Tuesday, June 14, 2011

U.S. Police have become "operators"

The sheriff's office in Pima County, Ariz., raided the home of former Marine and Iraq combat veteran Jose Guerena, shooting 71 rounds at Guerena and hitting him with 22. The department is now facing a serious controversy over Guerena's death.

But the raid isn't the real tragedy. It's a symptom of the real tragedy: the militarization of U.S. law enforcement.

Pima County released a video of the raid and supporting documents. The video isn't anything new — a squad of police officers dressed up for combat. But the statement of the SWAT supervisor is worth reading. After the SWAT team entered Guerena's home, the supervisor left one or two "operators" with the body while the rest searched the house.

What did he mean by operator? Well, a police officer. But the term connotes something entirely different. "Operator" is a term of art in the special operations community. Green Berets, SEALs and other special operations personnel often refer to themselves as operators. It's a recognition of both the elite standards of their units and the hybrid nature of their duties — part soldier, part spy, part diplomat. But importing operator terminology into domestic law enforcement is not a benign turn of the phrase.

Perceiving yourself as an operator plasters over the difference between a law enforcement officer serving a warrant and a commando in a war zone. The former Mirandizes, the latter vaporizes, as the saying goes — and as the recent Osama bin Laden raid vividly illustrated.

Targeted killing is legal in a war zone but not on the streets of Anytown, USA. The war on drugs has done incalculable damage to the character of law enforcement by encouraging police officers to forget they are civilians.

True, they are civilians charged with enforcing the law and are empowered to use force to do so — but they are civilians nonetheless. When police officers refer to their fellow citizens as civilians and mean to exclude themselves from that category, they've mentally leapt from enforcing the law to destroying the enemies of the state. That's incompatible with a free society.

I had reservations about the term "operator" during the years I served in special operations. Most of the time, the label was interchangeable with "soldier." But sometimes it became a tool for diminishing the need for planning — and relying on brawn and talent instead. "Don't worry; we're operators," was the overall attitude. "We can handle it."

Some of that is evident in the raid on Guerena's home. Unless otherwise specified, warrants are supposed to be served with a knock on the door and an announcement that a peace officer is the one knocking.

Police can request a no-knock warrant that allows entry without warning when they anticipate armed resistance. If Guerena was in fact moonlighting with a home-invasion crew, as the Pima County sheriff alleges, then this may have been a rare situation in which a no-knock warrant would be justified.

Ideally, suspects are taken into custody outside their homes, in an environment law enforcers are more easily able to predict and control. Instead, Pima County authorities produced enough noise with sirens and a battering ram to spark instant chaos and confusion in Guerena's residence, where he was sleeping after working the night shift.

Once the SWAT team breached the door, it's not clear from the available video that they again announced themselves as law enforcement officers and not the sort of home invaders who killed two of Guerena's wife's relatives last year.

Some law enforcement officers certainly qualify for operator status. The FBI team that snatched CIA headquarters shooter Mir Aimal Kansi from a hotel room in the badlands of Pakistan makes the grade.

But securing evidence in suburban America is the antithesis of operator status. It's a basic law enforcement function, not an international manhunt or the targeted killing of a terrorist leader. While a group of SWAT officers may have felt like operators on a battlefield, an honorably discharged Marine — possibly seeking only to defend his family from what he thought was a home invasion — bled out in Arizona.


Reward for incompetence? British woman inspector 'humiliated' by failing riot test wins up to £30k

For 30 years it has been used to test the fitness of officers who police riots and other outbreaks of serious public disorder. The so-called 'shield run' involves officers covering a distance of 500 metres in less than two minutes, 45 seconds while wearing full riot gear and carrying a shield.

But when Inspector Diane Bamber, 51, failed to meet the time limit, she claimed she had been left humiliated. She brought a sex and age discrimination case against her force, Greater Manchester Police, and now stands to win up to £30,000 after an employment tribunal ruled in her favour.

