More than 3,200,000 pageviews from 150 countries


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Military Involvement in Domestic Law Enforcement

     The U. S. Constitution represents the Founding Fathers' intent to protect Americans against heavy-handed government. Citizens have rights, which include the right to assemble peacefully, the right to speak freely, and the freedom to worship as they please. The Constitution protects against intrusive law enforcement by protecting individual privacy, granting the right against self-incrimination, and providing the right to legal representation. The presumption of innocence, the concept of due process, and limited law enforcement authority protect Americans from tyranny.

     The Founding Fathers also placed limits on the military arm of government. For example, only Congress can fund and declare war (in the last two decades presidents have been declaring war on their own), and the president, a civilian office holder, is commander in chief. By placing military control in the hands of civilians, the Founding Fathers intended to at least discourage military personnel from meddling in civilian governance.

     Notwithstanding the existence of a wide range of procedural civil rights, military involvement in law enforcement, either directly or through highly militarized policing, is counter to the concept of limited government, and is a threat to personal freedom.

     Today, at least half of the nation's SWAT officers are trained by active-duty commandos from Navy Seal and Army Ranger units. Police officers with military special operations backgrounds train the rest. When fully outfitted in Kevlar helmets, goggles, "ninja" style hoods, combat boots, body armor, and black or camouflage fatigues, and carrying fully automatic rifles and machine guns, these police officers not only look like military troops geared for battle, but also feel that way.

     These elite paramilitary teams--composed of commanders, tactical team leaders, scouts, rearguards, snipers, flashbang grenade officers, and paramedics--are organized like combat units, and are just as lethal. But unlike troops in actual military combat, SWAT officers don't encounter mortar fire, rockets, homemade bombs, or heavily armed enemy soldiers.

     A vast majority of SWAT raids, conducted after midnight, involve private homes inhabited by unarmed people who are either asleep or watching television. When a SWAT team encounters resistance, it's usually from a family dog, that often gets shot. Given the hair-trigger intensity of these drug enforcement operations, unarmed civilians who move furtively or are slow to comply with orders, get manhandled, and sometimes shot.

     There has been talk recently about incorporating military drone technology into routine police work. The blurring of the lines between domestic law enforcement and national defense is not a good trend. The continued militarization of American policing will cost all of us our freedoms. 

No comments:

Post a Comment