At the same time controversy swirls around proposals for even stricter gun control measures, below the radar is the increasing militarization of police agencies in the country from the federal government down to local police departments.
This has occurred despite the fact that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States and the traditional role of law enforcement officers in America has been as peace keepers, not soldiers.
Both Democratic and Republic administrations have been equally responsible for such developments. The Reagan Administration helped draw up the Military Cooperation With Civilian Law Enforcement Act which encouraged the Pentagon to give law enforcement agencies unfettered access to military resources, training and hardware. During the Clinton administration, law enforcement agencies were provided with 1.2 million military items including 3,800 M-16s, 185 M-14s, 73 grenade launchers and 112 armored personnel carriers.
The events of 9/11 accelerated this trend as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants for equipment and surplus military hardware have made available armored response vehicles, tanks and Predator drones to local police forces.
According to the Atlantic Magazine, “before 9/11, the usual heavy weaponry available to a small-town police officer consisted of a standard pump-action shotgun, perhaps a high-power rifle, and possibly a surplus M-16, which would usually have been kept in the trunk of the supervising officer’s vehicle. Now, police officers routinely walk the beat armed with assault rifles and garbed in black full-battle uniforms.”
Training in law enforcement has also been provided to top-level American police chiefs, sheriffs and senior federal agents by the Israelis who are known for their often harsh policing tactics.
There have also been recent purchases by federal agencies of over a billion rounds of ammunition, with the DHS buying most of it.
Last year the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) awarded defense contractor ATK with an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity agreement for .40 caliber hollow point ammunition. According to ATK, U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over a five-year period.
Last July, DHS placed an additional order for another 750 million rounds of ammunition. Included in the order were .357 mag rounds and hollow point bullets.
Other federal agencies have also placed orders, albeit for smaller quantities. The Social Security Administration put out a request for a quote (RFQ) for 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point bullets, the FBI ordered 100 million rounds of ammo in Nov. of 2011, and the Department of Agriculture issued bids for 321,000 rounds of various types of ammo.
Many federal agencies have their own police forces and maintain they need the ammunition for firearms practice. But that does not answer the question of why these agencies need their own police force in the first place and why the DHS needs over a billion rounds of ammunition for practice.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.