tv Inside Story Al Jazeera August 19, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
announcer and later made the jump to television to become announcer for shows like "jeopardy," "the price is right," and of course "snl." for more news around the world go to our website at www.aljazeera.com. >> is there a difference between a police officer and a soldier? what they're for, how they're equipped. the job they're trained to do as the conflict in ferguson, missouri, continues and to flare every few days we'll look at the differences. that's the "inside story."
>> hello, i'm ray suarez. what is a cop for? in training, in equipment, in orientation is a peace officer someone fundamentally different from a soldier? the question is provoked by the events of the last week and a half in ferguson, missouri, where unrest after the killing by an officer of an unarmed young man has seen rising and falling waves of violence and confrontation on the streets of the small suburban city. the ferguson police gave way to the missouri state police. now the missouri national guard is filtering in. if you accept the proposition that the police officer is not a soldier, what happens when you hire former soldiers to be police officers. and what happens when you give to police the tools normally used by soldiers. the militarization of police work is the inside story. [ sirens ] >> reporter: a street of strip malls by day and an all out
battlefield at night. [ gunfire ] ferguson, missouri, saw another night of violence monday. protesters threw molotov cocktails and shot off guns leaving them no choice but to respond. also monday missouri's governor deployed the national guard. the first task, defending the command center. local and state policeman the front lines with armored gear and riot vehicles purchased from the pentagon with grants. >> when you talk about hostage taking and shooters, it has spread across the country and now has become the default use of force in too many situations. >> reporter: and it's arsenal is not usual. florida, for example, owns a
mine hey resistant vehicle, or emravs. also available humvees, camouflage gear, machine guns, helicopters blurring the lines between cop and soldier. >> the police being trained to think of the communities that they're serving as battlegrounds, to think of the people that they're supposed to be protecting and serving as wartime enemies. >> reporter: much of the year used by local police is purchased through a program known as 1033. it sells equipment at reduced rates. it was purchased to. with gang violence and the war on drugs. >> this is the type of equipment we feel we need at times in
situations to make sure that we're able to go home to our families at night. >> reporter: thousands of cities and towns rush to ensure they were ready for a terror attack, whether that seemed likely or not with new capabilities came new requirements. the feds can take back gear if local police don't use it. that may explain why nationwide s.w.a.t. teams were used an estimated 3,000 times a year in the early 1980s and are deployed 50 times a year today. it may also explain the dramatic growth of the 1033 program from around $1 million a year in the early 90s to an estimated $752 million today. >> it is up to law enforcement agencies to speak to how and what they gained through this as much. >> reporter: the violence in ferguson not only brought attention to the increasing militarization to police, it
also produced a rare moment of bipartisan agreement in washington. republican senator rand paul of kentucky, quote, what were essentially small armies, police compete to acquire military gear that go far beyond what most americans think of as law enforcement. hank wilson of georgia agreed, writing to other members of congress, our main streets should an praise for business, families and relaxation, not tanks and m-16s. few argue police should face unrest and looting without proper equipment. but it is scenes like these that played out across america's television, we asked how much is too much? >> in recent years maybe you heard militarization of america's police forces discussed in a post 9/11 context, and certainly th
the 2001 terrorist attack accelerated fund to go police departments, but did it occur earlier with money flowing from washington to fight the war on drugs. the police, soldiers, and the difference between the two this time on "inside story." joining us from wore man town, west virginia, a professor of law at the university of west virginia. from new york city, director of homeland security at mercy college, and from baltimore, maryland, a former police director in newark, new jersey. welcome to the program. hubert, let me start with you. you've been at this for a long time. when did you start to see things change? and how did they change? >> well, the police started to bring in heavy equipment from what i've seen 10 and 15 years
ago. they purchased it at a military. the big issue for me, ray, is not just equipment that they have, but how that equipment is used, what kind of policies are established to determine how that equipment is used, and what levels of accountability exist to ensure adherence to policy. the police may need some of this equipment in a dealing with forist situations, other kinds of unusual events. certainly dealing with riots this kind of equipment is highly problematic. >> thank you matthew, whe >> matthew, does there have to be intentio intentionality of how we're going to use it, when we're going to use it, and how are we going to train people to use these things? >> yes, i agree with the
gentleman that just spoke. policy is key here. when this equipment arrives, whether it be a ten-man police department, in tennessee or a metropolitan police department, this is military-grade combat equipment. and the policies and procedures and training have to be right on target with this. we can't put this equipment in the hands of people and expect them to know how to use it properly. >> in your observation as the country's police forces have up armored in this way has there been sufficient training, sufficient change in the way we you approach the use of these tools? >> in my experience, yes. the police departments that i've worked for created district policy, and they do regular training. i would tell you that the equipment that--it may be intimidating to the general population to see police
officers in a vest and element and a rifle, benjamin franklin once set ounce of prevention to a pound of problems. a case would be the 1997 north hollywood bank of america robbery where the lapd, it took them 44 minutes to neutralize two bank robberies who had automatic weapons, which spilled into a residential neighborhood. that's a prime example of being equipped and ready to face the bad guys. >> the question is if this is an announce of prevention or a done of prevention, and whether the
situation in the country is really reflected of what we're seeing in the police officers. hasn't threat been dropping in the 90's and the first decade of this century? >> yes, i don't think that it has dropped because police officers are equipped with m-4s, and m-16s. a lot of chatter is evolving around the equipment issued to these issues, and they do receive a considerable amount of training on how to use that type of equipment. the real question and the real fear as far as it effects the american way of life is that right? should we be living in that type of country where the police are equipped, trained and start to go act like soldiers? i mean, just the phrase "show of force," that's a military term. the war on drugs. the war on terrorism.
