Common Sense Prevails Over "Optics"

by ALADS Board of Directors
We welcome Attorney General Session's announcement that the federal government has fully reinstated the " 1033 program " which provides certain surplus equipment to law enforcement which was formerly used by the military.

The need for "military type equipment" is clear:
  • This past week in Texas, rescue helicopters formerly used by the military and high axle vehicles that can drive through water were used to rescue people stranded by flooding.
  • A Kevlar helmet saved an Orlando SWAT officer from a gunshot wound during the Pulse nightclub massacre where 49 innocent people were killed.
  • When a San Jose officer was shot and killed, San Jose had to rely on neighboring cities to provide armored vehicles for response to the suspect because the City had returned their heavily armored truck due to the appearance.
The new Executive Order rescinded President Obama's Executive Order . In announcing the changes, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said they, "will ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job and send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become a new normal."

The items given to local law enforcement enable us to perform dangerous tasks safely and effectively. The list of items the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has received in past years as military surplus show they are not "offensive" items: armored vehicles, ballistic helmets and vests, generators, climbing and rescue equipment, and bomb disposal robots.

While critics allege these items "militarize" the police, they miss the mark as to why these defensive and protective items are needed. A casual internet search reveals many instances in Southern California where suspects have fired high powered rifles at law enforcement. Thus, the need for armored personnel carriers which are not "tanks" (they don't wield offensive weapons) but instead shield occupants as they respond to these deadly situations.

As Sheriff McDonnell noted in testimony to Congress on this issue, "In a terrorist situation, who gets the call? People call 911 and local police show up. We can't expect our people to be successful in our attempts to do that if we don't give them the proper equipment to protect them in that effort."  

Whether it be the items mentioned above, or night vision goggles which a deputy in Washington State purchased on his own and then used to avoid an ambush in the past week, the fact Sheriff and Police Departments and the military use some of the same items does not mean local law enforcement has been "militarized." Overwrought charges that defensive items that save the lives of officers and deputies have resulted in a "military" mindset for law enforcement shows a lack of understanding of law enforcement training and tactics. Proper guidelines for use of these items serves to enhance the safety and effectiveness of local law enforcement.  

The restoration of the 1033 program simply means that the federal government is making equipment available for acquisition by law enforcement agencies that has a legitimate civilian law enforcement purpose. Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies deserve the best tools and training available to protect and serve our communities and keep our streets safe and secure.

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) is the collective bargaining agent representing more than 7,900 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County. Like our Facebook page

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