January 19, 2012

Big Boys Playing with Big Toys

The Cop or Soldier quiz that is making the rounds of the Intertoob (see Monday's blog) has raised some interesting observations. To some small degree the militarization of law enforcement in this country is understandable. The bad guys, after all, were winning the arms race there for awhile.

Take for instance the May, 1982 shootout in South Miami, FL in which two FBI Special Agents lost their lives and five more were wounded in an attempt to take two suspects into custody. The bad guys were armed with shotguns and semi-auto rifles converted so as to fire automatic bursts. The FBI had 9MM semi-auto and 38 caliber service revolvers as well as 12GA shotguns. The automatic fire caused the first death and maimed several of the agents. Finally an agent with most of an arm blown off managed to get close enough to empty the last five rounds from his 38, killing both suspects.

It was that particular incident that led to the search for better weaponry for law enforcement. When taking such events into consideration it only makes sense for the cops to be at least as well armed as the bad guys, but unfortunately it has gotten far out of hand. Cops today are armed with everything from military style long guns to armored vehicles replete with belt-fed automatic weapons.

I guess they had to find something to do with all their new toys, and the “War on Drugs” seemed like an appropriate use. The effort has cost billions of dollars, imprisoned tens of thousands of young Americans (most for simple possession), killed or injured hundreds (including many innocents and at least several law enforcement officers), created violent international drug cartels (which have caused thousands more deaths, both in this country and abroad), and have slowed America’s use of illegal drugs not a single iota. The results are nothing short of disasterous.

A quick Google search produced this interactive map and several stories of cops crossing the line with their toys and their tactics. A few are listed below, but for more results use the map to do a state by state search.

In 2008, 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman was attempting to complete a drug and weapons transaction in a sting set up by the Tallahassee, FL police. Rachel had agreed to be an informant after being busted for a minor drug charge. The cops promised her a lighter sentence. It cost her life.

Also in 2008 a young mother was killed and her 14-month-old child shot when Lima, OH cops kicked in her door looking for her boyfriend. The cops were said to be shooting at dogs in another room. This tragic incident cost an innocent, young woman her life… and it cost the city of Lima a cool $2.5 million settlement.

A couple days later the cops found the boyfriend and took him out too. It is not at all surprising that the State Attorney’s office cleared the police of wrongdoing. The dead man is painted as a very bad guy, but even if true it should not have led to his death at the hands of the police. What the cops were looking for was a large cache of drugs and at least one pistol… what they found was paraphernalia and some crack residue. No gun.

In June of 2010 the Las Vegas, NV narcotics division misidentified a man as a major drug and weapons dealer. Even though the guy they were looking for was seven years older, four inches shorter, 100 pounds lighter, and lived in a city almost 1,000 miles away, they got a warrant, kicked in the door and shot the man to death as he was kneeling on the floor with his hands raised above his head. The cops found a small amount of pot, a spent 223 shell. and a pawn ticket for the jewelry the man had sold to get rent money.

A former Marine lost his life just because cops in Pima County, AZ had an idea someone in the area might have some drugs. SWAT teams from four agencies raided “at least” four homes in a broad brush effort to find drugs. They showed up in full battle gear with heavy weaponry and an armored vehicle. The former Marine who had survived two tours in Iraq heard his home being broken into, armed himself and stood at the end of the hallway with the safety on the gun still engaged. Cops unleashed over 70 rounds, 60 of which hit Guerena. Four days after the raid the Sheriff had the warrants sealed and has refused to release any information. No justification for the raids could be made.

In October of 2011, 19-year-old Shelley Hilliard got busted with a small amount of pot. Cops threatened her with long jail time (which was a lie. The amount of pot was too small), but allowed as how she could reduce that by serving as an informant. Three days after the sting went down the dealer Shelley had helped bust was released and promptly murdered her.

A couple years ago in this space I railed against the use or TASERS. My argument at the time was that the cops lack sufficient training, compassion and the good sense to use the tool properly. Every week it seems we see some new abuse of the things. The heavy armament now commonplace with most SWAT teams deserves the same scrutiny.

Until the cops outgrow the “big boys playing with big toys” mentality, America cannot afford this kind of law enforcement.



One Fly said...

It's true. You/we/I are correct. These people will turn on us in numbers if told to do so. Good post and another link to the "bad guys".

Old NFO said...

You are correct, and this is NOT boding well for the future... Sooner or later 'somebody' is going to shoot back that truly knows how, and then the SHTF will really start!