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Santa Barbara's Militarized Police Force?
updated: Aug 15, 2014, 3:06 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

This link is an interactive map created by the New York Times for an article on the militarization of local police. It shows that Santa Barbara county is one of the few nationwide that has received every category of military equipment: aircraft, armored vehicles, body armor, grenade launchers, night vision and assault rifles. What does the community feel about having one of the most militarized police forces in the country?

New York Times

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 544939P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:26 PM

Since we have fairly militarized criminals and loonies around, it's an unfortunate necessity.


 COMMENT 544941 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:29 PM

No reason for it. None at all. Police are not the military.


 COMMENT 544949 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:36 PM

It's absurd and our elected officials should be called to account. All we as citizens hear is the need for more money for the North County Jail, more law enforcement officers, more pay, pensions, etc.

I think we need to step back and re-engineer our law enforcement needs, approach, training, tactics and weaponry from top to bottom. Perhaps a return to community policing is what's required.


 COMMENT 544951P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:36 PM

"fairly militarized criminals and loonies" - can you provide ONE example when this kind of equipment has been necessary in SB?

Just look at the difference in one day in Ferguson? by ramping down.


 COMMENT 544957 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:44 PM



 COMMENT 544961 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:47 PM

Look at Ventura and LA, then complain about SB.


 COMMENT 544962 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:48 PM

6 helicopters and 2 grenade launchers for SB, while LA (with over 20x our population) got 15 helicopters and 3 grenade launchers, and Ventura (close to 2x our population) got 1 helicopter and zero grenade launchers.

Our Sheriff is out of control! Sure wish the County Supervisors would stop giving him more money every time he goes crying to them about needing more toys and then more money to maintain these expensive toys.


 COMMENT 544964 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 03:51 PM

That the Pentagon's 1033 program is one of the worst ideas ever is proven by the behavior of cops in Ferguson, Mo.

Allowing police to have weapons of war has cultivated in their minds the idea that the American people are the enemy, and I'm glad that members of congress are actually talking about ending this insane program.


 COMMENT 544977 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 04:25 PM

As long as they don't use excessive force against protestors or IV party goers no reason they should not be well equipped.


 COMMENT 544983 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 04:40 PM

They don't need to be "well equipped" when "well equipped" means having the equipment of a paramilitary force. :/ We are American civilians, not enemy combatants in some far off land.


 COMMENT 544987 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 04:50 PM

This is a part of the "war against the people", ongoing for some decades - but which was ramped up enormously a result of the 9/11 attacks - a "slow motion coup d'état" which has been so beneficial for the war profiteers and their bottom line.

The militarization of the police is part of the massive, metastasizing cancer of the corporate welfare scam that Eisenhower warned us against - the proliferation of the "military-industrial complex". His words have come true, worse than than an Edgar Allan Poe nightmare, as the military-industrial complex now includes media, entertainment, security and law enforcement in its cold, paranoid, totalitarian, authoritarian embrace.

Civil rights have been rolled back to where they were in the mid 1960s, and now, posse comitatus - the principle of separation of military and law enforcement, goes by the wayside, summarily trashed alongside so many other aspects of liberty and civility.


 COMMENT 544988P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 04:50 PM

I am against it. This is a civil liberties issue that should unite voters across the spectrum. I want police, not untrained wannabe soldiers, enforcing the laws in my community. I feel less safe because of the use of military-style tactics and equipment.


 COMMENT 544990P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 04:52 PM

One major excuse for the militarization of police is the war on drugs. Let's end that war. It's a failure and a total waste of tax dollars. Then that major excuse takes care of itself.


 COMMENT 544995 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:14 PM

Our sheriff is heavily armed with the bully attitude to match.


 COMMENT 545002P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:27 PM

983 - you may have a point if it was allowed to continue. But it was stopped. By the outcry from the rest of the country. From libertarians to liberals.

It is NOT in place, enforced, or the status quo. It is a symptom of the police given weapons they should never have, and a police force that is still guided by racism.


 COMMENT 545003P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:30 PM

Tweet: "Hamde Abu tells #Ferguson that #Palestine knows what it means to be shot for your ethnicity "


 RED CREEK agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:31 PM

Maybe the local cops are just smarter than other departments for getting free goodies from the feds. You never know when you are going to need a couple of grenade launchers around here.


 COMMENT 545005 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:37 PM

In 2011, 177 police officers were killed in the line of duty. This includes federal, state and local officers. This includes traffic accidents, firearms and other types of deaths.

