A Peaceful Tactic For A Militarized Police Force

news
A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, when discussing security operations, states that “sometimes, the more force used, the less effective it is.”  According to journalist Radley Balko and his recent book “Rise of the Warrior Cop," SWAT recruitment ads, fighting-crime politics, and Department of Defense weaponry have spawned a storm trooper mindset within many police departments and resulted in a more heavy-handed approach toward enforcing the law. In recent decades, the inception of SWAT teams --- along with America’s war on drugs, war on crime, and war on terror --- have encouraged many police departments to develop an “at war” mindset, resulting in a more militant approach toward daily law enforcement.


For example, the recent allegations of excessive force against the Ferguson, Missouri, police department demonstrate how showing too much force is like pouring gas on a fire, inciting a reciprocal blaze of violence and threatening the safety of police officers and the citizens they have sworn to serve and protect.

Phillip Carter, a former Army officer and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in August about how the Ferguson Police Department’s militant show of force through body armor, assault weapons, and armored vehicles reminded him more of his combat tour in Iraq than traditional American law enforcement.  “...heavy-handed response to protests arguably caused the situation to escalate,” Carter wrote. “A lesser-armed police department,” he insisted, “might have used less confrontational, more community-oriented policing strategies to restore order, and been far more effective (and efficient) in the long run.”

I am not arguing universally against the police’s use of force. I deeply respect law enforcement officers, which include members of my own family and former colleagues from the Marine Corps, and understand that aggressive tactics are sometimes necessary for police officers, service members, and other types of protectors. Yet, ultimately keeping the peace --- as the USMC counterinsurgency manual suggests --- requires an in kind response to the violence perpetuated.

When considering use of force and response in kind, consider this statistic from Balko’s book: Less than one-eighth of 1% of homicides in the U.S. are committed with a military-grade weapon. Consequently, the need for a military-grade SWAT team in every American city and town is hard to justify and might even incur more violence. Balko cites several examples of innocent bystanders and innocent suspects killed by aggressive SWAT raids that now occur between an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 times per year compared to just 3,000 raids per year in the early 1980s.

In his bestselling book, "The Gift of Fear," security expert Gavin de Becker writes about the "dignity domino." If this inherent human quality (dignity) falls like a domino an escalation in violence is more likely. Yet, through more peaceful expressions of courtesy and understanding, this domino is more apt to stay upright and not fall to violence.

Despite the increased militarization among police departments, many cops, service members, and protectors still understand the dignity domino and how wounded pride and fractured egos can result in violence.

De Becker’s argument for courtesy and understanding corresponds with Joseph McNamara’s approach to law enforcement. McNamara, the former police chief for Kansas City and San Jose, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “instituted a form of policing that called on officers to be more sensitive to the people they policed… and to be respectful of the citizens they were paid to protect.” The results of his progressive effort, made McNamara, “one of the most consequential American policemen of the past 50 years” and well-respected by the citizens he and his police departments swore to protect.

Here’s a personal story about the dignity domino and not taking the bait:

A few years ago, I accompanied a public figure to India for a special event. While at a crowded gala, an inebriated and aggressive individual attempted to force an encounter with my protectee. Stepping between my protectee and the unknown individual, I asked the stranger, “Can I help you sir?” He screamed back with spit flying and his finger pointed towards my protectee, “Who is that man!  Who is that man!” I then said, “Sir, could you please step aside.”  Right then, a handful of sober colleagues pulled the irate man to the back of the room. A minute later, the venue’s security chief approached me and warned, “You should not have done that. You embarrassed him and he is a very important man.”

To say he was important is an understatement. As I squeezed through the crowd to apologize, I saw his dignity domino shake with every humiliating scream toward me and his surrounding minions --- a scene I’ll never forget. Before his domino could fall, however, I said, “I’m sorry sir,” and I left the party, posting outside as my partners covered the protectee inside. In removing myself, I extinguished the man’s fury and handed his ego a big victory. In my absence, his dignity regained strength and his pride slowly recovered. The party soon returned to normal and my protectee was safe and secure just like the angered man’s dignity.

As a protector, I understand how different my mission can be compared to SWAT teams and soldiers. Yet, at a fundamental level, we all deal with people and their emotions. Through understanding the dignity domino and treating others with respect, especially when they may not deserve it, we can breathe less oxygen onto the fires and gain security for those we promise to protect.

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

In the wake of a heartwarming viral video that was featured everywhere from Good Morning America to the Daily Mail comes a disheartening revelation: The 84-year-old self-described Army nurse cranking out push-ups in her crisp Vietnam-era uniform might not be who she said she was.

Maggie DeSanti, allegedly a retired Army lieutenant colonel who rappeled out of helicopters in Vietnam, was captured in a video challenging a TSA agent to a push-up competition ahead of a flight to Washington, D.C., with the Arizona chapter of the organization Honor Flight on Oct. 16. The video soon was everywhere, and many who shared it, including Honor Flight, hailed DeSanti's toughness and spirit.

Read More Show Less

The summer before sixth grade, Cindy Dawson went to an air show with her father and was enamored by the flight maneuvers the pilots performed.

"I just thought that would be the coolest thing that anybody could ever do," she said, especially having already heard stories about her grandfather flying bombers during World War II with the Army Air Corps.

So by the first day of school, she had already decided what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Read More Show Less
(ABC News)

Peach schnapps, sex on the beach, and piña colada may be familiar drinks to anyone who's spent an afternoon (or a whole day) getting plastered on an ocean-side boardwalk, but they're also specialty desserts at Ray's Boozy Cupcakes, Etc, a bakery in Voorhees, New Jersey run by a 93-year-old World War II veteran named Ray Boutwell.

Read More Show Less
Instagram/US Coast Guard

A former senior Coast Guard official has been accused of shoplifting from a Philadelphia sex shop.

Rear Adm. Francis "Stash" Pelkowski (Ret.) was accused of stealing a tester item from Kink Shoppe on Oct. 8, according to an Instagram post by the store that appeared online two days later. In the post, which included apparent security camera footage of the incident, a man can be seen looking at products on a counter before picking up an item and placing it in his pocket before turning and walking away.

The Instagram post identified the man as Pelkowski, and said it wished him "all the best in his retirement, a sincere thank you for your service, and extreme and utter disappointment in his personal morals."

Read More Show Less

SAN DIEGO —The Marines say changes in the way they train recruits and their notoriously hard-nosed drill instructors have led to fewer incidents of drill instructor misconduct, officials told the Union-Tribune.

Their statement about training followed an Oct. 5 Washington Post report revealing that more than 20 Marines at the San Diego boot camp have been disciplined for misconduct since 2017, including cases of physical attacks and racist and homophobic slurs. The story also was published in the Union-Tribune.

Read More Show Less