Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 19, 2014

What Law Enforcement Needs to Understand about Ferguson

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on August 19, 2014

Today’s post was written by Max Geron


The tweet read:

“Honestly, of all the people that should be upset about #Ferguson, why aren’t the other police who actually do “protect & serve” speaking up?”

It came from one of the people who follows me on twitter and while not directed specifically at me, it was directed to me. It is an excellent question and speaks to what I think needs to change about law enforcement.

It’s not simply about social media use by law enforcement, although in my view that needs to improve. It’s actually how we talk about and how we respond to protest. Law enforcement officers are often quick to say that we are here to protect the rights of those who want to express dissent as well as the rights of those against whom the protest is directed. As true and simple as that statement is, the reality of it is exponentially more complicated.


The images from Ferguson, Missouri are disturbing and disappointing to those who recognize their role in law enforcement as servants of the public as opposed to strict enforcers of the law, maintainers of order or members of a paramilitary organization. While enforcing the law is a primary function and order maintenance is a part of that job, they are but components of the larger public servant role. Additionally, while police agencies are paramilitary in nature, law enforcement leaders now, more than ever, need to guard against the increase of militarization currently underway.

I’m disheartened that police unions and associations across the country are concerned about citizens photographing police while in public and have no qualms about speaking out against it. This adds to the concern of the public that we are moving more towards a police state and slowly eroding the freedoms we should cherish in this great nation.


So what?

Law enforcement leaders must guard against applying “best practices” to fluid and dynamic incidents with which they have only limited experience such as protests. They must also recognize that deploying a SWAT team is, in and of itself, a use of force and not appropriate in all circumstances – response to peaceful protests being one of those inappropriate uses.

Sometimes the most difficult thing for leaders, especially law enforcement leaders, to do is nothing or doing less. This is often what is called for, and now apparently happening in Ferguson. When the Missouri State Police reported to Ferguson, they did so reportedly without donning riot gear, which appears to have contributed to a much softer reception and peaceful march on Thursday evening.

Officers often point to the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle as justification for wearing riot gear. A segment of those demonstrators refused to engage in the negotiated management tactics employed at the time by Seattle police. Scholars have argued that a failure by Seattle PD to plan for that refusal is what added to the reasoning for the militarized response and therefore increased the resistance. [See Patrick F. Gillham and Gary T. Marx, “Complexity and Irony in Policing and Protesting: The World Trade Organization in Seattle,” Social Justice 27, no. 2 (80) (June 1, 2000): 212.]

Interspersed with the rioting came the reports of media personnel being threatened with arrest and being ordered to stop filming. Little does more to incense the media, especially the television media than ordering them to stop filming when that order is not based in the law. Compound that with arrests of some journalists and the problems were exacerbated. In very few circumstances can civilian police make such a demand of citizens (another blog post/topic altogether).


Long before Michael Brown was shot, the Ferguson police department seems not to have recognized that they were in a precarious position for several reasons. Their minority representation was not reflective of the community they were policing. In the language of social identity theory, the police in Ferguson, Missouri are a 53 person out-group with the ability to take not only the freedoms of the in-group but their lives as well. Much work must be done in that department and community to repair the perceived injustices. Police need to do more to recruit candidates that are more representative of the population they serve, while at the same time making inroads to the citizens with their current cadre of officers.

Their strategy for policing protest, if they had a formal one, seems to indicate a lack of understanding of the effect that a strong show of militarized force can have on a community that believes they have been disenfranchised by their police department. By being members of the “out group”, they were incapable of understanding the impact such a tactical display would have on the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri. Furthermore, their initial refusal to release the name of the involved officer supports the theory that they were unable to understand how that could be perceived as an inability to be objective and impartial in their investigation.

This repair effort must come not only from the police leaders in Ferguson but also from the civic and community leaders. They must come together and have the critical conversations necessary to establish expectations and understanding on how things must change to rebuild trust and increase transparency in their government.


Finally, do not make the mistake thinking this is solely a Ferguson issue, a Missouri issue or mid-West issue. This is a homeland security issue and was evidenced in the responses to the Occupy Movement in 2011 across the country. The increase in militarization is a national issue only thrust into the forefront of the American awareness by the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. The withdrawal of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan has left thousands upon thousands of former soldiers looking for work. For law enforcement agencies looking to hire qualified candidates, former soldiers appear to be outstanding recruits.

We are only beginning to consider the implications of the flood of former military personnel joining the ranks of civilian policing. I submit that more study into this phenomenon is needed. The issue of militarization of American policing is not just the acquisition of military equipment; it is the infusion of so many former soldiers into the ranks of the civilian police.

For American police, retention of the “servant” mindset is more critical than that of the “warrior” mindset.


Max Geron is a senior executive in a major urban police department and, according to the Washington Post, a security studies scholar.”  He is the author of “21st Century Strategies for Policing Protest: What Major Cities’ Responses to the Occupy Movement Tell Us About the Future of Police Response to Public Protest,” which can be found at this link: https://www.hsdl.org/?abstract&did=753807 .  The views expressed in this post are Geron’s; they do not represent the opinions of any agency or organization.


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Comment by John Comiskey

August 19, 2014 @ 5:22 am

Perceptions, transitions, and professionalism

Society asks so much of the police. Early in my police career, I was told that the police are doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. People in distress call the police when bad things happen. They expect the police to fix the things that distressed them or to at least make them better.

When people do really bad things, the police must sometimes do what would otherwise be considered bad things to prevent the bad things from getting even worse. This includes the use of physical and even deadly physical force.

