The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 27, 2014, 01:54 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: March 13, 2013
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Posts: 413
Militarization of Police Departments

Hey, guys. I've been reading more and more about this in light of the Ferguson, MO riots.

What are everyone's thoughts on this? Should departments have access to armored vehicles, grenade launchers, etc.?
odugrad is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 02:01 PM   #2
A400 Fan
Junior member
Join Date: June 17, 2014
Posts: 242
Absolutely not. These are SUPPOSED to be policemen, not soldiers. Perhaps if things were done the way they used to be - that is in a proactive manner, with more personal interaction between the police and the citizens, they wouldn't have to be reactionary using military tactics.

When they FBI and DOJ tell them that WE are the enemy (those of us gun-owning folks) then we have a serious problem
A400 Fan is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 02:09 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: July 29, 2010
Location: The ATL (OTP)
Posts: 3,548
I disagree with the term militarization of the Police. Law enforcement should be provided the tools they need to prepare for the risk in the community. There should be proper planning as to how and when these tools will be used. The officers should be properly trained as to when and how these tools are used. Also, and most importantly, there needs to be accountability to assure any abuses are addressed in a timely and decisive manner.
A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it ... gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
- Milton Friedman
BarryLee is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 02:52 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: November 25, 2012
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 1,062
Can we clarify what exactly the police can have that we as citizens cannot?
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2
Koda94 is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 02:59 PM   #5
DoubleDeuce 1
Senior Member
Join Date: February 21, 2013
Posts: 101
Absolutely they should! Some people need to come up for some air and stop buying into this latest drama queen catch phrase.

Weigh the costs of replacing or reparing shot up or burned out patrol cars. They are not cheap. Now you have a surplus armoured veh to be used in times of unrest, at the cost of maybe a dollar to the department. Several officers and emergency types can be delivered to a certain location at once and in relative safety.They don't burn real easily, and can be driven away whille being shot at, saving the lives of those inside. They can also be used to rescue downed individuals. Sure you could use a fire truck for that... but the cost to repair that piece of equipment can be throught the roof.

For the grenade launchers... they are used for gas or smoke delivery.

Departments as a rule generally do not put such equipment into the hands of a nineteen year old who might not have even graduated high school.

If one can make the argument about militarizing the police by virtue of using 'military' equipment, it certainly would not be a stretch to apply those same senitments towards the firearms community and those who own and collect 'military surplus' firearms.

As for doing things in a proactive manner "like they used to be"... That might work in Mayberry, but generally not in the larger towns and cities.

I know of a department that used to allow the cops to get out and make contact with people on a regular basis, and walk their beats. That is called a "Beat Cop". That was later discouraged because it added to the response time for calls... the cops had to WALK or run back to their cars to respond to the call for service.

To eliminate the unneeded 'extra time' to respond, the department 'wisely' issued cell phones to everybody. The officers were told that because they had the phones, they could "conduct business" from the cars instead of having to drive and contact the person requesting the police... most of the time. The cost of doing business went up tremendously. Officers were seen constantly on the phones, and not talking to people in a one on one basis... So much for being proactive and being a good beat cop. People complained the officers were not visible enough or out of touch, preoccupied with talking on cell phones. It sure did cut down on response times and all, but it back fired big time on the human contact end. And who got blamed... the cop.

This is all with the background of a city with one hundred thousand people, and less than two hundred officers total. There would not be that much working the streets. Add to that the average number of calls for service hover around one hundred and fifty thousand. Do the math.

Then recalculate those numbers and calls for service when there might be only four officers on the street to cover some seventy-six sqaure miles.

And the icing on the cake... this city has consistently be in the top ten most violent cities in the U.S. per capita. Often it was number one in homicides per capita, and number one in the state for violence and homicide.

Militarization of the police??? Some folks just grab onto anything to justify their meaningful hand wringing and to complain about something they have no idea about. Mindless buzz words and catch phrases often fill the needs of those types to rally around.
DoubleDeuce 1 is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 03:41 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: March 13, 2013
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Posts: 413
I'm more of the mindset that the police should not have anything that the average citizen cannot own.

