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One Cop’s Perspective on the “Militarization of Police”

Editor’s Note: We hear a lot about the militarization of police these days, from rational evaluation of police purchases (does our local police department really need an armored vehicle?) to full on tinfoil hat psychosis and everything in between. While there’s no denying that America’s police are more and more adapting the “weapons and tactics of war,” the question remains: is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Personally, I’m against most of what is commonly referred to as police militarization, but I thought it would be interesting to view the topic from a police officer’s perspective, someone who puts his life on the line – literally – everyday  to keep you and me safe. To that end, I asked Monderno contributor Robbie, a second generation police officer who is very pro-liberty, for his thoughts on the militarization of police.

Obligatory Disclaimer

To the vocal minority that almost always surfaces when law enforcement topics are discussed: in my experience, most police officers are good people doing a hard job for not a lot of money. The vast majority are not “jackboot thugs” or whatever pejoratives you’re using today. Are there bad cops? Absolutely. Just like there are bad doctors, priests, dentists, janitors, programmers, etc. I don’t like bad cops anymore than you do, but please try to keep the discussion relevant and the derogatory remarks to a minimum. 

Interested parties can find our comment policies here.


“Militarization of the police” is a term that has been around for quite a long time.  I consider it one of those trending phrases that the media likes to throw around from time to time in order to draw in viewers.  You only hear it when our law enforcement agencies adapt something from our military.  One of the first times I can recall hearing the phrase used was during the rise of the BDU style uniform in police work.  Then it was the changeover from 12 gauge shotguns to patrol rifles, and now the term is showing back up again with more departments taking possession of military armored vehicles like the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle).

So is the militarization of police something that we as citizens should don our tinfoil hats and be concerned with? My answer to that question is both yes and no.

Ft. Pierce MRAP

Fort Pierce MRAP, via

For the most part the changeover in police tactics comes from the best teacher of them all: experience. It usually goes down something like this – something bad happens, people die, and the questions start coming in wanting to know why the police couldn’t save the day.  We look for a way to prevent it from happening again and often the answer comes from the military in some way.

This has led to a change in our uniforms (for some departments), training, weapons, and even mindset.  All of these things I believe are for the better and allow officers to perform their jobs to a higher level than was previously possible.  Some will disagree and say that our police officers do not need any training or weapons that are even associated with the military.  My question to those folks is why not?  We have plenty of citizens who were trained in military tactics while they served and some are even making a nice income teaching these same tactics to citizens everyday. I have no problem with this.  If you want to spend your hard earned money to learn room clearing or vehicular assaults I 100% support you in that decision. Just like I 100% support the right of every citizen to own firearms such as the AR-15 or the AK-47 without the government telling you what features you can or cannot have on it, or how many rounds your magazine can hold. So why should it be an issue for our police officers to have access to the same weapons or training that just about any citizen of this country also has access to?

Where I Draw the Line

The area where I draw the line on what should be an acceptable level of militarization within our police departments is when we start obtaining equipment that is exclusive to the military and not available to the general public.

If the general public is prohibited from owning it, the police don’t need it either.

The MRAP that I mentioned above is one example of a piece of equipment that is exclusive to the military and as such I don’t think our police departments should have them either. There are other reasons such as the high cost to operate and maintain them for very minimal use that makes me disagree with their use as well. If a department wants to purchase a light armored vehicle such as the Lenco BearCat I don’t have a problem with it, as the general public does have access to light armored vehicles if you have enough money in the bank to purchase them.

Another area that I disagree with is a department obtaining heavy weapons such as the Browning M2.  Again, this is something not readily accessible to the general public and not really designed for law enforcement operations.  If a department believes that it has a need for a .50 caliber weapon there are plenty of options available through companies such as Barrett that any citizen can walk into a gun store and purchase.

Overall I don’t think the militarization of our police departments is as out of hand as some would have you think it is.  I do believe that a department obtaining certain types of equipment from the military is crossing the line of what’s acceptable and should be addressed by the tax paying citizens of the towns where it is being obtained.  On the other hand some of the equipment and training that is being received from the military is useful and if utilized appropriately can save the towns and counties a lot of money.

As with anything in life I believe a little moderation and a lot of common sense goes a long way.


53 Responses to One Cop’s Perspective on the “Militarization of Police”

  1. Jim Kiser March 26, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Thoughtful remarks and points. I generally agree with most of these thoughts as I worked along side PD officers and Sheriffs deputies during 30 years in the Fire service. The sticking point with me is the heavy weapons that are being brought out at the drop of a hat. These weapons when used can cause considerable collateral damage both human and property wise. By the drop of hat I am referring that there seems to be no in between hello how are ? and a Swat team made up of 50 people with full auto weapons. The other day a report was received by the Sheriffs office that a someone heard someone talking about a shooting at a mall. The next thing you know a Swat team and others arrived and the mall was locked down for two hours or so. But responses to weak intelligence info anger people and weaken peoples support for LEOs. Also LEOs walking around with fingers on the trigger of a full auto weapon and I have personally witnessed this scare the hell out of me. Fairfax Co. PD has shot and killed several peolpe in the last few year and claimed the gun went off by accident. The ghost of Col. Cooper must spin in his grave when that is said. I am not sure how we ramp it down but I will say this TV and movies and the news media don’t help.

