Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) criticized Hillary Clinton for her recent comments on criminal justice reform in light of the Sunday night shooting at a Texas event holding a contest to draw the Prophet Mohammed.What exactly did Clinton say in her recent speech on criminal justice? Well, it could be interpreted as a blanket condemnation of the use of military equipment by police forces:
"When people like Hillary Clinton say that police should not have weapons of war, the fact is, we are at war; we are at war with Islamist terrorism, and we have to have all weapons and all resources available," he said Monday morning on Fox News's "Fox and Friends."
There are police departments already deploying creative and effective strategies, demonstrating how we can protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from those examples, build on what works.But please note her next two sentences:
We can start by making sure that federal funds for state and local law enforcement are used to bolster best practices, rather than to buy weapons of war that have no place on our streets.
President Obama's task force on policing gives us a good place to start. Its recommendations offer a roadmap for reform, from training to technology, guided by more and better data.So what exactly does the president's task force recommend regarding military equipment? This:
2.7 RECOMMENDATION: Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations that employ a continuum of managed tactical resources that are designed to minimize the appearance of a military operation and avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust.So Clinton pointed us to the Obama task force, and the task force doesn't say that the use of military equipment is never appropriate. Instead, it recommends "a continuum of managed tactical resources" and "a layered response to mass demonstrations."
2.7.1. ACTION ITEM: Law enforcement agency policies should address procedures for implementing a layered response to mass demonstrations that prioritize de-escalation and a guardian mindset.
2.7.2 ACTION ITEM: The Federal Government should create a mechanism for investigating complaints and issuing sanctions regarding the inappropriate use of equipment and tactics during mass demonstrations.
The recommendation is is that police forces should not be provocative when confronted with mass demonstrations. The task in Garland, Texas, was to secure a deliberately provocative event at which a featured speaker from overseas, Geert Wilders, is the target of death threats in multiple countries. The appropriate security approach to an event like that is obviously different from the approach suitable for a mass demonstration, at which the attitude of the police with regard to the community could be a key factor in whether violence escalates. In Garland, the target wasn't a crowd of community members -- the target was potential terrorists.
Garland, by the way, is not really a small town -- in fact, it's the 87th-largest city in America, with a population of nearly a quarter million people. And while it did deploy its SWAT team, there's evidence that the city hasn't exactly loaded up on military surplus. This is from a Dallas Morning News story about the federal government's now-notorious 1033 program, under which a lot of police forces obtain a lot of equipment:
Other departments in the county have a hodgepodge of 1033 military goods. Much of it went to federal agencies in the Dallas area, such as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.And Garland?
The Dallas County Sheriff’s office has a mine-resistant vehicle for serving warrants. Mesquite has one too, but seldom uses it in favor of newer equipment.
Grand Prairie never got military weapons but can do battle with lukewarm beverages with its military surplus ice machine.
Garland got some old helmets more than a decade ago, said police spokesman Joe Harn. He said the helmets aren’t used anymore, but one of them did save the life of an officer shot in the head while serving a warrant.That hardly seems excessive. And yet the Garland cops got the job done.