Tuesday, March 3, 2015

While NH to Consider Rejecting Military Surplus Equipment, Will Brunswick PD "BEATNU"?

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

Despite FBI data showing Maine is the safest state in the union, apparently in a beautiful, small college town like Brunswick, the Police Department effectively sells fear, as evidenced by the Times Record's report "Brunswick to acquire armored vehicle".

Contrary to data and history (from the FBI and "Crime rate in Brunswick, Maine") former Brunswick police officer, collector of firearms, and town councilor David Watson made the following sweeping statements:

"Times are getting less sane...This vehicle does not only protect police officers. It protects citizens...We had a bank robbery here a short time ago. Things are happening in Brunswick that never happened before...Watson said he would vote "to protect my brothers and sisters" [apparently referring to law enforcement officers (LEO), not the public].

Perhaps Watson meant Brunswick is getting less sane and, therefore, he knows peddling fear is an easy method of achieving militarized police forces in Maine.

Accounting for population, and yet being the safest state in the union, Maine ranks near the top in the country in 1033 Program acquisitions and use of more military surplus equipment and weapons. And the $64 question is: Why?

Councilor Suzan Wilson said, "Do we need this? My judgment says probably not, but they (the police) don't ask for a heck of a lot from us."

Interestingly, The Times Record (aka "The Ostrich" by Mr. Poppycock of The Other Side of Brunswick blogspot, and "The Mullet Wrap" by others) doesn't focus on the fact Chief Rizzo has already been collecting about $120,000 worth of 1033 Program surplus military equipment and weapons for approximately seven years without informing the town council as required by state law. Wonder if Councilor Wilson took that particular fact into account in her judgment, too.

When it comes to those voicing opposition to the militarization of the police, it's obviously clear the position of the Times Record; invariably it sides with the Brunswick Police Department. Albeit fact concerning low crime rates in Brunswick, one citizen and former town councilor, Karen Klatt, was described by The Mullet Wrap as "acerbic" when she said the town of Brunswick, Maine is not L.A., California.

In additional opposition, Joe Ciarrocca verbalized his distrust of the Brunswick Police Department: "I would be frightened to see some of these people in or out of uniform." As well we should be. The Mullet Wrap fails to report Brunswick Police misconduct and police brutality; nor, as is this writer's understanding, has it ever attempted to request information through the FOIA from multiple sources, including the state, as evidenced by the fact we don't see these kinds of articles in their newspapers.

Looking at information in the web, there are too many LEO and police departments across the nation not abiding by their own mission statements, nor the laws, and citizens' Constitutional rights. And as retired USMC Colonel Pete Martino of Concord, New Hampshire (who has several friends employed as LEO) says regarding the militarization of domestic police forces: "I can't believe people aren't seeing it...is everybody blind?"

When referring to the death of Brunswick Police Officer, Jim D. Swint (former Marine), in a 1990 car crash from hitting a utility pole while in pursuit of a suspect, seemingly Richard Fisco was attempting to point out the data doesn't support the position Chief Rizzo and Cmdr. Hagan make about projected alleged armed suspects and prolific danger to Brunswick police and/or the public.

But as a ploy to get their armored vehicle, Rizzo and Hagan exaggerate fears to the public, town manager, and town council without supplying supporting data, while minimizing the "Peacekeeper/MRAP" vehicle. Any precursor or prototype of today's tank is still a tank.

An ominous warning to councilors voting to accept the "specially-designed armored superstructure" Peacekeeper/MRAP: Chief Rizzo will want a bigger and better one down the road. Rizzo had already hidden from the town's citizens his cache of military surplus equipment and weapons, and yet the Councilors still gave him additional means of procurement and militarizing of a domestic police force for Brunswick.

Showing dissent to the oppositional statements and speaking out of order following Fisco's comment about the Swint Memorial, former Marine Jason Coombs had also made a statement that the town ought to do "anything to protect our police officers".

It is fact, and contrary to Coombs' statement, a number of former and active duty Marines would first say they honor their oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

In part the Marine oath is: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Suffice it to say, Jason Coombs may have no idea about "Posse Comitatus" and what it means to the safety of all American citizens (See "But Chief Rizzo Wants an MRAP for Brunswick, Too", February 28, 2015).

