What do police officers think of the current trend of “military-grade” equipment being issued and used by local and state police agencies…   no comments

Answer by Tim Dees:

Much depends on context. Most cops would be reluctant to go on patrol in a Lenco Bearcat tactical vehicle, as it would make for a barrier between themselves and the public. Cops find it difficult enough toi approach citizens (and vice versa) with the usual patrol uniform and vehicle. Tactical gear would make it worse. Helmets, long guns, heav6y external body armor, night-vision goggles, etc., have their place with tactical teams, but not so much for patrol work.

In a tactical scenario, whatever it takes to get the job done is acceptable. If you’re going in to an active shooter situation like the North Hollywood shootout, the more armor and guns between you and the shooters, the better. These incidents seem to be happening more frequently, and not just in large cities. Local PDs have to maintain the same level of preparedness as big city outfits. These incidents evolve rapidly, and there is seldom time to wait for a team to arrive from a distant location. In fact, current doctrine says that you go into the active shooter situation quickly, with whatever you have on hand, as delaying usually means loss of more lives. This was demonstrated most graphically in the Columbine High School massacre.

Police sidearms are properly augmented with a shotgun and a military-style rifle, both carried in a rack in the patrol car and ready for immediate deployment when needed. Active shooters frequently arm themselves with military-type rifles. It is unreasonable to ask police officers to face off with people like this while armed with a .40 caliber pistol.

Traditional police uniforms are giving way to less formal, more rugged attire for practicality. This doesn’t mean military ACUs/BDUs like infantrymen would wear, but does mean trading wool and polyester slacks and shirts for wash-and-wear low-profile cargo pants and shirts with a tucked-in shirttail. The traditional uniforms are expensive and have to be dry cleaned. The wash and wear uniforms are just more practical for someone who has to climb fences, crawl under cars, and wrestle combative drunks on a daily basis. Tailored properly and kept up, they can produce a professional appearance and not look like your burglary report is being taken by G.I. Joe.

All these things have to be balanced between being able to oppose threats and maintaining a decent relationship with the citizenry. Open communication about what the cops are doing and why they’re doing it helps accomplish the mission.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014