Missouri police response raises questions about militarizing law enforcement


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Submitted: Fri, 08/15/2014 - 9:04pm
Updated: Sat, 08/16/2014 - 2:15am
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There’s been a lot of attention this week on the use of military-grade equipment to deal with protests in Ferguson, MO. The protests bring some serious questions to light: Why does law enforcement have this kind of gear, and do they really need it?

You might remember the scene in Wilmington’s Creekwood community last October when a deputy was shot. Swarms of cops from all over the area came to help find the shooter Toting with them rifles, bullet-proof vests and even an armored personnel carrier.

“Law enforcement offices all around the country, but even here in North Carolina, have access to a great deal of military equipment through federal programs and federal grants,” said ACLU of NC Policy Director Sarah Preston.

She says one of those programs requires law enforcement to use that equipment within one year of getting it. She says this gives them incentives to use gear they might not need and could harm innocent bystanders.

“There’s a lot of incidents where members of the public who are completely innocent are being harmed because law enforcement are making decisions to do things like throw flash bangs into children’s bedrooms in the middle of the night to execute a no-knock warrant,” Preston said.

WPD spokeswoman Linda Rawley says the department has an armored personnel vehicle, a helicopter and some weapons.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) visited the Port City today and discussed his thoughts on whether local law enforcement agencies are becoming too militarized.

“Maybe we’ve gone overboard,” Burr said. “That’s for close scrutiny to sort of evaluate. But I don’t want to see the pendulum swing all the way the other way to where officers don’t have the equipment that they need or don’t have the types of vehicles that keep them safe.”

The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office also has an armored personnel carrier and helicopter.

A New Hanover County Sheriff’s spokesman says other than the SABLE helicopter, that agency no longer has weapons or equipment that are military-grade equipment from the federal government.

41 Comments

  • The Sheriff says:

    If you feel intimidated, or scared, or timid when the police are standing there in full riot gear making a show of force then good. You should be. The police are doing what we have asked them to do.

    Protect and serve all, not just the folks who alledge they are peacefully protesting.

    Once they clear the officer of any wrong doing or criminality, who is going to apologize to him, give him his good name back and thank him for doing the job most folks in Ferguson won’t do? Who is going to replace what was looted and burned down?

  • Rusty says:

    Serving by protecting the masses in that area of Ferguson from the no-goodniks.

  • zenobia says:

    The police have absolutely no responsibility to protect any individual.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/28scotus.html?_r=0
    So don’t expect them to protect you.

  • guest 1234 says:

    So fine, scotus defined that LEO has no constitutional responsibility to protect any individual. Yet, this is a double edged sword, or better yet, a catch 22.

    In a separate case, California Supreme(ly liberal) Court defined that unless an LEO “involved” him/herself, then they did not have that responsibility. Yet, when an officer arrives on scene, he/she is by default “involved”, therefore, has a duty to continue.

    http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2094&context=californialawreview

    Separately, make your point by showing anywhere in NHCo or Wilmington, there is or has been an officer/deputy that has NOT stepped forward, then your point will be meaningful. Until then, you’re just an idiot making a poor statement. The article is about LEO potentially using military equipment in regards to the response in Missouri, not whether they actually do react.

  • WilmBlue77 says:

    If you need an explanation as to why a distraction device need to be deployed into a residence during a search warrant then you have got to be slow. There is no such thing as a low level search warrant , cops have been shot serving “low level” warrants without tactical teams for misdomeanor offenses . Anytime you attempt to serve a warrant the unknown exists .since you need a explanation for flashbangs , when a tactical team deploys a “Flashbang” into a residence is because they believe there is a threat. obviously you have never been near one when it goes off , once it goes bang you wont even think about reaching for any kind of weapon nor will you be oriented enough to resist. But you are right it is YOUR right to express how you fee but knowing what you are speaking about and just speaking because you feel a certain way are two different things.

  • The sheriff says:

    Where does rioting and looting fall within the confines of peaceful assembly?

  • what says:

    Sure, shoot first ask questions later, maybe scared itchy trigger police should not be police to start with. Suspects these days are often dying at the hands of criminal like behavior from the police. Police are being viewed by the public as the new gang, suspects are too often not making it to court for a fair hearing, it is just not safe to be an American anymore. People are tired of police tyranny, the constant killing across the nation by police is making us sick.

