Ummm...huh? I was just about to embed a video regarding the Law Enforcement Support Office, entitled "Get With The Program"...but it seems that the video has been removed from YouTube. Perhaps too many people heard about it, and raised a ruckus? ***EDIT*** I retrieved the video from my drive, and uploaded it under my own YouTube account. It is embedded at the bottom of the page, and will remain there until YouTube decides that I've committed copyright infringement for posting a video that was produced with my own tax dollars...
Perhaps you're wondering, specifically, exactly what the hell is "L.E.S.O."? Well, it's quite simple...it's the Department of Defense's way of dispensing with surplus equipment to local, county, and state law enforcement. I'm not really sure why the local SCHOOL DISTRICT's S.U.V. needs to be outfitted with a forward-looking infrared camera, but take a good look the next time you see a Law Enforcement vehicle with a small dome-shaped appendage on its roof. I'm sure you've seen the old Swarzenegger film "Predator", and know what infrared imaging looks like and what it does...it detects heat, and is used to locate warm bodies that otherwise can't be seen. I guess truancy is becoming a real problem, huh?
Many people would also wonder why I'm even concerned about this, seeing as how I haven't been enrolled in high school for more than a decade. My problem is this, specifically: OUR NATION IS TURNING INTO A POLICE STATE.
Becoming a police officer is, quite frankly, one of the most easily-obtained occupations in the United States today. Seriously, even I could become a cop, after going through a six-month course at the community college and passing a state exam...yes, even with my Class-B misdemeanor conviction. Unfortunately, being a policeman doesn't pay all that well, which means that you're going to get a bunch of applicants that, umm...well, let's just face it. Some of them aren't the brightest crayons in the box.
While my cousin and I were sitting and waiting in traffic court the other day, she played the role and pointed out the fact that physical fitness wasn't exactly high on the list of priorities, as exemplified by the "heavy duty" Sheriff's Deputy who walked through the court room. I guess that rules out "physically demanding" as something you have to deal with when being a professional cop.
Okay, so we've already discovered that stupid and lazy people can and do become cops. I'm not saying that all cops are stupid and lazy, as many of them are highly intelligent and even more of them fall into the category of complete and total "health nut". However, take a look around when you go to work tomorrow...in toto, how many smart people do you see? How many complete and total idiots do you see? How many "physically fit" people do you see around you, versus out-of-shape people? Get my point?
My father once told me that there were only two reasons why most cops became cops...it's because A) they don't want to actually work for a living, or B) they were bullies all through school and they wanted a job getting paid for being a bully instead of getting in trouble for it. After my *extensive* personal experience (which, btw, went back 15 years this past January) around local, county, and state cops, I've come to realize that dad wasn't too far off the mark. Then again, my father is the son of a WWII veteran that routinely referred to the Texas Department of Public Safety as "The Gestapo"...maybe it was because of their brown shirts? Hmmm...I never met him, I guess I'll never know.
Before I go any further, I'd like to say that I've met many fine upstanding individuals who wore and/or still wear a badge. Unfortunately, for every one of these people, I've met AT LEAST a dozen badged bullies that suffer from "BCS". For the unknowing, that's "Bitter Cop Syndrome".
Specifically, what is "Bitter Cop Syndrome"? "Bitter Cop Syndrome" is what occurs when a badged agent of our government sees himself as necessary to society, and gets highly upset when he realizes that he really isn't. One of the most common manifestations of BCS is when the officer declares himself to be a "Law Enforcement Officer", utilizing seven syllables, when the one-syllable word of "cop" will suffice. That is the first warning sign.
There are, of course, several others. Other common symptoms of BCS include "flexing the badge", which is commonly seen when the officer displays non-existent authority over ordinary citizens with absolutely no legal basis whatsoever.
You may also see an individual suffering from BCS display physical symptoms, such as:
A shaved head, and/or other "military"-style haircut.
Leather gloves, typically of the "fingerless" style.
BCS-afflicted law enforcement personnel also has an affinity for pretending they are the "civilian military force", and examples of this can be seen when they feel the need to don military-grade equipment.
I'm sorry, but there is no valid reason for a standard patrol officer to be in possession of a full-auto military rifle that is unavailable for the common citizen, even if they have been "trained" to use it. The majority of the male members of my family have had extensive firearms training (and many of them were trained by the US military), so it's safe to say we know what we're doing when we pick up a gun. When a cop gets to pack a full-auto rifle, the amount of training required to do so isn't exactly what I'd call "significant".
