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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is it a police state NOW?

How in the world does a sheriff's department in a mostly-rural west Texas county justify having in its possession an armored personnel carrier?

This was a picture taken during the raid a few weeks ago on the property of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I know there have been some serious allegations regarding this religious group. And hopefully this will be looked into with all proper due process. But think about it: all of this happened because of one anonymous phone call. That was enough to send more military-grade hardware descending on the place than is usually seen escorting Vice President Cheney on an excursion through the green zone.

It just lends itself toward making you wonder: how long has the Midland County Sheriff's Department staff had such equipment, and why did they believe they needed it to begin with?

And how many other law enforcement agencies throughout America are lusting after such toys, if they don't have them already?

I'm starting to believe that nobody should be allowed to enter into a career as a peace officer (that's what I'm calling them) until they're at least 30 years old. That's long enough to experience the world as it really is, to get knocked around some and be humbled by it. And then, go into this as a career in public service, having resolved to be someone who rises above the way the world expects to work.

'Cuz otherwise, there are too many guys out there who've been given too much power and not nearly enough discipline to know not only how to use it, but how not to use it, too. Pictures like this one are a tangible reminder of that.

And God help us if enough of these people ever get too carried away with the firepower they've been given.


Anonymous said...

Alas, with a society where, thankfully, very powerful weapons up to, and including the incredible .50BMG round, are able to be owned, it is necessary for police to have some kind of armored vehicle. Wether you like it or not.

Case in point, in Baltimore a few years back there was a psycho killer name Joe Palzinski who, after a killing rampage, holed up with the parents and step brother of his girlfriend, who was in protective custody. He held the police at bay for quite some time before SWAT had to go in and eradicate him. The ONLY safe way the police could approach the house for regular negotiations was via a military surplus APC. Joe even shot the tires off of that. So now APCs have run flat tires.

I imagine that the APC in the photo here was just some hand down that the military gave the sheriff's office. Most agencies can not afford to get a custom built APC based upon an armored car platform, which looks much less threatening. I know that the NYPD ESU has at least 2 of the old M113s ( or, at least, did so ) that were military surplus.

When the Islamofascist scumbags took out the Pentagon, the first units on the scene to provide protection and overwatch of the rescue efforts were SWAT team members from a Maryland city and their APC. And they stayed there until they were relieved appropriately some days later. Had some horrible ground based action taken place to harm the rescuers (as often does take place in terrorist attacks) they would have gladly stepped into the breach and sold their lives dearly to protect the rescuers. I would caution you against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We are living in a different world these days, and not all the police are as bad as you are making things sound to be.

Sure, there are some bad apples in the bunch, but that applies to society in general. And if we waited for people to be 30 or older to become police, then our ranks would thin even more. This is a very challenging job, and it takes a vast toll on one emotionally, as well as physically. I have been doing this job for 15+ years now, and as I enter my 40s I definitely do not possess the same energy that the youngsters do coming from the academy. I am grateful for them, for they help keep the streets safe and are the strength to the thin blue line that stands against the criminal element.

Anonymous said...

I would recommend to you an article by Lt Col Grossman, who started studying the cost of combat on the military, and then studied the effects of policing on those that work it.

Just some food for thought.

I am proud to be a sheepdog.

Anonymous said...


You have to remember the peace officers have families too and they did not know what they were walking into. The compound had some major structures and a gigantic church. Who is to say that they did not have weapons. I say they had to protect themselves. I dont know what information they had but I am sure it had to be major to take over so many children.