March 9, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published an educational document into the obvious militarization of local police departments (LPDs). The ACLU explains: “American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war.”
Through federal funding state and LPDs are being trained in military tactical operations and gaining access to military grade weapons to be used against the average American citizen.
Earlier this month, the ACLU “filed more than 255 public records requests to determine the extent to which local police departments are using federally subsidized military technology and tactics that are traditionally used overseas.” The purpose was to understand the extent of the militarization of LPDs and their impact on the Constitutional rights of Americans.
Karen Dansky, attorney for the ACLU explained: “Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. We’ve seen examples of this in several localities, but we don’t know the dimensions of the problem.”
In New Hampshire, Mayor Kendall Lane proudly accepted $285,933 in federal grant money from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to acquire an armored vehicle manufactured by Lenco Industries.
Using the war on crime and drugs as an excuse, the Pentagon has been arming LPDs since the 1990s with the assistance and approval of local elected officials.
DHS grants to LPDs have totaled $34 billion as defense contracts continue to come without fail. Riot gear, military-grade weapons and training are becoming common place in cities and townships across the nation.
Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the Cato Institute, states: “What is most worrisome to us is that the line that has traditionally separated the military from civilian policing is fading away. We see it as one of the most disturbing trends in the criminal justice area — the militarization of police tactics.”
William Landsdowne, police chief and member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) asserts that police officers are not becoming militarizes; they are being trained to be better combat the “better armed” suspects. Landsdowne proudly admits: “If we had to take on a terrorist group, we could do that.”
In small towns, LPDs are being given massive amounts of military grade equipment that would facilitate warring in battlefield conditions. Under the Department of Defense Excess Property Program (DDEPP) imitated by the Department of Defense (DoD) LPDs are being militarized under the guise of maintaining public safety.
All LPDs across the nation are encouraged by DoD to apply for federal grants and participate in the program.
Defense armory issued to LPDs is:
• Four-wheel drive military vehicles
• Mobile command centers
• Armored personal vehicles
• SWAT team clothing and armory
• Ballistic helmets and safety vests
• BDU (flame retardant) clothing
• Laptops and other computer equipment
• Surveillance tools for intelligence gathering operations
LPDs are public benefit corporations contracted by the City Council to preform police services and securitize the city they are hired in. This is the exchange of a local government hiring a private security firm to stabilize the local population and generate revenue for the city through tickets, arrests and recording infractions. However, this does not include upholding local laws, as the County Sheriff’s Office is elected to take charge of.
In 2012, Louis F. Quijas, Assistant Secretary of the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement (OSLLE), for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained the purpose of the OSLLE as a front “office that provided coordination and partnership with state, local, and tribal law enforcement.”
The OSLLE was recommended by the 9/11 Commission. It was created to “lead the coordination of DHS-wide policies relating to state, local, and tribal law enforcement’s role in preventing acts of terrorism and to serve as the primary liaison between non-Federal law enforcement agencies across the country and the Department.”
Intelligence is disseminated through OSLLE to LPDs or “non-Federal law enforcement partners” to keep information flowing through initiatives such as the “If You See Something, Say Something™”, the Blue Campaign, the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI), and the Department’s efforts in Countering Violent Extremism.
OSLLE consistently works with LPDs on education, actionable information, operations and intelligence for the purpose of their part in the operations of the DHS with regard to keeping “our homeland safe”.
OSLLE also works as a liaison between LPDs to maintain DHS leadership and considerations of “issues, concerns, and requirements of state, local, and tribal law enforcement during budget, grant, and policy development processes.”
In early 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report entitled “Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission” which outlined in part on how to redirect efforts of the federal government from international terrorism toward home-grown terrorists and build a DHS-controlled police force agency that would control all cities and towns through the use of local police departments.
DHS maintains that “the threat grows more localized” which necessitates the militarization of local police in major cities in the US and the training of staff from local agencies to make sure that oversight is restricted to the federal government.
Private security corporations have been parading as public servants policing cities and towns across America without the knowledge of the average citizen for quite some time. Although they wear the same badges as LPDs of the past, these private security firms are not there to uphold peace or enforce any laws and city ordinances. Just like any other corporation, they seek out opportunities to collect revenue for the benefit of the city that hired them.