Friendly Neighborhood Police or Commando Cops?

August 31, 2014

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

For years, the federal government has had a policy in place that allows for law enforcement agencies to receive surplus military equipment including armored vehicles, body armor, and other military surplus hardware. The use and history of this program is covered extensively in Radley Balko’s recent book, Rise of the Warrior Cop. In Indiana, Johnson County has acquired an MRAP anti-land mine, armored vehicle, which was detailed in an Indianapolis Star article by Mark Alesia in June of this year. See Sheriff Cox noted in that article that while they “don’t have a lot of [land] mines in Johnson County,” it is his responsibility to ensure that his officers go home safe. Another Indiana Sheriff, Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer, noted one of the benefits of the MRAP: “It’s a lot more intimidating than a dodge.” Id.

While these tools can no doubt be effective at intimidation, it is clear that their intended use was not for civilian purposes, but to win wars. Consequently, the questions have to be asked: should they serve a daily or regular law enforcement role in communities like Johnson and Pulaski counties or others throughout Indiana? Do they unduly change the mindset of officers who are there to protect-and-serve to that of paramilitary warriors intending to intimidate the public? What implications do these tools, which were intended for war and armed conflict, have on the Fourth Amendment and the Indiana Constitution when used state-side in civilian settings? There is little doubt that these questions will become more pressing when and if these tools permeate into civilian law enforcement agencies.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your criminal or civil rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.