"The man who prefers his country before any other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the state. They both deny that right is superior to authority."
Lord Acton

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SRT, SWAT, Scary...

You may have read about the recent Department of Education's new tactic for collecting past due payments.  If you haven't, read this: http://www.news10.net/news/article/141108/2/Questions-surround-feds-raid-of-Stockton-home.  Apparently, The Department of Education has a SWAT team and they are busting down doors to apprehend individuals who haven't paid their loans.  This is scary stuff.  I've long been concerned by the trend of militarizing of police departments across the US.  I know quite a few cops, and having served in the military myself, I know the difference.

Police departments in general are trending more towards a militarized mindset.  This is concerning because it demonstrates a difference in tactics from balanced, and evenhandedly reactive, to a more aggressive and offensive mindset.  One only needs to look around at the changes in uniforms from the old style striped slacks to a tactical BDU style uniform baggy pants with cargo pockets.  The military and police have completely different missions and do not mix well.  Even if we had the closest to perfect, mindful and careful SWAT officers, the outcomes will be bloodier and with more innocent casualties.  The recent paranoia of terrorism and every other threat or shadow of a threat that crosses the border continues to make the problem worse, and increase the body count.

Just last week a former marine was killed in his home in Pima County, AZ by firing 71 rounds at his chest, hitting him 22 times. Militarized police units encourage the mindset of shoot first, eliminate anything that resembles a threat, law enforcement, that has no precedent in the United States, and the trend is on the rise.  The sheriffs are even calling other SRT, or SWAT members "Operators" as David Rittgers writes in Politico, and Cato here:
I had reservations about the term "operator" during the years I served in special operations. Most of the time, the label was interchangeable with "soldier." But sometimes it became a tool for diminishing the need for planning — and relying on brawn and talent instead. "Don't worry; we're operators," was the overall attitude. "We can handle it."
 There is a place for this boutique kind of unit, but the frequency of deployment and tools being acquired by some units is disturbing (50 APCs with a 50 caliber Ma-Duce on top, and a department in Louisiana  buying full auto Thompsons to use in the field - Anyone who has fired them can attest to them being uncontrollable when on full auto). Other than the Dept of Education having a SWAT team, did you know of some other strange cases of agencies: National Park Service (Yellowstone SRT), US Mint SRT, Amtrak, The Federal Reserve Bank, etc. 

David Rittgers goes on to say:
But securing evidence in suburban America is the antithesis of operator status. It's a basic law enforcement function, not an international manhunt or the targeted killing of a terrorist leader.
To that I say, Roger That.

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