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Daily News: Police Need Military-Grade Gear

August 25, 2014  | 

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia
An op ed piece by Brian Smith appearing today in the New York Daily News opines the need for police departments to have military-grade equipment to keep officers and the community safe.

As images from Ferguson are seared on the national consciousness, there’s a rare bipartisan consensus emerging in America today: Demilitarize the police.

Let’s hope other politicians think hard before they jump on the bandwagon. Local police forces need advanced technology — and powerful weaponry — to do the jobs we demand of them in a dangerous world.

The increased procurement of military-grade equipment such as armored vehicles, weapons and armor can be traced back to early post-9/11 days, when there was a strong fear a second major attack would occur, and our police, who serve as our frontline defense in every aspect at home, would carry the burden of meeting that attack.

Comments (13)

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13

Fed LEO @ 8/25/2014 10:40 AM

This is probably the same groupd of politicians that made up the Rule of Engagement for our military to make it "fair". The enemy has to shoot first before we can engage. Take away the local police advantage, and "level the playing field". That's their mantra.

John @ 8/25/2014 12:09 PM

We give military grade gear to local PDs with a couple dozen guys, then we pay them minimalist wages and starve them of training funds. Bottom line the vast majority of the 17,000 agencies in the U.S. get this stuff then don't have the resources or the training cycles to be safe. Like the Watertown PD brothers, they spent a large part of the "fire fight" shooting at each other. Yup... that's all we need more local minimum wage PD in Podunk with MRAPs and no training funds.

Yeti @ 8/25/2014 2:32 PM

Maybe we should train the citizens to fight off a foreign attack. No that would be politically (pathetically) incorrect!

Mark @ 8/25/2014 2:51 PM

I first want to say I am a former large city cop and Federal Special Agent. I was SWAT trained and often used "military style" firearms on the job. With that being said, queue the obligatory “No way you were a cop” comments because you have a different opinion than me. I agree cops at all levels need this stuff. And this is nothing new. Even before 9/11 law enforcement received surplus military weapons. My old PD had Thompsons still in their vault from the 1930s they got from the Government. What has changed is the optics.

I noticed a few years back police starting to dress like they were soldiers and not police. Wearing camouflage in an urban environment and ski masks and balaclavas with skulls painted on them. They also wore nothing to identify themselves as police. That is what I have a problem with and that is not how the police should dress in America. I really think that is what the public and media first noticed and now they are questioning everything. Continued below.

Mark @ 8/25/2014 2:51 PM

Continued from above.

One example of what I am talking about is when I was shopping at my local grocery store. I was in the canned foods aisle when a very young looking man came walking down the aisle also shopping. He looked like he might have been high school aged. He was wearing head to toe green camo, and he had a strange belt with military looking pouches and not a police belt. He wore a tactical thigh holster with a Glock. He had nothing on him to identify himself as police. Nothing. As I walked by him I noticed he had a small subdued black patch that said police. No one could see this patch unless you where within a foot of this guy. The other customers in the aisle were freaked out by him, starred at him, and ran out of the aisle. This is around the same time there was a mass shooting in the news and the bad guys dressed up similar to this. Also, this same PD has their SWAT guys wearing skull ski masks.

Continued below.

Mark @ 8/25/2014 2:52 PM

Continued from above.

It was also pointed out on the news that a small Georgia PD had a video on their web site of a training exercise they did with an armored tracked vehicle. The video started off showing skulls and the song “Die Mother [email protected], Die” played during the video. Is this what we want to see from our police in America?

I can see all kinds of legal problems dressing up like the military too. “Yes, your Honor, I shot at the police entering my home because they were dressed like military commandos with nothing on them to identify them as police.”

The police need the military firearms and equipment but at the same time the police in America need to act and look like police. Not a military assault squad out to kill the enemy. If guys want to dress like this the military is always looking to hire.

John @ 8/25/2014 5:38 PM

@Mark. Your comments are thoughtful and reasoned. This whole militarization has just gotten out of control. And before I get the "you can't be a cop", I have done my time as a platoon commander in Iraq, a Federal Agent, and a long time ago, an Enforcement Ranger. We are just hardening attitudes when they a local fuzz faced LEO in camo at the Piggly Wiggly. The right wingers will have their revolution early enough if we keep arming the citizens and arming in cops in body armor and assault rifles. Many times, we pay local LEOs a pittance and we get the goon-heads who like to play soldier on OUR streets.
We should spend time in Canada and see those guys. They have found the balance between force protection and protecting citizens. They pay well and attract a far better grade of people into the profession.