In that same year, _at least_ 1,017 people were shot by police and at least 607 of them died. The statistics are _way_ out of proportion. I am not saying there should be parity. However, what's doubly disturbing about this is the following: there is no national database or record keeping over such a statistic. The FBI can tell you how many murders there were in CA last year, but they can't tell you how many cops shot people and how many of them died. The 2011 statistic was garnered by a researcher who pored over news stories and internet reports. The number could be much higher, because, again, there's no national system gathering this data.

Think about _that_ for a while.


 COMMENT 545006 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:44 PM

Not having had involvement with law enforcement, it was shocking to see the equipment, and it's use against citizens in Ferguson, MO. It hadn't occurred to me, before, to ASK or care whether SB's law enforcement had this kind of equipment. Now I ask, and now I care. So in a way, I am thankful to have seen the use of paramilitary equipment against the citizenry - it is a lesson to me that will help inform my position on these issues going forward.


 COMMENT 545008P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 05:53 PM

The motorcycle cops look like cyborgs in all of their "gear" on their new toys, er, motorcycles.


 COMMENT 545010 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 06:08 PM

Remember that each officer gets additional pay when he qualifies for operation of sophisticated equipment. This is a mechanism to get a wage increase. Plus it is a strange kind of fun. One gets time away from patrol work to train. It isn't cheap to fly a helicopter.


 COMMENT 545014 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 06:31 PM

Who knows the exact moment violence became America's invariable answer to all perceived threats? To me it was when we commoners tuned out, dismissed the arts of debate, negotiation and statesmanship, emptied the public commons, and in our self-imposed ignorance, labelled all the "Others" our "Enemies". Too, there is an unhealthy self-interest stirring this pot--paid agents among us promoting this state of affairs: military-industrial apologists, snoops in 21 "intelligence" agencies, the People's mis-representatives obstructing the People's business under the Capitol dome in Washington D.C.--even some unholy clerics doing the Devil's work. To me these are the real terrorists. The story of Ferguson should powerfully motivate us to tune in again! To upend the costly, ugly, simplistic use of violence. Peace officers should keep the peace, and protect the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents. Period.


 COMMENT 545018P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 06:47 PM

Violence is the answer by most humans to perceived threats, (see human history) and it has been practised in America since the days of gun-slinging cowboys.

From statistics, violence has gone down generally in US society.

What has gotten out of hand for the first time, is police given military equipment to the point where most US soldiers in Iraq had less gear.

That has to be reversed. There are many congress critters who think the same - which means we are not really in the power of some fictitious state agenda.

All that appears to have happened, is that after 911, people became paranoid ... to excess. Now, the pendulum must swing back.


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 06:49 PM

You mean our force that cited funding for not having dash cams


 COMMENT 545020P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 06:56 PM

Dash cams are a good thing. They can protect both the citizen and the police, because they record what actually happened. They are evidence gatherers.


 COMMENT 545021 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 07:00 PM

Why is everyone so upset? They have to have better weapons than the average criminal. Back in the day it was only a shotgun and your sidearm. Then criminals got better guns and the police are out gunned.

With the guns civilians can but today, and criminals can steal. I dont think any of the gear police have is over the top. "Better have it and not need it, than need it and not have it"

Cry all you want, till you need protection. Then its plead all you want


 COMMENT 545022P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 07:02 PM

Watch an episode of "Alaska Troopers" on Nat Geo TV and see a single officer with a shotgun and hand gun drive down some lonely back road to confront some violent person with a gun. Almost every similar situation in the series shows one or two officers using respect, intelligence and fearless caution to deal with potentially violent persons. Armored cars, grenades, rocket launchers, etc., apparently aren't needed if they don't have them. Admirable police in action.


 COMMENT 545024 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 07:05 PM

It is not the "equipment" that creates a military from a law enforcement department it is the plan and implementation of military actions. Our local law enforcement departments have implemented restraint and respect with local citizens. To bring this issue up with what is going on in Mo is simply an attempt to create an issue with no examples or facts, just some equipment.


 COMMENT 545028 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 07:28 PM

021, 024: Neither of you see any problem with our local police being equipped with the same arms used by our standing military overseas? The "criminals" you are afraid of are a bogeyman; they don't have the sort of weaponry that warrants this kind of response. Perhaps you've been watching too many movies. Our police are not a branch of our military, they do NOT need to be armed like them. Once you give these things to people, even supposedly well-trained cops, they will find a way to use them. And given the types of armament we have given them, the only "way" to use then will invariably erode our civil liberties even further.