The landmark case has opened the door for thousands of other women officers to claim payouts and has triggered a review of specialist police training across the country.

Insp Bamber, a serving officer for more than 30 years who still works for Greater Manchester Police, attended an Initial Public Order Commanders' Course in Lancashire in November 2008.

She complained to the tribunal that prior to the course starting she had been led to believe that she would not have to take part in the shield run. But on the day of the test, Insp Bamber was informed that all officers who wanted to be considered for events where trouble was a possibility would have to pass it. She agreed to run but she did not finish in the allotted time. Her failure meant she could not complete the rest of the training course.

When Insp Bamber applied to retake the shield run, it is alleged that one of her colleagues remarked: 'She's got no f****** chance.' In fact she did pass at the second attempt several months later – after Greater Manchester Police made it easier by raising the time limit to three minutes.

The tribunal heard that on the second occasion, Insp Bamber gave herself the equivalent of an extra 20 seconds by starting at the front of the group. Previously, she had started at the back but the clock starts when the first person sets off.

In her ruling, Judge Hilary Slater said Insp Bamber's claims of indirect sex and age discrimination were 'well-founded'. Noting that the officer had 'suffered humiliation at being sent away from the course', Judge Slater added: 'The tribunal concludes that the claimant was put at the disadvantage suffered by women and persons of her age group in that she failed the test and was not able to complete the training.'

The shield run was first introduced in the Eighties when Scotland Yard used it to test the fitness of officers policing the Notting Hill Carnival. Greater Manchester Police also conducted the runs for 30 years but has now dropped them.

The Mail on Sunday understands that the Association of Chief Police Officers is now reviewing the lawfulness of the physical training formats for 13 specialist operational roles, including those for firearms officers, which could discriminate against women and older officers.

Last night Tory MP Robert Halfon said: 'At a time when forces face enormous challenges and need to do all they can to protect frontline service, it is bizarre they are being forced to use taxpayers' money to pay compensation in cases such as these.' The level of compensation will be set later this month.


Obama Official Tells Youth Summit: We're Recruiting homosexuals to Adopt Kids

David Hansell, who runs the federal government’s Administration for Children and Families, told a group of high school students at the U.S. Department of Education’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)” youth summit on Tuesday that the Obama administration is recruiting “LGBT parents” to adopt children.

“[O]f course, we’re also trying to recruit more foster and adoptive parents who are lesbian and gay,” Hansell said in a general session of the summit held at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. (As CNSNews.com previously reported, the Department of Education barred reporters from attending the summit’s breakout sessions, which were also held at the hotel.)

In the general session, Hansell, who is an acting assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), pointed to a program sponsored by his division of HHS that encourages LGBT people to adopt children.

“So LGBT individuals and families often contact us about adopting or fostering kids through a program that we run called Adopt Us Kids, which is aimed at finding adoptive homes for hard to place children,” said Hansell. “We are particularly interested in encouraging the involvement of LGBT parents. In fact, we need their involvement because right now there are 115,000 children in foster care ready and waiting to find permanent homes.”

AdoptUsKids says that its mission is “to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children.”

Hansell described the “striking stories about LGBT teens in foster care” and “their experiences with the system, both positive and negative.” The Administration of Children and Families (ACF), where Hansell works, intends “to emphasize and increase the positive ones.”

The federally sponsored organization also says it “has developed a number of valuable resources to support the efforts of States, Tribes, and Territories in recruiting and retaining lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) foster and adoptive parents.” These materials are linked to a page on the organization’s Web site entitled, “Resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Foster and Adoptive Families”

At the Department of Education’s youth summit, the HHS's Hansell participated in a general session panel -- “Population Focus on LGBT Student Needs”— that was described on the summit’s agenda as a discussion of “the unique needs of specific populations among LGBT youth,” including the topics of “college-age youth, youth of color, transgender youth, and the role of ‘straight allies’ in creating safe and supportive environments for these specific populations.”

