Letters to the Editor

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POLICE: What’s with the militarization?

Letter by Lawrence H. Smith, University Place on June 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm with 14 Comments »
June 9, 2011 3:08 pm

Recently in Stockton, Calif., Kenneth Wright’s home was invaded by the local SWAT team. He was detained for six hours in front of his home, in a police car, handcuffed and in his underwear. His alleged crime was that his estranged wife (who lives elsewhere) defaulted on her student loan.

It seems the Department of Education engaged the local SWAT team to invade Wright’s home to look for his deadbeat ex-wife. That’s just another good reason to get rid of the Department of Education, but it’s not the point of my comments.

We see more and more SWAT actions in the news these days, and the police are now thinking of themselves as some sort of paramilitary organization. They’re even dressing the part. Just check out the morning coffee crowd at Forza on 27th and Bridgeport Way. The University Place police officers dress in black fatigues with bloused boots. They look like members of a Panzer tank crew rather than police officers.

It’s time for the police to stop thinking of themselves as being part of the military. They are civilians just like the rest of us ordinary folks. The military folks are those guys and gals out at Joint Base Lewis-McChord walking around in BDUs and flight suits. By wearing military-style clothing and accoutrements, the police are dishonoring those of us who wore the uniform of this country.

Some advice to the police: a little less Rambo and a little more Andy of Mayberry, please.

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. Omega6234 says:

    I think they dress just fine. Anything that protects them for the ordinary thug i am all for. Maybe they can borrow the writers tutu to do their patrols in… or dress up like MIckey Mouse so as not to cause alarm to wood be criminals. Or maybe a shirt that says “free hugs”!! Nice work Lawerence… this is one of the worst letters to the editor yet!!

  2. Follow the money.
    We have turned the country over to the corp interests, private jails, private prison, they need bodies to make a profit.

  3. I do think there has been an increase in the public knowing about police misconduct, because of cell phone evidence, but it was there all along. Power of any sort is intoxicating, and it must be tempered and monitored.

    With that said, the police can be more like Andy when the criminals become more like those in Mayberry, too.

    I don’t mind tough action against true criminals, but the rights of innocent people must be observed. I was horrified to see the video of the aftermath of police surrounding a car in Miami and shooting an alleged perpetrator dead while he was sitting in his car.

    They confiscated and destroyed the cell phones of all who filmed it, pointing guns, making them kneel on the ground and threatening to shoot them if they didn’t surrender the phones. One smart man hid the chip in his mouth and so saved the evidence. Miami police will not investigate, even with the video out for all to see.

    Without proper supervision of and proper conduct by police, truly fearful situations can turn into tragedy for the innocent.

  4. madmike272 says:

    Tactical uniforms are in order for search warrants and SWAT operations. Kevlar helmets and assault body armor work outside the uniform are necessary because they provide better protection than ordinary body armor.

  5. pazzo242 says:

    So Mr. Smith wants to be the fashion police (pun intended) for the police. And it seems Mr. Smith is jealous over the police using military style uniforms as their uniforms. Are you really serious? This is the best you could do to write about. Given that let’s take away the rank system too. Isn’t that another US military only type accoutrement? Let’s not stop there as the fire department uses the same type of uniform and ranking system?

    Larry—just an FYI—Police departments ARE a paramilitary organization.

  6. harleyrider1 says:

    You, Larry, dishonor the University Place Police comparing them to police departments’ actions outside of this community.

    We have great rapport with them; they are a great group of officers and you should be proud to have this caliber serving you.

    SWAT teams had been modified many years ago and some even eliminated due to budgets. However, as more and more criminals began using fully automatic weapons during bank robberies and gangs obtained similiar weapons, SWAT teams were funded once again by concerned taxpayers for their safety and that of the officers.

    Since you don’t like the poice, just obey the law and you will not have to worry about their contacting you.

  7. “Some advice to the police: a little less Rambo and a little more Andy of Mayberry, please”

    We have plenty of Barney Fifes among the armed citizenry

  8. The militarization of our police has been going on for 20 years. I had an animal control person come to my house in paramilitary clothing! He looked ridiculous.It is time for the police to shed their psuedo military attitude and become citizens again.
    Everyday there is a new video on police brutality somewhere and its disgusting. One major problem is the typical republican lives and in fear and in submssion to authority.As long as we have these types of people America will never be free.

