LIONEL PODCAST: Our Psychotic Militarization of Law Enforcement

The increasing use of military-style tactics and weapons by police forces across the United States puts civilians at needless risk of death and injury, according to a strongly worded ACLU report slamming the development entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.”

So long Sheriff Andy. Hello, RobocopFirst, enough with the prayer vigils. Seriously, let me ask you a question. Where was the deity du jour that allowed the problems in the first place to exacerbate to such an extent that now requires a prayer vigil? Well, Billy Graham? Stop with the prayer and get down to business in addressing the problems most would rather avoid altogether. It’s about attitude, demographics and human interaction. And that means that we need to address why certain pockets, demos and groups of our country engage the police with greater frequency and why the police have forgotten their rolls as peace keepers and public servants. But that strains at the rules of the politically-correct legions of namby-pamby apologists and excusers who haven’t the intellectual consistency to address problems for what they really are.

When did it go wrong? Federal policies that allow and permit the military to distribute unwanted and inappropriate military hardware to local jurisdictions are a big part of the problem. In 2011 even the New York Times expressed alarm in When the Police Go Military and looked at the abandoning of civilian law enforcement and peace keeping and instead accepting law enforcement by without question.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States. But today, some local and city police forces have rendered the law rather moot. They have tanks — yes, tanks, often from military surplus, for use in hostage situations or drug raids — not to mention the sort of equipment and training one would need to deter a Mumbai-style guerrilla assault.

The enemy as citizen. The ACLU in The Militarization of Policing in America, spoke eloquently on the subject. This is not by accident. And with increased firepower is the concomitant bottom-down systematic attitudinal framing of the citizen and civilian via the cops’ worldview.

American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war. Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend. It’s time to understand the true scope of the militarization of policing in America and the impact it is having in our neighborhoods. Since March 6th, ACLU affiliates in 25 states filed over 260 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments.

The Lionel Plan. In December I published my nine-point plan to address the hypermilitarization of the police and it bears reminder. Law enforcement is not Hollywood, it’s not what the public thinks. It’s time for the Jurassic mainstream media to care as much about educating the public as it ostensibly does in providing interminable references to the perceived colors of dresses.

  • Mandatory special prosecutor assigned in police shootings. DA’s will be prohibited from handling prosecutions of police officer shootings and/or deaths within their jurisdiction regarding officers whom they must necessarily deal with on a daily basis.
  • Police union messaging. Police unions must not be viewed as adversarial to the public and must tailor their message and directives avoiding at all costs ostensible tone-deaf insensitivity.
  • Civilian ride-along programs. The public simply has no idea of what police do. Increased participation in ride-along programs and similar liaison programs will help dramatically especially when combined with media and social media outlets highlighting the efforts.
  • Media instruction and tutelage as to what police do. The public and media think that arrests are invitations to cooperate. They must understand the rather brusque process of surrender and the danger to police of “pretty please” seizure.
  • Education of public as to grand jury process. The ham sandwich myth must be forever corrected and eliminated altogether.
  • Reevaluation and ultimate reversal of 1033 programs. Programs providing for militarization of police agencies fuel subliminal antagonism and exacerbate the inherent problems.The historic firewall between civilian law enforcement and military operations as in Posse Comitatus must be enforced.
  • Mandatory camera programs. Cameras proved invaluable in establishing a level of transparency in the Eric Garner case. Without them, no facts would have been readily available. The ACLU has instituted programs allowing for citizens to download apps for smartphone use to document and record questionable and suspect police behavior.
  • Expansion of Citizen Complain Review Boards and CCRB-like programs. Civilian jurisdiction in reviewing police abuse claims creates the perception of cooperative involvement and community investment.
  • Police-civilian liaisons. Emphasis on community policing and symbiotic cooperation is encouraged versus antagonistic coexistence.

Enough with the mynah birds. The yammering and bleating and carping about race, race, race, albeit important in portions, misses altogether the severity and complexity of the problem. And enough with the breathy “conversations” on race. The problem transcends race. I and others have railed against the militarization of cops for years and there were no prayer vigils or a saccharine POTUS tweeting generically. We saw it in the cases of gate rape by “TSAholes,” federalized skycaps, who were given carte blanche to rough up innocent civilians. What took you so long?

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