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Militarization of the police?

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Fishbone Jones

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As with all LE threads around here, this one too, is circling the drain.

Let's move on or we'll cut this one off as so many before it.

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cupper

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My own opinion, I don't have an issue with Law Enforcement getting surplus equipment to fill perceived needs. A tactical response team should be well equipped for the situations that they would be called out for.

However, what is troubling to me is the "mission creep" that we have been seeing in recent years where it goes beyond the hostage taking, the barricaded gunman, the active shooter situation. When you are calling out the Tac Team for support in executing an arrest warrant for a non violent crime, or raiding a VFW charity poker night, or performing alcoholic beverage commission inspections, you have to question why.

They have a specific skill set that is used for specific situations. But not every problem is a nail and not every solution is a big hammer.

One example that comes to mind is a domestic violence call. Every cop I've talked to says these are the worst because of the unpredictability of of the people involved, and the possibility of the victim turning on you. (The only reason I thought of this was because the cops were banging on the door of the upstairs neighbors who were having a minor disagreement that they wanted to share with the whole apartment complex). You'd never think about sending a tac team to calm the situation. But we are heading towards that situation.

Fortunately (I believe) there is a difference in the way things go here in the US and back home in Canada. There is a different mindset about the rights people have and how those rights are exercised, and the responsibility that comes with it. Suspicion of the motives of Law Enforcement is much more prevalent here that it is back home, some of it justified, most of it not. 
 

Scoobie Newbie

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Sometimes it's about hearts and minds and sometimes the situation dictates brute force and ignorance. I'll say it again right tool for the right job.
 

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cupper said:
My own opinion, I don't have an issue with Law Enforcement getting surplus equipment to fill perceived needs. A tactical response team should be well equipped for the situations that they would be called out for.

However, what is troubling to me is the "mission creep" that we have been seeing in recent years where it goes beyond the hostage taking, the barricaded gunman, the active shooter situation. When you are calling out the Tac Team for support in executing an arrest warrant for a non violent crime, or raiding a VFW charity poker night, or performing alcoholic beverage commission inspections, you have to question why.

They have a specific skill set that is used for specific situations. But not every problem is a nail and not every solution is a big hammer.

One example that comes to mind is a domestic violence call. Every cop I've talked to says these are the worst because of the unpredictability of of the people involved, and the possibility of the victim turning on you. (The only reason I thought of this was because the cops were banging on the door of the upstairs neighbors who were having a minor disagreement that they wanted to share with the whole apartment complex). You'd never think about sending a tac team to calm the situation. But we are heading towards that situation.

Fortunately (I believe) there is a difference in the way things go here in the US and back home in Canada. There is a different mindset about the rights people have and how those rights are exercised, and the responsibility that comes with it. Suspicion of the motives of Law Enforcement is much more prevalent here that it is back home, some of it justified, most of it not.

Actually WE are no where near that point. In fact despite the best efforts of the "tac guys" there are still teams in Canada, large divisional teams with less then a half dozen activations a year.

We are so far in the conservative direction of deployment that it's laughable.

The kit is shiny. Boys like toys. That's why they are required to justify the costs- to bean counters.

In fact. The only reason justin bourque arrived alive to court was because of all that new shiny kit and the absolute professionalism of a very good friend of mine- the least "militarized" nicest operator on the planet.

They had options when arresting him on how to cover ground and make that arrest that would have played very differently without that kit.

Just reread your post cupper. I think we may be saying the same thing.

 

Haggis

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RoyalDrew said:
If New Glasgow Police requires an ERT or the use of an armoured vehicle, they can call in the RCMP.  No need for a small town force to have that capability but of course they wouldn't want the RCMP to come in and step on their trunks as that might hurt someones ego.

Not really the best example, RoyalDrew.  New Glasgow Police are a regional police service, not restricted to simply "small town" policing.  A quick check of thier website sheds more light on thier AOR.