The law is clear on this; the police are authorized to decide when someone is to be arrested. Redress comes afterwards. The police may use appropriate force to effect an arrest and/or to STOP someone from causing physical injury or death to another.

The police are justified in doing so when it is determined that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would do the same. The police are trained to stop the threat. What citizens must understand is that if you are perceived as a threat, appropriate force will be used.

Many issues including the mindset, mental capacity, and physical condition of suspects must be considered in an instant. The police must make split-second decisions.

The question that remains unanswered by pundits and opponents of the police is: what should the police do when faced with suspects that refuse to be arrested and/or threaten the police.

At the same time, we ask the police to be guardians of the community. They must transition from officers who arrest violent suspects into community advocates/organizers/benefactors. One of the problems is that there are so many bad people doing so many bad things that the second mission is often trumped by the law enforcement mission.

I agree, the post-9/11 militarization of the police should be checked. The mere display of officers donning flak jackets and long guns must be used judiciously.

Counterterrorism patrols are a security imperative, but again must be used judiciously.

SWAT teams require special weapons and uniforms, they need not be camouflaged. Exceptions might apply to game wardens.

BTW, uniformed officers should have name tags.

Every officer must understand that their actions represent both their department and then law enforcement community. Above all, the police must demonstrate the highest degrees of professionalism.

The role of the media in democratic government is absolute. While we may not like everything they say, we must respect their role.

Police departments must understand the role of public relations. Messaging must be consistent and to the degree possible transparent.

Police officers must understand that the media and citizens may video tape them so long as they are not interfering with police operations.

The media must understand their role -the objective reporting of the news.

Citizens must understand their role -civic minded citizens that follow the golden rule.

BTW, does anybody remember how much we honored the police in the aftermath of 9/11. FYI, they are the same people who confront violent suspects every day.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 6:31 am

Great post and comment! Thanks Max and John!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 7:12 am

Some may find this past technical note of interest!

[This technical note is not copyrighted and may be used for any purpose]

VLG Technical Note

Updated January 1, 2010


[Editor’s Note-The technical note series is designed to stimulate thinking about subjects for academic research and improvements in doctrine otherwise impacting current policy discussions and issue analysis. The principal intent is to highlight subjects for further study.]


Whether further militarization of domestic civil crisis management jeopardizes the governmental system and heritage of the United States?


Astoundingly, in the years of the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush only active or retired military officers, some of flag rank officer served as National Security Advisers but only one supported strengthening of civil agency capability and plans as opposed to preemptively trying to take over domestic civil response. Name of that General—Colin Powell. Before General Powell two officers one a retired field grade officer Marine Infantry and one a Vice Admiral in the Navy had served Reagan as NSC adviser- “Bud” Robert C.McFarlane and John Poindexter. Colin Powell was followed by General Brent Scowcroft as head of the NSC staff under George H. W. Bush. The NSC staff in the last three decades has been largely staffed by serving military officers on detail from DoD. The exact staffing of the NSC since its establishment in 1947 would be of interest as far as giving insight in military civil relationships. President Obama’s first NSC Adviser was retired Marine 4-star James Jones. I view that staffing pattern as eroding civilian control of the military.


1988 National Security Emergency Plan

Domestic Crisis Management and Response—

On the Road to All-Hazards Plans and Preparedness

One of the interesting areas for research is the development and background of the National Response Framework [NRF] issued in final January 2008 [now again under active revision]. The NRF also includes a biological incident annex published September 2008. The NRF supersedes the National Response Plan [NRP] that was mandated by the Homeland Security Strategy of 2002, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Reorganization Plan submitted on November 25, 2002, and HSPD-5 [February 28, 2003] and was thus a major Goal for DHS to accomplish. With its constant revisions and failure to integrate other strategies and plans it can now be concluded that that Goal was NOT met. Somewhat ironically, or perhaps even with elements of tragedy as experienced by NOLA, just as the Federal Response Plans issuance in May 1992 was soon calibrated by the reality of events of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the National Response Plan [widely reported to have been effective December 2004] made effective officially in April 2005 was shortly to be calibrated by the events of Hurricane Katrina. Homeland Security Presidential Directives HSPD 5 and 8 [issued fall 2003] reinforced the GOAL but again did not achieve the Goal of implementing these mandates. Implementation would of course have had to include extensive training and exercising in order for the NRP to achieve its purposes. FEMA has now contracted out a project to develop its “doctrines” with respect to its disaster operations. That efforts deliverables are due shortly. That effort is dominated by retired military officers. No known participation of STATE and LOCAL officials is part of the process.

In reality the foundation for an all-hazard civil response plan with military support had been in evolution since the administration of President Ronald Reagan. One key element of the evolution of the all-hazards planning concept had been FEMA’s National Security staff insisting on providing a separate National Security Emergency Plan throughout the early Reagan Administration. This backgrounder explains why that effort was eventually directed to incorporating into the Federal Response Plan issued in May 1992 all civil response elements for National Security Emergencies. The 1992 FRP contains a single paragraph concerning its application to National Security Emergencies. That term first appeared in EO 12472 and was defined in EO 12656 both of which are still extant. As always given the size of DOD resources the challenge to the civil agencies has been to effectively incorporate DOD support for civil agency programs, functions, and activities and not be overwhelmed or preempted by DOD at the same time.