we're changing the men in blue from police officers to combat officers. that's scare yes. we don't want cops to be soldiers. let's remember, a soldier's mission is to engage the enemy in close combat and destroy them. a police officers mission is to protect and serve and that shut be--that should be on the forefront of every person in this country. a department i was in was issued m-16s that was carried around in every officer's car. the 1997 shooting in l.a. did show a certain amount of penetration power was needed, so a lot of departments got one m.-16 to be on duty. now it's every soldier--excuse
me, every police officer has a m-16 available to them. even looking at the police officers on the streets in missouri, it is very scary. they look like soldiers. they train like soldiers. i don't believe that it's farfetched to say that they'll soon be acting like soldiers. >> earlier in the program i mentioned that the pentagon in transferring these tools requires that they use them or give them back. does that mean--does that create the temptation that you're going to use things like swat tools more often than they're called for? >> it could. the issue for me is how often is the pentagon saying that they have to use them if they have to use them when they're not necessary, when it's not required to have that level of force, of power, then they should not even accept them.
the fact that we have to go back 20 years to find an incident that police may have needed powerful weapons tells you--let me say this, ray, if you go back as far back as the presidential commission on law enforcement we only had in this nation one presidential commission on law enforcement that did an exhaustive study on the police and the use of force by the police. now one of the things that they said was that there are two different styles of policing. this is a rare issue and it's rarely discussed. they said that there are two styles of policing. the other presenter said to protect and serve. that's the style that presidential commission said was used in suburbs. and suburban communities. but in the inner city it's
to-to-enforce the law and enforce it with all the power that the police have what it's doing is putting a train on the police and public, and they cannot be effective without public support. this is a bad move for the police to start acting like military. >> we're going stop there. when we come back we'll get a response to just that point. this is not a single variable question. the police are not standing out on the streets by themselves in all that gear. there are other people out there. does it change the way that they
equipmented with armored vehicles, army-style weaponry. we're talking about the different approach to different kinds of policing. one orientation to be to serve and perfect. and the other to enforce the law. is that a fair characterization. >> i policed in a metropolitan city and a suburb, and what we strife for acros across the board is community policing. this dates back to modern policing sir robert peal who said that we need to involve the community to be effective police officers. but i'm going to quote another great leader of our country, teddy roosevelt who said speak
softly but carry a big stick. we strive to speak softly, but we need to be prepared to bring out that stick. we can put our hands over our eyes to a three-year-old wh who says mommy come find me, police officers swear an oath to protect and serve the community, and think need to be equipped with 21st century weapons and equipment in order to in what i say defend the sheep from the wolves. >> author, how do you respond to that? >> i think it's so easy to monday morning quarterback any decisions. i never worked in a city where there was incredible violence. i don't know what it's like to feel like you're going to war. but i was a soldier in fallujah, and i see the mentality that we
see today in modern police forces with a very gradual shift. break it down to simple terms. the police mission is to protect and serve. they street suspects like suspects. even the bad guy gets civil liberties. the soldier's mission is stark in comparison. they're to identify individuals and put them in two categories. the enemy and non-enemy. the enemy they try to kill, and the non-enemy they try very hard not to kill. it's the mentality that i have a problem with. i absolutely want police officers in the country to be safe and to have equipment that makes them safe because they are out there risking their lives for us. i have a thin were you line in the back of my car as well. but this shift is very gradual. just to go back to something that we talked about earlier,
s.w.a.t. special weapons and tactic. that word special has become routine in this country. i don't disagree that we need to give equipment, but this equipment is too extreme in circumstances. the assault rifle, the m-16. what is the mission of the m-16. to engage the meter up to 300 meters and kill them. how often do police officers need to engage people, remember, suspects with civil liberties, as 300 meters to engage? that is very, very scary. that is too close to the world of soldiering and i think we should be very mindful of that shift. >> matthew, i've been both a police officer and a soldier, how do you respond to the professor? >> yes, i'm going to slightly diswe. i think he's on point with what he's saying, however, the term rapid deployment refers to a
patrolman's ability to rapidly deploy and respond to a dynamic incident. let's take for example, columbine in colorado. the most effective means to engage a serious imminent threat like a shooter in a mall, movie theater or school. speak softly, carry the big stick. have policies, have procedures, have training, have accountability and transparency, but equip the men and women who swear to protect the people they serve the means to do it. the public we're putting at risk if you take thighs weapon these weapons away. >> we'll take a short break and this equipment, very different
from the equipment police officers were carrying 15 years ago, how it changes the effect it has on people on the street. stay with us. this is "inside story." stuart! stuart! stuart! stuart! ♪ check it out. this my account thing. we can tweet directly toa comcast expert for help. or we can select a time for them to call us back.
