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It’s Not About You

It’s Not About You

In the days following President Trump rescinding an Executive Order by President Obama restricting used military equipment given to the police in what is commonly referred to as the “1033 program” countless pundits, politicians and activists have moaned about how awful the decision by President Trump was.

Here is my message to the complainers.  It’s not about you!

The demands placed on law enforcement in recent years has been immense.  Never in the history of the profession has so many tasks been thrown at a profession with so little resources, staffing and even support been included in those demands.

Responding to active shooters, violent riots and dealing with the mentally ill are nothing new to law enforcement but the volume and scope of the issues certainly are. The 1033 program has helped law enforcement obtain much needed equipment since President Bill Clinton launched the program in 1997.  In 2015, after the Ferguson Riots, President Obama scaled it back.

Clockwise from left: ballistic shield used by Paris police at the Bataclan, helmet worn by officer during Orlando Pulse shooting response, helmet worn by officer during Ferguson riots.  Courtesy, Facebook/The Rural Badge.

That reduction was unfortunate and that wasn’t the only restriction placed on law enforcement at the time.  Law enforcement was also restricted from obtaining equipment deemed to be too militaristic under the Justice Assistance Block Grants.  Items such as those scary shields, helmets and rams were no longer seen as a way to protect police officers but they were helping law enforcement become an occupying army.

That is ridiculous and once again, to those complaining,  It’s not about you!

It is about the victims trapped in an Orlando Nightclub that were saved by responding police officers that fortunately had the necessary equipment to help them.

It is about the citizens of San Bernardino that were inevitably protected from harm when police officers utilized an armored vehicle to help take down terrorists.

It is about the neighbors and citizens in a small Arkansas town that were made safer when heroes wearing that so called military equipment rushed in to take down an active shooter that had already killed Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Bill Cooper.

No, it’s not about anyone else but the citizens and the police officers that are tasked to save them.

Yes, with the use of any equipment, there comes a responsibility to use it correctly and to know both the time and the place to do so and while Ferguson was a trigger moment for those that all of a sudden were outraged about a program that President Bill Clinton started almost twenty years earlier, did the police officers in the middle of a violent riot in that St. Louis suburb not have a right to be safe?  Yes they did, because once again, it’s not about you…..It’s about protecting our police officers.

This country and our communities have a choice to make.  If you want law enforcement to actually enforce the law and keep citizens safe, then our society has a duty to do all it can to protect those police officers.  That includes training, staffing and equipment.  Society cannot have it both ways.  They cannot expect a society that is protected against evil without providing the very tools that can assist in that protection.

And it’s not about flash bangs or grenade launchers or whatever fake news you want to throw around to justify not protecting police officers.

It is about equipment that can protect police officers and the citizens they serve.  Both deserve for all of this to be about them!

 

About The Author

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Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training.

5 Comments

  1. ahaz

    Travis. I don’t know where to begin. But I will begin with the disingenuous nature of this opinion piece. President Obamas restriction had NOTHING to do with preventing police from obtaining the equipment they needed, but rather PREVENTING weapons designed for war from falling into the hands of local law enforcement and being used against CITIZENS. In fact, local law enforcement received over 500M in equipment in 2015 after the Obama reforms. That doesn’t sound like the Administration was keeping needed equipment form local LE. For those not informed, let me list some of the prohibited items:

    1. Weaponized vehicles of any kind
    2. Tracked military vehicles. (Tanks, tracked APCs for example)
    3. Grenade launchers and bayonets
    4. .50 cal ammunition and weapons capable of shooting .50 ammunition ition and above.

    The restrictive hardware is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, WAR and have no business being used within our borders and especially used by police. There was nothing in the order that prevented local law enforcement from obtaining assault rifles, ammunition, even non-tracked MRAPs.

    You stated two specific incidents, San Bernadine and Orlando to justify the need for military equipment. I beg to differ. These incidents were responded to using standard police armored vehicles, BEARCATS. Bearcats, designed for domestic LE use, can provide adequate protection against 99.99 percent of incidents that police respond. So in reality, the need for military equipment such as MRAPs and especially militarized tracked vehicles is nonexistent. Furthermore, I can’t justify any situation where .50 cal weapons could ever be used with our borders by local police. Frankly, the desire for this equipment is fueled by paranoia and the desire of some police departments to become para-military units. That mentality is dangerous and places citizens at risk.

    The terrorist threat hasn’t changed in this country for years. It’s still the lone wolf wolf domestic terrorist, starting since before the Islamic threat became we feared the most. It’s still the white supremacist, anti-abortion and anti-government extremists that present the most risk. Furthermore, these types of extreme isn’t will never have access to the type of weaponry that local LE seems to fear. As they would describe the threat, they are expecting a full bore invasion of a foreign power upon our lands. Frankly, if that was the case, US citizens wouldn’t be seeking protection for LE, but rather the US military. In fact, the threat from these people are still handguns, seem-automatic assault rifles and vehicles. All of which can be handled effectively with existing Bearcat technology.

    We have all seen first hand the problems that police militarization has created. Police have adopted a mentality where they equate officer safety with overwhelming force. It’s a dubious claim at best. Now police routinely use SWAT teams for search warrants and even the lowest level administrative enforcement. We seen infants critically injured due to the reckless actions of SWAT. We’ve seen children killed by SWAT because officers fail to maintain control the of their weapons. Grandparents killed because SWAT fails to correctly identify canes. This is due to militarization and the paranoia created by today’s type of policing. It erodes the trust between the community and the police forces. And Travis’s own words sums it up best..”It’s about us” and its “Not about you”. Those words and the attitudes it enspouses should make every citizen concerned. I’m concerned. Personal anecdote…I’ve been to NYC on several occasions. Not one time have I felt secure seeing a regular patrol officer armed with an assault rifle, not because of the danger that they were trying to protect us against, but rather of their reactions based upon PERECIEVED threats. THAT SHOULDN’T BE.

    The Trump administration is making a huge mistake rolling back the very reasonable restrictions on the 1033 program. Police never have and needed military equipment and they don’t need it today. In fact, they should have never possessed it. It proponent of this program we’re really concerned about officer safety, every patrol car would have some type of armor. Every officer would have access to ballistic shields, every officer would have effective training. Giving a police department a tank isn’t protecting the officer or the community. And contrary to what Travis’ article states….IT IS ABOUT US!!

    • Law Officer

      “Every officer would have access to ballistic shields”……So you agree with at least part of the article. Did you see where the author said that this equipment was denied in the very grant funding you mentioned? This article did not argue that cops need tanks and 50 caliber weapons as you suggested. Some other items you left off that were in the article – “And it’s not about flash bangs or grenade launchers or whatever fake news you want to throw around to justify not protecting police officers.”

      “Yes, with the use of any equipment, there comes a responsibility to use it correctly and to know both the time and the place to do so…”

      Finally, did you read this phrase mentioned several times in the article since you are labeling the author as a “us vs. them” mentality – “It is about the citizens…” “It is about the citizens…”

      Your bias is obvious. Where, in this article, are tanks being asked for? and that was your main focus.

  2. LegalBeagle

    But, but, what about the feelz?

  3. Katrina

    Totally agree. How are they to protect us if they aren’t protected themselves? I wonder if 0bama really wanted citizens to be protected. I think not. I wonder if his true agenda wasn’t evil and self serving. And he is still wiggling his way into the spotight.

  4. Samuel Fivey

    Agree, nice to see the belief coming from those higher up the chain.

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