Also, remember that they were GIVEN an armoured vehicle by the MND.  Should/could they have refused it?  Sure!  Why would they?  My hometown police service (same approximate population as served by the NGRPS) would love to have and could use an armoured vehicle, but the don't have the budget to buy one or a benefactor to donate one.  The closest LEO armour for them is at least 90 minutes away.  If one were to become available for free, should they say "no, thanks" simply because of the optics?
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Haggis said:
Not really the best example, RoyalDrew.  New Glasgow Police are a regional police service, not restricted to simply "small town" policing.  A quick check of thier website sheds more light on thier AOR.

Also, remember that they were GIVEN an armoured vehicle by the MND.  Should/could they have refused it?  Sure!  Why would they?  My hometown police service (same approximate population as served by the NGRPS) would love to have and could use an armoured vehicle, but the don't have the budget to buy one or a benefactor to donate one.  The closest LEO armour for them is at least 90 minutes away.  If one were to become available for free, should they say "no, thanks" simply because of the optics?

I'm well aware of the size of New Glasgow and the outlying region, even if it is a regional force, the overall population of the regional municipality is still small in comparison to other cities in the Maritimes and you will also note, if you read this article:
http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/do-new-glasgow-cops-really-need-cougars-1.1182919 that the New Glasgow Police Service is the only one in Atlantic Canada with this type of vehicle.  You would think, given the size and level of crime in Halifax, perhaps they would be better served with it?  They didn't apply for it though because someone didn't think they needed it.

Also the idea that this vehicle is free is not accurate.  The members will require training to operate this vehicle, these vehicles are also maintenance intensive and are gas guzzlers.  The money they are using to maintain this capability could be better spent elsewhere.

Also, you again conveniently ignore the whole premise of my argument.  Of course, if I am a police officer/soldier/name any other government agency I am going to want the best kit and I am going to think I need/require the best kit.  It's this inability to look at something objectively from multiple angles that is the reason why cops and soldiers are not allowed to make REAL decisions.

There is a clear difference between WANTS and NEEDS.  You may want to have something that doesn't necessarily you actually need it.

We are increasingly straying off topic here though.  so time to put it back on track.

What we have been debating here isn't whether police should possess tactical units, advanced equipment, heavy weaponry, etc...

I think myself and everyone else can agree that police require a large toolbox to respond to a wide variety of potential calls, this is not the issue.  The issue at hand is are they using these tools properly?

I believe some of the assets are being misused and the rules governing the use of certain assets need to be better controlled and defined.  I.E. we need tighter control measures to govern their use. 
 

RedcapCrusader

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Anyone who says these things are unnecessary and excessive have never been shot at through a car door or window. Regardless of how infrequent those types of events occur, at least now they have something that can protect lives rather than a tin can that is easily turned into Swiss cheese.

"I'd rather have it and not use it than need it and not have it."
The training, maintenance, and fuel costs for that vehicle is negligible compared to the costs of medical bills and funeral preparations.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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RedcapCrusader said:
Anyone who says these things are unnecessary and excessive have never been shot at through a car door or window. Regardless of how infrequent those types of events occur, at least now they have something that can protect lives rather than a tin can that is easily turned into Swiss cheese.

"I'd rather have it and not use it than need it and not have it."
The training, maintenance, and fuel costs for that vehicle is negligible compared to the costs of medical bills and funeral preparations.

It's not about protection, it's about perception to the public... you don't use a hammer when you need a wrench.  Again your completely miss the point of this discussion.  It's not as if frontline cops will actually be using this stuff either, although according to some of you guys, they all should be, which is why we are having this discussion in the first place.

It's a dangerous job, we get it but it's also a volunteer job, nobody forced you to become a cop, if your frustrated with the parameters the government has set for you or you think it's too dangerous, get out, it's as simple as that.  Sometimes protection needs to be sacrificed in order to meet an objective.  We can't be wrapped in cotton wool at all times.
 