A reminder: Over 1,000 people had been killed by cops in 2014; and 50 officers died by firearms in the same year (the highest number of officers killed in a given year was 1930, and numbered 300). It is this writer's understanding that no Brunswick police officer has been killed by firearms used by suspects in the Town of Brunswick.

Lastly, it seems Councilor John Richardson's nickname as "Johnny Protocols" by Mr. Poppycock is fitting, as would be "Johnny Redflags". Richardson stated at the Town Council Meeting that, sitting there with the councilors, he'd just read the post: "But Chief Rizzo Also Wants an MRAP for Brunswick, Too" which included multiple article links, and that he did so as Councilor Perreault was speaking. Johnny Redflags appears to lack a close association with the truth, because there's no reasonable way he'd read the information including all the links as Councilor Perreault spoke (and why wasn't he giving Perreault the courtesy of his undivided attention during the meeting?). Further, Richardson went on to say:

"If the chief says he has a need I'm going to accept that...I know this department is one of the most educated department in the state...We have a great department here. I trust their judgment."

Perhaps the biggest red flag associated with anyone, including Councilor Richardson, is the desire and efforts made to keep information from people. Therefore, it sounds like Councilor Richardson is an easy sell; he's easily manipulated, doesn't do his homework, does his best to keep information from people, and wants to be part of the good 'ol boys' club. Why?
New Hampshire considers rejecting 1033 Program military surplus equipment and weapons and prohibiting its domestic police departments from using them:

On the other hand, it seems New Hampshire citizens are not so easily swayed. The state's motto, "Live Free or Die", appears apt. Wonder what happened to Maine (Dirigo..."I Lead").

New Hampshire House Bill 407 (HB 407) was introduced by Rep. J. R. Hoell, the "Police Equipment and Community Engagement Act" which "would have banned state and local government from obtaining (and using) military hardware that is not readily available on an open national market", including armored personnel carriers. A vote of 204-134 sent the bill for further investigation. Aspects of the DoD's 1033 Program and other federal grants have been viewed as dangerous to state sovereignty and citizens. The state's counties and cities received over $6 million in surplus military equipment, including 400 military grade rifles, an armored truck and grenade launcher. ("N.H. House Turns Bill to Reject Federal Militarization of Local Police Into Study Committee").

Hopefully, for New Hampshire citizens, the study committee isn't tantamount to a death knell but rather an honest look at how best to implement the bill. "At the end of the day, we have a law enforcement that is more militarized than we intended," said Hoell.

According to the ACLU nearly 80% of SWAT team deployments utilizing paramilitary tactics were used for reasons such as serving warrants usually related to drug crimes, and innocent people have been killed and injured in the process. (Ibid. Also see "Police State: To Protect and Serve, February 11, 2015). It seems the state of New Hampshire is willing to address the very real safety issues of all its citizens in communities facing police departments with militarized police mentalities.

The possible repercussions of militarization of domestic police forces across the nation - Kicking Out Cops:

It's possible communities are beginning to react not only to the militarization of police forces, but the costs associated with maintaining police departments in their towns including liability, and perhaps also from being just plain fed-up with the continued police misconduct, unethical behaviors, corruption, operations under the color of law, and police brutality cases.

Reaction may be spreading in the form of towns and cities dismissing their police departments and hiring private firms. Such is the case occurring in Texas. SEAL Security Solutions was hired in 2012 in Sharpstown, Texas, a community of approximately 66,000 located just south of Houston. In just 20 months the town of Sharpstown saw a 61% drop in crime ("Texas Town Sees 61% Drop in Crime After Kicking Out Cops" ).

SEAL Security Solutions operates differently by utilizing continuous and directed patrols, and being proactive versus the typical LEO model of reactive policing. Contracts are 70/30 or 80/20 meaning 70 or 80 percent on patrol time, and 30 or 20 percent of time running calls and writing reports. Besides a 61% drop in crime, the town also benefits from a $200,000 savings and an increase in patrol officers. Seventy communities in Harris County, Texas have contracts with SEAL Security Solutions.

With such benefits to communities it's conceivable the idea will be spreading across the nation. And with town budgets which continually ask for increases of taxpayer revenues year after year, ditching police departments may even occur in Maine.

"I know there are many good policemen who died doing their duty. Some of the cops were even friends of ours. But a cop can go both ways."

Martin Scorsese

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