By Joe Wolverton, II, J.D. | The New American
As the military transitions into a tech-heavy force, increasingly reliant on robots and drones, local police forces are looking less like law enforcement and more like heavily armored combat units. Now, it seems they are starting to train like them, as well.
A story published by The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, reported on recent secret joint training missions between U.S. Army special forces and the Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department.
The article describes training exercises being conducted by “unidentified units” from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Ft. Bragg is the home of the elite U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and the super-secret, super-deadly Delta Force.
A spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department refused to identify who was participating in the exercise or why it was being carried out. The department did, however, issue a press release, warning that the war games could get loud. "Citizens may see military and departmental vehicles traveling in and around rural and metropolitan areas and may hear ordnance being set off or fired which will be simulated/blanks and controlled by trained personnel," it declared.
As for why such combat simulations were necessary, the statement explained that they were a result of “Sheriff Leon Lott’s longstanding commitment to making sure that deputies are trained and prepared for every event and potential threat and his desire to assist the military to ensure their preparations.”
This synthesis of police and military is a threat to both civil liberty and a clear distinction between the purposes of the two organizations. The integration has progressed so far, though, that even the mainstream press is taking notice.
In an essay published in the Wall Street Journal last August, Radley Balko, author of the Rise of the Warrior Cop, presented chilling and convincing evidence of the blurring of the line between cop and soldier:
Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment — from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers — American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.
Balko rightly connects the menace of the martial police with the decline in liberty and a disintegration of legal boundaries between sheriffs and generals:
Americans have long been wary of using the military for domestic policing. Concerns about potential abuse date back to the creation of the Constitution, when the founders worried about standing armies and the intimidation of the people at large by an overzealous executive, who might choose to follow the unhappy precedents set by Europe’s emperors and monarchs.
Given the critical role played by sheriffs in the protection of constitutionally guaranteed liberty, it is dismaying to read story after story describing the anxious acceptance — and occasionally the full-time petitioning — of military materiel by county lawmen.
Read the full article at: thenewamerican.com