 COMMENT 545038P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 07:53 PM

The Pentagon traditionally gives surplus equipment away to local and state governments after wars, even botched ones, to clear inventory. If they didn't, the defense contractors wouldn't get to make money building more for the next ramp-up. No fault for accepting freebies that are available from homeland security - we live in paranoid times and to deny some terror threat is naive. The problem lies with misusing military grade weaponry, especially when armored and anonymous, like in Ferguson/St. Louis; that's dangerous and makes the conspiracy-fearing militias look way less crazy. There's been no evidence of such abuse in SB city or SB County thus far, even during provocations. Our current law enforcement executives seem to be pretty level-headed public employees. But both the city police and the county sheriff need to be under one-strike rules: abuse the MRAPs (which most likely don't come with dash cams, either, and remind too much of apartheid South Africa) or bring out the big guns for anything short of an invasion of East Beach by a cartel's panga boat armada and the weapons go to the scrap yard. Use it wrong and lose it: that should be the contract with responsible local civilian elected officials.


 COMMENT 545045 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 08:24 PM

"Civil rights have been rolled back to where they were in the 1960's"
Look at the the list in 545035.
What we do in the name of public safety is destroying the concept of freedom.
I don't know where the line should be drawn, but you give those tools to humans and they will use them. A hammer looking for a nail to whack.


 COMMENT 545047 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 08:34 PM

All empires decay & fall; first the criminals loot the treasury then they turn the weapons of war against the people. Anyone see a pattern?

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now does this make sense?


 COMMENT 545051P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-15 09:27 PM

A lot of good comments! Thank you, 964, 987, and 988. Back when the FBI was being formed by Hoover and he decided to model it on the military, local police forces all over the US started emulating them. Don't know if it was jealous competition, territorial competition, or what, but it seems that it started a new and more intense mind set of "us" against "them" on the part of many community police forces. Since then it has escalated all over the country, even though I suspect that a lot of it is unintentional--at least, it's more a keeping up with the Joneses kind of thing than a deliberate intent to be civic soldiers, or even civic SEALs. At some point many forces stopped being more community-oriented than competetive, and this is the result. I've actually talked quite a bit about this with friends who remember that far back, at least to the 1930's and 40's. It really was different then, and it wasn't just because criminals were less sophisticated. Why in the world would our police force "need", much less want, grenade launchers??? If they are up against a militarized criminal force then the military should be called in. We have a small, fairly rural county. We don't "need" war weapons in the hands of the police, no matter how judicious they are about not using them. I think there needs to be a Federal mandate limiting, or at least creating strict guidelines, for the local use of military-type weapons by police forces. Certainly the States ought to have the sense to enact some regulations about this, but apparently none of them have. In fact, why aren't there any City or County regulations? What's next, tanks and RPGs and SAMs "just in case"? Maybe we need to get a spy satellite, too....just in case! The one piece of tech I do support is mandatory body-cams for all officers. As long as they're tamper-proof, they would go a long way towards ensuring that the peace officers act with peace as their goal.


 COMMENT 545065 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 06:30 AM

I think this mentality started after the North Hollywood police shooting in 1997. Remember that?

Two guys with illegal fully automatic rifles, wearing full body armor robbed a bank. In the shootout with police, who were woefully outgunned, their handguns and shotguns were useless. And the police resorted to commandeering an armored truck to evacuate the wounded.

As I look at the recent mass shooting here and around the country it the use of military weapons is not necessary. But by chance we have another North Hollywood incident. . . .


 FRESHPAVEMENT agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 06:55 AM

We need to de-militarize the police immediately. Starting a domesic arms race will not contribute to increased safety of the general public. It will incite fear of the police and the increase the perception we need to protect ourselves from them, so the populace will buy more & more arms. Us Vs. Them. The NRA and weapons manufacturers must be loving this.


 COMMENT 545071P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 07:13 AM

"Civil rights have been rolled back to where they were in the mid 1960s, and now, posse comitatus - the principle of separation of military and law enforcement, goes by the wayside, summarily trashed alongside so many other aspects of liberty and civility."

When has the military been involved with law enforcement?

Law enforcement using hand-me-down military equipment is not the same as the military on the streets in Ferguson.

However, law enforcement using hand-me-down military equipment, leads to the military being indistinguishable from law enforcement.


 COMMENT 545076 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 07:40 AM

it is insane to militarize our police force, here or anywhere. we the people are not frogiegn enemy combatants and there is no reason to have a local police force so heavily armed. doing so only promotes a mentality in the police department to use these weapons and that we the american people are the enemy. we need to stop this now.


 COMMENT 545083 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 08:08 AM

If the link above doesn't work, it may be that you've reached the 10-free-article-per-month-threshold limit set by the website. I couldn't use the map unless I purchased a subscription.


 SWARFMASTER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 08:25 AM

It is not so much the equipment as the mind set of those having it. It was very disturbing to see that uniformed (idiot) pointing the automatic rifle at his fellow citizens on top of the armored vehicle. What a cowardly act.


