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Sen McCaskill: Overarming police with military equipment now problem, not solution



Published: Sat, August 16, 2014 @ 6:04 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP)

After a decade of sending military equipment to civilian police departments across the country, federal officials are reconsidering the idea in light of the violence in Ferguson, Missouri.

The public has absorbed images of heavily armed police, snipers trained on protesters and tear gas plumes. Against that backdrop, Attorney General Eric Holder said that when police and citizens need to restore calm, "I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said police responses like that in Ferguson have "become the problem instead of the solution." Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said he will introduce legislation to reverse police militarization.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his committee will review the program to determine if the Defense Department's surplus equipment is being used as intended.

One night after the violence that accompanied the presence of military-style equipment in Ferguson, tensions eased when a police captain, unprotected and shaking hands, walked through a crowd in a gesture of reconciliation. The contrast added to perception that the tanks and tear gas had done more harm than good.

As the country concludes its longest wartime period, the military has turned over thousands of surplus weapons and armored trucks to local police who often trained alongside the military.

A report by the American Civil Liberties Union in June said police agencies had become "excessively militarized," with officers using training and equipment designed for the battlefield on city streets. The report found the amount of goods transferred through the military surplus program rose from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013.


Comments

1Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Bullets that kill our soldiers on the battlefield of war, also kill our Police Officers, who, like our soldiers, are putting their lives on the line for "we the people", every day, 24/7. So, Sen. McCaskill and Rep. Johnson, while you cower behind the walls, guns and armored cars of Washington, D.C., take away those same protections from our local Police, who are here to protect us lowly, law-abiding citizens from the savages like those that are rioting and looting in Missouri. Not only do these politicians want to take away our 2nd Amendment Rights, now they want to disarm those who would protect us!

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2bunkpatrol(97 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Does Mayberry really need a tank ?

Or does the military industrial complex need profit more ?

The second amendment gives us the right to bear arms against our oppressive government. It doesn't guarantee them the right to squash the rest of the amendments with their gizmos.

All of the craziest bullies from high school went on to become cops, not because they were eager to serve and protect. Rather they had a blood lust and power thirst that is frenzied by access to such militarization.

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3Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Well, I see another person with an "axe to grind" with the Police! Hey bunkpatrol, I hope that the readers here check your prior posts, and learn that your animosity against those who protect us, daily, is based on your "time being wasted". I guarantee that if you were tasked with responding to a "shots fired" call for service, first of all, you would turn tail and run, but if you somehow managed the courage to respond, you would wish, hope and prey you had something more than sheet metal and body armor protecting your behind. It's people like you, who hate the Police, until you need them, and then complain that they didn't get to you fast enough, when they arrive. But ask you to pass a levy for more Police protection? No way, man, I gotta save my votes for more government entitlements and freebies!

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4bunkpatrol(97 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Yeah -I hate the police because I am entitled.

Way to attack the messenger and not the message.

You are right. Campbell police or departments of their size really need drones and tanks because they are getting shot all the time.

Except the facts show it was an unarmed man yet again shot by the poor defenseless underpaid policemen who responded to protest with excessive force!

Plus, I am a coward with an axe to grind. Good content.

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5Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

"...I am a coward with an axe to grind...". Your words, not mine. And here's a fact for you...it only takes one, well placed bullet to kill, and you only get dead once! So shot at "all the time" or once, doesn't really make a difference when the loved ones of a dead Officer are crying at their graveside. Hey, here's an idea for you, bunkpatrol, why don't you volunteer with your local Police Chaplain Service, and accompany them when they go to notify the families of any Officers killed in the line-of-duty, and tell them you don't think it's a good idea that their loved one should have had all of the protections possible! Hopefully the Chaplain will protect you, after you make that statement!

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6YtownParent(340 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

The problem isn't that police departments have military weapons. The problem is that they have them with no oversight and no policies to keep police from abusing their power. Why don't the Ferguson Police cruisers have dash board cams? The same reason most of the cruisers in use don't have cameras, because the cops don't want people seeing what they do. If that cruiser had cameras there would be no question as to what happened. The whole world could see who attacked who, when, where and exactly what each person was doing when a weapon was fired.

If the officer's version is the truth we would have seen that. He'd have been cleared and would be back on active duty. If the officer erred, then the department could have taken quick and clear action and avoided the suspicions, investigations and protests.

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7dontbeafool(1036 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

My respect goes out to all Law Enforcement officers. Nobody knows what it is like to respond to these dangerous calls on a nightly basis, unless you have done it yourself. Do all people make good cops? No. Do cops make poor decisions at times? Of course. Do some cops abuse their power? Yes. But don't paint all police officers with the same brush when you have a bad experience with one. I believe that cops should be equipped properly for the crime rate/ population of the area. Do small towns need tanks? I don't think so. Should major cities? I don't see a problem with that because crazy can go from 0 to 60 in a second. Anyone familiar with LE knows that one of the most important things to abide by is the proper use of force, which is using the minimum/correct amount of force neccessary to control the situation. If every officer would abide by that one rule, it would eliminate the most serious issues. But it is easy to sit back and play Monday morning QB when it wasn't you in the dangerous situation. And as long as humans are cops, mistakes will be made. And in this day and age, EVERY squad car should have dash board cameras with microphones.

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8Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Call me crazy, but I don't think showing up at a riot scene, with some kind of "projectile resistant" vehicle, where rocks, bricks and even gunfire is directed at you is "abuse of power". I'm pretty assure most would agree that's just common sense. And here's a thought....cameras cost money, so maybe, just maybe, given the obvious increase in crime in Ferguson, MO, city fathers have stretched their budgets to the limit, trying to adequately staff their Police Department, and money for cameras might just not be in the budget. Hey, maybe the Feds might have a program where they could give surplus equipment to the local authorities! No, that would just be too "scary" for us citizens! I'll say it again, I'd bet my "bottom dollar" that folks here, demanding cameras for all L.E., are the same ones, who, when faced with increased taxes to pay for the same, vote "no", yet vote for taxes to support government entitlements, like free "cell phones" and "EBT" cards to buy cigarettes or other non-essentials, like I witness almost every time I'm in line at the grocery store.

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9Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Let's have some clarification of some of the statements being made here....I have watched all of the coverage of this most recent incident in MO, and I have yet to see what most of you are describing as a "tank". I have seen "bullet and projectile resistant" vehicles and Officers in "riot gear" because I think most of us, of normal and common sensibility would describe the actions by the crowds that are looting and pillaging, as a "riot". But no "tanks", which are usually track-driven, armored vehicles with mounted canons and howitzers. I'm pretty sure you'd recognize a "tank" if you would see one, so let's stop "dramatizing" the situation by claiming that local Police agencies are arming themselves with "tanks" and leave that to the media who are trying to sell news.

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10Chessiedad(239 comments)posted 3 months, 1 week ago

Looks like "bunkpatrol" is going to have to "debunk" his own presentation of the "facts" he so proudly professed in stating that "it was an unarmed man yet again shot by the poor defenseless underpaid policeman who responded to protest with excessive force". The "true" facts show that it was not a Law Enforcement Officer that shot this person. Reporting "facts" as just that, without knowing or having the "facts" destroys the credibility of the person reporting the "facts". So, I, for one, shall "look askance" at any future postings by "bunkpatrol".

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