John W. Whitehead

John W. Whitehead - The Rutherford Institute

How many children, old people and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts, complete with heavily armed police, military tanks and “safety” checkpoints, before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?

The latest incident comes out of Atlanta, Ga., where a SWAT team, attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night, launched a flash bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded in the baby’s face, burning his face, lacerating his chest and leaving him paralyzed. He is currently in the hospital in a medically-induced coma.

Where too was the outrage when a Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held the mother on the floor at gunpoint, shot the family dog, and then “forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour” while they searched the home?

If this were the first instance of police overkill, if it were even the fifth, there might be hope of reforming our system of law enforcement. But what happened to these families, whose lives will never be the same, has become par for the course in a society that glorifies violence, turns a blind eye to government wrongdoing, and sanctions any act by law enforcement, no matter how misguided or wrong. Indeed, as I detail in my book “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” this state-sponsored violence is a necessary ingredient in any totalitarian regime to ensure a compliant, cowed and fearful populace.

The problem with these incidents, as one reporter rightly concluded, is “not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it’s that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone.”

This battlefield mindset has so corrupted our law enforcement agencies that the most routine tasks, such as serving a search warrant — intended to uncover evidence of a suspected crime — becomes a death warrant for the alleged “suspect,” his family members and his pets once a SWAT team, trained to kill, is involved.

Unfortunately, SWAT teams are no longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day.

Yet the tension inherent in most civilian-police encounters these days can’t be blamed exclusively on law enforcement’s growing reliance on SWAT teams. It goes far deeper, to a transformation in the way police view themselves and their line of duty. Specifically, what we’re dealing with today is a skewed shoot-to-kill mindset in which police, trained to view themselves as warriors or soldiers in a war, whether against drugs, or terror, or crime, must “get” the bad guys — i.e., anyone who is a potential target — before the bad guys get them. The result is a spike in the number of incidents in which police shoot first and ask questions later.

Who could forget what happened to 13-year-old Andy Lopez? The teenager was shot seven times and killed after two sheriff’s deputies, a mere 20 feet away, saw him carrying a toy BB gun in public.

Then there was the time two Cleveland police officers mistook the sounds of a backfiring car for gunfire and immediately began pursuing the car and its two occupants. Within 20 minutes, more than 60 police cars, some unmarked, and 115 officers had joined the pursuit, which ended in a middle school parking lot with more than 140 bullets fired by police in less than 30 seconds. The “suspects” — dead from countless bullet wounds — were unarmed.

Just as troubling as this “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset is what investigative journalist Katie Rucke uncovered about how police are being trained to use force without hesitation and report their shootings in such a way as to legally justify a shot. Rucke reports the findings of one concerned citizen, “Jack,” who went undercover in order to attend 24 hours of law enforcement training classes organized by the private, for-profit law enforcement training organization Calibre Press.

“Jack says it was troubling to witness hundreds of SWAT team officers and supervisors who seemed unfazed by being instructed to not hesitate when it comes to using excessive, and even deadly, force,” writes Rucke. “‘From my personal experience, these trainers consistently promote more aggression and criticize hesitation to use force,’ Jack said. ‘They argue that the risk of making a mistake is worth it to absolutely minimize risk to the officer. And they teach officers how to use the law to minimize legal repercussions in almost any scenario. All this is, of course, done behind the scenes, with no oversight from police administrators, much less the public.’”

If ever there were a time to demilitarize and deweaponize police forces, it’s now, starting at the local level, with local governments and citizens reining in local police. The same goes for scaling back on the mindset adopted by cops that they are the law and should be revered, feared and obeyed.

Police have been insulated from accusations of wrongdoing for too long and allowed to operate in an environment in which whatever a cop says, goes. Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His latest book, “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State” (SelectBooks), is available online at www.amazon.com. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

(41) comments

Whiplash Willy

Shoot me' I'm married[sad]

ArizAl

Hey, Mr. buy my book , haven't you ever heard of "states rights?" They can shoot anybody they want for whatever reason.

