Is that a concern? No. It’s not. It’s common sense and, if you have a clue what you’re talking about, it’s of no concern at all. Any law enforcement officer who is carrying a patrol rifle (a semi-automatic box-fed rifle) has been properly trained and is taking that weapon into a situation where such firepower may be called for. Any law enforcement officer who is carrying a select-fire weapon (capable of firing multiple shots on a single pull of the trigger) has been properly trained (usually to a MUCH higher standard than required by law) and is taking that weapon into a situation where such firepower may be called for.
Let’s look at some other equipment people seem so worried about. How about armored vehicles? Do domestic police agencies have a need for an “armored car?” Yep. When you think about the situations they may have to face and the fact that they are required, in the course of their duties, to go into environments where bullets are or may be fired at them, having an armored vehicle only makes sense – unless you just want to get a bunch of officers needlessly wounded and/or killed. So why does it freak some people out that police agencies have armored vehicles? My guess would be because the public has been told by those who make their money off sensationalistic “news” generation that law enforcement using armored vehicles are “jack booted thugs enforcing a police state.”
Um, huh? A “police state” according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is defined as:
a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.
Now while there’s no doubt some of us believe that the federal government has intruded too far into our personal lives and business, there’s a huge difference between the federal government with its enforcement agents and our local police or sheriffs agency. No matter what we think or feel about the current government administration, your local law enforcement officers from the state level down are still controlled by and operate under the Constitution of the United States. They are also likely controlled by additional state laws, county regulations, city personnel laws and department policies. How does that compare to what rules soldiers operate under? The controls are vastly different. Military personnel in combat arenas operate under Rules of Engagement that can differ from area to area, commander to commander and mission to mission.
In the United States of America, from coast to coast, Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii… sworn law enforcement officers have to operate within the restrictions as delineated in the Constitution. Do they always? No. They make mistakes. They’re all human. Occasionally there’s the “bad apple” that feels, for whatever reason, the law controlling his/her authority don’t apply and they do what they want instead of what’s legal. It happens. They get reported or a complaint gets filed. The investigation gets done. Upheld complaints result in appropriate disciplinary action.
But what we’re talking about, even if we didn’t realize it, is that a “police state” is created by the governmental authority that empowers the law enforcement professional. Police officers and sheriffs’ deputies themselves don’t create a police state. Their existence doesn’t equal the existence of a police state. Their behavior doesn’t automatically equate to the existence of a police state. What creates a police state is an oppressive arbitrary government – which can exist at any level: city, county, state or federal.
The thing to remember is this: appearance does not equal duty. A police officer wearing “soldier” gear is not a soldier. A SWAT team in an armored vehicle is not an infantry assault squad. A canine handler wearing a blue utility uniform is not a soldier – even though the uniform looks similar. He’s just wearing a uniform that is less expensive to replace when it gets damaged… and he’s wearing that because, as a canine handler, it’s more likely his uniform will get damaged/worn faster than the average officer’s will.
Think about it folks. Use your head. Quit swallowing the sensationalized clap trap fed by the mainstream – and often clueless – media.