Prince George County, Maryland police violated a warrant they were serving for the questionable arrest of the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights by staging a SWAT team raid and carrying out an utterly unnecessary forced entry. Two friendly Labrador retrievers were shot dead, and two respectable people were manhandled and manacled for hours.
Baltimore Sun story.
The training and culture of law enforcement has gone outrageously astray in this country.
Remember the federal officers who came to collect Elian Gonzalez equipped with machine guns, wearing tanker helmets and loaded down with paramilitary gear?
Preposterously excessive force, a systematic kind of cringing cowardice expressed by the mentality that sends paramilitary SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons to kick in doors and make arrests of people who’d come down to the police department if contacted by telephone, the overly-prudential point of view that insists on strip searches and manacles for non-violent middle-class members of the public has become typical of today’s police.
It’s been going on for decades. I can remember marveling in Brookfield, Connecticut, years ago, stopping one evening at a fast food joint and seeing a local cop on his dinner break toting around one of those 9mm Beretta semiautomatics and five, count them, five! extra 15-round magazines on his belt. Has anyone ever actually fired upon a police officer in the 200+ year history of Brookfield? I wondered at the time. And was there currently reason to expect a Zulu impi to come over the hill and attack? Why would a local cop possibly need to be carrying 90 rounds of ammunition? That many cartridges are heavy.
I decided back in the early 1990s to get a Connecticut pistol permit. The process required me to stop by the local Newtown police station to pick up a form. Imagine my surprise, when I found the police barricaded away, inaccessible to the dangerous public of upper middle-class suburban Fairfield County, behind locked doors. One communicated with a secretary in a booth protected by bulletproof glass, passing papers back and forth in one of those sliding bank trays. Obviously, Newtown’s police officers led a life of constant fear.
I grew up in a family with many members who were working or had worked in law enforcement. The kind of men who became policemen in the old days were not afraid of criminals. They knew that they were tough and they knew just how uncommon men like themselves were. They knew most criminals are cowardly scum, and incompetent screw-ups to boot. The human being who will initiate violence is rare, and the human being who will initiate violence against a man in authority recognizably skilled at violence is even rarer.
The kind of men who used to become police officers were adequately armed with a .38 revolver or even just a nightstick. My father, working as a Marine Corps MP, and armed only with a nightstick, placed a dozen men under arrest and marched them off to the brig. He told them he knew perfectly well there were enough to them to overcome him, but he promised that he’d kill the first one or two who tried. They submitted to arrest.
The Texas Rangers used to boast of a necessary ratio of “one riot, one Ranger.” And the Pennsylvania State Police long had the same policy of sending a single State Trooper to suppress a civil disturbance or quell a mob.
Today, they send jack-booted Storm Troopers armed with machine guns to bring in 8 year olds.
Contemporary law enforcement culture is a disgrace and a genuine public hazard and it needs to change. They should dissolve every single SWAT team, get rid of every single item of paramilitary equipage, and –of course– end drug prohibition and the accompanying crime epidemic providing most of the excuse for the militarization of US law enforcement.