Mass protests & riots happening over murder by police officers

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by aaradia, May 31, 2020.

  1. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Yes, ultimately it is the ethos and culture of institutions that must change. However, the deployment of military equipment in situations that do not call for it feeds into that culture of war and of considering oneself to be an occupying force.

    I'm just reading an interesting academic article that I'll link to:
  2. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    It's not that I'm unaware of the ivory tower theory that "military equipment" causes misconduct like Chauvin's murder of George Floyd or the riot police pushing over an old man. It's that I've considered it and wholeheartedly reject the theory. It's a misperception and perceived-correlation-must-equal-causation argument that, at its core, as as flawed as the theories that hip-hop music drives urban crime or heavy metal music drives mass shootings.

    Giving SWAT gear to a good cop isn't going to make him aggressive and dishonest, and taking a body armor away from an aggressive and dishonest cop isn't going to prevent him from asphyxiating an arrestee or pushing an old man. Those are training and culture issues, not equipment issues, and rifles and SWAT vehicles simply don't corrupt people's morals by existing within the police inventory.

    The murder of George Floyd isn't new. It's not something that started happening when police departments started responding to the North Hollywood shootout with tactical gear in their inventory. Instead, it's the documentation of it via cell phone that's new. This sort of incident likely happened MORE in the 70s and 80s, and certainly not far less.

    Tactical gear saves lives in armed standoffs, bank robberies, hostage situations, and active shooter situations. Taking it away has life-and-death consequences. And it's a distraction from what really needs to happen, which is a hard look at leadership, hiring practices, retention practices, training, and community engagement. All the modern departments that do 21st-century policing right--with good leadership, hiring practices, retention practices, training, and community engagement--they've got just as much tactical gear as departments that do those things wrong. Owning tactical gear in the department's inventory is not ANY deterrent to doing ANY of these things right. It just saves officer lives in shootouts and standoffs.

    If you want to accomplish real change, the focus needs to be on leadership, training, and deliberate community engagement. If you think taking body armor out of the trunk of Chauvin's patrol car would have prevented him from asphyxiating George Floyd with his knee, I don't even know what to say.
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  3. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Well, I don't even know what to say about that straw man. I thought we were having a civilised discussion.

    It is obvious that this is not about a single case of the police murdering an innocent man. It is about the public's perception of the police as a whole, along with systemic racism that predates the republic and survives to this day.

    I haven't heard anyone say that police should not be given body armour. It's a shame you have decided to debate in a churlish fashion. When people talk about the militarisation of police, it is more about this kind of stuff:


    As to why that may be a concern for citizens, I will quote the article I linked to in my last post:
    Heavily armed criminals need heavily armed police to stop them. Pretty much everyone gets that. What is unnecessary is using military equipment to intimidate civilians out of exercising the rights granted to them under the constitution.
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  4. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Sorry if its a silly question, but isn't this part of the point? Police can have this equipment in specialised units like SWAT by all means, but why your rank and file cop needs it all seems harder to justify. From what I remember of North Hollywood it was also kind of a sign police had failed to keep with the times, such as still using revolvers when semi automatics had become a thing. Fixing that by giving police access to rifles in their cars seems a decent middle ground.

    But what makes no sense is why police need the clothing especially. Keeping a strong distinction between police uniform and military clothing is important if for no other reason than the mental effect it has to have on officers. If you give a cop a bunch of military clothing and equipment, let him dress like he's about to drop into the middle of Baghdad and take out Hussein single handed, it has to mess with their heads and give them power trips that we've been very clearly seeing them going on over the last few days.
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  5. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Even if Mitlov is entirely correct, and doing Fallujah cosplay has no effect on the behaviour of officers whatever, the important point is that it does have an effect on how a significant portion of civilians view the police. Not as their servants, there to keep them safe, but as an occupying military force to be feared.

    Public servants have to be cognisant of how the public they serve perceive them. Policing in a free society must be consensual. If the police ignore the concerns and wishes of those they are supposed to serve, it is no longer a free society.
  6. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    David, courtesy is a two-way street. Don't lecture me about a "churlish" tone when you're continually condescending and dismissive of every post I make.