  2. Billy March 26, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    My concern with militarization of the police is one that is often overlooked. Appearance of how law enforcement look shapes a great deal of perception in the average persons mind. Uniforms I feel do play an important role in this shaping as well as vehicles and weapons. While crime continues to drop in this country to some of the lowest levels since the 1950’s the average American thinks it’s actually getting worse. Media shapes this perception as well, but also when they see a department get a MRAP they think they must need it, “things are bad.” I believe an over militarized policing force begins to create a separation between society and LE. One of the greatest tools of LE is to gain the trust of a town, to be one with the community they police. Anything that creates a divide and builds on the perception crime is increasing is a dangerous avenue. For most Americans perception is reality.

  3. dgdimick March 26, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Great subject.

    I also agree with Police should be restricted to the same gear you see the average Joe having access to. If Joe-blow can’t get it, why do the cops think they need it? Having DHS money isn’t a reason. Do we really want to turn into North Ireland, where every cop car is an APC?

    A mayor concern I have also is the high USE of these new toys, the WSJ has an article, Aug 7 2013, covering the growing trend of departments taking these toys out and playing with them.

    One point of concern I have is, since the 1980’s, the use of SWAT teams has gone from about 3,000 per year, to over 50,000 per year. I have not seen ANY reason there should be this jump, or anyone be able to justify this overuse, other then I have a new toy and want to play with it; you’re not seeing huge stockpiles of arms, massive fire fights, mines planted in the streets, crime has dropped, and mass shootings statistical blips, are over hyped by the media.

  4. milspecia March 26, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    It’s difficult to discuss this because as the disclaimer reads, there is a vocal minority that always becomes so ardent when this topic surfaces. I’ve done a lot of research into the issue of police militarization ( and from what I can tell there is both the increased use of force AND interest for more greater technology for police. It’s not wrong to want the police to have the greatest protection affordable in the performance of their duties, but the issue becomes a problem when greater offensive systems are utilized by the police that were once the realm of the military. The results in the differentiating line between what is military and what is police actions to become difficult to disconcert for both the public and leaders. Coupled with the fact that as our population numbers rise so too do the numbers of violent encounters and those relating to drugs, and police are increasingly relying on a “hard knock” approach (again just as the military uses when assaulting objectives) vice “soft” and go in for the shock-and-awe effect.

    It may be that one “good cop” is willing to say no and remember their oath, but how many are indifferent or corrupt? It’s no secret that police forces, by the very proximity we ask them to be in contact with the dredges of society, are factually more corrupt and less trained than the military – but we ask from them to go forward each day and entrust our liberties and safety to them daily. So in the example cited above the officer states that while he is “opposed” to police militarization, he doesn’t discount that is IS happening writing it isn’t “as out of hand as some would have you think it is” which research at a national level clearly shows is false. It’s not merely about weapons and MRAPS, but also doctrine and will to use exponential force against the public.

  5. jim peacher March 26, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    The flaw I see in your argument is that the average joe DOES have access to armoured vehicles and even M2 brownings,if you have the money,anything is available.TANKS,FIGHTER JETS AND MACHINE GUNS are available to legal citizens if they have the cash and proper paperwork.All kinds of ex military vehicles are for sale all over the net,from nazi war machines to modern soviet equipment.Migs,and other high performance aircraft are also on the market.Anyone with a class 3 license can have whatever their heart desires,i have recently seen a nazi PaK 40 anti tank gun with 40 rounds for sale to anyone with a destructive device license.As far as MRAPS are concerned,they are expensive to maintain IN THE DESERT and ROUGH TERRAIN,not the smooth paved streets of our cities.the cost is minimal when one takes in that the govt is GIVING them to the deptartments instead of trashing them for scrap. That is wise use of tax dollars.I currently live in a former “crack house” that the local police busted.It went on the market as a repo/foreclosure.All the doors had been smashed in as they had been reinforced. In the garage was a pile of hardox armour plate they were planning on sheathing the house with.Had they been successful,the police would have needed an MRAP to knock down the walls.I support any training and equipment that police need to get the job done.Their job just keeps getting harder.

    • Anonymouse March 26, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      “Now you see my fists?” Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos asked Thomas while slipping on a pair of latex gloves.

      “Yeah, what about them?” Thomas responded.

      “They are getting ready to fuck you up,” said Ramos, a burly cop who appears to outweigh Thomas by 100 pounds.

      “Well, start punching,” Thomas responds, never once displaying any physical aggression towards Ramos.

      Moments later, as Thomas is standing while Ramos is ordering him to get on his “fucking knees,” Fullerton cop Joseph Wolfe, who is not charged in the case, walks up and starts beating his legs with a baton.

      Then Ramos gets into the act and Thomas takes off running, moving out of the frame of the camera.

