What purpose does local law enforcement serve? If you are like many Americans, the answer is obvious. Police are the “thin blue line” that separates civilized society from chaos. They are brave men and women who risk their lives, day in and day out, working hard to keep our communities safe. Without them, criminals would prey on honest citizens. No one would be safe.
But to others, the situation isn’t as cut and dry. For some Americans, police aren’t a shining beacon of justice and security. For them, police represent oppression. A systematic policy of discrimination and subjugation. They would point to historical moments where cops, acting out of corrupt or outdated policy, would harass, abuse, and deny the rights of Americans.
Where your answer to the above question falls will largely determine your reaction to the latest news coming out of Washington. Recently the Department of Justice announced that President Trump has rolled back restrictions put into place by the Obama administration. Those restrictions prevented local police departments from purchasing and using military-grade weapons.
In a speech to the National Fraternal Order of Police on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Donald Trump had signed an executive order removing an Obama administration restriction on local law enforcement's ability to buy surplus military equipment…
“…President Trump is issuing an executive order that will make it easier to protect yourselves and your communities. He is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies' ability to get equipment through federal programs, including life saving gear like Kevlar vests and helmets and first responder and rescue equipment like what they’re using in Texas right now.” (IJR)
The kind of gear we’re talking about also includes armored vehicles, grenade launchers, armed aircraft, bayonets and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher. That’s some serious firepower. Already there are voices on both sides of the argument, weighing in on the issue.
It seems pretty extreme that your local police department would need grenade launchers and tanks. Perhaps it’s understandable for some to think that arming cops in such a way is a slippery slope. If you give them this kind of gear, they’re going to want to use it, whether they need it or not.
I mean, how many people are really comfortable seeing this go down the street in their neighborhood?
Bit of a scary site, right? Most of us think that our local police departments are tackling pedestrian cases. Unless you live in a large city, you picture the police busting muggers, investigating break in’s, and rounding up the local riff raff to sleep it off in the drunk tank.
The gear they require shouldn’t be more than radios, bulletproof vests, and hand guns. Seeing local law enforcement kitted out in gear better suited for Iraq should put most people on edge. Advocates, the ones that frequently talk about instances of police brutality, go as far as to say such sights are a violation of citizens’ rights.
Janai Nelson, the NAACP's Legal Defense associate director counsel, said the policy change “puts more firepower in the hands of police departments that remain largely untrained on matters of racial bias and endangers the public. Inviting the use of military weaponry against our domestic population is nothing short of recasting the public as an enemy.” (NBC)
You can argue all day over whether or not cops are getting enough training on “racial bias,” but the point is clear. There are activists who want us to view cops as part of a larger race problem. They want us to view cops as white men from the Jim Crow South, who haven’t the least bit of training or concern over the rights and issues facing Americans of color.
But that picture is largely outdated. Even the most publicized police shootings in recent years are rare examples; isolated incidents. Police are trained to uphold the law. They do so while facing incredible danger. On a regular basis, they confront robbers, muggers, drug dealers, and all kinds of criminals. In an instant, a simple conversation or encounter can turn deadly.
The argument against police officers getting more advanced gear stems from the idea that cops are all too eager to shoot and harm innocent civilians. Activists would want you to think that police are just a few tanks away from becoming jack-booted thugs, who want nothing more than to deprive us our Constitutional rights.
The sad reality is, despite the rare acts of bad cops, police officers are the only ones defending our cities from terrible acts of crime and violence. They are the ones who first respond to moments of disaster and crisis. We’ve seen in recent months how much damage can be caused when local police do nothing. Both in Charlottesville and frequent cases in Berkeley, the police were told to stand down, as violent rioters rampaged through the cities.
Worse than that is the ever-present threat of imminent danger. I’m not a doom and gloom kind of guy, but you just have to see what’s going on in Europe to know that ISIS and radical, Islamic terror isn’t going away. These are agents who actively try to acquire the most deadly weapons and devices to use against civilians. Bombs are only the beginning. By enabling local law enforcement to acquire this military-grade gear, they are better equipped to handle attacks from these losers.
And course, we have to deal with Antifa. Oh, sure, white supremacists are so terrible! They had tiki torches! Yet time and again we are seeing left-wing extremists show up in black gear, with a variety of weapons. Most of the time, their attacks are focused not only on protestors, but the cops sent to keep the peace. How long before Antifa starts pulling out the guns?
The violence stemming from this group is so bad, that even Nancy Pelosi has come out to condemn them. Hopefully, more within the media and politics will condemn this group. That could slow their momentum, discouraging more violence. But we are living in an age where simple gatherings to support free speech come under attack. There is no telling what might happen next.
Seeing cops armed with heavy weapons and armored vehicles is not a nice sight. But neither is this:
Which one would you rather see walk by your front door?