Militarized Police: Overkill is Becoming the Norm as Officers Shoot First and Ask Questions Later


Is it true that America is moving toward a militarized police force, a force that is more intent on taking out the trash than in building bridges with the community? It seems that this is the case, though numerous apologists for law enforcement say things are overblown and if not for the writings of Radley Balko and Peter Kraska, no one would even be paying attention. One article supporting police efforts and techniques says that all of these complaints and articles about alleged police militarization is little more than disinformation. Is it?

Maybe things have simply become more apparent due to the increased level and availability of technology. But that would not account for increased use of tactical gear, included armored vehicles, would it? I touched on this in a recent article.

brokenlegA former Marine tells one group that America is building a domestic army. He states that the reason the government is doing that (via Department of Homeland Security) is due to the fears the government has regarding its citizenry. "The comments by the Colonel Peter Martino were made during public testimony at a Concord City Council meeting on Tuesday. The meeting concerned a decision on whether to accept a $260,000 Homeland Security grant on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle." People who attended the meeting had signs that read "More Mayberry - Less Fallujah!" showing that they had grown disgusted with the fact that more police departments are taking a military approach toward law-abiding citizens.

As one who has friends and family in law enforcement, I have a greater understanding of both sides of the issue. The only way I could have an even better understanding is if I were involved in law enforcement myself. My upcoming book will offer insight from individuals who spent 30 years in law enforcement. They have concerns about what has been happening within police departments as well. I respect what cops do, but I remind them that no one is forcing them to become officers.

I understand that SWAT teams began in the 1960s and were originally used to meet force with force, in rare instances when things really had the potential to get ugly. It is because of concerns for safety for officers (and civilians) that these SWAT teams came into being. The problem though is that it appears to average citizens as though the cops are mainly interested in keeping themselves safe. Again, I understand that they want to go home each night after their shift and when push comes to shove, they are going to do what they can to make that happen.

The difficulty is that because average cops are looking more and more like Robocops, it appears as though they are not at all interested in keeping civilians safe. It only appears as though they are interested in their own safety. There are a plethora of articles and cases out there where this seems to be the case.

One notable case occurred in Florida recently. "Two weeks ago, two Florida deputies shot 15 rounds at a 60-year-old unarmed Florida man who was looking for his cigarettes in his mother’s car, parked in his own driveway. Two of those bullets hit him in his left leg, which was shattered. Roy Howard Middleton says he was compliant when the cops told him to turn around. He says that as he was turning around to face deputies with his hands raised, they opened fire. (He believed his neighbors were playing a practical joke on him). The two deputies said they were responding to a 911 call about a car thief and that Middleton turned and 'lunged' at them with a shiny object in his hand. Middleton is black. The two sheriff’s deputies are white."

I studied that case from a variety of sources and the gentleman who was retrieving his cigarettes did nothing wrong. According to one witness, the police just opened fire on him. Why does this "shoot first and ask questions later" mentality exist? Because it comes from the top down. This is the message that's given to the cops on the street from superiors. The Sheriff in this case did what he could to downplay the incident and exonerate the officers. "Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County hastily took to the airwaves to explain that 'the tragedy of this is the noncompliance to the directions of law enforcement officers,' and that Middleton was 'both a suspect and a victim'."

Notice that the Sheriff stated that this was a case of "noncompliance." Based on what, or whose testimony? This same law enforcement department was in the news not long after the above incident. "A week later six Escambia County deputies climbed through the window of a private residence, without a warrant, dragging a sleeping couple out of their bed, shooting at their two dogs, one of which later died."

It turns out that the officers were chasing down a suspect and they said they knocked on the front door of a home and received no response. They then let themselves into the home through an opened window. "The couple, who are white, say they were asleep in bed. Then the cops threw them on the ground, handcuffed them and dragged them into the hallway, and then started shooting at the dogs. No arrests were made. That case is also being investigated."

Let's consider the facts of just these two cases, based on what we know. In the first situation, Roy Middleton was shot at 15 times by officers at fairly close range. He did not die, but please don't tell me that they were not trying to kill him. Fifteen bullets? They hit him twice, in the leg, by the way. Had they actually been decent shots, Middleton would now likely be dead instead of recovering. The officers said Middleton "lunged" at them and had a "shiny" object in his hand. There is no indication that the officers actually identified themselves. Middleton says all he heard was, "Get your hands where I can see them." Aren't they supposed to say something like, "Freeze. Hands in the air. Police Officers" or something that identifies them as law enforcement?

In the second scenario, did the police have the right to even enter that home? They did not have a warrant. They said they knocked and no one answered so they did what most thieves would do after it's confirmed that no one is home. They simply entered the premises figuring they won't encounter any problems.

But remember, the officers said they knocked and no one responded. Yet, when they entered the home, they apparently woke two dogs. My question is how the dogs didn't hear them knocking? Were the officers that limp wristed with their knock that even two dogs could not hear them?

Dogs sleep pretty lightly and they're very territorial. In this case though, according to the officers, the dogs didn't hear anything until after the officers got inside the house. The occupants were still asleep as well, which means the dogs hadn't started barking yet. Something's weird. Either the dogs were very old and very hard of hearing or the officers did not knock.

