During the Watts Riots of August of 1965, the California National Guard was called in to keep the peace. During the demonstrations protesting the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, the local police were called in.
In recent years, our local police forces have become more and more militarized and Montana has decided to fix that.
On January 28th, 2015, Representative Nicolas Schwaderer (R), introduced HB330 The bill places limits on the types of military equipment a local or state police department can purchase. It also audits the current inventory as well as requires oversight of military grade equipment.
As reported from the Tenth Amendment Center, “The legislation prohibits state or local law enforcement agencies from obtaining automatic weapons “not generally recognized as suitable for law enforcement purposes,” armored or weaponized drones, combat aircraft, grenades or other explosives (including flash-bangs), silencers, long-range acoustic devices, and tanks or tank-like vehicles.”
“They’ve turned ‘protect and serve’ into ‘command and control.” said Tenth Amendment Center executive Michael Boldin said.
Long gone are the days of Adam 12, Dragnet and Andy Griffith, where the local police were dressed and armed to “Protect”, yet still be non-threatening to the average citizen who relies on them to “Serve”.
Although we have seen an increase in situations where law enforcement is abusing its authority and disregarding the law they swore to uphold, the majority are fine, brave, and hard working men and women who put their lives on the line daily in service to this great country.
But where are we headed? Is the National Guard and it’s purpose becoming more and more irrelevant as local law enforcement becomes the new Gestapo?
The Federal Government is largely responsible for the current militarized police that we have today.
Beginning in the 80’s with the failed “War on Drugs” and going into over-drive after 9/11, the Feds have been arming, funding and training local police forces for over three decades.
In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security gave close to 1 Billion dollars in counter-terrorism funds to state and local police to purchase tactical vehicles, drones, and tanks showing almost no benefit to public safety.
We definitely live in more dangerous times and we surely want to be protected when the occasional situation arises, but on a day to day basis, do we really want our local law enforcement to continue to become an aggressive paramilitary force? Common Sense dictates that the money would be better used at the National Guard level for the occasional time that a larger enforcement presence is needed, than to be wasted on a day to day basis in the local municipalities that most likely will never have a real need for it.