Category Archive 'Militarization of Police'

28 Jan 2019

Were 29 Agents with Machine Guns in Body Armor Really Enough?

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Long-time Federal and State Prosecutor George Parry has some comments on the pre-dawn FBI paramilitary operation mounted last Friday to arrest 66-year-old, wealthy, advisor-to-presidents Roger Stone.

Long ago, as a Special Attorney with the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, I participated in planning and — in a handful of instances — executing arrests of members of La Cosa Nostra and their associates. From personal observation, I early on concluded that, in apprehending mobsters, one of the primary threats to agent safety was the risk of fratricide, i.e., one amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent accidentally shooting some other amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent. The FBI, ATF, and other federal agents with whom I was privileged to work shared that concern. For that reason, they planned operations meticulously and kept the number of arresting agents to the absolute minimum in order to reduce the risk of injury or error.

To that end, I opted whenever possible to avoid arrests altogether by having defense counsel surrender their clients at the marshal’s lock up during regular business hours. From the media’s standpoint, the visuals must have been underwhelming. But then, we didn’t much care about meeting the needs of the news media. Having targets surrender was simple, held down down costs, and reduced the risk of harm to one and all.

This is not to say that we never made arrests. Sometimes, we had no choice.

I recall one early morning arrest of a violence-prone mobster. The assigned agents were aware that the target was at a bar with his girlfriend. Since we wanted to take him at his home so that the premises could be searched incident to arrest, the agents parked outside his residence and waited for him to show up.

Around 6:00 A.M., the target arrived and went inside with his girlfriend. Two FBI agents (the total number needed to take down this dangerous felon and conduct the search) knocked on the door. A split second later, the target stepped outside, slammed the door behind him, and announced, “Okay, let’s go.”

By this tactic, he had cleverly defeated our plan to search his residence.

Despite the target’s extensive criminal record, one of the agents said to him, “Vinnie [not his real name], if you promise to behave, I won’t put you in cuffs.” The violent felon smiled and said, “Deal.” Thus, he was transported without handcuffs or incident to the federal building where he was processed.

That’s how the old Hoover era FBI rolled.

But today, with the example of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI’s recent daring dawn raid and arrest of serial false declarant Roger Stone, it is apparent that my ancient generation of federal law enforcement had it all wrong. Team Mueller’s use of 29 agents plus CNN video support elements were confronted with a challenging tactical problem. Despite the fact that Stone has no prior criminal record, he is nevertheless 66 years old. This is an age when people are sometimes cranky and disagreeable. Obviously, those 29 agents were necessary to establish tactical dominance and to quickly subdue this lawless false declarant. Hopefully, the overwhelming show of force prevented Stone from making any further false declarations during the course of his arrest.

And, equally important, the visuals of the assault broadcast by the CNN tactical elements undoubtedly will serve as a deterrent to others who may harbor thoughts of uttering untruths sworn or otherwise.

All of which leads me to shake my wooly gray head and wonder aloud if any of these two-fisted crime fighters who took down the cunning and dangerous Roger Stone are in any way embarrassed by their participation in this vaudeville act.

I mean, come on! 29 agents? Seriously? Once upon a time, you could have invaded a small country with that much firepower much less arrest a white haired gadfly who allegedly lied to the authorities. Is the wimp quotient really that high in today’s FBI?

Or was there some other reason for this televised silliness? Could it be that Mueller and his team of Hillary Clinton acolytes are trying to fool us with their comedy act? Is this ridiculous armed raid supposed to distract us from the humiliating fact that the Team Mueller elephant has once again given birth to a mouse? Is this an act of misdirection calculated to obscure the fact that Mueller’s Hillary Clinton fan club seems incapable of bringing nothing but process crime indictments devoid of any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion?

RTWT

There was obviously no justification whatsoever for that pre-dawn raid, which was clearly a flagrant abuse of power and authority intended to cow and humiliate the arrested ally of a political adversary.

Donald Trump is President of the United States, and he should tolerate neither this kind of official misconduct nor a Special Counsel and a Federal Police Agency waging war against himself and his Administration under color of the Law.