The concept of a National Security Emergency Plan for large scale domestic catastrophic incidents/events was developed by National Security Council staff as early as 1983 and was derivative of early planning efforts mandated by the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress (hereinafter the “ FCDA”). That statute, which somewhat crudely tried to reconcile defense of the population from active warfare, both nuclear and conventional, mandated not only plans but a civil defense system that was to be implemented by those plans. Because the so-called Plan D and Plan Other than D was the end product, one to deal with nuclear warfare conducted at a strategic level and one to deal with conventional warfare, both classified and seldom shared with the State and Local governments, it was seen that some largely unclassified effort was needed to leverage state and local assets. President Eisenhower, when the Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Plans and in charge of war planning, had been attributed with saying “Planning is everything but the plan is nothing.” A relatively recent comprehensive discussion of civil emergency planning appears in “Facing the Unexpected-Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States,” Kathleen J. Tierney, Michael L. Lindell, and Ronald W. Perry, Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C. (2001). It is certain that planning, and the coordination, collaboration, and cooperation needed to produce any plan has been identified as a key element of preparedness. It is significant that planning alone is not equivalent to preparedness, which also includes the verification of capability of the elements of logistics, personnel, equipment, training and exercises.

A very brief background discussion of federal planning efforts for both mobilization of resources and response to domestic disasters and emergencies as well as preparedness for may be helpful. A draft chart of federal civil response efforts is available from the author of this technical bulletin upon request.

On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman in E.O. 10346 mandated that each federal department or agency should cooperate with the Federal Civil Defense Administration to prepare plans for providing its personnel, materials, facilities, and services during the existence of a Civil Defense Emergency (a term used in the FCDA). It should be noted that authority for declaration of a Civil Defense Emergency lapsed in 1974. The plans were to be designed to include continuity of department and agency operations and coordination of such arrangements with other national, state, and local civil defense plans. No consolidated emergency response plan appeared until 1958, the initial National Civil Defense Plan (really a preparedness plan and not a response plan), and then with final issuance of a document signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 under the auspices of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (originally, the Office of Emergency Management in WWII, and then the Office of Emergency Planning (1958-61), and the Office of Emergency Preparedness (1962-73). The 1964 OEP Plan [reviewed and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and available at http://www.vlg338.blogspot.com%5D assigned responsibilities to all the Federal departments and agencies without indicating what budget or resources were to be applied (a defect that still plagues the National Response Plan today.)

It should be noted that so-called Continuity of Government (COG) and resource mobilization plans were segregated by both funding and legal authority for their conduct as early as 1953. [No specific law or Executive Order mandates these functions although Section 404 of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended comes close and in addition the implications of such planning underlie the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended. That statute was recently extended for five years by the enactment of Public Law 111-67.] For a discussion of civil and military COG planning see Paul Bracken, Command and Control (Yale University Press, 1983). It should be noted that the bifurcated Constitutional role of the President, both as Commander-In-Chief and Chief Executive, have different requirements and nuances for development of COG systems and their implementation and operations. Additional civil government mobilization, including standby legislation (primarily the titles of the FCDA that lapsed in 1953 and the Defense Production Act of 1950) were incorporated in classified “Plan D” and “Other than D” to address nuclear attack related emergencies and conventional warfare. These plans were never signed off by the President or officially approved by the Attorney General or subordinate units of the Department of Justice and formally reviewed for legality. Telecommunications planning was also separately addressed as early as 1962. For a list of planning assignments as of 1962 see E.O. 11051 of September 27, 1962. That Executive Order was replaced by E.O. 11490 [1969].

Resource mobilization planning for a coordinated federal response to any national crisis was energized when on December 17, 1981, the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs signed a memorandum establishing the Emergency Preparedness Mobilization Board (hereinafter EMPB). This action was taken in response to a Memorandum by Edwin Meese, III, then Counselor to the President and later Attorney General to Frank C. Carlucci, Secretary of Defense and Louis O. Guiffrida, Director of FEMA, dated May 26, 1981.

Two National Security Decisions (NSDD 30 “Managing Terrorist Incidents” April 10, 1982 and NSDD 47 “Emergency Mobilization Preparedness” July 22, 1982) were soon issued that established several fundamental principles. All NSDD’s that are declassified in whole or in part can be found at the following URL:


First in the event of threatened or actual terrorist attacks lead agencies were designated by the Executive Order as responsible. Principally State Department was designated for international terrorism incidents/events, Justice for domestic terrorism, and FEMA for response to consequences of actual domestic/events. Second, the principal was established that even natural disasters could impact national security, and a single system was required for the national security community and its assets to respond. President Carter’s National Security Advisor when flying over the eruption of Mt. St. Helens with the President observed that a major earthquake impacting Silicon Valley could have vast national security impacts. President Carter order the NSC Advisor to prepare both a classified and unclassified analysis for him. The unclassified version was issued by FEMA as a FEMA document. Both were completed before January 1981 when Ronald Reagan became President. NSDD 47 in particular identified a large catastrophic earthquake (the placement of the principal research, development, and manufacturing capability of the nation for the technology sector in California was the specific catalyst) as potentially damaging national security. It therefore concluded that a single response system was necessary and empowered the Emergency Preparedness Mobilization Board [EMPB] to design such as system. By 1985, in NSDD 188 the EMPB was disestablished having completed a plan of action. It should be noted that the Los Angeles Olympics had energized the Department of Justice in the assigned lead role in domestic terrorism and DoJ was increasingly anxious to assert that role. The DoJ had created a concept called “Law Enforcement Emergencies” that was incorporated into the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984 and is presently implanted in 28 CFR Part 65. Unfortunately, DoJ has not sought funding for implementation of that concept in annual appropriations requests.

