You can say many things about the NRA’s commentators, but you can’t accuse them of being non-responsive, like so many in the mainstream media and politics. Dom Raso and his New Jersey SWAT officer buddy Jerry Plum have caught a lot of heat for a recent video about the military and police sharing tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Dom offers up his opinion once more, clarifying where he stands on the issue. He also tells you where you can offer feedback at the end of the video, and I appreciate his interest in getting our feedback. Please provide it as concisely, precisely, and nicely as you can.
I know where Raso’s coming from, and I think that as a nation, we’re a little naive as to the horrors of Mumbai, Nairobi, or the terror attack that he didn’t mention, Beslan. This kind of attack is coming to the United States.
It isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.”
There is every reason to believe that with our pathetically porous southern border and the longstanding relationships between narco-terrorists and Islamic terrorists (a relationship key to the plot of the movie, Act of Valor), that these terrorist cells are already here, staged, and ready to deploy when given the command.
Dom wants out police to be able to meet these attacks… and I understand that position.
But as Charles C.W. Cooke notes, there is a distinct problem of American SWAT teams using their tools and training in ways that feel distinctly totalitarian the rest of the time:
Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway. The ACLU reported recently that SWAT teams in the United States conduct around 45,000 raids each year, only 7 percent of which have anything whatsoever to do with the hostage situations with which those teams were assembled to contend. Paramilitary operations, the ACLU concluded, are “happening in about 124 homes every day — or more likely every night” — and four in five of those are performed in order that authorities might “search homes, usually for drugs.” Such raids routinely involve “armored personnel carriers,” “military equipment like battering rams,” and “flashbang grenades.”
Were the military being used in such a manner, we would be rightly outraged. Why not here? Certainly this is not a legal matter. The principle of posse comitatus draws a valuable distinction between the national armed forces and parochial law enforcement, and one that all free people should greatly cherish. Still, it seems plain that the potential threat posed by a domestic standing army is not entirely blunted just because its units are controlled locally. To add the prefix “para” to a problem is not to make it go away, nor do legal distinctions change the nature of power. Over the past two decades, the federal government has happily sent weapons of war to local law enforcement, with nary a squeak from anyone involved with either political party. Are we comfortable with this?
I, for one, am not remotely comfortable with the way SWAT/ERT units are being used to serve common warrants that were once conducted by a couple of uniformed officers and a detective or two with pistols and perhaps a couple of shotguns.