Retired Captain

The fact that Al, a committed 'Cult of The State' acolyte, belittles this factual and illustrative article which outlines a real and burgeoning tyranny, speaks volumes about Al 'the man' and about the Statist-Cult he holds membership and fellowship in.

In addition, I take specific note that ol' Al, the statist-cultist, tosses in a bit o' marginalization and demonization of the author....one must assume that this is to marginalize the impact or import of the information presented.

This, of course, is just as illustrative of the 'real' Al.

A man's true motives and ethical/philosophical character can be assessed quite accurately by a simple viewing of such tactics.

I see naught but a committed statist-collectivist who steadily and consistently works to subvert Liberty.

eyelab1

We have sent a petition to the attorney general asking for help as to our police state and the dismissal of the fireman and the police officer who where cited for lighting fires.
I know it won't do any good but at least we tried.

wzllvr

It's true. They do train police officers to go home in one piece after their shift. Mr Rutherford needs to get off his hind side and ride with the p0p0 every night for a week in, say, a city like Fresno.
On the flip side of this opinion however, is that citizens in their respective communities need to be paying attention to what their local law enforcement agencies are spending their budgets on. I worked for an agency that felt it more important to spend their annual budget on things like fancy office chairs, golf trips for the chief and new cars each year rather than spend money on officer training.

wzllvr

Oops...guess that's Mr Whitehead, not Rutherford. Whatever.[yawn]

wes alderson

[sad] Al, I'm disappointed that you would aim your sarcasm at John Whitehead on this particular issue. Especially since he has nicely back your economic and political beliefs on many occasions. And I's sad that you contort this into a State's Rights Issue.

I doubt you will deny that many of our Police Forces have been unduly militarized in recent years.

During my early Teen Years, along about 1956-58, I sold the Herald Express Newspaper on various corers of major intersections and grocery stores. I first got to know the cop on that beat when he happened to stop by just after a thug had stolen my $2.00 earnings for the aternoon.

To my surprise instead of going into the donut shop like he had intended, he drove around searching for the thief . . . . and found him. The thief ended up in jail. Believe me, I was the collective friend of cops thereafter, and the one special cop always had a free newspaper from me.

And that was in Los Angeles, Al. Which has never been known for its community friendliness. So the saddest of trends, is the trend which took us from that day on the newspaper corner, to today as Mr. Whitehead appropriately describes it.

BadBobtheAlbino

So the next time some one goes on a rampage we'll call you in to handle the situation right? You'll of course handle ever encounter with hugs and kind words and we'll all sit down and sing songs afterwards won't we?

Durable Brad

@ArizonaAl,

This type of behavior is the result of employing military-trained psychopaths in the civilian police without any type of negative legal consequence, whenever these authoritarian reactionaries choose to indulge their PTSD-induced paranoia on average American families.

Not that there's any difference between the two major parties, but one would think that the Obama/Holder administration would have some significantly enhanced awareness of the victims' point of view in these types of situations, especially having originated from a minority group which has suffered through centuries of abuse.

Alas, even the minorities who occupy positions of power in this country, are oblivious to the atrocities heaped upon unarmed and often innocent victims, mostly due to their own egomaniacal self-interest, and a complete contempt for the civil protections guaranteed within the Constitution of the United States..

But hey... that's OBVIOUSLY not as important as bashing a far more educated author, or continuing to denigrate those Americans willing to place themselves in between trigger happy statist thugs and their unarmed victims... right? [wink]

Kahuna

Mr. buy my book conveniently leaves out the major points of the "latest incident".

The police were there to arrest a meth addict who had been arrested before on weapons charges ( an AK-47 was taken in a previous arrest ) and drug charges. The baby was not in a crib but in a playpen in the living room. The meth addict had a rap sheet a mile long.

Mr. buy my book of course leaves the meth addict completely off the hook for endangering the child with drugs, drug deals in the same living room that the child was in, etc..

It's unfortunate that a child was injured but put the blame where it belongs.

