As this article demonstrates, the federal government is giving away military gear to local police forces if they will simply pay the shipping costs.
Now, the gear itself is often way overkill--both literally and figuratively speaking. But how can the adolescent-minded heads of police forces stop themselves? I mean, wouldn't you want a 3-foot-tall $70,000 robot and a $75,000 riverboat if you could get them for next to nothing? How much fun would it be just trying the things out? . . . Or how about an armored personnel carrier outfitted with a machine gun--yours for the cost of transportation in?
Of course, the cost of maintaining these toys might hurt your budget--as the city bureaucrats in Tupelo, Mississippi, discovered when the police helicopter they acquired cost them almost $274,000 in maintenance costs in five years. That price was particularly aggravating when they realized their local police force used the helicopter only 10 times per year on average. The approximately $5,480 average maintenance cost per mission (not including actual personnel, fuel, and so forth) seemed just a wee bit excessive.
But, hey. Who's going to look a gift horse in the mouth?
The real problem, however, is not financial. It is human. And it has something to do with freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Look at
the many incidents of SWAT teams, which have become outright paramilitary forces, [injuring] or even [slaughtering] totally innocent people.Do we truly still live in the Land of the Free?
Take, for instance, earlier this year when a grandfather of 12, who was not even suspected of any wrongdoing, was “accidentally” murdered by a SWAT team member in Framingham, Massachusetts.
He was described by neighbors as the “nicest guy in the world,” and the search warrant was not even targeted at the man, named Eurie Stamps, Sr.
Another example that comes to mind is Jose Guerena, father and ex-U.S. Marine, who was literally liquefied by a SWAT team that was carrying out a wholly unconstitutional search warrant on his home that was not directed at any particular person, made no mention of his home, and instead was targeted at anyone who happened to be inside the residence.
The Cato Institute has compiled a fantastic interactive map showing the disturbing amount of botched paramilitary police and SWAT team raids across the United States which you can find here.
From the few thousand raids per year in the 1980s, the number of raids conducted by SWAT teams has made a staggering rise to 50,000 per year in the 2000s, and with each raid there is the real possibility of innocent people being slaughtered for no reason at all.