Many would say that there is a necessity for a policeman to have one of these rifles that does not extend to a need by the common citizen, but I would disagree. Aside from the rate of fire, there is no real difference between the M16A2 in the trunk of a cop car and the semi-auto AR15 found in the gun cabinet of your local citizen afficianado. The only real purpose of providing such weapons is to provide the psychological advantage of "I have something you can't have, because I'm better than you".
The same holds true with local county sheriff's departments' use of tanks and armored personnel carriers for the purposes of conducting "raids". Seriously, these things get about half a mile per gallon, and the maintenance on them must be out of this world...yet, we still see our local law enforcement using them, as they did on the FLDS compound in Midland County, TX.
While this sort of thing isn't costing any initial dollar figure when the federal government gives our local LE community a tank or a machine gun, there are certainly other costs involved. First and foremost, there are the federal income tax dollars required to purchase the equipment for the military in the first place. A tank or tracked APC will run well into the six-figure range. Even at "bulk pricing", military rifles are still going for several hundred dollars a pop.
On top of this, we have "training" expenses...which consist of the man-hours required to train our local idiots to use a tank, helicoptor, grenade launcher, and anything else they may think they "need" from the Pentagon.
Top that off with maintenance costs. You think brake pads on your chevy are expensive? Imagine new wheel bearings on a tank. An air filter for a helicopter engine. Replacement filters for an NBC suit's breathing apparatus. All of this stuff adds up...and, for this gear to be effective in the slightest, it requires continuous training for any and all who may be using it...which, in turn, wears out the working parts and requires more frequent maintenance.
These costs are nothing compared to the cost upon a free society, when you get a bunch of BCS-afflicted "occifers" suited up in riot gear, armed with M16s, riding around in an armored personnel carrier, and willing to "get with the program" when it comes to enforcing the state's already-encroaching threats against our civil liberties.
Perhaps the reason most police officers don't see the danger in doing this is because they aren't afflicted by the affronts upon our civil liberties, for the simple reason that they wear a badge. When you're a member of the local "finest", the laws don't really apply to you....after all, you get paid to ENFORCE, not follow, the law. Maybe it's because they just don't give a shit, as long as the checks still come in.
Every single one of these factors is, in and of itself, not that bad of a thing...but let's look at the big picture here. When you take someone like this guy, put him behind the trigger of a rifle that's apparently so dangerous that you and I can't own one, and then give him the stereotypical "we have to give him leeway, his job is so dangerous" response when he screws up, you have a very dangerous situation...especially when employees of our police departments are far less likely than the general public to be indicted for assaults and homicides (in Texas, it's a common saying that you can "indict a ham sandwich" due to the limited requirements for indictment), and even still, a very small fraction of indictments ever end up in convictions. As a matter of fact, for all the deaths that have been attributed to police officers in Harris County, only ONE officer has ever been convicted of an unlawful homicide while in uniform...and that cop served 60 DAYS IN JAIL for shooting a 14 year old boy.
So...do we really want a bunch of renegade cops running around, with access to machine guns, tanks, helicopters, et cetera? I don't know about you, but I don't think they need anything else to help their inflated egos. They already have tasers and handguns, and many of them can't be trusted to use those in accordance with the law.
Within the past month, we've seen numerous situations right here in Texas where police have been abusing their authority. The case that has gained the most noteriety is, unfortunately, the case that caused the least amount of physical harm to the victim...of course, I'm speaking of the Ryan Moats case.
Aside from that, we have a Bellaire PD officer currently under indictment for shooting a man through the chest, after wrongfully pointing a gun at the man's head in his own front yard after mistakenly thinking the man was driving a stolen car.
Right here in Brazoria County about two weeks ago, we had a cop get fired from the Freeport Police Department because he assaulted an elderly "mentally challenged" man. Apparently, Officer Chris Bake incorrectly thought the vehicle was stolen (am I seeing a pattern here?) and rammed the vehicle in order to stop it. After the 65 year old man stood up after getting frustrated by seeing his own vehicle get rammed by a cop car, and then being forced to sit on a curb with the driver and two other occupants, he was pepper-sprayed and kneed in the face. Charges have still not been filed on the officer.
Seriously, if this is the best we can do for our police departments, I'd honestly like to see them disbanded so we can keep the money and look after ourselves. If you think this is a bad idea, I propose a challenge...ask yourself, "What has a cop done for me lately"? If you can't remember anything that cops have done for you in the past decade that you couldn't have done for yourself, what's your reasoning for wanting to continue to finance them?
Now that we've cleared that up, do you still think they should be "getting with the program"?