Category Archive 'Police'

30 Mar 2017

Things Guys Like

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Max Acie is deeply moved by old-time police uniforms, classic Indian Scout motorcycles, and the Model 1895 Colt-Browning “Potato-Digger” Machine Gun.

You would never have any trouble finding willing recruits if this was your recruiting poster. It doesn’t matter if you’re organizing an army or a Mah Jong tournament. That picture sells, baby. It has everything:

Indian motorcycles
A sidecar
A machine gun mounted to the sidecar

Other than three hots and a cot, no man needs more. That’s the four macho food groups right there, in one recipe. I’d join. I don’t even know what it is, and I’d sign the enlistment papers. I mean, I certainly hope they’re good guys, and they are planning on machine-gunning only bad people who have it coming. However, if they’re planning on running over puppies and strafing orphanages, I’d have to pause for at least five seconds before signing up to think it over. But I’d sign up. A man’s only human.

Via Vanderleun.

30 Mar 2010

Just Like Europe

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There are certain little details that bring home to traveler the fact that he really is in a foreign country. One of these which frequently strikes Americans is the way, in European countries where the citizens are typically completely legally disarmed, the cops stroll around carrying machine guns.

The American thinks of his own police armed normally only with a pistol, and feels something akin to the way the Edwardian Englishman did about living in a country in which police officers only carried a truncheon.

Well, the recent Moscow subway bombings provoked New York City authorities to leap into action and dispatch an elite squad of officers with helmets, goggles, and fully automatic M16 assault rifles to ride the city’s subway trains.

That will show those terrorists! Try reaching under your clothing to detonate your suicide vest, and that Hercules squad stormtrooper will pull his goggles down, check to see that his body armor is securely fastened, and then spray the entire car with high velocity .223 rounds. After that, it won’t even be necessary to use the bomb.

I find the machine gun-toting cops on New York subways development symbolically appropriate. We are, after all, now just one more European-style welfare state committed to cradle to the grave benefits for everyone. We prefer equality to opportunity and growth. The state is our keeper. Our cops should all have machine guns. The state is our master and they are its representatives. They require enormous firepower to keep all of us in line.

New York Post

23 Jul 2009

Racial Stereotypes in Cambridge

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Barack Obama stooped from the office of the presidency to takes sides in last week’s incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts in which Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prolific author and African American Studies professor at Harvard, wound up arrested for disorderly conduct.

Gates and a friend were observed by a neighbor trying to force open Gates’s own front door on a street in Cambridge near Harvard. Seeing two black men fiddling with a locked door (and apparently failing to recognize her eminent neighbor), that neighbor summoned the police.

Studying matters African American inevitably promotes hypersensitivity with respect to racial relations, and Mr. Gates predictably responded to the arrival of a police officer with indignation, asking if he was under suspicion “for being a black man in America.”

Gates accused the cop of being a racist, and proceeded to whip out a cell phone and attempt to pull strings with the chief of police. You have no idea who you’re messing with, the mighty Harvard faculty member arrogantly informed the policeman.

Despite all this, merely producing his Harvard ID was sufficient to persuade the officer to leave, but Gates was not content. Bent upon retaliation, he insisted that the cop identify himself, responded to a request to move the discussion outside the house with “yo mama,” and persisted in voicing indignant accusations and abuse.

Not completely surprisingly, in the end, Gates succeeded in getting himself arrested for disorderly conduct.

As this posting of less than a week ago shows, I am not myself inclined to defend exaggerated police sensitivity and amour propre in dealing with the public. In a possible life-or-death situation, that Michigan dispatcher should have taken into account the caller’s emotional distress and overlooked a little bad language.

But, in this case, it is only too clear that Skip Gates himself turned a minor and understandable misunderstanding on the part of a neighbor, where the police were in no way at fault, into his own private melodrama of racial martyrdom. He didn’t get arrested for being black. He got arrested for abusing and trying to intimidate a police officer who was just doing his job.

If Gates had spoken politely to that Cambridge cop and treated the incident with a little understanding, it would all have ended with a handshake and a smile. Gates preferred to manufacture a symbolic national incident. And our supposedly post-racial president can be relied upon to intervene in favor of Professor Gates.

The Boston Globe removed the police report it previously posted (for some reason); but, too bad! it was saved here.