RedcapCrusader

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RoyalDrew said:
It's not about protection, it's about perception to the public... you don't use a hammer when you need a wrench.  Again your completely miss the point of this discussion.  It's not as if frontline cops will actually be using this stuff either, although according to some of you guys, they all should be, which is why we are having this discussion in the first place.

It's a dangerous job, we get it but it's also a volunteer job, nobody forced you to become a cop, if your frustrated with the parameters the government has set for you or you think it's too dangerous, get out, it's as simple as that.  Sometimes protection needs to be sacrificed in order to meet an objective.  We can't be wrapped in cotton wool at all times.

The public doesn't give a shit what police do, right or wrong, there are people out there that will cry and start an outrage. "It's not as if frontline cops will actually be using this stuff either" - how do you know? As a matter of fact in Cochrane, AB the RCMP received a weapons call out in a public park and rather than drive their crown vics over there, they drove their armoured response truck to put between the public using the park and the suspect. Luckily, the suspect fled rather than shoot. The officers driving were not specialty cops or ERT... they were regular GD officers.

I have no problem putting my life on the line to save others, danger is not something I'm concerned about. Danger toward me, as an LEO everyone hates me and danger is something I work with everyday, however there are some that are concerned. When there are tools and equipment that would be more effective and enhance protection of both the officers and the public (which these armoured vehicles accomplish), why not have them on hand? 

I'm not saying every officer needs to be driving one around for GD, that's not what anyone has been saying, but the public thinks that is what is going on. The public don't know better and are for the most part ignorant and don't care to learn or understand. If each agency has one sitting in the back lot ready for use, then the next time some idiot decides he's going to kill 4 cops (Moncton) they can greatly reduce the risk to life and safety.

nobody forced you to become a cop, if your frustrated with the parameters the government has set for you or you think it's too dangerous, get out, it's as simple as that.  Sometimes protection needs to be sacrificed in order to meet an objective.

The government does say my agency can't buy an armoured vehicle. The government also doesn't stop violence from occurring. The government also doesn't say we should just drive or walk into gunfire with inadequate protection. By your statement I should just do my job without any protection whatsoever regardless of how available it is? The closest ERT and Armoured Vehicle from the location where I was attacked 3 years ago while investigating a noise complaint was over 3 hour drive, what about Moncton? New Glasgow?

There is a reason for these things. Militarization is not one.

Maybe the CAF needs to get rid of Gas Masks because the last real CBRN threat was Saddam and even he pussied out, it'll allow for more money to spend on things we actually need? Same logic right?
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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RoyalDrew said:
I'm well aware of the size of New Glasgow and the outlying region, even if it is a regional force, the overall population of the regional municipality is still small in comparison to other cities in the Maritimes and you will also note, if you read this article:
http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/do-new-glasgow-cops-really-need-cougars-1.1182919 that the New Glasgow Police Service is the only one in Atlantic Canada with this type of vehicle.  You would think, given the size and level of crime in Halifax, perhaps they would be better served with it?  They didn't apply for it though because someone didn't think they needed it.

Mind reading again are we?,........fuck you're good.

Besides, I know of occasions where 'someones' in the military made  decisions that turned out to be really stupid because they were more concerned about 'optics'.  Shouldn't you go tilting at that windmill??
No,...wait......
 

Humphrey Bogart

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RedcapCrusader said:
The public doesn't give a crap what police do, right or wrong, there are people out there that will cry and start an outrage. "It's not as if frontline cops will actually be using this stuff either" - how do you know? As a matter of fact in Cochrane, AB the RCMP received a weapons call out in a public park and rather than drive their crown vics over there, they drove their armoured response truck to put between the public using the park and the suspect. Luckily, the suspect fled rather than shoot. The officers driving were not specialty cops or ERT... they were regular GD officers.

I have no problem putting my life on the line to save others, danger is not something I'm concerned about. Danger toward me, as an LEO everyone hates me and danger is something I work with everyday, however there are some that are concerned. When there are tools and equipment that would be more effective and enhance protection of both the officers and the public (which these armoured vehicles accomplish), why not have them on hand? 

