I find myself bombarded by images and news stories of police committing what can only be called atrocities on American citizens. I’ve struggled with this for the past few weeks, because we’ve talked before – on this site – about the dangers of militarization of the police. Recently, our publisher asked me to do a research piece based on a simple question. Are police abuses of power actually increasing, or are we seeing them more, because people are recording them on cell-phone cameras?
The ’50s and ’60s were rife with cases of police brutality. Prior to Miranda in 1966, interrogations were commonly brutal, and in many cases actual torture. It wasn’t uncommon in those days, for police with no warrant to enter one’s home and search. Traffic stops – same thing. And of course, any of us who were involved in the counterculture movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s remember well, being stopped and carded on the streets. It actually became habit to reach for one’s wallet, upon seeing a cop.
But I never felt the animosity, the vitriol, the general ill will, that I’m feeling today. And that, on both sides of the equation. Growing up, we certainly were no fans of the police, but there was a tenuous mutual respect – not for each other, so much as for the game. We were the gazelles. Minding our own business, eating our leaves in peace. They were the cougars, slavering and slobbering to rend our flesh from our bones. But gazelles and cougars both, know the rules of engagement – the law of nature. They understand the life they have chosen, or should I say the hand they’ve been dealt. And if nothing else, we both understood the hands we’d been dealt.
I even developed strong and lasting friendships with many cops, during those tumultuous years. On duty, these men and women had a job to do. Off duty, they were just people – no different from you and me.
The difference, nowadays, is that cops are being armed like soldiers and trained to fight citizens – even perhaps, criminal citizens but citizens nonetheless – as insurrectionists. I hold two important milestones in our history, as responsible for this paradigm shift. September 11th, and a program that began in 1997, known as the 1033 Program. Section 1208 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 allowed transfer of military hardware from the Department of Defense to law enforcement agencies, as an aid in prosecuting the War on Drugs. By ’97, the law had undergone a retrofit and became the 1033 program. Under this program, law enforcement agencies, regardless of size or jurisdiction, can obtain full scale military hardware. Everything from fighter jets to tanks to flack jackets.
What they aren’t getting however, is training. In the old days, cops were judiciously issued a .38, and taught to rarely – if ever – use it. Nowadays they’re handed an AR-15, and told that everybody out there is either a dope dealer or a terrorist. They used to get a Plymouth Fury with a Slant-6, now they get a Halftrack with a Gatling Cannon.
Retired cops have told me that in 20 years on the force, they never once drew their guns. Today, you can’t open a paper or log-on to a Web site, without reading about another shooting of an innocent civilian. Add to that the beatings, the wrongful enforcement of warrants, the over use of SWAT teams – and the staggering number of dogs shot by officers, and you have a climate of outright warfare.
Number of SWAT deployments nationwide in 1974 – 300. In 2014 – 50,000 (and the year isn’t over yet.) There are currently over 100 SWAT Team raids, in America, every day.
5000 individuals have been killed by law enforcement officers since 9/11.
Between 2005 and 2012, a White officer used deadly force against a Black person 1.85 times per week. 20% of those cases involve juveniles. White juveniles killed by police, amount to 0.125% of the total number of interactions.
Number of justified police killing (not just shooting, but killing) of civilians in the U.S. in 2012 – 409.
Number of justified police killing of civilians in Britain in 2012 – 1.
The above are just some of the many facts I have discovered, researching this post. I have become convinced that I can answer our venerable publisher’s query, with an undeniable and unconditional yes. Absolutely. And staggeringly, mind-bogglingly so. It hasn’t been an increase, it’s been an exponential increase. An increase by orders of magnitude. In fact, it’s fair to say that the whole science of policing has undergone an evolutionary change. What was once a job done by members of your community – your neighbors and friends – have morphed into the forces of Xerxes writ with modern death-dealing technology. Welcome to the new Thermopylae. The new Gallipoli.
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
14 thoughts on “When Officer Friendly Becomes Delta Force”
Woo Hoo! Many thanks. And prison guards have these weapons too.
Susan M. “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them. Assata Shakur
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 21:36:18 +0000 To: email@example.com
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Well, that is true. I think it is because oppressors are led to believe that the people they oppress are less than Human. Our leaders tell us, “those other people are animals – evil – beneath us,” and we believe them.
Reblogged this on Prison Reform Movement's Weblog.
Thanks for the reblog.
Reblogged this on MrMilitantNegro™.
And thank you for the reblog.
I certainly agree with the article. I will also add, that law enforcement, frame, and put in prison, innocent people, everyday, in this country. At the same time, we have millions of ILLEGALS, here, who get by, with going to prison, regardless of what they do. osama recently had over 60,000 ILLEGALS released from prisons, all over the country, releasing them into our communities. While, at the same time, there are hundreds of thousands of non-violent Americans citizens rotting away in prisons, in the U.S.
I believe you mean Obama, not Osama. Yes, I agree that many inmates are framed, and that many are guilty, but of non-violent crimes. I hold the war on drugs accountable, both for that, and for some of our immigration issues. I had not heard about the President releasing 60,000 undocumented aliens. Considering that his record for pardoning inmates is so abysmal, I would find that fact to be suspect. Can you provide me with a citation?
Everything needs to be fixed these days. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer. Makes me sad to see what this country is becoming.
I wholeheartedly agree. And it is true that none of us have the answers to these huge questions. But it is also true, that if we don’t find these answers soon, we’re going to find ourselves in a world of hurt.
I am a Deep South white grandmother who had a flat tire. While waiting for AAA, a policeman drove up. I got out to tell him I was waiting for AAA and he asked : why don’t you know how to change a flat tire?” He was about 40.
He drove off and another policemen, older drove up. I got out to tell him same thing but added that a cop had already been there and asked me ( a 69 yr. old white grandmother) if I know how to change tire. This older cop, maybe 50ish was affronted that any cop would ask that.
I believe cities are hiring x- military vets, maybe former MP under the mistaken belief they are already trained. BIG MISTAKE!
This happened last Jan in jax. Fl.
I’m really sorry this happened to you. I’m a whiz at changing tires, and if I’d seen a grandmother sitting in her car – with a flat – I certainly would have offered to change it. That’s not about cops. It’s about decent Human beings.
Thank you. I think it opened my eyes to who police hire, this was before Ferguson, way back in jan.
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Thank you for the thumbs up! Love your blog. Very intelligent one.( not saying this because you liked my comment …..or am I? 😉