We also learn, "Upon encountering the people in the house, the dogs became aggressive. One dog bit at one of the deputy's leg. He pushed the dog away, but it came at him again so he shot the dog in self-defense, at which time the second dog began to run towards him. For his personal safety, he shot the second dog."

I see. Both dogs did what was natural for them to do. The police came into the dogs' territory and when the dogs defended their turf, the cops shot the dogs in "self-defense." The officers had no right to be in that home and had they obeyed the law and obtained a warrant, things might have been different. Instead, they flaunted the law and did what they felt was expedient even though it meant eradicating someone's rights.

I would be inclined to say we are not in a police state if things like these two incidents were few and far between. But they appear to be evolving into the norm for too many Americans. Something needs to be done about it or we can kiss our Constitutional Republic good-bye.

I'm not done with this subject and will be back with more soon.

This is Part 2 in a series. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 3 here.

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About Fred DeRuvo
Fred DeRuvo is the author of numerous articles and a growing number of Name Your Linkbooks related to conservative theology and politics. Fred received his Bachelor's degree from Philadelphia College of Bible and his Masters from Tyndale Theological Seminary. Fred received his Th.D from Northwestern Theological Seminary in Florida. Listen to Fred’s program and on MPR 105.3 FM in the Philippines. Fred began Study-Grow-Know Ministries several years ago where he fights the scourge of Leftist politics and policies that seem to be gaining a foothold in America. His blogs include Study, Grow, Know and Politically Correct Morass.
  • reggiec

    My dogs are part of my family. If you attack them, you attack me. I am retired Law enforcement of the old school. Retired in 92 after 28 years.
    I have a simple philosophy of life now at 70. I will never intentionally harm another either physically, emotionally or financially with one exception. If you threaten or harm me or mine, may God have mercy on you because I will not have any, no matter who you might be.

  • PBailey

    It's funny how the author posted a picture of a white woman being pressed to the ground with a broken leg. I guess that is the only race of person he could feel sympathy for or even side with. If it had been a black woman, his white mind would have automatically assumed that she was up to no good and, thus, deserving of the brutal treatment pictured above. But because the woman is white (or damn near close to it) he automatically assumes that her treatment is an injustice that warrants a mind boggling idiotic article be written in protest.

    Sadly, police brutality of this nature is a regular occurrence in the lives of nonwhites in America. It has been a part of our history as well that police have conflicted relationships with communities of color due to police misconduct. Whites, as usual, do not deem these behaviors of people in positions of authority as problematic until it occurs to someone who shares their pigmentation.

  • Mark Carlson

    There would be two dead cops in my house if they would have "crawled in a window"

  • Tommyboy

    Their should be a Congressional Investigation of this issue.

  • Robert

    You guys keep it up and some of you are going to be shot. Breaking into a house without a warrant is just asking for a bullet.

  • ADRoberts

    One would hope that many of the officers would join OATH KEEPERS. They are committed to upholding the Constitution and refusing to violate citizens rights.
    But the day is coming when Americans WILL assume that IF the police are at their door, they are about to be ROBBED, or KILLED, and/or SEVERELY ABUSED.
    It would not surprise me to learn that people will begin to FIGHT BACK. I truly hope that I don't live to see that day. But I have grandchildren. What is going to happen to them with
    Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, Bloomberg, Sharpton, Obama, Jackson, Patty Murray, Feinstein, Rubio, Boehner, McConnell, Kagan, Ginsberg, Schultz, Sotomeyer, Napolitano, Sebellius, Rangle, Collins, Snow, Matt Lauer, Connie Sawyer, Bill O'Reilly,and the other elitists in charge.
    Do you want them making decisions about who gets medical care, who gets free welfare, who starves to death, who gets their property confiscated, JUST because THEY WANT IT?
    Folks, why are we letting them do these things?
    First thing. PRAY.

    • freedomringsforall

      Amen
      I am praying that God will help our children and grandchildren to open their eyes.
      Study the word and our history.
      And come top understand how to resist and stop the onslaught.

  • DIABLO

    NO, "WE'RE" NOT 'DONE AS A REPUBLIC/ THESE ARE OUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FELLOW AMERICANS. IF THEY GO PSYCHO LIKE THIS ON THEIR OWN FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WE WILL END THEM JUST LIKE A FAMILY MEMBER THAT GOES MURDER-CRAZY-YOU PUT THEM DOWN AND THAT IS THAT.

  • provemewrong

    It appears that sometimes the cure is more deadly than the disease. Very sad.

    • Giantfan3

      If the citizens were as armed as they were they wouldn't stand a chance and they know it!

  • Death2Unions

    The Police State is building quickly. The dreams of the ghost of Hugo Chavez are coming to fruition. The Marxist in Chief and his Puppet Master Valerie Jarrett are seeing their mission coming true. The blood of American citizens will be flowing in the streets in short order under the Regime.

  • Dave M

    When the police moved away from the 'Protect and Serve' the citizens aspect
    of law enforcement into the police state enforcer aspect where the only
    thing they protect are the elitist power brokers and politicians against
    the citizens they became the domestic military arm of the government.
    DHS was simply the centralization of the command and control functions
    of something that has been going on for at least the last 25 years. As
    the old 'Protect and Serve' cops are retired or forced out the new
    Gestapo cops are taking over.

  • I_P_Frehley

    Simply disgusting. These wanna-be soldiers not to be prosecuted to the fullest extent.