Was Gates profiled? Sure, he was profiled… by his neighbor, who mysteriously could not even recognize him. But, face it, male minority members seen forcing open doors in affluent Cambridge neighborhoods really do fall more logically into the burglars-breaking-in conceptual category than the homeowner-lost-his-keys interpretation even to a not particularly racially prejudiced observer. Minorities really do commit more break ins, and minorities genuinely less frequently own expensive town houses. It is not unfair prejudice to operate prudently on the most probable assumptions.

If that neighbor had taken out her .44, and filled Professor Gates with lead on suspicion, I’d say she leapt to a conclusion. Calling to police to look into what was happening was not any sort of irrevocable act, and normal middle class people can encounter police officers in circumstances featuring minor misunderstandings without feeling victimized.

Stereotypes were obviously at play here, but the most active, hostile, and determinative images were those running furiously inside the head of Henry Louis Gates.

30 Nov 2006

The Militarization of American Police

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Joseph D. McNamara reflects in the Wall Street Journal, in connection with those 50 shots fired in the Sean Bell affair, on an increasing dangerous phenomenon in American life: the militarization of our police.

Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on “officer safety” and paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.

There have been a lot of police in my family, and I grew up around the older school police culture and mentality.

When I was a boy, I once complained to my father that his injunctions about standing up to bullies were impractical when one was outnumbered, and he assured me that the man who knows that he is in the right has a natural powerful advantage over those in the wrong, which is usually decisive in and of itself. Moreover, he observed, criminals and bullies are basically all cowards anyway, and are generally scared to face anyone willing to stand up to them.

There are some limits to the theory, of course, but my life experience persuades me that my father was perfectly correct.

When I was a boy, I also commonly heard the Pennsylvania equivalent versions of the Texan “one riot, one Ranger” story. Policemen typically believed, like my father, that moral ascendancy and personal courage counted for a lot more than brute force.

And, in the old days, police were trained to shoot only as the last possible resort, and to take good aim and hit what you were intending. The idea that police officers required “firepower” would have been laughed at by the men I knew back then. “Firepower?” they would have said. “For what?”

I knew men who served as policemen for thirty years, who never fired on another man once, but who had taken many an armed criminal into custody. If it had ever come to shooting, none of them would ever likely have needed more than one shot per man.

About ten years ago, when I was still living in Connecticut, you could already see the Barney Fife-ification of small town police work setting in. In Brookfield, one day, I saw a local cop stop at McDonald’s for a meal. He was armed with a 15-round Beretta pistol, and was carrying an extra five loaded magazines on his belt. Was he anticipating an attack by a Zulu impi? I wondered. It seemed like an awful lot of weight to carry around, considering the fact that no police officer in Brookfield’s history had ever previously needed to fire a shot in anger.

In my own Connecticut town, the chief of police was always junketing off to remote locations for special FBI training. The Board of Selectmen rained on his parade a bit, when they declined to fund his proposed sniper team. But the federal government nonetheless graciously provided him with a large variety of expensive toys, running the gamut from full-auto M-16s to night-vision devices.

One day, I needed to drop by the Newtown police station to pick up the form for my gun permit. I found myself talking to a secretary hidden away in a bank teller’s window behind bulletproof glass. The police station was now locked up, and fortified. You never know, some aggrieved citizen offended over a parking ticket might drop in one day and attack the poor cowering Newtown cops. The FBI, you see, had told our chief that security was important. You can’t just let ordinary citizens walk in on you.

And so it goes. We increasingly have a bunch of self-important paranoids, practicing and posing in the latest and most expensive hi-tech military gear, trained by some kind of totalitarian Gestapo to fill the air with lead at the slightest provocation.

And we see the results in cases like those of Amadou Dialolo or Sean Bell. Incompetence and cowardice increase with precise proportionality to the increase in police play-pretend militarization. We need to fire all those FBI blackshirts who disseminate these crazy and un-American paranoid procedures and philosophies of firearms use. And we need to turn police work back over to sensible human beings. We need to end the War on Drugs, which supplies most of the pretext for current undesirable trends. And we should take away all the semiautos, the .40 calibers, the 9mm Parabellums (especially the Glocks), and give those cops back nice old-fashioned six-shot .38 Special revolvers and billy clubs.

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