Seems if they're outfitted with automatic weapons, armored vehicles, grenades, etc., it's not too difficult to initiate martial law.
odugrad is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 03:44 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: August 13, 2009
Location: MN
Posts: 668
I think the "militarization of the police" argument is arguing about the paint scheme of the Titanic. The issue that should be of concern is: When is the heavy equipment brought out; what oversight policies exist to control its use; is it currently being systematically abused, misused, or overused; and what policies exist to rectify improper use?

That is to say, the real issue here is a combination of training and standard operating procedures, not equipment.

Some points:

1. Misuse or abuse by one officer or one agency of the nearly 800,000 officers in the 12,000+ agencies in the United States does not represent a serious argument about the existence of systemic abuse or misuse. Anecdotes are not data.

2. Armored vehicles, "grenade launchers," patrol rifles, and most of the other flotsam and jetsam purchased by law enforcement agencies or acquired through DoD grants do have law enforcement purposes that are universally considered valid.

Some have argued that while the LAPD or NYPD might occasionally need an armored vehicle or a SWAT team, the Mayberry PD does not, and if they ever did, they could get it from the LAPD or NYPD.

That ignores the point that like the old saw about "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away." Mayberry PD is less likely to need an armored vehicle or a SWAT team and if they do, it will be an infrequent need. However, if they do need an armored vehicle or SWAT team, they probably won't be able to wait ten hours to get one from the nearest city. In the latter case, they'll also run up against jurisdictional issues.

Hostage situations, barricaded shooters, and riots do not just happen in the coastal megalopolises.

3. A lot of conservatives are using the old liberal troll bait-and-switch popularized by the gun-control crowd, calling semiautomatic patrol rifles purchasable by anyone at Wal-Mart "machine guns," calling gas canister launchers "grenade launchers," and calling Bearcats and uparmored Humvees "tanks."

Words do have actual meanings, and trying to take advantage of the technical ignorance of the masses to prove a point is disingenuous at best. A semiautomatic rifle is not a machine gun. A gas canister launcher is technically capable of firing grenades in that caliber, but for law enforcement is only used for less-lethal munition deployment. A Bearcat is just a large off-road truck with heavy armor. A surplused UH-1 or UH-60 is not somehow more dangerous than a Bell JetRanger.

4. The increased complaints about the "militarization of the police" have been simultaneously accompanied by record-low homicides by and of police officers.

5. The use of automatic weapons and armored vehicles by law enforcement is not new, and the "good old days" of Andy Griffith in law enforcement never happened.

Chicago PD had Thompson submachine guns before the U.S. Army did. Police in the 1920s and 1930s had Thompsons and BARs. Policing in America was much more corrupt, much less professional, much less community-oriented, much more racist, and much more prone to violence at virtually every period of history in America as compared to now.

6. Some people have said that police "militarization" is a bad thing, and if things get bad enough to warrant that kind of response, the state should just call out the National Guard.

So let's just think about that. Some of the people complaining that the police are too much like the military think that the solution is to have the actual military do police work? Really?

7. This is the part that grinds my gears the most. Virtually all of the people raging about the militarization of the police only know about this from watching TV. Everything they know about the police also comes from watching TV, virtually all of it entirely fictional written by people who also know nothing about the police.

Last edited by Madcap_Magician; August 27, 2014 at 03:49 PM.
Madcap_Magician is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 03:52 PM   #8
A400 Fan
Junior member
Join Date: June 17, 2014
Posts: 242
Some of the people complaining that the police are too much like the military think that the solution is to have the actual military do police work? Really?
If things truly get that bad, it is no longer police work but military work. Crime was lower when there were foot patrols in cities, cops interacted with citizens BEFORE things got out of hand, knew who everyone in their area was and had a good handle on things. Police today sit in their cars, never interact except to question about a crime that already happened and basically have no idea about any of the citizens in their areas. It went from being proactive and preventing crime to reactive and a clean-up job. This allows things to go bad quickly instead of possibly diffusing things before it gets bad
A400 Fan is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 04:00 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: September 28, 2008
Posts: 10,447
A few days ago, this article appeared on the web about arming the police with military gear.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
g.willikers is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 04:05 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: July 15, 2011
Location: N Ireland. UK.
Posts: 1,645
The police should have the equipment they need to do the job. That includes armoured cars if required. They have being using them here for years no big deal. One thing they dont use is tear gas to indiscriminate.
manta49 is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 04:14 PM   #11
Tom Servo
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
Posts: 12,153
We had a thread on this matter very recently. I'd ask that everyone review that thread. If you have an argument that hasn't been posted there, feel free to post it here.

