Is your local government armed to the teeth? Many in Michigan are.
A recent editorial in U.S. News & World Report cited the drama writer’s principle known as “Chekhov’s Gun” — if they have it, they must use it:
“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” — Anton Chekhov
True in fiction and, sadly, in real life. Ferguson, Missouri comes to mind.
Michigander’s take note, many of your trusted men and women in blue are dangerously over-armed with much more than rifles hanging on a wall, and based on the recent Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, our President has just put the hammer down on their quasi-military activities and questionable armament purchases.
The 103 page report concludes with 15 pages of detailed recommendations and action items designed to foster community trust, reduce the use of force, encourage outreach, improve training, and a slew of other common sense measures, but the point that’s grabbing the most attention simply reads:
RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations that employ a continuum of managed tactical resources that are designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment.
ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a mechanism for investigating complaints and issuing sanctions regarding the inappropriate use of equipment and tactics during mass demonstrations.
If you seek a militarized peninsula, look around you.
For those of you who live in one of the following counties, be warned, your police departments are weaponized at a military level: Barry, Berrien, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Genesee, Kent, Newaygo, Oakland, Ogemaw, and Wayne, along with other counties similarly Ramboed-up to a lesser degree.
Among the newly banned military gear are weaponized vehicles and aircraft, camouflage uniforms, grenade launchers, bayonets, and .50 caliber and higher weapons and ammunition.
Grenade launcher-toting police forces can be found crouching in Barry, Berrien, Ottawa, and Wayne counties. At $720 a bang, Barry County is the winner with five of the devices — they could easily wipe-out a smallish township or two, but clearly lack the fire power to hit Kalamazoo or Battle Creek. That’s a relief! And for those old school militants, bayonets can be found in the police departments of Berrien, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Newaygo, Oakland, Ogemaw, and Wayne. After all, if you can’t shoot ’em, close-quarter disembowelment is always an option.
From air compressors to wrenches, most of the military gear is truly innocuous, but there remain more than a smattering of dubious acquisitions. MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected troop transports) were procured by Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Eaton, Livingston, Monroe, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, and Saginaw counties, with the latter county vowing to dispose of the menacing vehicle in the wake of a thorough shaming on late night comedy shows last year.
Camouflage purchases were harder to pin down, as the bulk of the listed clothing does not specify whether it’s camo or not, with the exception being “trousers, snow camouflage”, of which Oakland County felt the need for 240 pairs.
While we’re on the topic of Oakland County, it’s worth mentioning that they are somewhat of an outlier — but in a rather weird sort of way. Either they have a rogue purchasing clerk with a fascination for military gadgetry, or an imminent coup is in store for the tony upscale community. Let’s assume it’s the former. Of the 238 page report, much of it was devoted to Oakland County acquisitions related to vision technology — with over 5 pages of itemized night vision goggles, 7 pages of infrared illuminators, 11 pages of reflex sights, and 400 infrared transmitter units. Couple that ominous collection of creepy gear with their attainment of 2,950 three-point assault slings (used with assault rifles), and 40 ammunition vests — and well, it looks like they’re preparing to do battle with ISIS. Who knew Oakland County was such a hotbed of crime?
While some would like to characterize this armament ban as federal government over-reach, they may want to consult the database on local police militarization before making that claim. Be sure to set aside a few hours for your state — the database, courtesy the Detroit Free Press, is vast.