In his talk, Hansell addressed the difficulties that sometimes confront “LGBT prospective parents” and the efforts the Obama administration is making to remove those difficulties.“Now when it comes to adoption, LGBT prospective parents sometimes have had a hard time with the foster care system,” said Hansell.“In a few states, that’s due to legal barriers against gay or same-sex couples adopting. But more often than that it’s due to agency cultures and the discomfort or ignorance of child welfare workers and agencies, and as a consequence of that, potential parents who are not heterosexual often seek to adopt from private agencies rather than from the public child-welfare system."

“Given the magnitude of the need of kids for permanent homes we can’t afford to let that happen,” Hansell told the government youth summit.

“Aside from the fact that it is just plain discriminatory, it makes no sense to deny willing capable families the opportunity to create permanent homes for kids who have endured terrible difficulty and desperately need love and security," he said. "All children deserve loving, safe and stable homes. All families who are capable of providing them should be encouraged and helped to do so, regardless of whether they have two moms or two dads.”

Hansell said the administration is working on many fronts—ranging from training social workers to making publications more “gay-friendly”— to make it easier for “LGBT families” to adopt children.

“So we are taking a number of actions that will lead to much more inclusiveness,” said Hansell, “including training social workers, consulting with LGBT groups, revising all of our publications to be more gay-friendly, funding LGBT foster and adoptive parent support groups and spreading the message about how we can move forward to promote and sustain progressive adoption and foster care policies for LGBT families.”

The summit, which was held on Monday and Tuesday, was described in a Department of Education press release as an event that would “bring together students, educators, administrators, and heads of federal and nonprofit agencies to provide information and seek solutions to these issues.” Both U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the summit.

Literature focused on teenagers, such as the magazine sex, etc. and an HHS sexual identity study on students from grades 9-12, was freely distributed to all attendees.

The Education Department blocked reporters from attending breakout sessions because, as Assistant Deputy Education Secretary Kevin Jennings told CNSNews: “(S)ome youth participants do not have permission to speak to the media and allowing media into sessions would have meant excluding them from this portion of the event, which we did not want to do.”

An Education Department spokeswoman also told CNSNews.com that it could not interview certain students with red stickers on their name tags because they were minors.

When CNSNews.com asked Hansell for an interview at the government youth summit, he said he was not there to do media interviews.

Before joining HHS in 2009, Hansell worked in New York state government, and had previously worked with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.


Australia: Call for ban on teens playing football

YOUNG footballers should not be allowed to tackle each other as teenagers to avoid brain damage and serious bone injuries, according to a leading sports medicine expert.

Sports Medicine Australia Professor Caroline Finch, a sports epidemiologist at Monash University, said rugby was a challenging collision sport and as such could produce serious harm. "The body gets an injury when it sustains a force that it can't withstand," Prof Finch said.

"Force equals mass times acceleration so if players are running fast and you get hit by a bigger player you are going to get more force transmitted to you and have a greater chance of injury," she said. "And that is when it becomes a problem when we have a lot of lightweight children playing with bigger kids."

Professor Finch said young people's brains were still developing. "If an injury occurs it could stop laying down important pathways," she said. "There is a fear that the cognitive development of younger people, their ability to learn, could be impaired from too many head impacts."

Other impacts on young bodies were also musculoskeletal because they were not fully developed and "excessive forces could easily break bones", she said.

Prof Finch said it was important to gradually introduce contact in sport particularly for those 16 and under. "The responsibility is also on the coach to take in all factors when making up a team," she said. "Rather than have a win at all costs approach they need to approach the game in a balanced way and care about the health and well being of their young players."

A new study by Sports Medicine Australia found the harder NRL rugby league players train, the more injuries they will sustain. "This study shows if you don't train at all you will sustain injury but if you train to much it can also lead to injury," she said.

These findings create a challenge for coaches, who need their players to train hard to improve game performance, while also minimising the risk of injury.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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