      The camera, operated by a dispatcher at the station, then moves toward the beating, showing Ramos and Fullerton cop Jay Cicinelli on top of Thomas as Thomas repeatedly apologizes and telling them he is unable to breathe.

      The cops keep telling him to put his hands behind his back and lay on his stomach, but they are both laying on top of him, making it impossible to even breathe, much less move.

      As the video continues, one of the cops can be seen kneeing him.

      “Please, I can’t breathe,” Thomas pleads as the officers keep telling him to put his hands behind his “fucking back.”

      The cops keep telling him to “relax” to which he responds, “I can’t, dude.”

      More cops eventually arrive and a little more than four minutes into the video, they start tasing him.


      So hard to beat an unarmed man to death and skate on the charges.

      Cops are pigs.

      • Brandon March 26, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

        You aren’t going to win over many to your way of thinking calling cops pigs.

        • David Reeder March 26, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

          No comment without a real name attached to it is worth regarding. If you have something to say, do so critically and OWN it. Any asshole can say something behind the anonymity of a keyboard. If you want anyone to take you seriously, you should be willing to take credit for your opinion. For instance, here’s one I will make and own – people who post using the name Anonymouse are prone to sweeping generalizations and going on tangents to criticize without ever actually addressing the actual topic of the article.

    • Ben March 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

      Having the cash for any of that hardware generally means you’re not an average citizen.

  6. Brenda March 26, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Excellent patriot centered analysis. Thanks.

  7. pase doble March 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    I think the best point made in the article is the widening of the civilian – civilian authority gap. I think this goes to increased use of tactics, mindset and maybe the “us vs. them” attitude. I grew up in North Shore in the 60’s/70’s and our neighborhoods had foot patrols, we called them beat cops, they were both respected by adults and admired by the kids. They knew our names and our parents names as well as when we were supposed to be home. How did they know that? Interacting with the people in the neighborhoods they patrolled. My recent observations are officers in vehicles, detached from the people and any time they get out of their vehicle at least 2 or 3 more squad cars show up. Almost all the people I know are at least disconcerted by the police and more fear them. It’s not a good recipe for future interactions. All my trainers are ex-LEO’s, older guys, and they shake their heads and tell everyone, “Do not talk to the police”. It’s sad, I remember Officer Kennedy very well growing up in the North Shore(Boston), more than once he took me home to my Mum IN FRONT OF THE NEIGHBORS…. that was policing. My 2 cents.

    • Parrish Quick March 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Agreed with your comments wholeheartedly! As a former LEO I was trained by some of the 30+ year veterans of my department as a beat cop focusing on a community policing style/mentality. I will tell you from my experience it really went a long way with my small community to have a familiar face show up when they needed the help. And to be truthful the reason I walked away is because of the change in philosophy towards a more “military” aggressive style. The “Us vs. Them” schism is rampant among LE, more than I can ever recollect and is a topic which was commonly counseled against in my tenure as a LEO. People responded favorably to those of us who spent time on foot. They requested officers to respond that they felt comfortable with as opposed to the more aggressive types. I started in law enforcement before the war(s) in the middle east, and I will say this with all the love, respect, and admiration one can give to all veterans of this country. Many of those who came back from war and now wear a badge are overly aggressive. This is not Fallujah or Kandahar and should not be treated as such. You Pase Doble, are correct, we have lost the “big picture” idea of community policing as we once new it. As to this article I think patrol rifles have a place in LE but the really heavy hardware only exacerbates those already disenfranchised by LE, and those who once new what it was like to have a normal conversation with a friendly Police Officer or Deputy.

  8. Sam March 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    I would like to get the author’s perspective on the increase of excessive force being used by police agencies across the US today. The amount of fully kitted out SWAT raids has dramatically increased in the last ten years. The use of tactical teams to execute nonviolent search warrants is a gross misappropriation of assets and a waste of taxpayer dollars. I would also like to hear the authors opinion of issues of excessive force being used by standard patrol officers and then those individual officers not being held personally accountable. One example that sticks out to me is the murder of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, CA in July of 2011. There is video and high definition audio of 5 officers beating a known schizophrenic man to death while he apologized and even called out for his dad while he choked on his own blood. He died in the hospital 5 days later. Two officers were brought up on charges and acquitted earlier this year. The evidence was very damning, yet these men walked free and are still collecting a government pension. Why were there no “good cops” there that night to prevent Kelly Thomas from being beaten to death by “only a few bad apples”?

