War Toys Taken Away, Hilarity Does Not Ensue
Dec. 10, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — My experience as a father of two has taught me that if you take a small child’s toys away, the first thing they will do is throw a tantrum. The Walton County Sheriff’s Department is having one such tantrum thanks to President Obama.
A direct order from President Obama is not sitting well with some law enforcement departments. They’re being forced to turn over some military equipment.
In Walton County, the sheriff’s office returned their armored personnel carrier. Sheriff Joe Chapman told 11Alive News that without that vehicle his deputies’ lives are at risk.
Sheriff Chapman’s assertion seems to think his men aren’t safe absent the gun, taser, and baton strapped to their service belts each day. No, there is a direct need for a military vehicle designed specifically to transport infantry to battlefields unharmed in order to stop his deputies lives from being at risk.
Chapman says that layer of protection brought his deputies home unharmed three years ago.
The department was involved in a 16-hour standoff with a murder suspect. The suspect was armed with an AK-47 and fired dozens of rounds at deputies.
“There are nuts out there with weapons they shouldn’t have and my deputies have to go up against these people every day,” said Chapman.
He said those fears and concerns of an active shooter scenario is why he applied for this vehicle and other military equipment no longer used by the government.
“It limits us. It puts at a disadvantage,” Chapman told 11Alive News.
Anecdotal evidence is a tricky thing. It’s a device that allows someone to prove just about any aspect of an argument they want to have someone believe absent quantifiable evidence and hard statistics. If one reviews Sheriff Chapman’s argument there as well, we even have an appeal to emotion in his tantrum to the local news. There are “nuts out there with weapons they shouldn’t have,” therefore the police are justified in making sure they have every military device available to them to give the cops an “advantage.”
Police began getting military equipment through the National Defense Authorization Act’s 1033 program, which allowed police to apply for the acquisition of unused military equipment for law enforcement purposes. It was an interesting idea in theory, and one that worked out terribly. Instead of merely giving police “added protection,” the 1033 program contributed further to what Radley Balko termed the “Rise of the Warrior Cop.”
After what was termed a “paramilitary-like response” to the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama issued an order limiting the sale of certain military equipment to police departments, banning the sale and use of others, and limiting certain kinds only with proper training to law enforcement.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like [police are] an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said in a speech in Camden, N.J. Monday. He said military equipment can “alienate and intimidate local residents and may send the wrong message.”
The orders to return certain equipment have been met with less enthusiasm than the President probably expected. Even members of Congress have reacted with butthurt.
“These things are useful tools and the president taking them away will put more officers in jeopardy and at risk of harm or even death. I don’t know how he can sleep at night knowing his actions will have those repercussions,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., told FoxNews.com.
Sheriff Chapman, predictably, isn’t the only law enforcement officer upset his toys are being taken away by the grown-ups in the room.
Sheriff Paul Laney of Cass County, N.D., who also serves on the Board of the National Sheriffs’ Association, says that the anger is shared by sheriffs across the country.
“Sheriffs are very angry. It’s a tool in our toolbox being taken away from us based on perception. When we show up with a piece of equipment to save lives it can’t always look safe and cozy.”
Unfortunately for Sheriff Laney, the “safe and cozy” argument is bought by not a single soul. We don’t expect law enforcement to look “safe and cozy” when they arrive to the scene of an incident to handle whatever problems may occur. What we do expect is for them to actually do their jobs. We expect police to investigate a situation, question people, look for the problems, and act accordingly.
At one time, police engaged in a practice called “community policing” that required the aforementioned work by those with a badge and the ability to take a life with state sponsored impunity. With the application of the 1033 program, the “community policing” mentality changed quickly to an “us versus them” mentality that requires administration of the First Rule of Policing on a regular basis. The President, regardless of your political preferences, has recognized this and has taken proactive steps to restore trust in our nation’s law enforcement. Unfortunately, those stamping their feet and whining about their toys being taken miss the point entirely.