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Editorial: The Myth That Police Are Becoming “Militarized”?

This myth is yet another example of “if you tell a lie enough times, people will believe it”.

If you ask the people spreading this lie to define “The militarization of police” they’re argument will boil down to police equipment or tactics and their appearance. I would explain to them that they are probably not trained to do brain surgery so what makes them qualified to criticize a surgeon about what instruments he uses to perform his surgery? The logical answer is, they are not qualified.

Recent televised riots by mobs attacking police also showed police officers deploying equipment that the untrained citizenry associate with the military. The anti-police faction in our country, including here locally took these images as an opportunity to take an obscure word “militarize”, give it an evil connotation and apply it to necessary safety equipment our police need to defend themselves and the community.

The use of armored vehicles to transport money is a common everyday sight in America and I have never heard one person or seen one newscast complain about the “militarization of money transport.” Yet some people complain because police use similar vehicles to protect lives.

It is a sad truth that we live in a country where gun violence is commonplace and our police quite often must face heavily armed criminals. Believe me as an experienced police officer, we wish we didn’t need this type of equipment.

For many years, our police have been saddled with trying to “play catch up” with a criminal element that works to overpower or outgun our police.

My first memory of this was on August 1, 1966, as a kid, watching TV newscasts of a sniper with a rifle in a tower at the University of Texas in Austin randomly shooting and killing 14 people and wounding another 34.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 6.29.18 PM1966 Texas police officer using hunting rifle to shoot at University of Texas tower sniper.

At that time, Austin police had no specialized unit or equipment or armored vehicle and were only armed with revolvers and shotguns which were ineffective against a sniper. Citizens had to bring the officers their own hunting rifles and other officers had to go home to get their own rifles. Needless to say this lack of proper equipment added to the number of people that were killed or wounded.

Since that day, there have been countless deadly incidents of police facing dangerous criminals who are better armed and can only be stopped by weapons or equipment that appears distasteful to the untrained eye.

The 1997 North Hollywood Bank where two bank robbers fired 2,000 rounds of ammunition, injured 11 police officers and 7 civilians. The robbers were so well armed and the battle lasted so long that the police had to run to local sporting goods or gun stores to get more ammunition and better rifles to defend themselves.

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Heavily armed robber and damaged police car during North Hollywood Shootout.
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Los Angeles police officers using civilian armored truck and injured officers and civilians during North Hollywood Shootout.

In 2014, an estimated 1,000 police officers searched a forest for 48 days for a man that ambushed and murdered a Pennsylvania state trooper. The killer was a self-taught survivalist, dressed in camouflage and well armed. The police had to dress in camouflage also and use armored vehicles to protect themselves.

The list goes on and on. Police need and use this equipment to protect themselves and save lives. It is reckless and life threatening to deny police vital equipment based on an anti-police lie.

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Heavily armed survivalist killer. Police officers wearing camouflage clothing and using an armored vehicle searching for survivalist killer.

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  • Supporters of the de-militarization of the police have never brought up the issue of defending against mass shootings, killing sprees etc. What you call rioters is part of the problem in itself. Before there were riots (rioters), they were protesters…peaceful protesters. It was for the whole world to see with recent protests gone horribly wrong. They were not out there to “kill cops.” To be frank, give me a break. Tensions ran high when street cops came out in tactical gear with mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, barking commands and launching tear gas into groups of demonstrators and journalists. You poke a caged animal or stifle the constitutional right of Freedom of assembly, something is going to give. When their shifts are over, police are people just like everyone as people or humans, we all deserve an equal amount of respect, period.

  • if you ask me, I think the police worried to much about what the criminals think, they need to get hard and stay hard, cuz when a bad thing happens to the people, then the people want to cry, what are the police doing about who killed my ? we need to get an understanding and respect all police. and I think the police need to bring to light within them selves, any and all bad cops, as they to light, cuz they are the ones that give the others a bad name, yes I have had run ins with a few bad ones, all though I was out there doing bad too. so lets get real, any means nessasarry. yhea