I'm not saying every officer needs to be driving one around for GD, that's not what anyone has been saying, but the public thinks that is what is going on. The public don't know better and are for the most part ignorant and don't care to learn or understand. If each agency has one sitting in the back lot ready for use, then the next time some idiot decides he's going to kill 4 cops (Moncton) they can greatly reduce the risk to life and safety.

The government does say my agency can't buy an armoured vehicle. The government also doesn't stop violence from occurring. The government also doesn't say we should just drive or walk into gunfire with inadequate protection. By your statement I should just do my job without any protection whatsoever regardless of how available it is? The closest ERT and Armoured Vehicle from the location where I was attacked 3 years ago while investigating a noise complaint was over 3 hour drive, what about Moncton? New Glasgow?

There is a reason for these things. Militarization is not one.

Maybe the CAF needs to get rid of Gas Masks because the last real CBRN threat was Saddam and even he pussied out, it'll allow for more money to spend on things we actually need? Same logic right?

Again, I am not questioning the need for special responses for special circumstances.  I've already stated that officers need tools in the tool kit to do their job; however, that doesn't give them Carte Blanche to misuse these tools, which is what this topic was originally about but has strayed because so many people here take everything so personally.  If you want to continue to take my comments in that direction that's your prerogative but we aren't really gaining anything from it. 

The issue here is the misuse of police resources and what exactly constitutes reasonable use of force.  Taking this back to Ferguson, MO.  Even the governor has come out and criticized the police as "too aggressive"

Here is a news article from two days ago, key points highlighted for you:

Courtesy of CNN - http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/17/politics/missouri-governor-nixon-ferguson/
(CNN) – Gov. Jay Nixon is criticizing the “over-militarization” of the police response to protests that have been spurred by the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Nixon appeared on most of the political talk shows on Sunday, calling the tactics of the St. Louis County Police “aggressive” and expressed relief that the Justice Department is conducting its own investigation into the young man’s death on August 9.

“There are times when force is necessary, but we really felt that push at that time was a little aggressive, obviously, and those images were not what we were trying to get to,” he said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the policing using heavily armored military vehicles.

“And in those situations where folks are rolling up heavily armored and they’re pointing guns at folks, that’s impossible to have a dialogue,” Nixon said.


The governor, however, offered praise for members of the community who have been protesting Brown’s killing during an encounter with police.


Despite a shooting that left one person wounded and the arrest of seven people after a midnight curfew went into effect Saturday night, Nixon said the curfew was implemented peacefully and mostly without incident.

“Thousands of people spoke last night. Thousands of people marched and not a single gunshot fired by a member of law enforcement last night, and the members of community (were) tremendous helpful last night to get through what could have been a very difficult night,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

After days of heavily armed police patrolled the streets of Ferguson with a heavy hand and periodic use of force, Nixon ordered Missouri State Highway Patrol to take over the police response on Thursday.

The head of the Highway Patrol, Capt. Ronald Johnson, is African-American and from the area. He took a different approach than Ferguson policy and dramatically softened the aggressive stance.

Critical words about harsh tactics

Nixon is the latest politician to criticize police tactics that created a war zone atmosphere in Ferguson, a town of 22,000 near St. Louis.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday the situation needs to be “demilitarized,” and on the same day, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is considering a presidential run, released an opinion piece on Time’s website saying many police departments around the country are too militarized.

Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay, who represents Ferguson in Congress, said on “State of the Union” Sunday that “a militarized police force facing down innocent protesters with sniper rifles and machine guns is totally unacceptable in America.”


U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, also agreed that the reaction of police to protests was imbalanced.

“It appears that they may have reacted a little quickly on that force continuum when they decided to deal with … the protesters,” he said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

While Bernard Kerik, a former New York City Police commissioner, said the show of force was too excessive while protestors peacefully demonstrated, he said the police have a responsibility to protect personal property.

“You can’t let thugs take over the city. We saw that the other day. The police had to respond,” he said on CNN, referring to instances of looting.

