The Police, Armed for War with the Citizens?

So I wasn’t in any trouble, but I got to go to our local police station today and check out their gear. Again, I think most cops are good people that are trying to do right by their communities, but when there is a problem, it can only be amplified by the unnecessary availability of gear that is best left for use in warfare. Which is a lot of what I saw today.

Obviously I’m focusing on Bellingham, WA and Whatcom County, but sadly my research shows that other cities police forces are even more armed than my own. Here’s a list of what I saw today.

  1. The cops have at least 20 cars and SUVs even though this is a medium sized city. Most have shotgun mounts. All are big and most very new. (Supposedly our city is out of money and can’t help the homeless or plow the roads, remember?) They also have some cool BMW motorcycles.
  2.  They have a light armored vehicle they call the BearCat, with gear included a public records request revealed that they spent $224,000 in 2008, $12,000 for maintenance since and the armaments for the vehicle bring the total to about $260,000. It was deployed once to subdue a riot at WWU, but even that use was unnecessary. Although the police followed proper procedure, before using the vehicle, it should be noted that they did not need a tank to deploy tear gas, etc. It also gets really shitty gas mileage. So bad that a motorcyclist could probably run a Yamaha R6 off of the fumes that the BearCat spits out.
  3. Each officer carries a high voltage taser with a range of 25 feet (makes you wonder why they shoot so many people and why they did so recently here), a gun (9mm I believe), at least 2 magazines of bullets (so at least 30 rounds of ammo plus what’s in the gun), pepper spray (I’m fine with this and the taser), body armor (ok good idea), and the cars and BearCats have shotguns available in them (some of them non-lethal bean bag shotguns). In short the cops are better equipped to pacify their citizens than most WWII commandos were while fighting the Nazi’s.

So it makes you wonder. Why do they keep telling us they’re out of money? In Bellingham we found enough money to arm our police for all out warfare with the citizens, we found 30.3 million dollars to give to a single construction company for our Simpsons Springfield Monorail Project (aka the Waterfront Project), we will dump at least an additional $10 million in through the greenways bill for the same project, but we just can’t help out the homeless.

Here’s why. The police are here to protect you, but their order of priority starts with the president and works its way down. So they’re really here to protect the mayor, her corrupt friends, their corrupt friends, and so on and so forth, whether they know it or not. The citizens, especially the poor citizens, can pretty easily get shot just for being a nuisance. Although the recent suspect shooting in Bellingham appears to have been handled correctly, according to the law anyway, one does wonder how a guy with a knife was a threat to an officer with a taser that had a 25 foot range who also has been trained in hand to hand fighting and was wearing a knife resistant vest. Oh yeah, and had backup and a partner. I’m not saying the officer should have put his life at risk in anyway, but it seems like they had more options than shooting the guy. At the same time, the guy was a total scum that stabbed 2 people, so in some ways, whatever.

A Picture of the Ferndale Police Tank that Mayor Linville refers to, “as something they don’t have to use, but just another tool.” Perhaps like she is. Anyway, does anyone really think that the government buys this kind of stuff to NOT use it? It’s not a spade vs. flat shovel, or a new kind of pruning shear, it’s a God Damned TANK! The police are supposed to be citizens enforcing the law. How many other citizens do you know that have tanks in their garage? This is unacceptable. I should note that we have these expensive, draconian, vehicles at the expense of taking care of our schools, our infrastructure, the homeless, and just about everything else the poor and middle class rely on. We also pay our cops and firefighters like shit and even had to have an emergency bond measure to buy a new firetruck, because our government is that incompetent. We pay almost 9% sales tax, and high property tax. The problem isn’t that they don’t have enough money, so something else must be going on.

ferndale tank

A picture of the City of Bellingham’s Light Tank

A bit more from an older article: