A 19-month-old boy is in a medically induced coma after a 3am SWAT raid on his aunt’s home. Alecia Phonesavanh was visiting her sister in law in Habersham County, Georgia, when the local police decided to arrest her cousin on suspicion of selling $50 worth of marijuana. This minor crime apparently warranted a full-scale assault by armed police that ended with a stun grenade being thrown into the crib where Alecia’s son was sleeping. The blast left the toddler with serious burns and injuries to his face and chest – wounds that may prove fatal.
For most young Americans their first introduction to the police is as a trustworthy figure they can rely on to help them out. Officer Friendly is still a familiar visitor to many schools and kindergartens. Take a look at the actual police in the 21st century USA, however, and you’ll see something very different. Far from an approachable man in a blue suit you’ll now be confronted with a paramilitary force who don’t seem to have your safety and security as their number one priority.
Old-style policemen carried a gun but their main weapon was the respect they attracted and their ability to exercise authority calmly and even-handedly. They were always aware that they exercised that authority with our consent and that the law applied to them as much as it did to you. Now look what we have. The modern police don’t care about your consent. Their main weapons are weapons. A broad leather belt with a revolver, night stick and handcuffs has turned into something that looks like a cross between a soldier’s web gear and the Bat Belt. Anyone who dares disagree with these new-model cops is risking a face full of Mace or, now, a Taser blast. And if they suspect you might be exercising your Second Amendment rights you’re likely to find yourself looking down the wrong end of an AR15.
There’s obviously a need for large police departments to have SWAT teams, as a response to terrorist incidents or armed robberies. The problem is that every officer now looks and acts like a SWAT team, while the response units themselves are militarizing at an incredible rate. Beat cops now carry military-style handguns – the German SIG is a favorite – and the odds are they’ll have assault shotguns and carbines in their squad car. Meanwhile SWAT teams are abandoning squad cars for armored vehicles, often DoD-surplus MRAPs. MRAP stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, and these 30-ton trucks aren’t designed for law enforcement use – they’re designed to protect soldiers from a hostile population in a war zone. Why are police departments treating the American people as a hostile population, and why are they seeing the USA as a war zone?
Not long ago police helicopters were used to monitor traffic and follow fugitive vehicles. Now those machines are being replaced with bigger, more powerful military-style models loaded down with surveillance equipment. Night vision, thermal imaging and maybe even laser designators are all features of these new-model Blue Thunders. This is technology appropriate for Iraq or Afghanistan, not for the sky above your town. But then what do we expect when routine police work now consists of throwing grenades at infants?