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Posts published in “Day: August 15, 2014”

What happened to ‘protect and serve’?

rainey BARRETT


About 25 years ago, I loudly and publicly complained about one of the many policies our government was engaged in at the time that had roused my ire. As I recall, the words were proper, the thoughts well-organized - as usual, of course - and the anger was not hidden amongst flowery phrases. In typical government reaction, my well-delivered suggestions for immediate change were ignored.

All these years later, my angst regarding the issue has doubled. And doubled again. But government persists. And the bad policy continues to exist - redoubling again a few times itself. The issue: equipping and training community law enforcement to be hometown armies rather than agencies to “ protect and serve” as is written on the doors of so many local police cars.

The black anger in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, these days is exactly what I was talking about two decades ago. These unarmed, frustrated, socially-suppressed and mad people are in those streets of their own neighborhoods - often their own yards - being faced by officers in camouflage combat fatigues, snipers in the open on top of armored trucks, nearly all cops wearing gas masks and carrying many, many automatic weapons. Anyone speaking “protect and serve” speaks pure B.S..

All of this was brought sharply together in my living room a night or two ago when one of the TV networks was using some stock video footage as the faceless voice was talking about much the same issue - inappropriate police dress, tactics and weaponry. What connected it all was one of the scenes shot in a Caldwell, Idaho, neighborhood some months back, showing police in the same type of combat dress and carrying the same types of weaponry. And they were prominently accompanied by an MRAP! An MRAP parked on someone’s subdivision lawn!

An MRAP is a terrifically heavy behemoth, designed to ward off bullets of nearly any size as well as land mines and rocket fire. While these armed monsters of steel have undoubtedly saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, they seem terribly out of place in a community of 25,000 or so near the Snake River in Idaho. Like machines from science fiction movies.

This “uparming” of local law enforcement began under President Bush-the-Elder and has continued under Clinton, Bush-the-Junior and Obama. It started after we “freed” Kuwait from Saddam. All that hardly-used military hardware was just going to be scrapped. Until some in-over-his-head political appointee decided America’s local law enforcement agencies would pay 10-cents-on-the-dollar for it. And pay they have. (more…)

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

IF city passes new budget (IF Post Register)
Several small school districts plan levies (IF Post Register)
Republicans in conflict again over BBQ (IF Post Register)
Campuses look at open carry costs (Lewiston Tribune)
Plans ahead for dredging on lower Snake River (Lewiston Tribune)
UI cuts decrees and reorganizes academics (Moscow News)
Wheat inspections give Palouse farmers clearance (Moscow News)
Governor's group backs Medicaid expansion (Nampa Press Tribune)
Former Representative Hansen dies (Pocatello Journal)
Carmike 7 demolition on the way (Pocatello Journal)
Snake River jump preparations still in place (TF Times News)

Benton prepares to build roundabout (Corvallis Gazette)
OSU research gets help from Wal-Mart (Corvallis Gazette)
Protest at Springfield after cop dog shooting (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath airport expansion helped with grant (KF Herald & News)
Pendleton Grain Growers lays off 85 (Pendleton E Oregonian)
OR Transport Commission sets $42m for projects (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Board asks financial aid for 36k students (Portland Oregonian)
OR working on stronger autism therapy funding (Portland Oregonian)
Report calls for statewide OR retirement plan (Salem Statesman Journal)

Port Orchard gets discount on water from Bremerton (Bremerton Sun)
Western WA fires doused by rain (Bremerton Sun)
Port Orchard buys eyesore building to raze it (Bremerton Sun)
Longview approves big tap water study (Longview News)
Supreme Court: some state pension raises can be dropped (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Herrera Beutler: Republicans need Obamacare alternative (Longview News)
Reconsidering Everett noise ordinance, roosters (Everett Herald)
State will increase mental health beds by 50 (Olympian)
Port Angeles school converted to pot factory? (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles said to solve financial issues (Port Angeles News)
Psychiatric boarding ruling putting some on streets? (Seattle Times)
Metro plans low-income low-fare cards (Seattle Times)
Top national pot conference at Tacoma Dome (Tacoma News Tribune)
Murray says VA is getting better (Vancouver Columbian)
Agreement would keep pesticides from salmon (Vancouver Columbian)