On police militarization in general, Kerik said the increased militarization of the police started in the 1990s during the height of the war on drugs and continued after the 9/11 attacks and has continued because of mass shootings in schools and public places.

“It’s absolutely needed,” he said.


The legal process

Accounts of exactly what happened when Officer Darren Wilson confronted Brown on August 9 vary widely. Police said Brown struggled with the officer and reached for his weapon. Several witnesses said Brown raised his hands and was not attacking the officer.

Nixon also criticized the Police Department’s release of a convenience store surveillance video that shows a man fitting Brown’s description allegedly stealing a box of cigars just before Brown was killed.

Nixon said he was “unaware” the tape was going to be released and “we certainly were not happy.”

Nixon said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the tape release is an attempt to “besmirch a victim” and “to tarnish him.”

“It appeared to, you know, cast dispersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street,” he added on “This Week.”

Nixon also raised doubts about the special prosecutor in charge of the case, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, who has been asked by Ferguson community leaders, including Rep. Clay, to step aside because of what people say is his impartiality toward the police.

“He’s an experienced prosecutor. And this is his opportunity to step up,” Nixon said on CNN of McCulloch, who has been in the position since 1991. “It’s important we get this right. This is a big matter.”

McCollogh has defended the police response and slammed Nixon for sidelining the Police Department and putting the Highway Patrol in charge of security, calling the move “shameful,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Offering little confidence to the local investigation, Nixon said he pleased that the Justice Department is conducting its own parallel inquiry, noting that the FBI is sending 40 investigators.

“That’s the kind of independent, external, national review and investigation of this that I think will assist everyone in making sure we get to justice,” he said.

Nixon’s criticism of the Police Department and shaky confidence of the local prosecutor Sunday comes as the Department of Justice announced a second, independent autopsy would be conducted on Brown’s body.

The healing process

As the people of Ferguson seek answers and demand a fair investigation, the factor of race has once again become part of a national discussion that cuts deeply.

“We all know there’s been a long history of challenges in these areas (of Missouri),” Nixon said. “And our hope is that, with the help of the people here, that we can be an example of getting justice and getting peace and using that to move forward.”

But Nixon admitted that it will be a challenge because of “deep, long-term wounds” that won’t be easy to heal.

Actor and activist Jesse Williams discussed a dark history that black Americans face.

“Police have been beating the hell out of black people for a very, very, very long time before the advent of the video camera and despite the advent of the video camera there are still a lot of incredible trend of police brutality and killing in the street and justice is never served,” said the “Grey’s Anatomy” actor and board member of the civil rights organization The Advancement Project.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who was an instrumental figure in the civil rights movement, called on the police chief and Ferguson’s mayor to “literally apologize to the community.”

Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown University, said he wants more leadership from President Barack Obama, the country’s first black President who was a community organizer in predominately African-American neighborhoods of Chicago.

“This President knows better than most what happens in poor communities that have been antagonized historically by the hostile relationship between black people and the Police Department,” he said on CBS. “We need presidential leadership. He needs to step up to the plate and be responsible.”

The White House said the President was briefed on the situation in Ferguson again Sunday morning.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Politicians are clearly taking note of this and so is the general population.  I like this article because it offers a balanced perspective.  I do believe police need the ability to respond to special situations but that ability needs to have strict control measures in place to ensure it isn't misused which in many cases it is being misused.  The police need to strike a balance between their right to protection and ensuring that they aren't infringing on civil rights of the General Population.

Bruce Monkhouse said:
Mind reading again are we?,........frig you're good.

Besides, I know of occasions where 'someones' in the military made  decisions that turned out to be really stupid because they were more concerned about 'optics'.  Shouldn't you go tilting at that windmill??
No,...wait......

Bruce If you want to have a debate on the military and optics start a new thread and be my guest.  I don't mind poking fires or getting slagged.  Debate on issues is healthy, it's how organizations clean out their dirty laundry. 
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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I don't.  I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I do know how to just watch, read, and listen..
 

