The “Protecting Lives Using Surplus Equipment of 2017” or PLUS Act was proposed by Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, and would undo most of a 2015 Obama executive order that prohibited federal agencies from providing local law enforcement with certain equipment. The bill would prohibit any regulation, rule, or policy issued after May 15, 2015, that limits the sale or donation of surplus property from the federal government to state and local law enforcement agencies. This would mean that the restrictions imposed under President Obama in 2015, would be lifted.
Coincidentally, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, a common sight during the latter years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have found their way into the hands of local law enforcement since 2015, because while they are heavily armored, they are wheeled, not tracked. However, as “controlled” military hardware under federal law, the transfer of MRAPs to state and local police is still limited.
Other military items that are controlled — meaning the law enforcement agency requesting the gear must justify why they need, say, an MRAP in Garfield, New Jersey — are: armored personnel carriers; Humvees; 2.5-ton and 5-ton trucks or any vehicles with a breaching or entry apparatus; command and control vehicles; specialized firearms and ammunition; explosives and pyrotechnics such as flash bangs; battering rams; police batons; and riot shields and helmets.
Critics argue that heavy military hardware is inappropriate for domestic law enforcement, in part because police escalation of force differs so dramatically from military training and practices. Police training “by and large does not prepare policemen to manage high-stress situations the way the military prepares its soldiers,” two MIT researchers wrote in a Washington Post analysis of police militarization last year. “Police training tends to be short and classroom-based, and rarely emphasizes deescalation.” Ironically, the issue with police militarization may not be that there’s too little or too much of it, but that it’s not the right kind of militarization.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Coast Guard cutter Bertholf on a counterdrug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, March 11, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Trees
U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf left California on January 20 for a months-long mission in the Pacific to support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the largest of the U.S. military's geographic combatant commands.
Coast Guardsmen aboard the Bertholf left Alameda on the 30th day of what is now the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. They left a few days after not getting their first paycheck since that shutdown started and without knowing when the next will come.