 COMMENT 545090P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 08:46 AM

Some of it started when Reagan was President, with his ranch.


 COMMENT 545092 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 08:49 AM

Its good to see people are finally waking up to this. This is much bigger than just local law enforcement. If your really interested in this militarization, do your Own homework and learn what the DHS "Department of Homeland Security" is doing to arm not just local law enforcement but more importantly the FEDS. The DHS is arming and armoring one fed. agency after another. Again do your own homework and watch how the feds stormed Boston and kicked peoples front doors in. How they kicked the doors of hurricane Katrina victims in. What ever your politics are look at how the BLM stormed that rancher's property in Vegas. Watch how the Feds are treating American citizens at their "check points" along our southern border. Again do your own homework, because within about fifteen minute some clown is going to jump on here and say its not happening.


 COMMENT 545112P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 09:39 AM

There are plenty of abuses, but the federal government is constitutionally obligated "to provide for the common defense." Like the 2nd amendment, what that entails is subject to interpretation. If you want to disarm law enforcement, better disarm the militarized drug cartels and interstate meth mobs; get the RPG-toting survivalists shouting "Revolution!" and "Armageddon!" to back down; close off the supply of 'cop killer' armor-piercing bullets and automatic assault weapons; and convince al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and terrorists like the Brothers Tsarnaev that the U.S. isn't run by Satan. Without cops, guess who takes over? Not the Methodist church. Look through the political ranting and ask who gains by a culture of gun violence. For one, international rivals who love nothing better than seeing a fragmented and fractured U.S.A. imploding. For another, look to profiteering weapons manufacturers and dealers that sell to armies, criminals, gun nuts, and law enforcement alike. There's a lucrative and escalating arms race within the U.S. borders. Hollywood glorifies it and video games provide ample operational training. If you want the cops to back down, facing up to the reasons they arm up is part of the equation.


 COMMENT 545115 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 09:53 AM

I don't know where anyone would get the idea that "the pentagon traditionally gives surplus equipment away to state and local governments after wars."

The first NDAA authorizing the giveaway of surplus military equipment was passed in 1990 - since that time we've had exactly 2 large scale wars end - 2 occurrances of ANYTHING is hardly a tradition.

As for the claim that military equipment doesn't instill a military mindset in supposed peace officers, just look at the pictures of SBSO deputies hanging from ropes under their hueys as they fly around the back country looking for MJ grows - these guys are all decked out in camo, armed to the teeth and clearly get a huge amount of satisfaction out of playing army.

But the first time some illegal immigrant takes a pot shot at them with a .22 rifle, I guarantee you they'll start whining about how ''outgunned'' they are and what they really need to fight the "war" on drugs is rockets and napalm.


 COMMENT 545123 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 10:11 AM

5050P - re. detention camps:

This is not false: Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Inc. was awarded a $385 million contract by ICE and the Dept. of Homeland Security in January 2006 to build detention camps. To quote:

"The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs, KBR said. The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster, the company said".


 COMMENT 545130 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 11:01 AM

Beyond stupid. What a waste of money. They cannot control college students without weapons of mass destruction? Grenade launchers? For the homeless? If a terrorist was to act, these weapons would not be of use at all. Or are they afraid of the average citizen? Shame on them.


 BECKY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-16 12:09 PM

Maybe the edhat nanny doesn't understand that turning law enforcement (LE) into "first responders" to any kind of terrorist attack, natural disaster, riot, or other 'effects everyone' event, is directly tied to why we now give surplus military equipment to local LE. If you don't understand that link, then you might remove the deleted comments as being off topic.

When we are in trouble, we call the cops. When the cops are in trouble, they call their Special Response Teams (SRT) or Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams. When all hell breaks lose, we expect the cops to put their lives on the line to protect us, so we give them appropriate tools to deal with most any emergency.

Having spent more than a decade becoming well acquainted with tactical, specially trained officers nation-wide, I'm OK with them having such tools, because they are the cream of the crop in terms of training, which includes psychological training. They think of themselves as sheep-dogs, defending the flock, not as us vs. them paramilitary, taking on the citizens they've sworn to protect. LE has changed a lot in recent years, and in general, has become far more professional and responsible to protect and serve the citizens. My 2¢.

[That said, I don't trust the government or politicians at all. They're the ones who fear the citizens and seek to turn us into subjects. Sacramento & DC are equally corrupt, and they're the ones to be feared. Ironically, most cops feel the same way. I'm glad they've got the tools, because if we have to overthrow a corrupt government, the cops are likely to be on the citizens side.]


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