  • Danimal says:

    Please take a quick peek at this link: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/baby-in-coma-after-police-grenade-dropped-in-crib-during-drug-raid/ …… and then please explain to the poor mother of this kid.

  • WilmBlue77 says:

    I am well aware of that story , and it is very sad.But its painfully obvious that you lack intelligence . Things go wrong and bad things happen, no matter how much training or planning you have , it will never go 100% the way it should. Gee what would’ve happened had they knocked and a shoot out insued and the child was struck by a bullet and killed? Also if you knew anything about law enforcement , you would know the cardinal rule is where there are drugs there are what? GUNS yes thats right GUNS. Guns equal what ? say it with me HIGH RISK hence why a flashbang was used. Like i said before you know nothing of which you speak so have a great day and LEO will continue fighting what you fear. :)

  • Skeeter473 says:

    The last time that I checked looting and buning property as well as running wild is not a peaceful assembly as you have stated. Ferguson, MO now has the National Guard out there. That does not sound peaceful to this fella.

  • Turner says:

    Unless you actually put your life in danger for people you don’t know you don’t hav the right to impose your liberal ideals on others that get shot an and spit on for doing everything possible to protect you. Sheriff office and wilmigton police both have programs where you can actually get educated on all this. So get educated so you don’t sound like a typical sheltered un-informed liberal.

  • guest 1234 says:

    Yes, they must be. Wasn’t their accreditation an issue lately? Them that’s probably a simple answer, for a simple, ignorant liberal.

    Do you really and truly believe, does anyone really and truly believe that “militarization” honestly means tactics and heavy handedness? Seriously? That has got to be the most ignorant uninformed thought. Equipment is in response to the threat, not an escalation of it.

    Barney Fife would carry what these guys and gals carry now, and not in his shirt pocket.

  • Danimal says:

    As a citizen of this country, I do have the right to share my ideals with others. See, that is what makes this society work. I am not “spitting on” anyone, btw, I am just making a point that our Police Forces should be protecting and serving..not intimidating and harrassing people for holding protests! … And please do explain the flash grenades being thrown into homes for low level warrants, kind sir!

  • GUESTOFFERSON says:

    …going on in Missouri, they needed to bring in the full blown military to quash those criminals! Looting, breaking and entering, burning, destruction of property. That was total chaos. I wonder why Jesse and Al didn’t show up to help them protest in such a professional manner?

    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a focused and exclamatory display of ignorant, criminal and violent people in my life. Stealing, burning and destroying anything they could get their grimy hands on. No different than a pack of wild dogs after a piece of carrion. And why? Because of a teenage thug thief. Now there’s a real purpose!

  • portcity says:

    You mean…Based on the violence in wilmington i believe they need it.

    The police are not arming with military gear to protect us against everyday criminals. They do so to protect us from terrorist. There is a real reason that militants and groups that hate americans are noy running around america slaughtering thousands. Its because our police force is greater than iraqs and syrias armies. Unfortunatly sometimes these weapns and gear must be used on criminals/animals that dont know how to act in america.

  • Arlan Rascoe says:

    Clinton started bulking up local police forces with fed grants in the 90s, after 9/11 Bush took it to the next level with giving every fed and local agent tons of new toys. Now Obama is having DHS buy billions of rds of ammo, tons of machineguns, and giving surplus MRAPs to podunk police forces. The point that is being missed here is that military equipment isnt really being used in Ferguson, its being withheld. Obamas speech made it clear this regime identifies a difference between “civil disobedience” and “protests” and “Right wing militias” and “anti govt radicals.” It boils down to who you are protesting and what your skin color is whether they roll the tanks or not. In the meantime, calling this a Democrat/Republican issue is moot, they are both involved in militarizing local police, because this govt does not trust its own people and are preparing to protect themselves during unrest, while the Mexican border is wide open to any criminals who feel like walking over. The next time Obama/Biden/Feinstein or any of the anti 2nd Amendment crowd makes a declaration that this or that type of gun has no place in society, ask yourself why they trust even more firepower in the hands of the cops.

  • The Sheriff says:

    It is also written that justice is blind. Meaning the law that applies for the white people, apply for the black folk too.