    When addressing a screwed-up department like Buffalo PD, if you just take away modern tactical gear instead of actually directly addressing training and culture and leadership, you don't get respect for peaceful protesters, you get:


    Which is exactly the sort of police culture Trump is actively encouraging by quoting a 1960s Miami police chief with "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" and threatening to use dogs against protesters. That's not making anything any better, it's just swapping one sort of violence against protesters with another equally-bad type.

    Whereas if you improve the culture but keep the same gear, armored vehicles give police an opportunity to shelter and regroup in case of taking gunfire from within a protest like Dallas in 2016. Having armored vehicles in a department's inventory, and one or two on site in case of mass protests where a sniper might hide within peaceful protesters, saves officer lives by giving them a protected location to retreat to to regroup if gunfire starts. 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers - Wikipedia

    As for your snarky "Fallujah cosplay" stuff, are you even aware that a lot of the clothing changes, like swapping duty belts for tactical vests, is actually driven by utility and officer health issues? Heavily-laden duty belts cause far, far more back problems in officers than the same amount of gear strapped to a vest. Insisting on belts instead of vests because you think vests make the uniform look too military-ish instead of addressing the leadership and training thing head on is a distraction that is genuinely going to cause an increase in back problems in veteran officers, while offering no real benefit.
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  7. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I'm honestly very surprised at you saying this. It certainly isn't my intention, and I'm rather baffled about you feeling that every post of yours that I have replied to was dismissive and condescending. You should have said something sooner, I can only apologise for making you feel that way.

    I don't know why you are making this an either/or. It is not a choice between bad cops with billy clubs and dogs on the one hand, and good cops with APC's and M4's in camouflage fatigues on the other. You're setting up a false dilemma in your argument.

    It was better intelligence and surveillance at protests against police, as well as restrictions on open carry laws, that police were asking for in response to the Dallas shooting. I can't find an instance of police asking for more APC's in response to it.

    Again, you are setting up a straw man argument. Vests vs. belts are not the problem. No-one is calling for police to have to put up with back problems.

    The clear distinction between civilian police and military or paramilitary forces was a key factor in the beginnings of modern policing as we know it.

    History of the Metropolitan Police - Wikipedia

    In fact, pretty much all of the original principles of modern civilian policing are pertinent to the criticisms of US police today:

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  8. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Helmets don't have to be military in design, vests can be non-military colours, and there is absolutely zero need for the desert camo in the middle of Washington DC. Even going as far as all the attachments on the rifles given to bog standard officers seems excessive. It's not being dismissively insulting to refer to it as cosplay, that is genuinely what it comes across as. It doesn't help when you then have issues like the "light 'em up" video which, as far as I'm concerned, only adds some evidence to my fears of how this sort of kit effects your average officers psyche going in to dealings with citizens.
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  9. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    I've noticed two types of police in all these videos. The smiling police who attend rallies and don't provoke and are left alone, often in fewer numbers, and the battalions who show up prepared for war, possibly, maybe, because they want one, and are basically causing an endless loop of unnecessary violence. I can't remember seeing many of these brutal police videos in the last few weeks happen on actual rioters or looters. It's all college students, old peace activists, and people sitting on their porches watching troops file through their street

    I think it's as simple as intention, some police are well intentioned, but unfortunately many others are looking for a fight. Those ones would probably be better off in the state police corps of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, and so on. In those types of places, any sociopath fill feel right at home policing citizens. In America though, I think we can and will have higher standards in the future. Call me the optimist, it's a bad habit but my clock is right at least twice a day.

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  10. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Absolutely there are those two very different models being seen right now. And absolutely it's a question of intent, tactics, and leadership. The officer in that video didn't get that way because he's possessed by a demon. He got that way because that's the culture his department facilitates.

    As for clothing and gear, this video is a perfect example of what I've been saying. Polo shirts and bike helmets don't fix squat if you don't address officer intent toward protesters. And on the opposite side, Portland PD could kneel with protesters just fine while wearing their riot gear (I posted the video earlier).