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>> welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. what police are trained to do--what soldiers are trained to do, and how the jobs are similar, and where they delive differ on this episode. with us, professor of law from the university of west virginia. director of homeland security at mercy college, and former police directer in newark, new jersey. does it feel different when you're looking down the street at the people that you want to leave that street, does it feel different when you pack down that street dressed in body armor with a military-style he will met on your ahea head, and
a long begun as your side arm. conversely, when you're standing on the street and you know the police want you to leave, is the reaction different when they know you're fully loaded to bear and they ask you to move. >> perspectives may differ predicated on the position. for example, if you've never run a police department, if of this' never had to establish policies for an law enforcement organization your perspective may be different. if one of the things that they promote they argue most vehemently about is the need for the police and public to work together. the gentleman that quoted sir robert peal back in 1929 when he came out and made some of these statements, one of the first things he taught at the academy
was that the police and people must be one. and if you're going to carry these heavy weapons in policing protests, you're going to rupture that community in ways that it will be long time before it gets repaired. we got to find a way for the people and the police to work together as partners to improve public safety, which is a fundamental role and duty of the police. when you put the police in a military role what you do is separate them from the public. that's the biggest problem that i think that heavy duty weapons has. the big question is how often is it needed? how often is it used? one guest gave an example of 20 years ago. you can find a few rare cases day after day the police walk the beat. they interact with citizens. people who live there, if they have information about crime, if they don't provide it, if they
don't trust the police, it's a problem. one final thing, ray, when janet reno was the attorney general of the united states, she called a summit of police chiefs, i was there. what are the five more important thing for police. the number one thing they said was public trust. public trust. police leaders under the complexity of the community, and they have to put policies and practices together in a way to generate public trust and public support. >> well, i'm going to try to get a quick answer to my orange question, are you going to behave differently if you think the people on the other end of the street can't hurt you? >> sure, the first step in the first continuum in policing is physical presence, but i don't want to throw this back on the other panelists face, but soft speaking, car carrying a big
stick, teddy roosevelt was a genius but the problem is we carry that big stick too often. i would like to look at hold your hands behind the back so the people don't have to see on a daily basis this soldier on the side of the street. i'm not an experiment in camouflage, but even when you look at the uniforms being worn, they are green uniforms. that's not even good camouflage in urban environment. they want to look like that. they want to look scary and menacing, and i think that's a dangerous shift in mentality. >> we'll give you the last ward. >> i'm just going to speak as a father of three small children. i live in the suburb. it's a quiet community. but the police officers in that community, you don't know if a car is equipped with a flak jacket, a rifle and a helmet,
and i feel comfortable that the police will be able to respond and protect my children effectively. it's a moving target. it's easy to criticize and misperceive, but i believe the men and women are out there in good faith trying to protect and serve. earning the public trust is definitely the number one point we need to focus on. >> we'll have to top i stop it there. this is a big topic, we can't do it in a half hour, but than thank you for helping us try. that's it for this edition of inside story. and in washington i'm ray suarez. >> coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern, al jazeera america, special coverage of the unrest in missouri. we're live ferguson where officials are saying they're trying to separate peaceful protesters wer from those who
try to make the situation worse. also after six days of qualm the cease-fire between israel and hamas seem to be falling apart. but there may still an chance for a truce. that's all coming up tonight at 6:00 on al jazeera america. rosie perez was three years old when her schizophrenic mother put her in a catholic children's home where she was often abused. >> i had to physically fight back or else, you know, my ass was going to get kicked. >> the oscar nominated actress's new book explains how she overcame odds? >> i felt like i was always acting, always escaping into different realities.