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http://www.policeone.com/officer-survival/articles/7481992-Video-Mo-police-journalists-take-cover-from-hail-of-bullets/

Heres a video to watch with regards to how things are at night there. Someone explain where the "dialogue" is supposed to happen
 

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This thread is not evolving. I'm tired of it gurgling and I'm about to jiggle the handle.

Last warning.

---Staff---
 

Retired AF Guy

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RedcapCrusader said:
Anyone who says these things are unnecessary and excessive have never been shot at through a car door or window. Regardless of how infrequent those types of events occur, at least now they have something that can protect lives rather than a tin can that is easily turned into Swiss cheese.

"I'd rather have it and not use it than need it and not have it."
The training, maintenance, and fuel costs for that vehicle is negligible compared to the costs of medical bills and funeral preparations.

RedcapCrusader. This is not about the everyday threats that police officers may face in the line of duty. Its about the fact that police forces, especially tac teams, have acquired some very heavy duty military equipment and the fact the they are being deployed in a pretty heavy handed way. And this is not something new. I remember reading an article in the (now defunct) Saturday Night Magazine that covered this topic thirty odd years ago.

Unfortunately, in my moves I lost the magazine, but I do remember one article about what happened here in Ontario when late at night a homeowner spotted some people skirting around his property. So, thinking it might be thieves he got his rifle and walked out on his porch. And then he died from a hail of bullets from an OPP tactical team!

No police officers were charged, and one of the subsequent corner's recommendations was that police tac teams in Ontario not be allowed to wear camouflage uniforms. And if what I've seen in the last few years here in Ontario, may be that corners reports should be dusted off because I seem to have seen a few Ontario tac teams running around in camo's.

Another point, is yes, there are a lot of bad people out there, but you can't plan for all scenario's. And having done up numerous int estimates in my career you plan for the most likely threat, not the worst case threat. Yes, you are going to have those situations where an APC would have been handy, but really what are the chances that you are actually going to need it! And think about how the money maintaining it could utilized for other resources.

A second point, a lot of this talk about police militarization refers to the U.S. And if you don't think the Americans don't have a problem go check out Radley Balko who keeps an eye on this kind of thing and scroll through his archives and come back to me and tell me if there isn't a problem in the U.S.

And unfortunately, as previous posters have said what happens in the States tend to migrate here to Canada.

My final point is that, again that its not so much the arming of police forces that's the problem, but the altitude of police officers and how they employ not just tac teams and, but in their everyday interaction with the public.

So, I think I've said as much as I can say, and I apologize for any mistakes, typo's, etc., it been a long day, I've run out of beer and its time for bed. I'll join the conversation tomorrow.

A final, final word to Redcap, WR, etc., who have talked a lot about their jobs and the the threats they face, maybe they can explain to what happened to Stacey Bonds.

 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Retired AF Guy said:
A final, final word to Redcap, WR, etc., who have talked a lot about their jobs and the the threats they face, maybe they can explain to what happened to Stacey Bonds.

Yup, and the fact that you must pull up a story from 2010/2011 time frame shows exactly how full of shit your post is.
 

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Retired AF Guy,

That happened here locally and your 'facts' on the situation are more than a tad askew.

Anyway, this has, once again, devolved to the typical, and predictable, 'Us vs Them' attitudes, platitudes and outright horse shit.

Experts that can only get out of the easy chair for a beer, many who have never stared down a muzzle with a set of crazy eyes above it.

Individuals are being slagged for their choice of vocation and the group they belong to.

We've done this too many times around here. We've lost members, created bad feelings and left people shaking their heads in frustration.

I'm going inside with the other Mods to try find a solution.

In the mean time, if I see one more thread demeaning anyone for the job they do, especially the LE, I'm cutting off at the knees.

And if I can perceive even a smidgen of blame anywhere, that person can expect a lot of attention from the staff.

We're done here.

--Staff--
 

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http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/09/29/museums_likelier_than_police_to_get_canadas_surplus_military_gear.html
 
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