SLP586

WMI,

This is ehttp://www.wmicentral.com/users/profile/SLP586xactly why I refer to this newspaper as the White Mountain Enquirer. Complete garbage, and this is still allowed to be printed. Perfect example, read the story in any reputable newspaper regarding the Las Vegas Metro police officers who were gunned down by two whack jobs in a parking lot. Hopefully this paper goes the way of other newspapers or major airlines and goes bankrupt.

juliussr

Mr. Whitehead,, go back to stacking your B B's in the corner!

ArizAl

Egad!! The extreme conservative republican minions, the Captain, Wes, and Brad continue to make the case for cognitive dissonance in the republican party. And I should say, they do a very good job of it.

In the foggy corners of their minds, apparently, they are unable to distinguish that all the examples cited by "Mr. Buy my book", whitehead are examples of the state police forces and municipal police forces alleged abuses, and not the supposedly "evil" federal government, as the Moe, Larry and Curly of extremists republican corporate apologists would lie to mislead the public.

Hey Fellows don't blame me for what your hero, "Mr. Buy my book" Whitehead did....
...proved you and your false assertions wrong. [beam][beam]

Whiplash Willy

Justice is not free,you must pay for justice.

Retired Captain

Poor Al...he stepped up to bat, he cocked back, he took a massive swing and verdamnit...he missed, by a country mile.

This topic, Al, doesn't relate to federal government tyranny, nor did I address that particular evil in my previous post. Obviously you have a reading comprehension deficiency, to some degree, or you would have recognized that.

Of course, Al, you have repeatedly demonstrated this and other deficiencies by your repeated challenge for someone to show you in the Constitution/Amendment X where it outlines the powers and duties of any of the several States.

An utterly hilarious display of constitutional-ignorance.

Anyway...just to clue you in on my previous commentary in this thread, Al...the disorder and affliction that is manifested in the 'Cult of The State', peopled by those who hold the collectivist-statist ethic/philosophy/ideology, applies to all levels of government, Al...Federal, State, County and/or Municipal.

wes alderson

As the Home Plate and 3rd Base umpores, both Bad Bob and I say to Al, "Stirke three! You're outa here."

Looks like Captain has a three hitter going in the top of the 6th inning.

Durable Brad

@ArizAl,

Your inaccurate assumptions regarding my political affiliations are almost as grandiose, as your glaring failure to acknowledge there are NO federal criminal prosecutions rendered under Amendment XIV against local and state criminals with badges. Any successful cases brought against offending officers of the law have originated within the civil courts.

Thus, in point of fact, this might be actually be considered an issue hinging upon irresponsible federal government, which conveniently looks the other way after supplying MRAP's, automatic weapons, and combat-trained veterans with PTSD to the civilian law enforcement mix.

Of course, those who readily offer apologies for unjustifiable police violence based upon the perceptions of those officers in the field, generally fail to realize the fact that they and their families could just as easily become a future victims should they be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That type of risk may be acceptable to those who worship government as god, but for the rest of us, such a fatal gamble is neither worthy of consideration or tolerance.

FYI- Just because someone disagrees with your point of view, does not mean they are a member of any particular political party... especially if they consistently comment on the fact that BOTH major political parties are a sham. [wink]

Durable Brad

*this might actually be *upon an irresponsible federal

ArizAl

Another bungling blunder by the Captain, in your zeal to prove yourself a prime candidate of cognitive dissonance.Humm, give you enough rope and you always hang yourself Captain. Apparently, you U.S. government haters, can't decide which government you hate the most......or is it all levels of government in our country?
Anarchism Captain? That's the snake oil you and your ilk are peddling, using the delusional pretense of amendment x states rights as the excuse.

Now that, "Mr. Buy my Book, Whitehead" and WMI are opining that it is the state SWAT teams of Georgia and Minnesota that are allegedly abusing their powers, you and your republicans phonies mount an attack on yours truly for pointing out your delusional fallacies. That really irks you doesn't it Captain? That's why you didn't address the topic of Mr. Buy My Book, Whitehead, instead in your incoherent delusional manner you and your conservative republican lemmings mount an attack on the person that pointed it out.