    It is equally as stupid as to say to get rid of the department of education. I’d bet my house the writer cant list 3 postive things the depart. of ed does.

  9. LarryFine says:

    “I’d bet my house the writer cant list 3 postive things the depart. of ed does.”

    … and that’s the point…

  10. slugoxyz says:

    It’s like this. Police enforce the laws that our legislators and judges make. They are a tool of the government – not necessarily the people. When off duty, they are a citizen (with arrest powers). When on duty, they are the enforcers of the laws. This can be summed up like this. You, the citizen have all the choices. 1) Obey the law and you will be beloved by the police and maybe never even meet one. Most cops would much rather hang out in the turnout than kick down your door. That’s when choice two comes in. 2) You can break the law. It’s not the Police officer’s law. It is the law of the land. The cop is paid with your taxes to enforce the law. Not some of them. Not just the ones you think are bad but all of them. They do this with warnings, notice of infractions, citations and physical arrests. This is when you have more choices. Let’s say cops can physically arrest you on a scale of 1-5 (one being easy, you submit, obey all lawful commands and go to jail and 5 being you force them to kill you). No cop wants to go to 5. I have never met a cop that came on duty and rushed out to kill somebody. They would much rather hang out at Forza waiting for the next call hoping it’s an easy one and not an armed felon or a domestic with weapon. You make the choice as to which arrest the officer will use. If you break the law (your choice) and then you chose to resist arrest or give the responding officers a hard time, it is your choice. The cop just rises to the level necessary to protect surrounding citizens, their fellow officers and themselves. They are similar to you and me in that they have the right to go home after their 8 or 10 or 12 hour shift.

    Who cares what they’re wearing? They should be comfortable and in a uniform fitting for running, fighting or lounging –depending on what you, the citizen makes them do. When I worked at a national agency for the military, I wore a tactical uniform even though I wasn’t fighting. It was the prescribed uniform and I didn’t give it much thought. It was comfortable, flexible and hid stains well. Who really cares? And why shouldn’t cops have better guns than bad guys. Whose side are you on? They should get the very best we, the tax payer can afford. Whatever gets them home after their shift.

    Are there bad cops? Yes. Of course there are. The police (many of them former military and proud of their service) are a slice of you. Are their bad citizens? What percent? I’ll wager it is like the old adage when I was in the military. 10% of the people require 90% of the effort. But here is the difference. Cops are very hard on other cops. You might not always see it but good cops (the vast majority) do not like bad cops. Hate them and ultimately run them out of their ranks. Again, you might not see it. There is an intense (military like) code of honor which most of you cannot/will not understand. But if the media can get a piece of it, they darn sure do. You see every act of brutality because 20 years ago, every person in the world didn’t have a cell phone. Is there more today than previously? Probably not but you just get to see it all. In dash cameras are becoming more and more common because officers believe in what they are doing and ultimately, it is the citizen that forces the officer to become violent. Your choices people. Make them wisely.

  11. slugoxyz says:

    “One major problem is the typical republican lives and in fear and in submssion to authority.As long as we have these types of people America will never be free.”

    Sue? I thought you were always dogging conservatives for being uneducated or stupid. What is with the terribly formed sentence, lack of appropriate spacing and the spelling errors? Did you go to college? Where? Churk Water Academy of Bleeding Hearts? Are you a reflection of all Liberals? I’ll bet they hope you’re not. Your 13th grade education does not make you a very good writer. You are awful in fact. How sad for you. Calling people stupid while masking (and poorly) your own inadequacies. Back to college Sue! Not sure why you stopped but you came up short…

  12. Omega6234 says:

    crap… just realized my phone used “wood” instead of “would”. Smart phones my ass.

  13. BlaineCGarver says:

    It’s pretty hard to wratchet down a full-fledged frontal attack by the SWAT team when they suddenly discover it’s the wrong house. I love our LEOs, my son in law is about to be one….I keep thinking back to John Bananola and how senseless his death was….most of these “bad guys” could be arrested in the daylight and out of their house. I’m the nicest guy in the world, but if my front door crashes in at 2am, the first thing coming in my bedroom is going to get a 230gr FMJ.

  14. Dave98373 says:

    I am glad that you finally woke up Lawrence! Where in the hell have you been for the last ten years! America has been becoming more violent and dangerous. The slaughter of our local police officers over the last few years is proof. It surprises you that our police have to take measures to defend themselves?

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