In a memorandum dated September 15, 1987, signed by Frank C. Carlucci, Secretary of Defense, on behalf of the National Security Council, the President directed implementation of a national security emergency plan to replace obsolete plans and update standby documents, specifically draft Executive Orders, for various emergencies.

Because of differing coordination systems and mandates, on January 19, 1988, with Presidential approval, the Domestic Policy Council (after 15 months of effort) adopted a National System for Emergency Coordination (NSEC) to provide timely, effective, and coordinated assistance to States and local governments in extreme catastrophic technological, natural or other domestic disasters of national significance.

The NSEC created functional groups in (1) communications; (2) economic affairs; (3) energy; (4) human services; (5) transportation; and other functions as needed. Confusingly, after establishing functional assignments, the system then adopted a lead Agency approach as follows:

(1) Natural Disasters-FEMA;

(2) Health or Medical-DHHS;

(3) Terrorism (less Airborne Hijacking)-DOJ;

(4) Accident at licensed nuclear power plant-NRC;

(5) Nuclear Weapon, reactor facility accident-DOD or DOE (“owner”);

(6) Environmental-EPA;

(7) Transportation-DOT;

(8) Economic disruption-Treasury;

(9) Telecommunications-OSTP/NCS.

A system of appointment of a FCO (Federal Coordinating Officer) was also adopted with the FCO to be from the lead agency.

On April 27, 1988, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Colin l. Powell, assigned seven national security priorities to the civil agencies with the third highest priority the preparation of a National Security Emergency Plan to encompass both mobilization and response. In a memorandum to the President on June 27, 1988, the Secretary of Defense committed to full DOD support to the civil emergency planning process, including mobilization, continuity of government (the role of the President as Chief Executive (civil authority) as juxtaposed with that of Commander-In-Chief (military), and when assigned DOD support to civil agency response planning.

On June 27, 1988, the same day that the Secretary of Defense was pledging renewed cooperation in NSEP (National Security Emergency Preparedness Planning) to the President, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Colin L. Powell, directed that an analogous system for responding to large-scale emergencies that could adversely affect national security be created. The Powell memorandum directed that a National Security Emergency Plan be created with a functionally oriented structure as a companion approach to the Plan for a Federal Response to a Catastrophic Earthquake (adopted in 1987 and predecessor to the Federal Response Plan) that had been mandated in the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977.

Until the promulgation of E.O. 12656, “Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities” on November 18, 1988, [superseding EO 11490 (1969) efforts to create a National Security Emergency Plan continued. At that point the assignment of lead and support functions to the departments and agencies in the Order led to substantial fragmentation of various planning efforts and the hope of unified NSEP died. Interestingly, when offered the lead role on “terrorism” in EO 12656, DoJ insisted instead on being in a support role to other agencies.

It should also be noted that on November 23, 1988, DOD was authorized by statute to act on behalf of the President for a period of up to 10 days when a disaster is imminent (prior to declaration) in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Pub.L.100-707. Of some interest is the DOD but not FEMA was mentioned in the original enactment of the Stafford Act [it should be noted that the Stafford Act modified and supplemented the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, with both codified at 42 U.S.C. Sections 5121 et seq.) Perhaps of some interest is that multiple efforts to amend the Stafford Act to specifically cover acts of terrorism have not succeeded.

It soon became evident that both for natural disasters and national security emergency events, a functional approach indicated substantial overlap in planning and plans. A concept implied in NSDD 47 in 1982. Because of progress in turning the Earthquake Plan into a Natural Hazards Response Plan (eventually the Federal Response Plan) the concept of a separate NSEP was dropped. (Separate COG and telecommunications plans remain, while Mobilization (resource preparedness) plans for the civil agencies with the exception of Defense Production Act authorities have ended (both Clinton and Bush administrations had no interest in mobilization of national resources for national needs. What is important to note is that NO governor ever considers that his/her needs at the STATE level will NOT be provided by the federal government when State and Local resources are exhausted or ineffective. For an example indicating the accuracy of this statement you can review Executive Order 12657 issued November 18. 1988. Executive Orders for each of the President’s may be found at the website of the National Archives and Records Administration, specifically http://www.NARA.gov

CONCLUSION: To make sure that at least one basic principle of federal organization for emergency response is made clear to readers of this paper, an overarching principle of the federal executive branch organizations, including DOD and the Armed Forces, is that with very few exceptions each of these organizations is primary lead responsible for incidents/events on their own facilities even though such incidents and events may impact the civilian population of the United States in a catastrophic fashion. The NRF and its predecessors have a patent defect in the opinion of the author of this technical bulletin in that it does not make clear that it has NO application to these federal facilities and bases. Thus, the thrust of civil emergency planning to date has been exclusive of issues arising from the immensely difficult issue of the disaster potential of federal facilities.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 7:25 am


The link in the sentence from the above comment copied here should now be changed to link at end of this comment!

“The 1964 OEP Plan [reviewed and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and available at http://www.vlg338.blogspot.com%5D assigned responsibilities to all the Federal departments and agencies without indicating what budget or resources were to be applied (a defect that still plagues the National Response Plan today.)”


Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 19, 2014 @ 7:32 am

Three seconds and six gun shots later….a WH administration prejudging an incident reminiscent of Cambridge (MA) and its involvement in another local police matter….how dare you?