Simple to figure it out Captain...if you have the faculties to understand the English language.

While your at it, you may want to research the law Republican Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana signed into effect that it is legal to shoot officers of the law if you THINK they are breaking the law. Which brings up the fact that the killers of the two police officers in Las Vegas came from Indiana with the mindset that equates to the same mindset of extremist republicans ala Captain Moe, Larry and Curly.

How do you like your 10th amendment delusion now Captain?

As I have reinterated before many times Captain, If you and your phoney republican comrades hate the United States government so much, why don't you all self deport to a country of your liking ...say communist China?

Durable Brad

@ArizAl,

So... what part of "I am NOT a Republican" still confuses you?[beam]

Retired Captain

Well Brad...neither am I a Republican. Personally, I revile both the Republican and the Democrat wings of the Globalist-Collectivist Party.

Al only has one set of goggles that he sees the world through. Collectivist-goggles with a Democrat party-hack filter.

He seems to be incapable of independent thought, reading comprehension or critical thinking, as evidenced in this and so many other threads.

Here he is, stepping back up to the plate after he already struck out, embarrassingly. Al simply and demonstrably doesn't grasp the points made.

ArizAl

Brad, when you walk like a duck, talk like a duck, vote like a duck, defend republican ducks, you are a duck.

Coincidently, no conservatives on the blog admit to being a republican, but yet they are the first ones to defend Mr. Buy my Book, Republican Whitehead from the conservative republican think tank, the Rutherford Institute.

Truthfully, I guess that if I were a republican, I too, would be ashamed of letting people know the truth.

wes alderson

[thumbup] For Durable Brad. Actually, Al is not confused. He is just plain wrong.
Al has a consistant habit of seeing a post with which he disagrees, written by people like you and me, and concluding that anybody including us must be a right wing Republican.

Several people with whom I am firends, have given up on Al, saying, heck, just let him thing what he wants. Why does it matter?

TN4994

Anyone familiar with 'The Political Integrity Act' of the White Mountains?
It's very simple; if you don't think Democrat, than you must be Repuplican.

ronzim

I have posted ample proof herein of the important differences between the DEMS and the TEAPUBS. The parties are similar with regard to fund-raising and their susceptibility to lobbyists. Over time however there are major differences in outcomes. Both are clearly "collectivist" enterprises; however, personal reactions to that fact are only matters of opinion.

I have the following thoughts on this string. The issue here is consistency. When the Department of Homeland Security published its report which listed categories of persons who were most likely to commit violence, that report was savagely attacked and condemned, mostly from the right.

The basis for that condemnation was the presence on the list of persons such as " * * * combat trained veterans with PTSD." Also included were persons with histories of mental instability whose histories included constant references to violence as a means of government reform, hysterical fantasies about government oppression and rap sheets involving drug and gun violations, along with officer assaults. Some of these same persons are now condemned at this site.

We learn constantly that the DHS list was both accurate and prudent. The Las Vegas shootings a couple of days ago prove that. I point this out to show that there is a substantive level of inconsistency here and suggest that you cannot have it both ways.

ronzim

Still more generalities from Captain, unsupported by any specific examples I have called for.

ArizAl

What's the common thread between the Tea Pubs and Wes, Brad, and the factless Captain? They are all republicans in sheep's clothing, cut from the same mold.

They all should know by now that When you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.


TN, is a repuplican a very young republican or a done over republican? [beam]

Retired Captain

ronzim says:

"Still more generalities from Captain, unsupported by any specific examples I have called for."

Three points, Squire Zim...

Point the first...I deal in fundamentals and principles, you know, those broad underlying ethical/philosophical things that need to be identified and subsequently used for measure and illustration to show how far down the 'crooked path' we have been led by the legions of ronzims, many armed with government approved facts, figures and statistics designed to rationalize and justify collectivism and how we really are following the Constitution.

