cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
There is a new hue and cry over civilian police departments using surplus military grade gear and weapons. Notably visible are the bomb resistant trucks (often referred to as MRAPs in the press) that we see in the midst of tactical situations. A true tactical situation is very much akin to a military operation. Protection of officers is extremely important as is the minimization of disruption to the civilian population in and around the immediate area.
I am a former Germantown Police Academy civilian graduate as some may recall from mention in earlier blogs, so I enter this game with a little bias. I have engaged in ‘ride-alongs’ and have in that way experienced just a small level of the angst and concern that can walk with our police officers as they make their way to the incident.
I also found myself as an observer in the midst of a situation that involved police use of some of the tactical gear they have available that borders on military spec gear, and where the officers had no idea of what they were about to encounter. Had I been among those officers about to make entry, I would’ve been thankful for every single thing I can have at my disposal as that entry progressed.
Most of us have little or no idea of what these officers have already encountered during their careers and of what the ‘bad guys’ have gotten their hands on in the intervening years. We don’t give much, if any, consideration to the fact that there are plain old domestic disturbances and then there are the anything-but-plain old domestic disturbances. As the result, each officer has to be prepared for the worst case scenario, and each hopes and prays that he or she will not be forced to use life threatening force and face a coroners’ inquest or that he or she will not be the one that has to notify a fellow officer’s family of a tragedy.
We make great Monday morning quarterbacks but we’re not worth much in the heat of the incidents that our officers have to be prepared for at all times.
So, should a local police department have surplus military equipment at its disposal? Absolutely and unequivocally YES. Does this stuff look frightening to us? Yes. Is that bad? Only if we’re the one or ones being targeted by the officers. Is there occasionally an officer that might take some action that he or she is later proved to have been wrong in taking. Of course; that this wouldn’t happen is expecting 100% perfect action in the midst of unknown and rapidly unfolding life or death situations.
Beyond this line of reasoning, one must also recognize that the ‘game’ has changed markedly for the bad guys, too. There are .50 caliber weapons in the hands of people that shouldn’t have those. A .50 caliber round can penetrate almost anything up to the MRAP vehicles mentioned earlier. That alone is sufficient reason for that kind of equipment to be available for such situations. I’d frankly rather see this weaponry in the hands of our police officers than being used against them by some new radical group or by a bunch of thugs on the street, or being destroyed by our government when it became obsolete for their uses. Why wouldn’t we continue this practice?