….and to the tainted media, where greed and lust for audience viewers does not supersede the well being of our country’s stability and often fosters more shooting as we have seen….facts should be facts and the sensationalism of such incident is yes, what I refer to as anti-American!

Shut off your cameras, stop encouraging violence and allow peaceful protestors to walk and – prejudge – as this White House Executive resident by the way voted into office now twice by a majority of White voters so reason to believe, bias and discrimination and racism are not truly the core of the problem in the United States, however in predominantly Black areas, family values and jobs, in fact promised jobs by way of a campaign slogan, Change, when in fact, the Black community and its youth are reeling from unemployment….

The folks, Black and White have a right to peaceful protest, however instead of the community speaking out against a young man in especially seeing a young criminal whose gait and intimidation of store clerk should have been shown as it was and sooner and under the laws of Missouri was obligated to become public evidence and speaks volumes about this same young man knowingly walking with same arrogant gait disrupting traffic and causing this police officer to ask that he and his pal walk to the sidewalk, well….an AG, the top cop immediately attempting to suppress such release of video, how dare you? This was no 18 year old who was a law abiding citizen, he robbed a store and intimidated a clerk and had an accomplice with him via the video which was released and if this was a White kid, guess what, he and his accomplice would be locked up as well and if they were walking just as these two obviously knowingly disrupting traffic and asked to get off the street, well….

Enough blame towards our law enforcement community and it is time to immediately address these unfounded chants by those holding signs staying that cops are murderers and demanding that there be an arrest of the police officer who was physically attacked in his cruiser, where is the top cop and the resident of the WH stating and supporting our laws, laws which state clearly that no one is guilty until proven so….and to be so divisive, so tainted in your perspectives? How dare you and by the way, was the victim’s blood autopsy showing drugs and/or alcohol or what about the police officer’s blood content? Wash he subjected to any testing after the incident/why isn’t the accomplice of this young man who robbed the store arrested for disrupting traffic and helping to punch an officer? The law applies to everyone and no one AG is above the law! Not even you who seem to dismiss the enforcement of laws as so often reported….

What is Eric Holder doing in Ferguson Missouri today? Why hasn’t he and Barry and even Michelle Obama been in Chicago and in New York where violence is rampant within the Black community, where drugs and lack of family values and educational attainment and real jobs, manufacturing jobs made available, not hand outs and further “enslavement” of the populace to an ever imposing government promoting such negative behavior and disrespect to the police community serving the public.

Rather, it is time for the Black community to take a real look at itself in 2014, its attitudes and mannerisms. Rampant birth rates among youth w/o support.

It is time for the WH and Eric older and young black men to get over the pigment of their skin and buckle down and study and attain an education open to all and certainly in 2014, many, many who have done just that and have been achievement oriented and have understood that through education, knowledge is power that no one can take education away from anyone and is far more powerful than a hand gun or a young Black man whose arrogant gait suggests much about an individual, an obvious criminal walking into a store, stealing and then intimidating the store clerk! Unfortunately pointing to character and maybe to the lack of family and parenting….possibly?

As far as Ferguson, Missouri and Homeland Security and this administration which includes Barry Obama, the first lady, Michelle Obama, the illustrious AG, all have been ever so divisive and who many state have played the race card, the focused on the pigment of skin….rather than to promote family and values….

Instead of Barry and Michelle and Eric Holder and community leaders promoting and focusing on my neighbors, all young and successful Black Americans who have graduated with undergrad and graduate degrees, married and have children and Father and Mothers as terrific parents, no Eric Holder per the President’s directive and 50 FBI agents are en route to Ferguson…interesting when seven deaths occurred and more in Chicago and New York this past weekend and much like Barry Obama, a simple city street organizer who was voted into office by a majority of white voters depicting no such bias or racism, however when in this nation does this police officer become guilty of murder when all are presumed innocent until proven guilty and then convicted…

Also quite interesting, it took weeks and weeks, months to get FBI agents to the “Benghazi Massacre” when evidence was trampled on and again we see as we did here in Cambridge (MA) and the White House getting involved in a local police matter before knowing the facts because Barry Obama who is a resident of the White House and has been “entrusted” by all variations of the pigment of skin to be trusted to act appropriately and to allow local and state police as well as the FBI to objectively conduct an investigation, but heck no, Barry Obama ran to Cairo when first elected to point out what he perceived as the flaws of America and has added fuel to the fire in every instance, however prompting the question:

Where is Eric Holder, the illustrious AG, the top cop who like Barry Obama took an oath and pledged to uphold the laws of this country , where is Eric Holder and even Barry and Michelle Obama as I have not seen them run to Chicago or to New York with the many, many young Black people killing one another, but surely, it was expected that Eric Holder and Barry Obama would be in Ferguson, Missouri….such reverse bias and racism and a nation led by such examples fueling the fire instead of pointing to the Black community and the Black man in America and not only following through with what have been empty rhetoric, broken political promises to create meaningful jobs and to promote family and values, no an administration and an eight year resident of the White House who rather promotes late term abortion for instance….

Reverse bias and racism, you bet and a Black and White America who does not deserve such when in fact I hear that the Attorney General of the United States attempted by reports to block the release of a video of this young man whose character was clearly portrayed, a criminal and yes, maybe nothing to do with the incident where he lay dead in the roadway, however an AG and even Barry Obama agin rushing to the scene to interview who and to sensationalize a story for not only was this young man so arrogant in his gait intimidating a store clerk after his robbery, but walking and reportedly disrupting traffic and AG, when did this officer hear and maybe this young man over the police radio that a robbery had taken place with the victim holding the evidence of the robbery in hand…

…and further, when does an obvious thug, Black, EWhite, Blue or Green come up to a police officer and attack him in his B&W, how dare so many today have such little respect for police officers who are indeed to serve the public and arrest criminals….

