Militarization of the civilian police force is a continuing concern for many of us. What was supposedly a peace keeping force to ensure the protection of the populace has been twisted into a force to fight various domestic wars. Right now our civilian police force is fighting a war on drugs and domestic terrorism while ramping up for a war on counterfeit goods. As more of these domestic wars are declared by Congress the militarization of our civilian police force advances. Now along with armored personell carriers, SWAT teams, and machine guns the police are starting to openly use military drones:
Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm on June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.
Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.
As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead, its sensors helped pinpoint the suspects, showing they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
Let’s look at the threat versus the level of force used by the police. Three individuals brandishing rifles chased off a Sheriff looking for six cattle. In response to this the Sheriff called in a SWAT team, a bomb squad, deputies from three counties, and a military drone. Since when have three men with rifles required the use of a practical army? Let’s do a cost to benefits ratio on this. Deploying a massive force costs a lot of money whereas six cattle aren’t worth a dreadful amount. It would have been far more economical had the Sheriff’s department simply paid the farmer the value of his six cattle and called it a day.
Economics aside we also have the frightening reality of the police moving in with military equipment to deal with three lightly armed individuals. But the part that scares me the most is the deployment of a Predator drone. Why? Militarization of our police force seems to only creep in the direction of more. When the idea of SWAT teams were first conceived they were used only for the most dire circumstances and only a few forces maintained these teams. Eventually more departments started maintaining SWAT teams and their usage moved from dealing with heavily armed situations involving hostages to mere drug raids against unarmed individuals. Following historical models the deployment of this Predator drone likely means there will be a continuing increase of drone usage by civilian police forces.
What could this lead to? Possible an eventual continuous surveillance of major cities or, a far scarier possibility, the use of armed drones. We already have sheriffs jacking themselves off over the possibility of using armed drones. Now that one public case has been solved using a Predator drone I only see the usage of such hardware increasing. Eventually I see the use of armed drones becoming as common as the usage of SWAT teams today.
Welcome to the United Police State of America.