However, we're not going to have a rehash of the last thread.
Sometimes it’s nice not to destroy the world for a change.
--Randall Munroe
Tom Servo is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 04:34 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: August 8, 2012
Posts: 2,556
How many of you complaining about the militarization of police also complain about the civilianization of police detectives who wear suits, and concealed carry?


Because whatever they wear, they still have the exact same rules and constraints?

Imagine that.

But the mindset that comes from wearing that camo gear and carrying a rifle you say?

Do the plainclothes detectives have a more timid mindset and only fire when their lives are in immediate jeopardy as opposed to their "ROE" laid out in Garner?

What's that you say? They still act like LEO's not private citizens who may have a duty to retreat?

Imagine that.
JimDandy is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 04:41 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2007
Location: South Western OK
Posts: 2,486
The US Army has suspended numerous police departments from the program for losing M14 rifles, M16 rifles and other military weaponry.

Fusion reports 184 state and local departments have been suspended from the program for misplacing M14, M15 and M16 assault rifles, .45-caliber pistols, shotguns and two Humvees. It’s unclear whether the weapons, which were provided to assist police in the “wars on terrorism and drugs,” have been unintentionally lost or sold on the black market.


The Mississippi Meridian Police Department was suspended in February 2013 after an inventory showed four missing M14s. The Arkansas Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department was suspended the same month for a missing M14 and a damaged nightvision scope. Ten law enforcement entities in California have also been suspended including the Huntington Beach Police Department for losing an M16, the Stockton Police Department for losing two M16s, and the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office for losing two M15s and an M14
thallub is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 05:44 PM   #14
357 Python
Senior Member
Join Date: June 7, 2007
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 904
I can see why many departments would want some of this equipment. Converted M4s (converted from auto to semi-auto) for specially trained teams or small departments that may have very few officers where their nearest backup is 15-20 minutes away at best. I can see a department's use of armored vehicles for tactical teams during legitimate operations. I don't believe the equipment is the real problem. I believe it is the mentality of todays law enforcement officer. Many forget that they used to be called Peace Officers instead of law enforcement officer. They forget that part of their job is keeping the peace. Today many chiefs want to do nothing but enforce the local government's will on the people. They can't say no to the local government but can force the citizen to follow the government's demands.
357 Python is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 06:18 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: March 8, 2009
Location: Utah
Posts: 285
I am retired LEO so I think I am qualified to be a bit critical. I see officers daily in my retirement job. I see the at the gas station in the neighborhoods I am in and markets and such.

The criticism is that these men and woman don't even give a head nod or open the door for the ladies at the gas station. This is plain old rude. This does not help the citizens in the community to trust the LEO personnel.

I think the surplus tools are needed and should be available. The full auto weapons have been used and IMHO have a place in all departments. Even Andy in Mayberry had the heavy rifles in the rack.

I think if agencies were to be staffed correctly they could do more community based policing. The problem is the costs involved in running a police force. The budgets have all been cut for years and many agencies are very top heavy due to so much administrative issues that have to be done thanks to our huge government and the many thousands of rules and regulations.

Heck I saw our CCR go from a 4"x5" handbook size to a full 8x10 book with pages printed in 8 pitch on both sides of each page with a couple hundred pages in a mere 20 years. Sad!

We need to be able to go to a cop and get help and know they don't just bust people!

Just my .02. The cops should have the tools needed to go home to their families at the end of their shift!

guruatbol is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 07:44 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: July 9, 2007
Posts: 702
We have killed an American citizen overseas with an armed drone without a warrant. From what I've read he deserved it. However given the advances in technology I strongly believe that this is an important debate.

Frankly I've come to accept the fact that it's my job to protect myself, and the police will come to investigate afterwards. I'd much rather see them armed fully with the CSI stuff that fantasy television shows promote than with armored vehicles.
Mainah is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 08:31 PM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 4,729
As far as the "militrarization of police", I think it's BS.

Can you really blame police departments for wanting the best protection (vests, armor, vehicles) and the best weapons (yes they look like military rifles, so?) in light of events like 911 and the war on terror etc. etc.? Not to mention the war on drugs. With things like bath salts and meth all over the streets, no step is too drastic.

If it saves officer's lives and stops law breakers, I'm for it. 'Nuff said.