    When the officer is cleared, and he will be cleared, are the good folk going to replace what they looted during their alleged peacefully assembly’s?

    Mr Brown was no saint. Just another hood rat who didn’t bring a gun to a gun fight after robbing a store and taking something that didn’t belong to him.

    The world is better off with out him.

  • Tweety13 says:

    Wow!!!i really hope that you aren’t a
    Real officer of the law.Yes he will get
    Off no doubt.Wow!!! Karma is a !!!!!

  • Heimie Schmelter says:

    If and when you are confronted by police and they request that you do something, you had best do it. That is not the time to be arrogant, disruptive or belligerent. That sort of behavior will only escalate the situation and get you into trouble quickly. If you’ve done nothing wrong, there won’t be an issue. If you have the need and want to act cocky about it, then good luck, it probably isn’t going to end in your favor! Doesn’t matter if your black, white red, or yellow.

    I have never seen an officer make an inappropriate request. I have always complied with their requests and have never had a problem. I have never presented an arrogant attitude and have voluntarily answered their questions. Some people think they have a “right” to not comply with an officers requests. Those that feel that way are usually criminals or those with criminal history.

    Your demeanor means everything. The way you present yourself is important. If you want to present yourself as a non-compliant, belligerent jerk, you’ll most likely be treated like one! All it takes is two things to avoid conflict with police officers, innocence and the ability to conduct yourself as a reasonably compliant individual that has nothing to hide.

    That’s all it takes. Why is that so difficult for you people to understand and accept? What is it that makes you think you are so special that you feel the need to behave otherwise? Because you’re black? Because of the chip on your shoulder? Or both?

  • The Sheriff says:

    It all boils down to credibility. You have a duly authorized peace officer protecting and serving his community from a criminal who stole something that was not his to take nor traded any for of legal tender for.

    The word of the law enforcement officer, who has no marginal or questionable record of employment, over the the word of a group of folks who feel they are owed something because of their skin color.

    You know what’s nice about the next civil war that’s coming?

    Slavery won’t be the crutch this time.

  • Tweety13 says:

    What in the world are you talking about
    The police officer had know idea about
    The store incident at the time.Follow the
    Story that is being reported by Cnn.What
    Reason did he give to be shot six times
    Twice in the head hands raised I don’t
    Care what you feel about Black people
    That young man was killed.The police
    Officer was wrong.The truth will come
    Out because if he is the person that
    They are saying he is his moral being
    Will come out.

  • The sheriff says:

    It’s no, not know. Secondly, the officer heard the call for the robbery and saw the dead guy and his buddy matching the description of the suspects from the robbery. The dead guy assaulted the officer and in the course of that asssult disarmed the police officer. Then said officer was able to disarm and retrieve his weapon and engage the suspect when the offender attempted to bum rush the officer

    That is the account of events said officer friend elaborated to a local radio station in Missouri. Sorry you can’t come to terms with or grasp that the better man won. All the hoopla in Missouri is just a result of entitlement mentality or the entitlement thought process.

    When the officer is cleared of any wrong doing, the populous of ferguson going to pay back and replace what the looted and burned down? Judging by the looks of things in ferguson I don’t imagine they could pay attention let alone replace something that wasn’t theirs to take in the first place.

  • Guest2020 says:

    You do get what you give. When you give the officers a bad attitude, you will most likely get a bad attitude back at you. Like you, I have never had an issue with police officers. When I get pulled, I turn the car off, put my hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to tell me what he wants me to do next. I inform him of where my license and registration are before I reach for them. I do my best to make him feel at ease and I am absolutely respectful of how I talk to him. I had one that seemed a little annoyed at me because I acted like I didn’t care about my expired tags, but I had a migraine that day and the stop was the last thing I cared about that day. But, I was still respectful.

  • Twitty13 says:

    Who cares we are talking about a
    Young man gunned down in the street
    He was not shot at close range so how was
    He rushing the officer.the last shot was in his
    Head(top of) Of course he will be found not
    Guilty.All white jury with 1898 mentality.

  • Rusty says:

    Exactly! The last time I had a long ride in a police car (Circa 1991) we had an amicable discussion about the hot topic of that time; I knew I was in the wrong for what I’d done but that didn’t mean the rest of the night should be making the officer’s night bad as well. I still got a DUI and all but at least all parties involved made the best of it and considering the circumstances I enjoyed the intelligent conversations we had during the process.

