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Monday, August 25, 2014

The better the equipment, the less safe the Police



Anyone who contemplates facing a riot can be forgiven for wanting the best equipment possible. If it happens to have been designed for a war zone, all the better. However, if police need war equipment they've already failed at their job.

Thanks to the US having been at war for many years, there's a lot of military equipment available to police -for little to no money. Cash strapped police departments are quick to pick up these “force multipliers.” They have some idea that equipment will make cops safer.

They are wrong. What actually works is having police on the ground interacting with people on a day to day basis. There's nothing as effective as the humble beat cop doing his daily rounds. He soon knows his neighborhood very well and they know him. Small problems are less likely to turn into large problems.

Unfortunately, beat cops cost money. Cops in cars can cover a lot more territory. While they can cover more miles, they do a lot less actual police work. Imagine shopping yard sales at 40 mph and you get some idea how effective it is.

When you put police in armored vehicles, they are even less connected with the community. You are an invading force. Policing from armored vehicles has been done before. Apartheid South Africa comes to mind. How did that work out for them in the end?

Yes, being a beat cop is a tough job. It is totally exposed and his life is on the line. If you don't like that don't be a cop. It's like wanting to be a fireman and not wanting to go into burning buildings. There's a level of risk that proper police work demands.

A cops best protection is a civil society. When he's thought of as part of the community doing an essential service he's in less danger. Problems arise when he's thought of as a enforcer for an unfair political/economic system. Politicians who only cater to the rich and influential's rights are the one's putting cops in danger. No amount of armor can replace social justice.

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. Not to mention that a cop on the beat is less likely to run around committing felony assault by constantly aiming his weapon at unarmed peaceful people as many did last week and as one individual cop did by aiming his rifle at at camera man, who was taping, and then verbally threatening to "bleeping" kill the cameraman. (Expletive removed).

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    1. Yes indeed! Hope this is some sort of a wake up call.

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  2. excellent comments. Mayberry RFD is an excellent example of the two types of policing that go on. Unfortunately, Andy's style isn't popular, and Barney really shouldn't have any bullet at all.

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    1. Plenty of those guys dressed up in military gear shouldn't have bullets either.

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  3. Even with all the fancy new equipment, every police department in this country is so outgunned it is ridiculous.

    Take for example the town I live in, Vancouver WA.
    They have lots of cops here and they have lots of toys too.
    I would bet money that within one square mile of my house you would find enough weaponry to wipe them all out in an hour.

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    1. That's why a civil society is the best defence. If they think authority flows from the barrel of a gun . . . well, there's a lot of guns in the US.

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  4. Well said. A good beat cop will be protected by decent citizens. U have actually stopped to aid a good police officer I have known. Of course, an officer who dresses like robocop who distances himself from those he is to protect and to serve will not receive that level of respect or consideration.

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    1. Thanks. We respond to human beings, not robocop.

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  5. You really hit the nail square on the head. I'm probably the most law abiding person in 20 square miles but lately the sight of a cop causes me to think "what slight infraction of the law am I doing to cause this guy to beat me down?". I don't like that but its a self defense mechanism learned from just a few chance encounters with the local bruisers.

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    1. Sad to see how so many departments have gone from public servants to thugs. Not everywhere and not all cops, but it's spreading.

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  6. That would work in the city, but out here in the country. Out here, the cops would spend most of the day just walking between homes and farms and ranches. But maybe they could stop, get out, and talk to people once in awhile.

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    1. Nothing beats face to face interaction, no matter how its done.

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  7. Hear, hear, Sixbears. And I also see Dizzy's point of view. But if the local cops drove their cars to visit those locals in the country, all might be better off, hummm? Better the frenemy you know than the stranger.

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    1. Some years back I had an old dog that was lying in the road. (not much traffic back then) Cruiser came by and stopped. The dog trotted over to the driver's window and the cop rolled it down. The cop knew the dog by name and apologized to it for being out of dog treats.

      I miss those days.

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  8. Yep big differance between a law enforcement officer and a peace officer. Rambo or Andy both get the job done but I knw which i would rather have in my community.

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    1. The last thing we want is our neighborhoods to turn into war zones, so let's not treat them that way and maybe they won't become one.

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  9. This was an excellent post. Because of an encounter with a bully cop and his buddies he called for back up, I am now afraid to go out after dark because of the police. I am 67, had a tail light out and he called for back up because I would not roll down my window in a dark area. I just wanted to move my car one block to a well-lighted area. He insulted me several times and threatened to arrest me for wanting to be safe. I am not a rough or tough looking person at all.

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    1. It's sad when we've reached the point where we fear the cops more than the criminals.

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