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Sam, I am interested in seeing where you get the information that excessive force is on the rise across the US? I would argue that it has decreased in the last 30-40 years. Back then a officer would beat you in the head with a baton until you complied or went unconscious for just about anything. Today your more likely to get hit with a Taser and handcuffed. In my opinion that’s a decrease in the use of force not an increase. Also, do you mind to point me in the direction of the statistics that you use to come to the conclusion that there has been a dramatic increase in SWAT raid for non-violent search warrants? I am not saying that it never happens but I my experience departments have to justify the use of a SWAT team to execute a search warrant (at least we have to around here) and if there is no information to suspect violence they don’t get called out. As far as the excessive force part goes I think officers are held accountable much more than they ever have been. I read up on the Thomas case and there were charges brought against the officers. Two motions to dismiss were denied and it went before a jury where they were found not guilty. That’s the way our court system works for everyone. The Constitution applies equally to all citizens which means I get the same rights afforded by the fourth, fifth, sixth, and fourteenth amendments as any citizen does should I be charged with a crime. If I am found not guilty by a jury then the double jeopardy clause in the fifth amendment prohibits further prosecution for a crime. Could they still be guilty? Of course they could. I think OJ Simpson proved that to the world back in 1995. As far as your “no good cops” statement goes I really can’t answer that question for you as I was not there.

  9. James Chant March 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Its not so much the equipment the police are using. Its more, Are you going to keep to your Oath of Office and defend and uphold the Constitution? If they can keep to their Oath I have no problem with them using special gear in certain situations. Its when they abandon their Oath that there is issues.

    • Brandon March 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      I agree that their oath is the most important aspect in the discussion.

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      James I have always said the day I am faced with the possibility of violating the Constitution is the day I find a new line of work.

  10. Chris Brooks March 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    First off, bad doctors, priests, dentists, janitors and programmers aren’t given governmental blessing to kick my door down in the middle of the night.

    Your tinfoil hat comment show us that independent of what else you write, you have a fundamental lack of respect for people who disagree with you.
    BDUs are not just clothes, and APCs aren’t just a way to bus the SWAT team out where they may be needed.
    It is perfectly reasonable for me to ask why LEOs need this type of equipment without being dismissed.
    The fact that many officers think there is something wrong with a private citizen questioning them speaks even more loudly than the “battle rattle”.

    With all due respect to you and the rest of the law enforcement community, many of whom I work with every day and value as friends, you aren’t working in a combat zone.
    American cities are not “outside” the wire.
    And yes, that is how it is being approached.
    Unfortunately the job of policing free people can never be made safe or easy.
    When you suspect someone has committed a crime, you are wrong until otherwise proven right.
    Not complying with a police officer is not such a horrible that it is punishable by beating or even death, without so much as setting foot in a courtroom.
    Law enforcement routinely goes to far.
    Not because they are bad cops or bad people, it’s because that’s what humans do to each other if left unchecked.
    Being in a combat mindset 24/7 may possibly make cops safer, but your safety isn’t the objective.
    More of us would support and make concessions if we felt we could trust cops more.
    Arming yourself to the teeth against all comers will not instill trust or kinship with anybody.

    • Brandon March 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Chris, if I had a lack of respect for those who disagree with me, would I allow them to comment? Besides, this isn’t my post, it’s Robbie’s. Don’t jump to unsupported conclusions.

      • Chris Brooks March 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

        Thank you for letting me put my 2 cents in. And I realize it didn’t start as your post, but by posting you take a little bit of ownership for the content. I was just responding to both the original piece and your elaborations at the same time.

        • Brandon March 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

          Well it’s my site, so yeah if there’s ownership to take then you are correct. But I don’t have to agree with all of my contributors 100% of the time. In fact, I don’t even agree with myself 100% of the time…

          Having said that, I agree with Robbie’s position, and I have already stated in my intro that I’m “against most of what is commonly referred to as police militarization.”

    • Jake March 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

      I’d love to see the statistics on how many people are killed each year by medical malpractice compared to “bad shoots” by cops. I’d wager that bad doctors kill more people in a month than bad cops do in a year.

  11. wntsmallgov March 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    The question is that do we want our LEOs to be the new Army? Obama has said that he has wanted a civilian force better trained and armed than the Military. Why?

    I know several long time, retired now, LEOs and they are highly concerned over the events of shootings on bad information, swat teams hitting wrong houses then sometimes making false claims to justify the hit. I know of several cases some not so recent where these men and women have made bad choices and are rewarded.

    Now on the flip side there are a lot of LEOs that do the right thing and are highly dedicated to their jobs. We do not hear about their deeds for the citizens they protect. I blame the media because they can only see on thing the bad in all. The media is partially to blame for the fear that they install on the people.

    We as a nation have slipped to number 46 in the world for free press. Because truth does not sell in our country.

  12. Frank Sharpe March 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    …maybe the problem isn’t the equipment police are using, the uniforms they’re wearing, or the guns they carry. Maybe the problem is the laws they’re tasked to enforce.

    Perhaps we should be concerning ourselves with the laws in place now, and reconsidering what we really want police fining citizens for, arresting citizens for, or kicking in doors for.

    • Brandon March 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Valid point – I think both conversations are important.

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      Frank you have a very valid point. A lot of the stupid laws that I’ve encountered in my career didn’t originate with law enforcement and many of them didn’t even originate with the law makers. They start when something bad happens and a group of citizens cause enough of a stir with the elected legislators and they push something through to keep the voters happy.

  13. D. Gatch March 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Why are we even discussing this, the handwriting is on the wall….. Quote: “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” (emphasis added) Barack H. Obama

  14. Eric March 26, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    I think the equipment is a symptom of the larger problem.