    As for why can't we do both...even setting aside the utilitarian benefits of tactical gear, the energy for reforms is a limited resource. So are municipal budgets. Lobby for new uniforms and there's less lobbying power for replacing bad leaders. Every dollar you spend replacing uniforms for a different look is one less dollar for training workshops.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  11. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    It feels like we've got lost in the weeds with this. I'll just link the Obama-era review of the 1033 program listing concerns and problems with the transfer of equipment from federal military to police agencies: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.go...cal_law_enforcement_equipment_acquisition.pdf

    As for defunding the police, the main message is about how the remit of the police widens in scope as public services are defunded. Funds should be redirected to deal with issues such as mental health, youth engagement, addiction, homelessness etc., so that police are not the last line tasked with mopping up the consequences of these cuts in public services and holes in social safety nets.
  12. ned

    ned Valued Member

    Sounds like the notorious SPG ( special patrol group ) which operated in the UK in the late 70's/80's.
    Enforcers of the hated 'sus' laws by which black youths could be stopped and searched on suspicion of criminal intent, their reputation for indescriminate violence made them feared and hated in ethnic inner city communities.
    They were implicated in many cases of police brutality, the most high profile that of the death of Blair Peach,
    details and history below
    The political legacy of Blair Peach | Institute of Race Relations
  13. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    I think there is a danger of comparing policing cultures and countries which different backgrounds and issues. MAP has a larger number of British posters and the tooled up look of the US can seem quite jarring to the sensibilities. Here in the UK police generally are not armed and they have never been militarised and as such while run by the Home office are not seen as an integral part of the 'state' in the same way as in other countries (even though they blatantly are). However the British method is the exception and not the rule. In most places Police not only have to "Police" the population as in the active verb, but must also enforce.

    Despite living in the UK for decades the British police behaviour I always found jarring when compared to my early years living in Italy, where there are a large number of Law enforcement agencies with overlapping duties. Some of them like the Carabinieri and the Guardie della Finanza are Paramilitary organisations that answer to the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury respectively. Others like the Polizia Statale answer to the Ministry of the Interior (Home office ) and are not militarised, but STILL carry guns. Its not unusual for Carbinieri to be openly armed with sub-machine guns on Italian streets as well deployed abroad war zones to Afghanistan or Iraq, even though technically they do the same role as the police. and this is taken for granted as normal. Now before people jump to conclusion and believe this has to do with high levels of organised crime and guns in Italy, this is way off kilter. Guns exist in Italy and can be owned by private individuals but they are by far the norm and can never be carried in public, unless you are given permission by the state. Organised crime in Italy is far too subtle too smart to get into gun battles with the Italian State and has other means to enforce their power. Having Italian armed police/enforcement is down to 2 principle things. The Weakness of the state as being seen as legitimate by the population, and the post war fears of Communist coup d'etat so that each ministry had its own 'armed wing', so that if one part of the state fell to armed insurrection the others wouldn't be compromised. Compare that to the UK where the majority of the population believes in the legitimacy of the state and you will see why guns are seen as of limited use.

    Italy's own situation however is different from other countries that have Paramilitary wings: for instance the Guardian National Republicana in Portugal, the Guardian Civil in Spain, the Royal Marechausee in (liberal!) Netherlands, The Gendarmerie in France etc etc...which have their own reasons to maintain Paramilitary law enforcement which are different from the Italian one. One particular article from the guardian had me amused :French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban where there was much UK Pearl clutching about French armed police confronting women on beaches about their Hijab. Now whatever your beliefs on French State Lacite and Muslim headscarfs, its still disconcerting that even well travelled journalists still struggle to come to terms that French Police are always armed and that this is normal.

    Now before you all jump to the conclusion that I'm pro-gun, I'm definitely not. The Italian side of my family were hunters and I grew up around shotguns, and was old enough to remember in the 80's Italian Carabinieri stopping my family's car at a hidden impromptu road block were 20 came out of the bushes and pointed Assault rifles weapons at the car (just as spot check....The Red Brigades had only just been defeated years before). Again daily life.
    But I think each country's relationship with the state and crime has an impact on how weaponized the police need to be for enforcement. While I think the Uk police are pretty much toothless I still wouldn't want them to be armed by default. The atmospherics in the UK are different from continental Europe with its Paramilitary police and still different again from the US.