Trump should pardon Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Mannafort, and everybody else on Mueller’s list of indictments, fire Mueller, announce that he is firing everyone currently employed by the FBI and CIA, abolishing those two current agencies, and creating a new replacement of the latter Intelligence Service. There never should have been a Federal United States Secret Police in the first place. Trump should then announce a new investigation aimed at prosecuting people misusing offices and laws of the United States to attack an elected president for treason.

01 Dec 2014

Why Don’t Cops Ever Shoot Bad Guys in the Leg?

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Michael-Brown-Shot-in-Stree

Michael Yon has a go at explaining why any time police open fire, they shoot to kill.

Many people innocently ask why Officer Wilson did not shoot Michael Brown in the legs. The answer could stretch for pages. More succinctly, a couple handfuls of reasons:

1) This ain’t the movies

2) Most police do not fire their weapons much. Most are not great shots.

3) The officer would have to be an incredible shot to be crazy enough to fire wounding shots.

4) Nearly all firefights are “stress shoots.” The other guy is moving. Heart pounding. Often breathless. Officer Wilson in Ferguson had just been punched in the face during a wrestling match for his pistol, according to Wilson.

5) Bullets that miss can hit someone else.

6) You always are low on ammo. Do not waste a single bullet.

7) Time spent reloading is dangerous

8) I have seen many people shot who kept fighting. Shot with weapons far more powerful than any officer’s pistol. Many police and combat troops have seen this and will verify.

9) Police and Soldiers never train to shoot to wound. (None that I know of.) Technically, officers will say they shoot to stop the threat but this is legal semantics. They are trained to fire center mass. All combat shots are center mass of any hittable part of the target. If you see only a foot, shoot the foot. If you see a chest — aim for the middle. If the officer is pointing his pistol at someone, he is one click away from going lethal to stop the threat. There is no in between. I have never seen a target at any military, police or civilian range, that designates legs as a target.

10) This ain’t the movies.

The whole thing.

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I don’t think Michael’s explanation is fully accurate or complete. I’d say that other factors playing a key role include:

1. The politicization of police recruiting. In the old days, experienced police chose at will men like themselves to become cops. Their key criteria were size, strength, and combativeness. The kind of man who got into the police was a tough guy who knew he was tougher than 99% of common criminals and who was not afraid of them. The policeman was typically recruited from the same ethnic or cultural community as the older police.

Today, police recruiting is bureaucratized and politicized. Women and minorities, and now even queers, have to be “represented” in the police force. The old-time principles of selection were discarded years ago, so your typical cop today is no longer the toughest guy in town. He’s just some average schlub looking for a paycheck and pension.

The days of “One Ranger (or one Pennsylvania State Policeman) for one riot” are over. Today’s timid police don’t like to serve civil papers without SWAT Team back-up and an armored car. They are scared to death of frequently large and aggressive African American members of the criminal underclass.

2. In days of yore, the policeman was commonly a gun enthusiast. He carried (in most parts of the country) a Colt or Smith & Wesson .38 Special six-shot revolver. He was a dead shot and thought himself perfectly adequately armed. Nearly all police went through entire careers drawing a weapon only once or twice and never shooting anybody. The policeman dealt with nearly all resistance with his fists.

Needless to say, police are completely discouraged today from relying on their fists, and the police officer who beat up the likes of Michael Brown could get into pretty much as much trouble for hitting him as he would for shooting him dead, dead, dead.

3. The Federal Government took over police training and created national standards and procedures. These, today, include police carrying semi-automatic pistols with large magazines and police being trained to shoot “for center body mass,” i.e. being trained to shoot to kill, period, as well as being encouraged, when they shoot, to spray and pray, to empty the (typically 10-to-15-round) magazine at other fellow.

Some of this is simply the transplanting of military-style training for war into the context of civilian police work, but there is obviously additionally at work fear of litigation. The cop who shoots Stagger Lee in the leg knows that, down the road, there is a live possibility of having to face a live Stagger Lee in the courtroom, equipped with slick attorneys, and lying his ass off. If Stagger Lee is deceased, he is never going to sue anybody personally, and the mouth of the potential complainant with the best ability to contest the cop’s version of events is permanently sealed. The truth of the matter is that our polarized, politicized, and litigious modern society has persuaded police, when matters proceed to shooting, to prefer to take no live prisoners.