Model12Win is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 08:45 PM   #18
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2007
Location: South Western OK
Posts: 2,486
This militarization of the police is a direct result of the so called "war on drugs". The purpose of that SWAT team is to prevent the casual user and small time dealer from flushing his/her dope. Seldom is a major dealer caught.

After 40 year of fighting this "war", more dope is being imported than ever before. More dope is being made in the US than ever before. Let's face it US citizens have an insatiable appetite for dope.

The "war on drugs" is an abysmal failure. It's time to do something else.
thallub is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 08:58 PM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: November 23, 2009
Posts: 3,963
De-militarizing the police is not going to happen. The crisis du jour will very soon be about cameras for the cops and demilitarizing the civilians, meaning us law-abiding gun owners. Expect a bunch of laws about body armor, night vision, assault rifles, armor-piercing rounds, that kind of thing.
kilimanjaro is offline  
Old August 27, 2014, 11:47 PM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: September 19, 2008
Posts: 492
I'm more concerned about the number of "no knock" warrants out there. When they first started with them there were relatively few but now the number has increased dramatically. And it seems a large percentage of the police related tragedies come along with them.

Note that I am not saying that the no knock warrant shouldn't be part of the took box but the standards for requesting/issuing them maybe should be raised.
All data is flawed, some just less so.
ballardw is online now  
Old August 28, 2014, 12:09 AM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: April 6, 2013
Posts: 444
This matter has been discussed many times and each of those threads has ended up locked for various reasons. The majority of people do not support militarized police. My opinion is we have no choice. Society is getting more dangerous all the time and we need a group of well armed people to protect us. I might point out whats happening overseas, the various public shootings or the usual crime which occurs here.

I know its a bit scary seeing an armored vehicle and an officer with an AR15, but there is a purpose for it and thats to stop the people whose intention is to inflict great harm upon us. As for Ferguson there were a few armed people in the crowd. It just takes one armed person to cause great casualties so a strong response was needed.
johnelmore is offline  
Old August 28, 2014, 05:58 AM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2007
Location: South Western OK
Posts: 2,486
Society is getting more dangerous all the time ...
Not so. US violent crime is down dramatically:

Last edited by thallub; August 28, 2014 at 06:29 AM.
thallub is offline  
Old August 28, 2014, 06:09 AM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: December 23, 2005
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,859
Here is an article and a short video of Retired Marine Col. and his thoughts on the "Building of a Domestic Army".

He was speeking in front of his city council concerning their desire to purchase a Bearcat.
steve4102 is offline  
Old August 28, 2014, 06:40 AM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: July 15, 2014
Posts: 158
Seems if they're outfitted with automatic weapons, armored vehicles, grenades
What LE department have received grenades? I have yet to hear about that. I am certain grenades are not in the program. However grenade launchers perhaps, but as someone else has said earlier they are used to deliver less lethal munitions i.e. bean bag rounds.

Over all the program save tax payers from paying twice on many things. There is an agency here that some years ago received some 400 M-16s not as single one left their armory until they changed the fire control group to semi and removed the auto-sear. Those M-16's where already bought and paid for by the US tax payer so they could have been destroyed or handed down to an agency like they were and then converted. Think of the cost savings instead of buying 400 rifles for $600-$900 each the agency now got them for about $75 each, nice deal for the tax payer.

Also this program is not just for guns and armored cars, there is other equipment and tools they receive. Again same agency that got the M-16's just got some aimpoints that they are now issuing to the officers that have the rifles. They were able to get enough in good working condition to put on every one of the 400 rifles. Again what did that save the tax payer that would have ended up paying for the same item twice.
DPI7800 is offline  
Old August 28, 2014, 08:44 AM   #25
Senior Member
Join Date: August 8, 2012
Posts: 2,556
We have killed an American citizen overseas with an armed drone without a warrant. From what I've read he deserved it.
A) that probably wasn't police
B) Even if it was, they don't have to get a warrant when they shoot a gunman on your street do they?
C) Exactly which judge was the drone pilot supposed to ask for a warrant to do what?

What LE department have received grenades?
It's more of that "military style rifle" obfuscation. Many if not all of them have flash bangs, chemical, and smoke. I imagine few to none have fragmentation.
JimDandy is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:06 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.10464 seconds with 7 queries