    I want every LEO to having the best available tools and training to do their jobs and the propper equipment to keep themselves safe, but that doesn’t mean that they need the latest military gear to do their job.

    There are situations where an armored vehicle and/or a SWAT team is needed, but for most situations, this is not only not necessary, but sends out the wrong message.

    The LEOs are NOT supposed to be a military force, but a policing agency. There job is not to go to war, but rather to keep the peace.

    One of the things I find most concerning is that many of the officers seem to think that they need full “battle gear” for every situation they are involved in. This style of dress is intimidating to most people and does nothing to help an already stressful situation. Along with this, many officer’s attitudes seem to change when they are in a standard uniform versus when they are in “battle dress”.

    When you dress a person up in a uniform of any kind, you have to take into account what that uniform says to the general public. Does it say I am here to help you with your problem, or does it say that I am here to wage war with you?

    The equipment the officer/department chooses to use is the same as the uniform, in that it portrays a specific image to the public. If the equipment that is used is military in nature, rather than a standard “old school” uniform, the officer/department is seen as an military/para-military force rather than a “keeper of the peace” and the civilians are left to wonder who the officer/department is at war with.

    I think a great deal of the use of having military gear is so that a department can show that they are doing the right thing for their citizens by having the latest and most expensive toys and therefore are providing the best “service” available to their citizens.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a story on the “news” (either local or national) where the police were involved that there was not at least 1 (and usually more) SWAT team and military vehicle in the picture (most often with the guys in battle dress standing around shooting the breeze).

    I can’t help but wonder how much better the money used to purchase some of these items could be used in officer training (either tactical or public interaction) or other things that are needed on a daily basis rather than 3-4 times a year.

    As far as the military giving equipment and it being inexpensive to maintain… our local PD has returned at least 2 helicopters and numerous hummers that were given to them by the local military bases, after trying them for a year because they were too costly to maintain.

    • Jon April 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm #


      You do understand that the old school uniform is modeled after the WW2 pilots uniform. So what should the current uniforms be modeled after a janitors uniform? Or maybe blue jeans, cowboy shirt with a six shooter!!!

      • Reginald April 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

        The uniforms aren’t important, it is the gear they carry like the Kevlar helmets, automatic weapons, and body armor that look like combat troops. They often are dressed in all black and that in itself is not a sign of someone friendly. The common perception IMHO is the cops are the bad guys, especially when dressed like some cross between delta force and ninjas.

  15. Reginald March 26, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    I used to think cops were the good guys. With all of the Federal agencies like the SSA, NOAA, Post Office, etc organizing SWAT teams I do not trust anyone with a badge. The chances of a physical confrontation with a police officer is good if you try to video them as a protection against abuse. Some of my best friends have been cops and as a former FFL dealer I actively armed my local police and sheriff departments. The newer and younger cops don’t care about the rights of the citizens or take any oath they may have taken seriously. This is my opinion and attitude. With this invasion of government on my person with the drones and the armored vehicles, I have started shopping for a 50bmg to protect myself against the government I used to respect and trust. I took the oath to defend the Constitution seriously, IMHO the present crop of younger police officers do not respect the constitution or would protect the citizens against abuses of their rights.

  16. Tom Nichol March 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    I have to respectfully disagree that LE officers “put their lives on the line everyday”. It is commonly stated and believed by many, but as a provable fact, law enforcement often times doesn’t even rank in the top ten dangerous jobs. In addition, most law enforcement fatalities are not due to encounters with criminals, but with transportation incidents, i.e. car wrecks while not in pursuit, followed by health related causes. A person is more likely to die if they are a logger, fisherman, commercial pilot, roofer, general construction, iron worker, farmer, sanitation worker and in some surveys, a limo or taxi driver.

    Regardless, I do wish those who serve with honor to the job, commitment to the Constitution and compassion toward those they serve, a safe and pleasant shift.

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Tom, I wouldn’t take much from the top ten lists when it comes to the deadliest jobs. On one list I checked Logging was #1 in 2012 with a total of 62 deaths. In the same year 125 cops died. Your stats on exactly what kills us is a little off too. In that same year (2012) 43 of the 125 died by some type of accident or medical problem (Automobile, Aircraft, Fall, Heart Attack, etc) The other 82 died from an encounter with a suspect (gunshot, knife attack, vehicular assault, etc). Another thing to consider is that number reflects the officers that actually die not all of the violent assaults that are survived. That number is significant due to the advances in body armor and medical care available.

  17. Ted March 27, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Procurement isn’t so much the issue as how and when it’s used. Is a geared up SWAT team with an MRAP doing a no-knock at 4am necessary for delinquent child support? What the average citizen sees is an “us against them” mentality, regardless of the infraction. This induces fear and distrust on both sides when there shouldn’t be “sides” at all.