I’d say that Michael Yon’s theses are largely bogus. It may be that, in the heat of real combat, a crazed jihadi or some other Third World primitive, high on ganja and/or bloodlust, may keep fighting after being shot a time or two, but the typical American low life is just an ordinary criminal and a coward. Shoot one of them in the leg, and you’ll see him scream in pain and the fight drain right out of him. I know, because I once did shoot one… in the leg. Not being FBI-trained, I thought it unnecessary to shoot to kill.

29 Oct 2014

“People May Not Always Understand Why, But an Armored Vehicle is Almost a Necessity Now”

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ArmoredCar

The town of Stettin, Wisconsin sent 24 cops and an armored car to collect a civil judgement from a 75-year-old man. The sheriff captain explained that the old man was known to be “argumentative.”

Journal Sentinel story

Reason story

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

16 Aug 2014

Demilitarize the Police And Quit Accusing Them of Racism

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Poor Michael Brown was videotaped by a surveillance camera robbing a convenience store, shortly before he was shot by police.

Armed & Dangerous agrees with the general narrative contending that events in Ferguson, Missouri show that American police use too much military equipment and are ill-advisedly trained to employ military tactics, but –beyond all that– he feels obliged to defend police against knee-jerk accusations of racism.

[The] 2% [of the US population composed of black males aged 15 to 25] is responsible for almost all of 52% of U.S. homicides. Or, to put it differently, by these figures a young black or “mixed” male is roughly 26 times more likely to be a homicidal threat than a random person outside that category – older or younger blacks, whites, hispanics, females, whatever. If the young male is unambiguously black that figure goes up, about doubling.

26 times more likely. That’s a lot. It means that even given very forgiving assumptions about differential rates of conviction and other factors we probably still have a difference in propensity to homicide (and other violent crimes for which its rates are an index, including rape, armed robbery, and hot burglary) of around 20:1. That’s being very generous, assuming that cumulative errors have thrown my calculations are off by up to a factor of 6 in the direction unfavorable to my argument.

Now suppose you’re a cop. Your job rubs your nose in the reality behind crime statistics. What you’re going to see on the streets every day is that random black male youths are roughly 20 times more likely to be dangerous to you – and to other civilians – than anyone who isn’t a random black male youth.

Any cop who treated members of a group with a factor 20 greater threat level than population baseline “equally” would be crazy. He wouldn’t be doing his job; he’d be jeopardizing the civil peace by inaction.

Yeah, my all means let’s demilitarize the police. But let’s also stop screaming “racism” when, by the numbers, the bad shit that goes down with black male youths reflects a cop’s rational fear of that particular demographic – and not racism against blacks in general.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

14 Feb 2013

San Bernadino Sheriff Denies Intentionally Setting Fire

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(KABC photo)

Is setting buildings afire in order to force a suspect to come out or be burned alive an appropriate police tactic? I come from a family which produced large numbers of police officers over several generations. I’m not a bleeding heart or soft on crime either. But I’m pretty skeptical of the practice of equipping police with incendiary tear gas grenades, making it possible for them to intentionally torch buildings and then (like Sheriff McMahon) feign no responsibility by blaming the tear gas for “accidentally” igniting a fire.

Those California police would obviously have been perfectly entitled to shoot Dorner dead to reduce him to possession when he continued to resist, but I think it is (a) cowardly and (b) dubiously legal for them to destroy private property and use arson in order to avoid waiting and exchanging more gunfire with a criminal.

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CBS News:

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon… told reporters that the fire in the cabin where Christopher Dorner presumably died was not intentionally set by authorities. He said tear gas canisters fired into the cabin apparently set the blaze.

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An alleged recording of police scanner audio transmissions strongly contradicts McMahon’s statement.

Raw Story:

“All right, Steve, we’re gonna go — we’re gonna go forward with the plan, with — with the burn,” a male voice on the recording instructs. “We want it like we talked about.”

“Seven burners deployed and we have a fire,” the voice later adds.

“Copy,” a female voice replies. “Seven burners deployed and we have a fire.”

“Guys, be ready on the number four side. We have fire in the front. He might come out the back,” a male voice says.


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