the Avengers battling supervillians in the remains of New York.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I think there is a seldom mentioned problem somewhere at the root of the problem. The industrial part of the military-industrial complex is made up of corporations. Such corporations, in order to be worthy of the money of their shareholders, need to keep growing. They need more sales and more profit each and every year, and even each and every quarter of every year. For that reason, they keep developing more sophisticated weapons, and they need to sell them. If the military was to decide – to the benefit of your population, by the way – that the equipment they already have is still good and does not need to be replaced, the corporations’ sales can no longer increase, particularly since it is rather difficult to expand their market globally, considering that part of that market may be made up of enemies of the US. So, they have convinced the military to “recycle” their still properly working equipment to police forces, in order to keep purchasing equipment at a rate higher than the other industrialized countries put together. And if I am to believe some comments I read a while ago, they tend to justify those expenditures by saying that the US allies do not purchase enough of that new-fangled equipment. And of course, once local police forces have these “gently used” toys in their hands, they need to use them in order to justify the expenditure.

  • Linebyline

    This just goes to show that security is complicated and always involves a sacrifice of freedom, convenience, and security. (Yes, I did say we lose security when we get security. Complicated.)

    Any security policy has a bazillion needs it has to try to meet, and all of the easy and obvious (and easiest-understood by voters, and hence most politically valuable) approaches have the problem of meeting some of these needs while making it hard or impossible to meet others.

    Let’s take a trivial example: You want to keep people from breaking into your house and taking your stuff. Okay, great. Make your house a vault, only without the door. Now nobody can get to your stuff!

    Oh, what’s that? You still want your stuff? Picky, picky. Fine, put one door there. But now other people can get in too! Okay, wise guy, put a lock on the door! But now you risk locking yourself out again if you lose the key, but you also risk someone being able to pick the lock.

    And that’s not all. Suppose you have a super-awesome lock that you’ll always be able to unlock but nobody will be able to break. (This is a blatant cheat so we can move on to discuss other problems.) Now you have yet another problem: It’s hard to get in and out of your vault! Okay, this seems like only an inconvenience, but what it really is is a safety hazard! What if something catches on fire?

    No biggie; just make the door open from the inside whether it’s locked or not. Okay, but you have now introduced a potential vulnerability: An attacker who can figure out how to get his hand inside can unlock the door.

    In this case, since the door is the only opening, this is no big deal. In real life, this is a major problem, and it’s the reason that you can buy deadbolts that have removable keys rather than knobs on the insides.

    And since I brought up the lack of windows, let’s point out that an attacker could pretend to be selling you girl scout cookies but actually be offering hot lead as soon as you open the door to get at those Thin Mints. Yes, I know it would be worth the risk, because come on, we’re talking abut Thin Mints here! Still, you’d be better off being able to see out before opening your vault door. So you install a window. But now an attacker can see in. And even break in, which brings us back to what I said about the locks earlier. Ah, but peephole! Ah, but peephole reverser!

    Okay, how about break-resistant glass and a curtain? Great. Now you’ve found a balance between security and usability that should more-or-less work, and mitigated the risks as best you can. For that issue.

    Too bad you still haven’t made your fire situation all that much better: What if the thing that’s on fire is between you and the door? Now you can’t get out. So you add some more doors. Or maybe some egress windows. Just keep in mind that each one of those is yet another thing that an attacker can try to get open and get at your stuff. And you’ll always have the tradeoff that the harder they are to break, the harder they are to use. If your bulletproof egress windows will keep a crazy murdering thief out, they’ll keep a fireman out, too.

    Not to mention that locks anywhere near our magic lock are bound to be expensive, as are panes of super-tough glass. That’s money you could be spending on Thin Mints, or other less important things like groceries and electricity and water.

    And that’s just what I’ve got off the top of my head.

    Now imagine that instead of protecting your pantry full of Thin Mints, you’re trying to keep a few billion people from killing each other or getting killed by threats from other countries.

    And you can’t let them have guns, because they’ll kill each other. But you have to let the cops have guns, because they may need them to defend innocent people against attackers, some of whom might even have guns even though they’re not supposed to. But you can’t let the cops have guns after all, because they’ll start acting like maniacs. And you can’t not let ordinary people have guns because they might need to defend themselves more quickly than the cops can get there. And then there’s knives. And stuff that can be made into bombs. And then there’s cars and airplanes and dump trucks and probably even Zambonis if you have a really desperate terrorist, all of which can be turned into weapons, yet all of which are necessary (except maybe the Zambonis) for people to be able to do the things they need to do. And don’t even get me started on computers!

    And, as if intent on proving Chesterton’s observation about heresy being a piece of the truth turned against the rest of it, folks will take one or two of those things and come up with a solution like “LOL MOAR GUNZ” or “LOL TAEK AL TEH GUNZ” or something similarly nuanced, and treat it like a comprehensive security policy, with predictably disastrous consequences.

    Meanwhile, we have real life, which is complicated.

    (Apologies for the wall o’ text. It’s probably riddled with errors, even if you ignore the fact that I’m not anything remotely resembling a security expert. But I figure if I don’t post it now I’ll spend the next eight months editing it. 😛 )

    • Marthe Lépine

      I do love your line of reasoning and the way you have been expressing it. It suggests to me that there no absolutely fail-proof way for humans to make themselves totally secure, but the same thing can apply to other areas of personal or government action, for example eliminating poverty. There is never a one and only, one size fits all, solution to any human problem, big or small, particularly the big ones. Therefore, this highlights the need, and the reasonableness, to “never (totally) rely on the princes of this world” (although they have a role to play), but to give over our many problems and concerns to God and rely on His mercy and providence.

      • Linebyline

        Amen to that!

        And thanks! I’m glad the point came across.