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Ted the problem is departments have to justify the upkeep of the MRAP’s etc to the bean counters that control their budget. If it’s not getting used then it’s going to be eliminated and the chief is going to take heat for even getting it in the first place. So what’s the solution to that problem? You misuse it for un-necessary warrant service so you can show the need for it. Once that misuse starts it can be a hard thing to stop.

  18. michael hayes March 27, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    why is yours a patrol rifle while ours are an assault rifle? I support police being trained and ability to have any equipment legally available to citizens. I support the fact we need specialized training into swat teams. but not every officer is a swat member. their use should not be an every day occurrence. It used to be they were regular officers most of the time but when something major happened they donned their military style gear..swat gear..and took things up to a level required by the situation. now they are swat members only who get swat style action on a daily basis. its not the equipment that i have a problem with its how often its used. and if your reasoning is accurate thats it is from experience on saving lives.. then all the lives that get lost due to over action by the police should train them to scale back a little. we understand you job is dangerous and pays nowhere near what it should. we understand you risk your life to attempt to keep us safe. we appreciate that, but that does not make your lives more valuable than ours. it is not ok to kill us to make the dangerous job you signed on for into a safe environment. and yes kicking down doors at 2 am in fully riot gear and rifles with 20 of your co workers on a no knock search warrant over stolen credit cards is still a safe environment for you..much safer than it is for the one person asleep in his bed in his house on his property with a handgun by his bed for personal protection. it takes us 20 years to fry a murderer, it takes you half a second to execute a thief or a drug dealer or innocent civilian sleeping in his bed next door to the criminals you were supposed to search

    • Reginald March 27, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Here is the bottom line as I see it. Police officers no longer are respected by the general populace. They are no longer respected or more importantly trusted to do the right thing. I am no criminal and I don’t do anything that is illegal. That said if police kick in my door in the middle of the night I will react like I would with any home invader. Their body armor and tactics will not save them,

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Michael you will never hear me refer to an AR-15, AK-47, etc as an “assualt rifle” to me they are all rifles, If it has a stock of some kind affixed to a long barrel of some length they are rifles. I also don’t believe that my life is any more valuable than anyone else and a full out SWAT response to everything is not the correct way to handle things either and does not happen as much as you might think. The media loves to show officers all geared up because it’s what people want to see. They don’t want to show the five barking dog calls I answered in the middle of the night or the deadbolt I installed for an elderly man before he would go to bed because he was afraid a group of kids were going to break into his house (yes that is a true story). They want to show me in my vest with my helmet on and my AR hanging off my sling because that get’s people to watch. There have been times when the wrong house was hit and that is nothing but piss poor planning on the part of the department and I can make no excuse for that. I’ve been on the execution of numerous search warrants and locations are check, re-checked, and checked three more times before the warrant is served. The last thing I want to mention is we don’t execute anyone and I don’t like the fact that the liberals in the court systems take so long to carry out a death sentence any more than you do.

  19. ElPolacko March 27, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    When you dress, equip, train and are taught to think like a soldier…you are going to act and react like a soldier. The old adage: “When the only tool you have is a hammer, all of your problems start looking like nails”. I don’t want to get “Nailed” because the only “answer” the police have is to “Hammer” their way through. Honest citizens are being legislated into being criminals by elected crooks, like Leland Yee and a host of others, and the police are going to be forced to enforce unconstitutional laws rammed thru by these socialist criminals. They will be killed with weapons paid for by the very same honest citizens that they kill.
    It’s not a good time to be in law enforcement. It’s not a good time to be a gun owner.
    It’s looking like it’s not a good time to be an American.

    • Robbie March 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Just because I’ve got a hammer in my tool bag does not mean that’s the only tool I am going to use. The two best tools that I have as a police officer are my brain and my mouth and I use them far more than I use any of the other tools that I carry on my side or in the back of my car. I will agree that people are being legislated to death by corrupt politicians but the only thing I can try and do about that is vote out the idiots that passed the laws. Unfortunately I have had to enforce laws that I don’t always agree with but enforcing something unconstitutional has never happened is a completely different story. If that day ever comes I will find a new profession.

  20. cglabb March 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Great topic and thanks for the willingness to dodge or take the slings and arrows.
    This may sound like an after school special and my son doesn’t wholeheartedly believe it either, but there was a robbery committed next door to my friends house when I was young and all I can recall is how the local policeman handled it with patience and understanding. He wouldn’t leave the neighborhood until we, as children, felt safe enough to go back to our families. He basically talked us back to normalcy. I understand since then this town has grown in population and it is not feasible to,alot that kind of time to assure some neighborhood kids feel safe but I can still remember that moment 40 years later. Says something…
    And yes there was a police officer who pulled me over years later in that same town and loudly berated me in front of my gf for a minor traffic infraction in order to instill his alpha-ness. Never tainted the first memory.
    I may not always agree with law enforcement or their methods or an MRAP with autos slung inside especially for a country with crime supposedly on the decline, but I do know that if the SHTF there is still a human being in there who knows what’s right.

  21. Jon March 28, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    While I agree with Robbie about the necessity for an MRAP, or Ma Duece. If a PD wants to equip their Patrol Cars with ARs, I have 0 issue with that, although in states where there are Mag Round limits, I think the police should be forced to follow those same laws.

