MRAPS ‘R’ US

J. Carson Black @ jcarsonblack.com

Today I read an article in The New York Times: “Hands Up, It’s Showtime.” In it, columnist Kurt Andersen explains how MRAPs and paramilitary stuff have grown in the police departments across the country—and many people, including some law enforcement, think it might just be over the top, and possibly dangerous.

The really crazy thing? The TV cop shows are taking their cues from the SWAT teams throughout the country. From police departments big and small. The movies and TV shows apparently didn’t influence the police departments. They influenced themselves.

All this military-grade hardware stuff that goes BOOM! is now the norm for most police departments.

A moment of silence for Sheriff Andy Griffith and Deputy Fife’s one bullet.

This is what I wrote in my Cyril Landry thriller, Spectre Black:

Probable Cause, these days, in certain towns, in certain counties, in certain states, in certain regions, could be stretched beyond recognition. Stretched, wrung out, hung on the line, ironed, folded, spindled, and hung up in a closet. If they’d been playing by the rule of law, they would have had no Probable Cause to arrest him. And they certainly had no basis to let him go, after he nearly pulped Earl to puree.

Police in this town were a law unto themselves.

He wondered how Jolie had fit in to this brave new world in Playa County.

The police here had become paramilitary. Police departments and sheriff departments across the country were getting more and more hardware that they didn’t know what to do with. And it did not dawn on them that they had everything they needed to fight a ground war in Afghanistan.

Army Surplus was king. They had everything they needed: SWAT gear, tactical vests, Armor-plated vehicles called MRAPs (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle), tear gas, M-14s, and probably a grenade launcher or two.

Considering the fact that municipalities liked to get their money’s worth, Landry was lucky to be alive at all.

****

Police Forces are a paramilitary entity and always have been. But now they’re going Full Rambo. I can just picture a woman sneaking out a bag of potato chips from Krogers into her cart, suddenly being over-faced by SWAT, weapons all trained on her.

“Hold the grocery bag high, Ma’am. Turn around and walk back toward me. Don’t make any sudden moves, and everything will be all right.”

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