  • Guest2020 says:

    The last time I let my tags go bad, the DMV gave me the wrong year for my sticker and I didn’t even notice. I got pulled by a State Trooper and of course the tag didn’t match the records and he accused me of having a fictitious tag. I explained to him what happened. I gave him dates. I told him the trooper’s name who gave the ticket for that one. I was very respectful to him and he was respectful to me. He even carried on the entire conversation behind my car so that my kids couldn’t hear the conversation. He decided not to confiscate the tags, gave me the ticket and sent me on my way. He didn’t have to do that.

  • The Sheriff says:

    So, by your account, the laws of society should only apply to white people?

    Racist much?

  • tweety13 says:

    Don’t know what you read.Never said anything about one people only following the law.Being shot six times unarmed in broad daylight,there is a problem.You can twist it anyway you like.I read somewhere that says liberty and justice for all.

  • tweety12 says:

    im not sure to what you say; becuase i;m slow.i don;t no who to speak inglish,because i skip skool two much

  • Mechanic says:

    Local police are supposed to enforce local laws. I see no need for such military equipment, except in a SWAT situation. If things get out of hand as they did in Missouri, call in the National Guard. This is their specialty. They have the training and equipment to deal with this type unrest.

  • The watcher says:

    And they have no authority over civilians. They cannot arrest anyone for anything that occurs.

  • guest123 says:

    I really don’t understand how “conservatives” who want to shrink the government and limit powers are so in love with your local police department becoming a quasi-military.

    I also don’t understand how anyone who worries that the increased military equipment and tactics could erode our civil liberties is a
    “Liberal”….at the same time when conservative leaders like Rand Paul are public airing the same concerns.

    I think the biggest problem with LEO’s getting equipment like this is it is expensive to maintain, so they use it far more than absolutely neccessary to justify it; making the public numb to it…opening the window for escalation and abuse.

    Like the old adage, How do you boil a frog?

  • 1355cd says:

    If that young man in Ferguson would have did what the officer told him to do none of this would have happened. Why young black men think the laws do not apply to them is a big part of the problem. Now it is all the officers fault. That young man set the wheels in motion and now look at the outcome. Think of how much trouble and chaos he has cause just because he would not get on the sidewalk.

  • Tweety13 says:

    So you are saying that it’s the young man fault
    (Unarmed with his hands in the air facing the officer)
    To people shot six times twice in the head?If you feel that
    Way there is something wrong with you.

  • Danimal says:

    I sincerely hope you are joking.

  • The watcher says:

    There are people in this area that have made great efforts to try and fuel a riot situation similiar to 1971 over events involving officers using deadly force but things are different these days. Instead of a 1971 style riot, it will probably end up in the 1898 style. Citizens aren’t as likely to let gangs of thugs destroy everything they have worked for. People are waking up and taking notice after seeing the lawlessness of post-Katrina New Orleans and now in Missouri. Let’s hope the military equipment that law enforcement is receiving from the feds isn’t needed.

  • Mechanic says:

    Holy crap. There are no terrorists here other than the people who can’t drive a vehicle. They are the worst local threat. The police are supposed to enforce laws. Local law enforcement agencies were never expected to fight a small war with armed rioters. They are not trained for such and it is better left to the National Guard when these things happen.

  • guesty says:

    Let us know how well that works for you.

  • T says:

    I really hope you people don’t ever need the cops and their military equipment. You are nothing but a bunch of liberals that need to get a life. This guys are risking their life’s out there everyday so that you can get your fat paycheck and buy your kids a BMW when they turn 16.

  • Danimal says:

    Police are to protect and serve. The use of this “military” style force is unacceptable. I understand the need to have kevlar and swat teams for serious situations, however using smoke grenades/flash grenades/etc while serving low level warrants or breaking up the legal assembly of people protesting is absurd.
    Also, I would like to know if all these local yahoo police officers are properly trained to use all these flashy toys!

  • Taxpayer5678 says:

    The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman wasn’t exactly forthcoming. Technically, they don’t have any equipment from the federal government. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have it. They have plenty of weapons and equipment….they purchased it outright from companies. Nice way of skirting the question.

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