    I also think that there’s two major issues that are just as important as the militarization, and may in fact stem from the militarization. As many people have stated there seems to be a growing belief of “us vs them” in the Police World, or us vs ‘the civilians.’ Part of that could be from the militarization of police training or it just could be the media influencing everyone including most ‘good’ cops. The us vs them issue is also huge in the fact that many cops don’t think laws apply to them, ie Speeding. If an officer pulls someone who’s an out of town officer over for speeding, how often do you think that officer gets a ticket? I’m betting it’s REALLY low, no matter how fast they’re going.
    Once groups believe they’re above the law then it’s a very easy step to see yourself as above the normal citizen.
    Another issue of us vs them is closing ranks on corruption. Honestly, most cops are probably good guys doing the right thing, but when cops do the wrong thing, are they prosecuted for it? Typically no. Are they fired? No. Are they even suspended without pay? No. They’re suspended with pay for a month or so until the episode is swept under the rug. When was the last time most good cops talked to their internal affairs/CoC about the dirty/bad ones? Plus when cops are convicted of wrong doing, which usually DOESN’T happen, it doesn’t affect them personally, they’re covered by the town/city. How different would officers behave towards the average person if they knew that if they act out they’re going to jail and will be personally liable in a civil suit.

    The second major issue is Training. How many times do officers try to enforce laws that they’ve made up? Or don’t know the actual law? Just youtube it, I’ll wait… It’s a LOT. This all boils down to training. Military, that’s all we do is class after class after class and you don’t remember jack. After the academy I’m sure a lot of officers just brain dump the information like everyone, they are after all normal people. Maybe a solution would be a form of bi-annual re-certification that needs to be issued by independent sources, if cops don’t know the laws, how can they be effective?
    Or the solution is less laws, that are more enforceable and less convoluted but that’s not in the police unions’ hands.

  22. dan March 28, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Just a thought….If the States were to rebuild the Constitutional required State’s Militia’s…we as a population where ever living would not NEED any militarized police at all…nor SWAT…where all this BS started……the Militia’s being All citizens armed and trained would be quite a different prospective as too crime fighting….might even make citizens more responsible for THEIR communities…just saying….Semper Fi

  23. Jonathan March 28, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    The only real disagreement I have with the article, or more accurately clarification I might suggest, is this.

    In reference to the author’s rationalization of thought on how we arrive at the decision to “militarize” the police.

    Specifically “… the questions start coming in wanting to know why the police couldn’t save the day.”

    I submit that is the wrong question to ask.

    If we ask that question we are immediately starting off in the wrong direction of thought. This question establishes that we as “ordinary” citizens are unable to take care of ourselves and require protection by those deemed superior to us by government decree. It can ONLY lead, and invariably so, towards the tyranny of a “Police Class” citizenry dominating the “lesser civilians”.

    The correct question to ask ourselves when “something bad happens, people die…” is NOT what the police could have done to save the day but what EACH and every one of us, private citizens and police, can do together to not only prevent these occurrences but to be readily able ourselves to mitigate or stop the “bad things” from happening by our own means before the police are even able to respond.

  24. Gene Stephens March 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Let’s not use a double standard here. The officer refers to the “changeover from 12 gauge shotguns to patrol rifles”. They are “assault rifles” when I own one, but “patrol rifles” in the hands of police? And the use of the BDUs with helmet, vest and visors along with the increase in “no knock” warrants places the officer and citizen in more danger. What happened to unreasonable search and seizure? Now add to this mix of the above with forfeiture laws that allow the PD to keep money and property and you give the appearance that they are in the TAX business not law enforcement business.

    I haven’t touched on the poor training or ignorance of the law and rights of citizens when harassed by police.

    I guess what I am getting back to is the double standard. If cop can do it or have it, I can do it or have it.

    I’ve worked with and around cops my entire adult life. There are many good ones, but it takes years on the force to make a great one. That blue suit you wear doesn’t make you Superman or stand you above the law you enforce or make you better than the people you are in contact with. You are a public SERVANT, act like it and show respect. You Tube is rife with videos of officers abusing their authority just because they don’t like what you’re doing or saying. Your not the hall monitor, you’re law enforcement. Always keep in mind the logo on the LA patrol cars “To Serve and Protect”. Use these videos as training examples of what not to do or how not to act, and you to can become that Great officer everyone respects. Sometimes you have a shitty job, but keep in mind, you chose it. Respect the job and respect the public.

    • Brandon March 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      Nowhere has Robbie (the author) referred to a semiautomatic rifle as an “assault” rifle. Please don’t lump him in with the idiot politicians or their lackeys in the media. I’m not sure where you’re going with the rest of your comment or whom you are addressing when you say things like “you are a public SERVANT, act like it and show respect.”

