I guess I'll feel safer in Fargo now that the police have purchased another armored vehicle to go with their $257,000 armored personnel carrier with the rotating turret. Apparently, an insurrection could break out at any moment. Who knows, Jane Fonda might show up, and if Fargo has an anti-aircraft gun, too, it would make a great photo-op.
Welcome to the new America.
The latest vehicle is basically a $377,000 armored forklift. It allows officers to approach a building unexposed and enter upper levels. Well and good. The manufacturer also says it could be used “to deploy snipers to a rooftop.”
You could even use it retrieve boxes from the top shelf at Menards.
This in a city that for a couple of decades has averaged two murders a year. Six last year. There were a total of 17 statewide in 2018. That's a slow Thursday in St. Louis, which has the highest murder rate in the nation. And the Kurds haven't lifted a finger to help.
Although we have freedom of speech, I know we're not supposed to criticize the president, the military, or cops. But today in America, as the wildly-liberal Charles Koch Institute warns, more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies have more than $6 billion in military hardware like machine guns, armored vehicles, grenade launchers and military aircraft. And now, forklifts.
No, I haven't forgotten the tragic loss of Fargo Officer Jason Moszer in 2016. Maybe this new unit would have made a difference. I get it. Two of my nephews are cops. One's with Denver CSI, and the other patrols a tough part of Austin. I worry about him.
Nationally, 52 officers were shot to death last year. Nearly 40,000 American citizens died by gunfire in 2017, as well, but that doesn't seem to be a priority.
My observation is simply that while we normalize militarization of the police, we fail to ask ourselves what this says about our society— a country in which first graders are subjected to active shooter drills and schooled in fear. That’s not normal.
Fear's the oldest motivator in the book; it rarely ends well, and many Second Amendment idealists are too paranoid, too fearful of government tyranny, to consider even modest gun legislation. Ironically, that recalcitrance helps perpetuate militarized police forces worthy of fear.
You'd think if Blue Lives really did matter, we'd at least restrict magazine capacity and try to get guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Fargo Police Chief David Todd supported the Red Flag Bill in 2018 that would do just that, but it was overwhelmingly rejected by legislators who apparently know more about crime prevention than he does. Perhaps such a law would have saved Officer Moszer.
Some cops may understandably feel like they're in an arms race with the general public, so across the nation, police forces increasingly resemble armies. However, when the tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you're an army, like the one we saw at Standing Rock, everyone else looks like the enemy.
That's not a reflection of a healthy society, and it doesn't feel like America.