Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shotgun Blues- ExCops thoughts on Ferguson

What you are witnessing in Ferguson is a bad cops wet dream.
And hopefully a wake up call to the good ones.

I don't know enough facts about the case to pass judgement on the shooting itself. If reports are right about Brown having his hands up when he was shot, I would be interested in hearing the justification for the shoot.
Something doesn't pass the smell test.

Is there an epidemic of minority involved police shootings? 
Does this mean the police are card carrying members of the Klu Klux Klan?

The reaction you are seeing has been generations in the making. Institutionalized racism and government dependency created the perfect firestorm. This goes far deeper than the black/white narrative we are seeing.

But today is not the day to solve all the worlds race problems. We'll get to the minority/cop paradigm at another time.

What you are seeing with the convergence of at least 20 different law enforcement agencies on a town of roughly 21,000 people is a look into the future.

If this would've occurred a decade ago, the scene would be a lot different. The militarization of the police is a real thing. I was a part of growing that standing army. When I started with SWAT we had an old, seized panel van we used as a vehicle for operations. Our weapons were Vietnam era M16's we made modifications to. Our body armor was pieced together with whatever we could get our hands on. That was pretty much the extent of our arsenal.

By the time I left, our arsenal included but was not limited to

State of the art H&K 416 short barreled rifles

One of these
One of these, just in case
Another in case the first two break down

2 of these for some reason
Bought a pair of these 

And to keep with the tradition, 2 of these as well.

These are just the big ticket items. this doesn't take into account the ballistic vests, pyrotechnics, gas guns, less lethal options, uniforms, ammo, etc etc.

How did my department afford all this? That's a two part question, and its the same way these smaller agencies are acquiring the same equipment.

The big ticket items come from the federal governments 1033 program.
This is how departments with 3 full time officers have a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle sitting in their motor pool.

The feds give the local departments the equipment free of charge. Its up to the locals to retrofit it to their needs and keep it maintained. 

How on earth do they pay for that?
Glad you asked.

Part two of our answer is a doozy.
Federal officers have much less power than a regular cop, despite what you might've heard. Typically a federal officer cannot enforce state and local laws. They only have arrest powers if they have a federal warrant for a federal crime which has to come from a federal magistrate. This is suppose to act as a checks and balances on enforcement power.

Of course, rules have never stopped the government before, and this is no exception.

They get around this by forming task forces. All the federal agencies have them. FBI, ATF, US Marshals, DEA, ICE, etc etc.
These task forces are comprised of state and local officers pulled from agencies throughout the state. These local officers are given federal credentials and work directly for their federal agency heads. These officers can now make local, state and federal cases.
Agencies jump at the opportunity to send officers to a task force. If that officer is involved in a case that nets a large sum of money, the local agency gets a large chunk of the proceeds to put in their drug forfeiture account. 

The amount of money brought in from these task forces is staggering. Checks come into these departments for millions. Local drug seizures make up a very small percentage of a departments war chest if they have officers in task forces.

Many of these task forces are not interested in making arrests. They are only interested in finding the money. If an arrest happens to fall in their lap, so be it.

Its all about the money.

Which brings me to this picture.

A powerful picture, no doubt. But this picture also gives me some insight on the kind of people we are dealing with. Their uniforms speak volumes.

These guys are "kitted" the fuck out. Meaning they have every piece of gear imaginable. I'm looking at the gloves, the knee pads, the high end gas masks and the boots. They are all the same, meaning they were most likely issued these creature comforts. These are things a lot of officers have to buy for themselves. This is an agency with a lot of money.

The officer in the middle of the picture has night vision on his helmet. If you haven't noticed, this picture was taken during the day. Night vision attachments are not comfortable to wear. They hurt your neck and give me a headache. This leads us to 2 possibilities.

A-This picture was taken late in the day. He wasn't sure he'd make it back to the police staging point by sundown, so he's being prepared.
B- This is the first chance he's had to bust those bad boys out of the box. I mean, check out how cool he looks.

This leads me to believe there is little oversight with these guys. Piss poor planning and piss poor supervision.

This is a riot control operation. These officers are wearing full battle rattle. Meaning they are wearing heavy vests meant for building entries. You cant tell me after all the money this department has spent on tacti-cool accessories for these guys, they forgot to buy them patrol vests. Riot ops and SWAT ops are two different animals that need to be handled accordingly. 

Piss poor training and piss poor leadership.

These are riot cops.

These are not

Might explain why this situation has been handled so aggressively.

These were boys waiting to open their toys.
Christmas came early in Missouri.

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