  25. Steve Long March 29, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    As an honest, hard working taxpayer and ardent supporter of law enforcement, I’m all for the men and women in blue being well equipped and highly trained at my expense. It’s in an important and sometimes unpleasant business to be done. However, public servants need to remember who they are working for. Anyone in power that abuses the citizenry, the weak or the innocent from a position of public trust deserves to be held accountable. If it gets out of hand, a time may come when the people are fed up with being trodden upon. Some folks feel things are trending that way. Remember your oath and who you are working for and we will stay staunch allies and good friends. I don’t fear a militarized police any more than I fear taking the necessary steps to reign them in if they come to need it. Good cops need to be self-policing. You know who the punks are.They are making you look bad. To the thugs who get off on kicking butt and taking names, cruising on over to kick in doors in mine resistant vehicles, I’d like to say this. I used to have a water resistant watch. I wore it in the shower once. It was dead in less than three minutes. If you’re going to keep riding in an MRAP, you might as well slather yourself in butter.

  26. Casey Dane March 29, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    I spent my life in law enforcement in a huge metropolis. When Crack & Meth hit society in the early ’90s, LE changed forever. So very unfortunate. I retired after close to 40 years on the job. I am now retired and remain very much opposed to the “militarization” of law enforcement.
    Fully Automatic Weapons (real assault weapons) were completely unnecessary, but a Sidearm, Shotgun and semi-auto Carbine are now essential. Scary Uniforms serve no one and only tend to alienate the ‘Good Citizens’ which comprise about 95% of the population. Good Citizens should be treated as such… LEOs work for them. LE Agencies tend to gear themselves toward the 5% of the criminal population, while disregarding the Good People in our society. Perhaps, It was fortunate I started with a Sheriff’s Dept, that demanded ‘positive’ community contacts & then worked as a Trooper, which had “Courtesy” as their #1 priority with zero tolerance for ‘poor manners’. Extreme, yet effective. Now days, with Government Corruption gone amok, Constitutional Rights being questioned and an Anti-American Media, it has become difficult to see “our” Police as the HEROS they once were.
    Does anyone ‘RESPECT’ the ATF?, TSA? HOMELAND National Police? ….or ANY police Officer holding an M16?
    Or are Militarized appearances truly the ‘THREAT’ they seem to be? I believe our Police should look and act like the ‘Civilian Servants’ they are meant to be.

  27. Jim Bryant March 30, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    This was a very informative discussion and I thank all of you for your views.

  28. Drow April 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    You lost me right in the beginning, as soon as you compared bad cops to bad doctors. A bad doctor has little-to-no interaction with other doctors on a daily basis. Cops do. They are by nature constantly surrounded by others of their profession. So, when a “good” cop decides to ignore the behavior of the “bad” cops, he becomes a “bad” cop. Simple as that.
    There’s absolutely no need for military equipment in the hands of police. None. I can’t think of a single instance in recent history where having an armored vehicle would have made a difference. The acts of domestic terrorism, school shootings, and other examples of mass violence were completed 10+ minutes before the police were even able to mobilize. Having an MRAP, a Bearcat, or a freakin’ Abrams wouldn’t have made a difference because the deed was done before police were capable of responding. The only thing that has proven to stop and deter these things are armed CIVILIANS. Until I see a wave of “good” cops arresting the “bad” ones, and preventing the oppression of the civilian populous, I will remain highly skeptical of anything a civil servant says. And I won’t be holding my breath, either.

    • Brandon April 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      And you lost me when you said “a bad doctor has little-to-no interaction with other doctors on a daily basis.” That depends entirely on the physician in question, and proves that you missed my point entirely. However, I convinced myself to read the rest of your comment. 🙂

      “There’s absolutely no need for military equipment in the hands of police.” – that depends on your definition of “need and “military equipment”. Where do you draw the line?

      If you had read (and understood) the article you’d find that both Robbie (the author) and I agree that most of what is commonly referred to as police militarization is not needed. Next time please read the post before commenting.

  29. Rick April 4, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I enjoyed the article – sensible thinking.

    Here’s the rub – yes if you have the money anyone can buy the military equipment mentioned – but ! The only people who face the limits and or penalties are law abiding citizens.

    The criminals don’t show up with a armored vehicle – legally registered firearms or gun safety course certificates.

    Yet we are the ones being restricted and that same officer who some what agrees with our legally owning fire arms would be one of the people knocking your door down – he would stand shoulder to shoulder with others who sympathize with us – but because they “Have to do what their told” they would put you in prison – help ruin your life – disrupt your family and say – “I did what I had to – its the law”

    Everyone now is in the catch 22 situation created by Washington and Gov.Coumo.

  30. Adam August 17, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. I’m a police officer and am a new reader to monderno so I’m a little behind on this article. I agree with the author almost %100. My department has no use for a helicopter or armored vehicle among many other things but it is nice to an AR-15. I’ve seen and been involved in incidents where a rifle has earned it’s keep and a glock 21 just wouldn’t do the job. I also understand that there are people out who have no business wearing a badge but not every cop is bad. Answer me this. What would out great country be like if there were no cops. The Middle East in its current shape possibly? Well then the military would step in right. Then you would have a militarized police.