Forensics evidence, a reconstruction of this scene and unfortunate incident and a police officer maybe guilty and maybe Not for reports now suggest that his arms were Not raised for if they were, the four shots on his arm would be different and was it is right arm or left arm and was he holding the officer down and ramming him with his criminal pal also participating as they grappled for the officer’s gun….

….who knows so in terms of Homeland Security, while we have seen Barry Obama and the AG and DHS release convicted felon onto our streets in the past, a resident and WH executive releasing known terrorists operatives who had our youth’s blood on their hands and a questionable relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood and a twenty year relationship w/the Rev Wright who stated clearly that Tehran has the right to WMD as long as the “Zionists” have same in hand, what bias and discrimination and all questionable when we do not hear Muslims peaking out against Christians being killed so and the AG and Barry Obama not speaking out and admitting that they failed the Black community by not providing jobs as promised in the “change” promised and none of these supposed leaders of the community speaking out to Black youth and promoting education, the importance of self-control and lessening pregnancies among youth and showing Black men and women as mentors who have truly overcome like many other cultures such bias and have excelled for after all, apparently we have the top two spots in this nation, the AG and the WH, portraying such success though unworthy of these positions….the divisiveness is not appreciated by the community-at-large for the Black community needs to take a hard look at itself and get over the color of skin and promote Black men attaining an education, pursuing not a life of criminal activity, but working hard and getting a job and marrying and raising children….

Let’s overcome untruths and bias and stick to the facts and allow local and state law enforcement to do their job w/an investigation by the FBI as well.

By the way, again I ask, who did Michelle Obama visit when she was in Spain with her daughter? The records of such visit and who she met with as paid by the taxpayer should be released as should Michelle Obama’s graduate thesis for I am not convinced that Barry Obama and the first lady of this nation are not in fact proponents of reverse discrimination, bias and while this is my personal opinion and have Right to such opinion because it is obvious that barry Obama, Michelle Obama and the AG do little to encourage Black youth to be tenacious in their perseverance of educational attainment, but rather enjoy stirring the pot for we clearly saw a Martha’s Vineyard pal of Barry’s who caused a stir here in Cambridge as just another example and Barry’s solution of holding a beerfest on the White House lawn is about the only solution to what is a seemingly questionable perception of the police who are performing their duties for the most part without any discrimination and are attempting to keep lawbreakers from harming the law abiding populace.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 19, 2014 @ 8:31 am

When it comes to Homeland Security and the wellness of our nation, this episode in ferguson and the response specially from the eight year resident at the Wh and the top cop, the illustrious AG who seemingly and reportedly appear to be so divisive, when discussing enforcement of laws and those who serve us every day w/o reservation and with pride wear a badge and have taken sworn oath like you both, the question evolves when we see you make comment and are en route and send 50 FBI agents to interview second and third hand accounts by those who never witnessed anything and may be prejudiced in their views much like what many think of you both, the question remains, is the value of a Black youth’s life so precious like anyone else’s as we are all children of God, the question, is the Life of a youth in Ferguson Missouri any more valued than the seven and the dozens and dozens of Black youth killing each other weekends and daily in Chicago and New York for instance as apparently you the present eight year resident at the WH and you the illustrious top cop so many say prefers to enforce only laws you prefer. well, when discussing Homeland Security and our wellness as a society, where are you both and even Michelle Obama as first lady who chose to make comment, where are you and your 50 FBI agents en route to New York and Chicago because We all believe every Black Life and every White Life are valued the same and we are all more similar than different and yet, YOU are today en route to Ferguson so my question, if a Black police officer had shot this young man, would you be en route to the incident and the response, No! You rap the Cambridge (MA) cop and now the Ferguson (MO) cop w/o knowing the facts, but civil rights and inciting and being so divisive as so many say about you both, the law is not different for White, Black or Blue and you always seem to prejudge, why is this and is it because you are biased and truly hold reverse racist views, are you?

Let’s now see you in Chicago more frequently w/your family and promoting values and family and creating all those jobs you promised, such empty and broken political rhetoric….

Allow law enforcement to do its job and again, no one needs your DOJ influence and intimidation which we hear you commenced such when you made every attempt to squelch the release of the video of a young man committing a crime, stealing and intimidating the store owner and later as witnesses said, seeing this young man and his pal disrupting traffic and disobeying the orders of a police officer, Black or White and well….

The youth in Chicago and in New York need your visitations and your mentoring, not as many believe your prejudgements and immediate blame towards law enforcement for values have been lost w/jobs and unemployment causing so many anguish and yes, enslavement to a bigger and every manipulative federal government….

