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Veteran Police Officer Defends Law Enforcement’s Use Of Military Vehicles Using Condescension And Baseless Claims

Published: November 12, 2014
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Source: Tech Dirt

Veteran Police Officer Defends Law Enforcement's Use Of Military Vehicles Using Condescension And Baseless Claims from the that'll-teach-the-stupid-public! dept

If you're like several law enforcement agencies here in the US, there's a good chance you've obtained a heavily-armored vehicle from the Dept. of Defense's 1033 program. Like much of themilitary equipment obtained through this program (often with the assistance of DHS grants), an MRAP doesn't so much address a need as it creates a problem: new law enforcement tools but nothing to use them for. So, rather than save it for terrorists or active shooters, MRAPS and other military gear are co-opted by SWAT teams or deployed against protesters

Ignoring much of what has happened over the past several months, 15-year police veteran Steve Rabinovich has posted an article (which is actually more of an advertisement for two tactical training companies) discussing the proper care and feeding of your PD's MRAP.

Now, through the 1033 program, these officers and deputies are prepared to use the proper tools for what threats may come. We all understand that improper and ignorant application of these tools is not only a liability, its deliberate indifference. These trucks feel, drive, and act unlike anything most drivers and teams are used to — to simply put them to use without proper training is asking for people to get hurt or killed.
Rabinovich details this MRAP training, most of which involves handling the heavy, unwieldy vehicles, as well as the unique bonding experience that is advanced tactical training at a "flagship Nebraska facility."
One of the most unique things about this course was the positive attitude and genuine desire to learn which didn’t stop when the class was dismissed. Everything from class topics to shooting positions to medical equipment was discussed around the fire pit under the Nebraska moon.
Moving on. Rabinovich linked to another article from this one, perhaps recognizing that an article unironically attaching an exclamation point to the sentence, "Your agency got a 1033 MRAP!" might be viewed as "tone deaf," at best. In this one, Rabinovich offers three justifications for any law enforcement agency that feels a mine-resistant vehicle is a worthy addition to its fleet of vehicles.
1. Better-equipped and trained police are a better asset to protect and serve their communities. 

2. In some quarters, violent anti-government groups and individuals are targeting cops as scapegoats. 

3. There has been a steady increase in deadly and violent assaults on cops — as well as acts of domestic and international terrorism — many of which are reported in limited scope or not publicly known.
The "better-equipped" justification is tough to argue with. Arguably, a heavily-armored vehicle is protective but how does it "serve" the community? It's not as though endangered citizens get to shuttle in and out of crime scenes in bulletproof vehicles. The argument rests on the assumption that a more well-protected police force is a net win for the community. Maybe it is, but Rabinovich doesn't bother connecting those dots. 

Better training is also an essential part of protecting and serving the community. But how does the acquisition of an MRAP better train police? Rabinovich doesn't explore this logical dead end any further, so it's left up to the audience to make its own assumptions. 

"Violent anti-government groups" is a very recent talking point, one used to paint government accountability groups as "violent," using a very broad brush in hopes of destroying the credibility of Peaceful Streets or Cop Block. Rabinovich further cheapens this by portraying these groups as "scapegoating" police officers, but once again fails to clarifiy his choice of words. Nothing further is written that explains why these officers are being "scapegoated" and Rabinovich doesn't even bother to given any examples of this "targeting." 

The last argument is just as awful as the first two but has the additional feature of being factually wrong. Police work isn't becoming increasingly dangerous, even with the supposed corresponding uptick in "domestic and international terrorism." Rabinovich must know this assertion won't hold up because he adds the ridiculous claim that attacks on cops are ignored by much of the media or never reported at all. The exact opposite is the truth. In addition, the number of officers killed or wounded by civilians is a stat tracked by nearly every law enforcement agency. Civilians killed or wounded by police officers are stats tracked by amateurs, despite the fact that the Dept. of Justice has ordered these numbers to be reported annually -- an order that has been mostly ignored for the last thirteen years

Rabinovich offers these terrible justifications and follows it up with this:
If these are the trucks being given away, these are the truck being implemented into law enforcement service. If someone thinks their tax dollars are better served letting these assets rust away or be given to foreign armies, maybe their cash is greener than yours or mine.
If you're against police militarization then you must be for wasting tax dollars and arming foreigners. It's that simple. You could not be any less of an American. 

But what Rabinovich thinks we shouldn't do with excess military equipment is exactly what we do with excess military equipment. We don't hand off tanks to police departments just because the only other options are the scrapyard or an overseas army. We shouldn't be doing this with other military gear either. Law enforcement agencies don't need mine-resistant vehicles, assault rifles and grenade launchers. Law enforcement has existed without all three for several decades, including years when being a cop was much more dangerous than it is now. These justifications are nothing more than the cheapest of rationlizations.

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