Mark @ 8/25/2014 6:54 PM


Thanks for your nice reply. I agree with you. And I think you are getting at what might really be behind this "militarization" of the police. I have always said I got into law enforcement to help people, get bad people off the streets, and stop bad guys from hurting others. To often I worked with other LEOs who flat out told me, "I became a cop so I could carry a gun." Those guys scare me. But sadly, there seem to be too many of those guys that get hired and guys like me get screened out.

Sure, there were times I had to bust out an M4 or MP5 to go serve a high risk warrant. But I wore jeans, a t-shirt, my BLUE vest with the words "POLICE" on them real big and my badge around my neck. At no time did I ever need to wear camo, a helmet, or a skull mask. And I investigated terrorists, arms dealers, spies, and gang members.

Continued below. These character limits suck!

Mark @ 8/25/2014 7:08 PM

Continued from above, responding to John,

I think there are too many who only want to play G.I. Joe and carry a gun in our profession. And I am also shocked at many in the professional who are so anti-intellectual and just hate college educated people. It's like jealous much? How can you be against more education and training? We are in a legal profession. Not the military. Sure military experience will be helpful for some areas of law enforcement. But I would rather have college educated guys and hell even guys with law degrees on my force.

The wannabe military guys, only hire military veterans policies, and hate anyone with a college degree crowd has probably led to this militarization of the police.

John you are right about firing up political bases for revolution. This whole thing is completely unAmerican. Americans are not supposed to be afraid of their government. Enough with the camo, skull masks, and "Die, Mother [email protected], Die."

rich @ 8/26/2014 5:50 AM

I would like to keep it brief. So I won't give a full bio I will only say I know what I am talking about from current experience. There is much talk and debate from people who are not currently in the field and dealing with crime and criminals. So it is kinda strange that people who are not curently putting themselves at risk think they have the right to make the decisions for those that are. Second off these police officers are our son's and daughters, brothers and sisters and our father's and mothers out there. They are dealig with a constantly harsh and evolving criminal element. I don't know about everyone else, but I want to give my American family the best equipment out there so that they can go home to their families.

Jim @ 8/26/2014 8:06 AM

I agree totally with Mark. Police need military technology and other equipment, but we should look like police, not some rag-tag militia group. I'm retiring on Friday after 40+ years on the job, and having earned three college degrees. When my generation is gone, educational levels in my agency will drop drastically, and I know that is the situation in others as well. So many of the young guys act like they are deathly allergic to even reading a book.

Dawna Ballenger @ 11/16/2014 10:47 AM

I wish I had seen this A-LOT sooner than now.....but it is what it is, right? First off, Thank you all,who are putting your lives on the line on a daily basis, to help enforce "right thinking," and "Doing the next right thing." policy. HUH?...You know, the policy for AMERICA! The one that PROTECTS AMERICA as a WHOLE!, and it was WRITTEN by our fore-fathers "WE the people,'.. was written"TO the people." "FOR the people."OF AMERICA.! I'm a military brat from the 60's, grew up on MILITARY bases all my life. Love the structure, the organization, the "making the ultimate use of your time,... CAUSE somebody else has MY schedule all made an ITINERARY for me!I left the military because I wanted to exercise MY RIGHTS as a U.S, citizen. Point being, if we bring in military artillery.... we become a "POLICE STATE" Don't want it, and really don't need it. You wanna play with bigger toys, join the bigger ranks, called ARMED FORCES. The police were originally hired to do 2 Things: cont.

Dawna Ballenger @ 11/16/2014 11:05 AM

cont. conversation: The police were hired on originally for 2 reasons only; 1- To protect the people, and 2- To serve the people. THAT'S IT. Our Federal government has slowly taken the liberty, to pile on extra "STUFF" to our local authorities, police, detectives, precincts etc, to where they are so bogged down with "STUPID STUFF," (meeting their ticket quota), that they work overtime, in areas they have no business in. An officer at 30,000 a year, has no BUSINESS Chasing down a known Drug king pin! That's why we DO have FEDS for that. And Mr. Fed makes 75,000 a year! Let him do his job. If he wants to bump our officer say, 15,000 on top of his salary for a "side job," that's his business, but to me, the TAX payer, who pays Police to "PROTECT and SERVE" me? That's exactly what I want you to do, and you DON'T need a Bazooka or a Flame thrower, to do that. I'm just fine with a gun and tazer on your side, if you need bigger, join the military. Thanks, Dawna B

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