Point the second....Unless these fundamental and broad principles are identified, outlined and used as a yardstick to measure all the 'details', there is no point in following any rabbit trail of and leading to falsity.

Point the third...I could give a rosy-rats-behind about your calls for this or for anything. I don't answer to you, nor play your desired game. I do things my way, for the reasons aforementioned.

There, that about covers it.

Durable Brad

Partisan epithets are reserved for those incapable of recognizing the failed bi-partisan regime which has sold out our nation to wealthy global interests, the banks they own, and the corporations they control. [wink]

ArizAl

Captain, you should know that there are fundamentals and principles that are the standards by individuals such as yourself, then there are fundamentals and principles that are the accepted standards of the collective of people which constitute our American society past and present.

Where you run straight into a wall Captain, is that you live in the sphere of government that was established for the collective member residents of the nation that came to be called the "United( (Plural) States of America." It takes no intellectual giant to figure out that to be "United" takes more than one state, more than one person; it takes the collective of both to form a nation. Herein, lies the crux of your conundrum, sir. This country was established as a democratic-republic where all the people have the right to vote to elect a government representative that most closely matches their interpretation of what the fundamentals, principles ethics and philosophy of our society should be. You Captain, are but one of 350 million Americans currently, and millions more that throughout our 213 year history have interpreted and formed those fundamentals, principles, ethics and philosophies to what they are now, and for the most part those changes have been good. Any changes deemed not so good, can and have been adjusted by the peaceful, Constitutional methods our forefathers wrote into the text of the Constitution itself.

The forefathers also expressed their repulsion of the use of violence to force the citizenry into submission of the interpretations of a vocal minority. (Article IV, Section 4)

ronzim

As we can see, Captain cannot cite any examples in support of his claims. The reason is, of course, because there are none. His unsubstantiated claims of unconstitutional government collapse without any specific examples of a law, rule, regulation, or policy of the federal government, now in effect, which is unconstitutional. There are none. We know, however, that he rejects the rule of law, majority rule, universal suffrage, one-man-one-vote, and, in essence, the constitution, itself, except as he chooses to interpret it. No specifics, no credibility! What we have instead is a collection of opinions (fair enough!), wishes, preferences. No facts!

By the by, as we see above, he also rejects science and mathematics because they show realities in conflict with his preconceived notions. No dice Captain!


ronzim

Brad: [beam][thumbup][thumbup]

wes alderson

Richard,

Yes, of course I see your points that cause you to conclude that Arizona Al is a Communist, or even a Traitor.

I don't agree with much of his comments, personally.

But I also DO NOT believe he is a Communist. Maybe a little misguided toward socialism, but NOT a Communist.

wes alderson

TN [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

wes alderson

[crying]

wes alderson

Brad,

You may want to chat with JuliusSR, here on the blogs. He is the originator of the good thought that both parties are the same and bought by the same money folks. Julius would like to outlaw party affiliations and have everybody run unafilliated. I agree.

Wes.

ArizAl

Wes,

Thank you for demonstrating again that you are not only a hypocrite and liar in politics, but you also excel in being a hypocrite and liar as a pastor.

Don't you believe it's about time that you quit using other aliases and other other people's names to criticize those whom you don't agree with? Be a man Wes, you don't have to resort to such stupid childish antics.

TN4994

ArizAl: Being born of American Citizens in the US State of Maryland, I am a natural/native born American. And having said the Pledge of Allegiance several hundred times (please refer to "the Republic for which it stands"), I guess that makes me a Republican. [wink]

Seriously, I'm more aligned to the planks of Modern Whig platform than any other party.

ArizAl

TN,

Are you sure you don't align yourself with the Whigs of England, the liberal party? Maybe the republicans of Lincoln's time, the progressive party.? Oh well, to each his own.

TN4994

Al: Ouch!!! And me without my red coat.
I won't imply that you are of the Stephen Douglas Democrat Party.
It has bled over onto the Repblican platform.

TN4994

Sorry: Keyboard needs cleaning.

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