BearCats still a bad idea

I was not able to provide timely comment to an author’s request on a recent article about the sheriff’s office arrival of the BearCats. These are my late comments.

I do have a concern over the probability that these BearCat armored tank vehicles will be abused when situations arise where the value judgments of local law enforcement deploy these machines in an unnecessary manner or unintentionally escalate a problem which could otherwise be handled without the use of such force as these vehicles can provide.

They are (the sheriff’s office), like other law enforcement agencies all around the country, getting these vehicles through grants provided by federal entities like the DHS and DoD (i.e., Army Corp. of Engineers) and this alone raises concerns as to the efficacy of such purchases and who is really in charge when these machines are deployed. Thus, the second part to this is that by accepting federal money, the local agencies are often stipulated to perform certain tasks and duties which are required by the grant, no matter where it originates.

So despite the obvious use by local agencies, these vehicles and other tools are really operated by co-opted agents in local civilian police forces who may be required at some point to operate solely under federal control and totally bypassing any legitimate use or ownership by local LE. Therefore, this is basis enough to reject federal funds at all cost especially knowing that no money is free or free from having strings attached.

So, yes, I think that this is a misuse of funds, despite the poor type of vehicle the sheriff’s office had before. A large reason for such acquisition is often compounded when media, local agencies and the uninformed public spin the issue saying that “violent crime is skyrocketing in this country,” when even Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics and other research like that conducted by Pew Social Trends Organization blatantly shows that crime is at an all time low for the last 40 years!

Case in point: many assume the number of well-publicized, high-profile “mass shootings” (involving three or more people, including the murderer) somehow correlates to an overall rise in crime. This is not true except for large cities with gun-free zones and gun bans.

However, such vehicles are not limited to so-called “active shooter events,” but are geared towards “anti-terrorism” efforts, hence their military-grade armor. Again, as I iterated in my article awhile ago: “when was the last time we saw a terrorist walking down the streets of Marietta?” I back this reasoning up with the admissions of “task forces” in the FBI who have been behind the so-called “homegrown terrorism” movement for at least the last 13 years, if not before, in which they are the main progenitors of encouragement and dummy explosives (etc.) to these groups. Hence, no real “terrorist” threat exists. (See NY Times article, “Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.”, Apr. 28, 2012)

Furthermore, statistics of the National Security Agency show through admission in sessions of Congress the incompetency of government, that no real terror threats have been stopped by the massive intelligence gathering, er go the probability of abuse at the local level with the tools and funding which they hand out to counties and cities. (See Bloomberg article, “NSA Data Have No Impact on Terrorism: Report”, Jan. 13, 2014)

Of course then there are issues which arise about officer safety, and besides this issue being a stonewall to protest, there is still little advantage which this vehicle can provide (except in tactical, military-like maneuvers or capacity officer movement) to everyday crime-fighting, further making me wonder when or why these machines must be deployed.

Emotion is an unfair way of preying upon people who cannot begin to argue for officer safety. Most LE officers are very good people and revered and lauded in their community, and of course no rational human being would want harm to come to their fellow man. Yet this is beside the point to the fiscal irresponsibility and the ability by zealous officials to wield wanton force over the disarmed public at large.

Perhaps there are legitimate uses, but I think they are for the battlefield. I didn’t realize that America or Washington County, Ohio, was a battlefield. It’s an issue to watch and the public needs to be aware of all moves by any federal, state, and especially, local law enforcement, to hold them accountable.

Hopefully there is no abuse, but that is possibly a fools hope considering the trends across the country. To me, this seems as though those in power are the ones who make the facade of the threat of crime escalate while they use well developed, and emotionally guided tactics to sway public opinion towards the ultimate need for such tools.

If I can be sarcastic for a moment, I just want to say that if any law enforcement starts asking or saying they received grants for rocket launchers, an Abrams tank, an armed Predator drone, and 50 caliber machine guns, then I can say: “I told you so.” To what point does the escalation stop? Short of the Abrams tank, some law enforcement offices already possess such equipment. Preparation for World War III here in America? Civil unrest?

My last and most important point here is that, this is only one more step in the slippery slope that America finds itself in towards an all-encompassing police state which has now arrived right here at home. Stop and think.

Sam Ludtman lives in Reno.