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 8:34 am

I am sure some are wondering why I keep mentioning the CIVIL DEFENSE era 1951-1994 and its impacts on HS and EP. Despite reversing the reforms of FEMA Director James Lee Witt’s concerning PERSONNEL SECURITY policy and issues to reduce secrecy and clearances in FEMA that has now been fully reversed by a FEMA management filled with self-importance.

was governed by unclassified PLAN GARDEN PLOT! Its replacement is now classified but since the NG in Ferguson, MO is not a federalized force not sure what NG plans are for deployments for riots and civil disorders. Hopefully no live ammunition locked and loaded.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 8:36 am


Not with a Bang but a Whimper; How the last CD NSDD accelerated all-hazards
The federal civil defense program had a statutory basis in Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress. Its repeal in 1994 under President Clinton might have covered up the fact that since the 1970’s and President Nixon civil defense was not a real factor in the strategic equation of nuclear weapons. MAD, however is still the US strategic doctrine. The US Congress after the 1970’s gave almost no oversight to the CD program and in fact accelerated its grant program as unrestricted revenue sharing.

Theoretically, the President’s did not want to deal with CD after JFK and in a series of PD’s and NSDD’s used that system to largely fig leaf a decrepit effort. It should be said however that honorable people ran the program and did worry and lose sleep over the survival of a substantial portion of the US population should an attack occur. Two policy adoptions would have facilitated CD. First, renunciation of the MAD doctrine and simultaneous renunciation of first use of nuclear weapons. Even President Obama seems held captive to the DoD and DoE nuclear priesthood even as costs of the cleanup of the bomb complex realistically are probably close to $1 trillion.

Even weaker than the statute itself as amended as of the date of NSDD-66 (U) the language adopts the all-hazards mantra that now even rules in DHS.

So here is the text annotated by me for readers!

Editors note- While copied from the original several
editorial highlights have been added to enhance emphasis.
It should also be noted that this was the last Presidential Directive/ National Security Directive issued to provide guidance on Civil Defense prior to portions of the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, as amended being incorporated in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Essentially it mandates all-hazards preparedness and was reflected in a formal statutory amendment of the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950 by Public Law 103-160 in 1993]


March 16, 1992





The United States will have a civil defense capability as an element of our overall national
security posture. The objective of the civil defense program is to develop the required capabilities common to all catastrophic emergencies and those unique to attack emergencies in order to protect the population and vital infrastructure. Civil defense can contribute to deterrence by denying an enemy any confidence that he could prevent a concerted national response to attack. (U)

The civil defense program will support all-hazard integrated emergency management at State and local levels. In so doing, the civil defense program will: (U)

1) Recognize and respect the primary responsibility of State and local governments to provide for the safety and well being of their citizens in emergencies other than national security emergencies.

2) Provide a focal point within the Federal government to work with State and local governments on integrated multi-hazard response planning and operations to deal with the consequences of catastrophic emergencies. (U)

3) Continue to implement a policy of dual use of civil defense resources through the development and use of capabilities at Federal, State and local levels to perform emergency functions to respond to emergencies of all kinds including attack. (U)

4) Focus on the development, jointly with State and local governments, of the required capabilities common to all catastrophic emergencies and those unique to attack emergencies, thus ensuring that the use of civil defense funds is consistent with, contributes to, and does not detract from attack preparedness. (U)

5) Provide for the development of a civil defense infrastructure capable of expansion in a national security emergency involving the threat of all forms of attack on the United States which provide advanced warning. (U)

6) Utilize to the maximum extent the existing capabilities, facilities and resources of all appropriate departments and agencies of the Federal Government, in accordance with Executive Order 12656 and, with their consent, those of the States and political subdivisions thereof, and of private sector organizations and agencies. (U)

Disaster-specific programs such as hurricane or flood relief programs which may be incorporated into the civil defense program and which are currently funded within domestic discretionary accounts will continue to be budgeted in this manner. In addition, any equipment or programs not needed for the consequence management of national security emergencies will be funded within the domestic discretionary accounts.


The program under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency with the support of heads of the Federal Departments and agencies, and under the general policy guidance of the National Security Council, will include: (U)

1) Population protection capabilities, with the Federal Government providing guidance and assistance to enable State and local governments to effectively support the population in all catastrophic emergencies. (U)

2) State and local government crisis management capabilities to effectively
support the population in all catastrophic emergencies. (U)

3) Information to promote a clear understanding by the public of the civil defense program, all threats which may affect their localities and actions they should take to minimize their effects. (U)

4) Information to assist U.S. business and industry in taking measures to protect their work forces and physical assets in all catastrophic emergencies and encouragement of the private sector to make maximum use of private sector capabilities. (U)

5) Voluntary participation by citizens and institutions in community civil defense activities and emphasis on citizen protective actions. (U)

6) Plans for sustaining survivors, for restoration of critical life support capabilities, and to establish a basis for recovery. (U)

7) Definition of and an assessment of the base capability necessary to respond to emergencies that do not provide warning, and the development of those base capabilities which are common to all catastrophic emergencies and unique to attack. (U)

8) Plans for a civil defense surge from the base capability to the total required capability in a national security crisis involving the threat of attack. These plans should assume advanced warning, adequate time to conduct the surge, and the required base capability form which to surge. Total required capability is that operational capability necessary to protect the population and vital infrastructure through preparedness measures common to all catastrophic emergencies and unique to attack emergencies. (U)

The Department of Defense will support civil authorities in civil defense, to include facilitating the use of the National Guard in each state for response in both peacetime disasters and national security emergencies. Subject to the direction of the President and the Secretary of Defense, readiness of the armed forces for military contingencies will have precedence and civil authorities should not rely exclusively on military support. Federal military resources will be employed in civil defense missions only if State and Federal civil resources are not sufficient. Nothing in this directive alters or otherwise affects the chain of command for the armed forces established by the Constitution and laws of the United States. (U)

Nothing in this directive provides for any new Federal responsibilities which are now the responsibility of State and local governments. (U)


National Security Decision Directive 259, dated February 4, 1987, is rescinded. (U)

/signed/ George H.W. Bush

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 8:46 am

The point of several recent comments of mine is to reinforce what I stated in recent e-mails to this blogs contributors. THERE IS NO GOOD HISTORY OF THE FEDERAL CIVIL DEFENSE PROGRAM!