    Now I've only been the the US once in my life, and Las Vegas (stag party) so my experience is limited. But I defiantly still got a feel from the place of "Far west" that it was still everyone's individual responsibility to provide for their own safety and security, and an attachment to freedom at all costs that is hard for Europeans to comprehend. I saw less weapons in Las Vegas in view from the state than in Italy, but there was a 'feeling' that this state of affairs had to be enforced. Its not that they didn't trust the state like in Italy (who would?) or take it for granted like in the UK (God save the Queen), but that the State was almost a necessary evil and that at the end of the day Freedom trumps. Going to a Gun range and watching a US citizen gleefully empty his HKMP5 at a target for half an hour, (he was still there when we left) was mildly disconcerting. I like militaria and weapons But not that much . But again it was Las Vegas so mileage may vary.

    Now to the military equipment of USA police forces. I'm ambivalent. In of themselves the equipment is more likely a response to the environment they have to deal with. In a country awash with guns you kind of have to show that the enforcers have the ability to enforce the laws in a defined geographical area. And if a substantial part of the population is armed and 1) doesn't like its freedom curtailed and 2) has free access to weapons legally or not, then yeah ...tooling up is a no brainer.,

    However.... what is weird is that these are at the end of the day Police...Not Paramilitary police. Its normal for Italian Carabinieri to have access to APC's and Helicopters and Armed Sea Vessels. Their main responsibilities cover a wider brief than that of the National Police and as such they are equipped accordingly. The Italian national police force by and large eschews military equipment. It needs firepower? They call the relevant agency, they don't take it into their own hands.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  14. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Have a look at the 1033 program review from the Obama era that I linked to above. Obama put a few limitations on equipment that could be given to police departments, such as tracked vehicles and grenade launchers. Trump reversed those restrictions.

    This is not a satirical piece:
    NPR Choice page
  15. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    From the 1033 Program

    "The 1033 Program prohibits the transfer of property whose predominant purpose is combat operations (e.g. tanks, fighter aircraft, Strykers, tracked vehicles, weapons greater than 7.62mm, grenade launchers, sniper rifles and crew-served weapons)."

    Some of the program seems kneejerk weird. What is defined as "predominant purpose?The difference between a military M4 and a AR15 is merely the ability to fire on full automatic but AR15's are freely available (which admittedly has limited use in civilian situations)" Calibers larger than 7.62mm on weapons can be found on semi-automatics and other firearms and are freely available to the wider population in certain States. Its not unusual for Paramilitary enforcers elsewhere in the world to have tracked vehicles deployed at sensitive sites such as Airports or Nuclear Power stations, - but perhaps in the US the national Guard takes up those duties rather than law enforcement?

    But Yeah that mine resistant school armoured rescue truck! I can't imagine Birmingham Local Education Authority who struggle to get school meals cooked and leaky school roof fixed ever imagining splitting the bill with West Midlands police for an Armoured Vehicle. Perhaps parked on Broad Street so the late night punters can throw Kebab Meat and Chips at it.

    EDIT: I mean to put it into context Boris Johnson bought those second hand water cannon Riot Trucks that were too big for London Streets, which were never even used and then scrapped and the British public fumed over the millions of pounds urinated on a wall... US local authority doesn't bat an eyelid to sign the cheque for an armoured vehicle....
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  16. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    The 1033 program is about surplus. That San Diego school district only paid $5000 to transport the MRAP.

    In this country they would probably be welcome as an extra classroom.

    Oh, and those water cannon trucks weren't too big for London streets, it was that his own government refused to license them for use against the public due to safety concerns.
  17. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

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  18. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    clip touches on much of the discussions here

  19. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    But they've not buying them. That's often the whole reason they have them.

    Cost to a police SWAT team in buying a purpose-built police SWAT vehicle like the Lenco Bearcat: $300,000. Police and Government - Lenco Armored Vehicles

    Cost to a police SWAT team in acquiring a secondhand MRAP armored personnel carrier from the US military: typically zero. The military often donates these to law enforcement.

    If people think police budgets are too big, the last thing to criticize is the use of used military vehicles instead of new purpose-designed SWAT vehicles.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  20. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    I don't think denial is a useful strategy here.

    A large section of the population is angry enough to be both peacefully protesting, and openly rioting whilst the President openly calls for the military to dominate the streets whilst hiding in a bunker.

    Denial that there is a problem, is just going to make this worse.

    If nothing else your second wave of corvid is going to be huge, and that effects everyone.

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