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'Comply Or Die’ is Not The Law

In 1975, as the elected sheriff of Utah’s Davis County, William "Dub" Lawrence helped organize one of the state’s first SWAT teams. On September 22, 2008, his son-in-law, Brian Wood, was killed by that SWAT team outside his home following a 12-hour standoff.

After suffering a breakdown of some kind, Wood called 911 to report (falsely) that he had beaten and raped his wife. SWAT operators used chemical weapons to force Wood from the pickup truck in which he had taken refuge, then treated him to a barrage of rubber bullets, projectile bean bags, and pepper-spray rounds, in addition to tear gas and flash-bang grenades. While Wood was prone and helpless, he was shot with a Taser at least eight times by one officer, and an unknown number of times by a second — before being shot at point-blank range by another officer wielding a .308-caliber rifle.
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Is a Nationwide Local Government Backlash Against Police Militarization Beginning?

KCRA TV is reporting that the Davis, California City Council voted Tuesday evening, after hearing from concerned people at the city council’s meeting, to get rid of the police department’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicle. The police department had obtained the MRAP, which is valued at nearly $700,000, for free recently from the US government.

Will Davis, California one day be seen as the beginning of a nationwide local government backlash against police militarization in the US?
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Is It A Crime To Insult the Police?

Arena, Wisconsin is a village of roughly 800 people, most of whom are white, politically liberal, and materially comfortable. Despite having a very low crime rate, the village has a police department that, like every other, exists primarily to collect revenue.

Two years ago, police arrested three “out-of-state juvenile males” on suspicion of burglarizing a business. Two of the suspects “were detained by residents until law enforcement arrived,” the department noted in its Facebook page. The three unfamiliar black men were conspicuous in a tiny village with a nearly all-white population, and by the time the police arrived all of the difficult work had been done. Perhaps as a way to compensate for its deserved sense of worthlessness, the Arena PD arrested someone whose only role in this affair was to publish a derisive remark on the department’s Facebook page.
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Ron Paul: Legal Pot, Not SWAT

Ron Paul addresses Monday on the Ron Paul Channel the menacing militarization of police in the United States. Paul, the chairman and founder of RPI, explains the problem extends from small towns obtaining military combat vehicles to United States government agencies buying up vast amounts of weapons and ammunition to police employing over 40,000 SWAT team raids each year.

Paul also notes in the commentary that crime in Denver has decreased following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Paul wonders if Colorado may be on to something—less laws are a better means than militarized police to reduce crime.
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Toothless USA FREEDOM Act Losing Support

The USA FREEDOM Act (HR 3361), which is supposedly designed to thwart the US government’s mass spying program, appears to be confirming RPI Executive Director Daniel McAdams’ warning from September: “beware NSA spying and beware the PATRIOT Act and beware FISA reauthorizations. But most of all...keep your eyes on the reformers!”

The stench from the USA FREEDOM Act has grown so obvious that privacy-related interest groups are renouncing their support of the bill after the bill, which had already passed through the committee approval process, was revised Tuesday to gain the Obama administration’s support. It is becoming harder by the day to have faith the legislation is even a small step toward greater respect for freedom.
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Cop in Tank: Freeze, Drop that Steak!

In the continuing rise of SWAT, police in Napoleon Dynamite's hometown now have a tank. William N. Grigg, in his latest article at Pro Libertate, explores the small Idaho town's acquisition of the military armored vehicle at no cost and the ominous US government program that is helping militarize police departments all over the country.
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James Comey Won't Improve the FBI

Expect business as usual at the FBI after Monday’s Senate confirmation of James B. Comey, Jr. to be the Bureau's new director. Comey had previously served as George W. Bush’s Deputy Attorney General. Every indication is that Comey will lead the FBI in the same trajectory it has traveled under Director Robert S. Mueller's leadership since September 2001—a trajectory the American Civil Liberties Union outlines as dangerous to liberty in the succinct report "The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11."
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The Rise of SWAT

In a KERA Radio interview this week, investigative reporter Radley Balko provides an informative overview of the the history of police SWAT teams in the United States. Balko addresses factors that have contributed to the rise of SWAT including the war on drugs, civil asset forfeiture, joint task forces, and the providing of US government grants and surplus military equipment to state and local police.
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