Even the contractor produced HISTORY OF PREPAREDNESS produced and published in 2006, and recent books concerning CD history by Garrison and Perrow are largely filled with errors.




Comment by Leisureguy

August 19, 2014 @ 8:51 am

You write: “Sometimes the most difficult thing for leaders, especially law enforcement leaders, to do is nothing or doing less.”

I have to disagree: I often see police officers doing nothing, particularly if their colleagues are brutally beating a suspect (Rodney King beating: many police officers stood buy watching); the spraying of pepper spray or chemical mace on peaceful protesters (on college campuses and in city streets: we have videos of such actions by a police officer while his fellows stood around doing nothing).

The police are quick to do nothing if one of them is violating the civil rights of civilians. And the police department that threw a flash-bang grenade on an infant? The family is trying to get restitution, and the police department will do nothing.

The police do not hesitate to do nothing when action is required to stop police misbehavior or report police misconduct. They do nothing repeatedly in such instances. They act like a gang.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 8:54 am


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

FEMA’s Role in Riots and Civil Disorders
The LONDON riots prompt this post. FEMA has always taken the position that it has no role in law enforcement aspects of riots and civil disorders. It funded ops by DOD improperly in my opinion in the LA RIOTS of 1992 after the President declared a disaster based on FIRE not riots and civil disorder and the California National Guard was mobilized/federalized under Title 10 of the US Code.

You might ask does FEMA conduct training for STATES and their local governments on riots and civil disorder and response them. Not in my time from 1979-1999 but who knows.


New Free Fire/EMS Response to Civil Unrest Training Available
The Firefighters Support Foundation’s (FSF) newest free training program, Fire/EMS Response to Civil Unrest, is now available. Civil unrest events are becoming more prevalent and FD and EMS units are playing a greater role in responding to them. This program consists of a 40-minute video program and an accompanying 46-slide PowerPoint program. Firefighters and EMTs can view the video material with the PowerPoint file acting as their hard copy notes, or they can use either resource independently. Simply go to http://www.ffsupport.org to download your free copy.

The program covers:

Types of events
Dispatch issues
Body armor
The effects of alcohol
Coordination with other agencies and the police
Approach strategies
The potential for violence
The NFPA mandate
Lessons learned from previous events
Why no jurisdiction is too small
Proven tactics

The PowerPoint and video portions of the program can be used by any agency or member either as-is, or as a basis from which to construct training modules or presentations of their own. Simply go to http://www.ffsupport.org to download your free copy.

Of course no one knows what the rest of DHS thinks it is supposed to do if their is a riot or civil disorder!
Posted by The Vacation Lane Group at 11:25 AM

Comment by John Comiskey

August 19, 2014 @ 8:57 am


Thanks for the historical background. Smells of the messiness inherent to federalism and democratic government ….and politics.

See: US Army 2014 Civil Disturbance Manual April 2014: https://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-CivilDisturbances-2014.pdf

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 9:19 am

John! Agree and thanks for the link!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 9:23 am

One reason for the absence of good books on FEMA during its days of being an independent Executive Branch agency or the FEDERAL CIVIL DEFNSE PROGRAM is the failure to access and discuss the largely declassifde documents below:


PD-41 U.S. Civil Defense Policy
PD-57 Mobilization Planning
PD-58 Continuity of Government


1. NSDD 23 U.S. Civil Defense Policy
2. NSDD 26 Civil Defense Policy
3. NSDD 30 Managing Terrorist Incidents
4. NSDD 47 Emergency Mobilization Preparedness


1. NSDD 97 National Security Telecommunications Policy


1. NSDD 145 Telecommunications and Computer Security


1. NSDD 174 National Defense Stockpile of Minerals
2. NSDD 179 Task Force on Combating Terrorism
3. NSDD 188 Reorganization of “Emergency Preparedness” Functions


1. NSDD 207 National Program for Combating Terrorism


1. NSDD 259 Civil Defense


1. NSDD 42 Security of National Security Telecommunications and
Information Systems


1. NSDD 66 Civil Defense

Editor’s Note:

For text as declassified see “National Security Directives of the Reagan & Bush Administrations- The Declassified History of U.S. Political & Military Policy 1981-1991” Christopher Simpson (Westview Press, 1995). Also Carter, Reagan, Bush Presidential libraries have online versions of all declassified Presidential and National Security Directives. In the opinion of the editor, NSDD-47 issued in 1982, even though amended in 1985 by NSDD-188 remains a seminal document in the history of emergency preparedness, mobilization, response and recovery.

See also http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/pdd/
Posted by The Vacation Lane Group at 9:25 AM

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 9:53 am

John! It would be of great interest to me to know if DoJ conducted a legal review of the doc linked below or even knows of it!

See: US Army 2014 Civil Disturbance Manual April 2014: https://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-CivilDisturbances-2014.pdf

In 1979 when I informally furnished DoJ a copy of DoD materials on same subject they ended up with conclusion that most of what DoD put out, even at the JAG schools, on DoD involvement with riots and civil disorders and martial law was legally insufficient and perhaps even UnConstitutional.

The result was an outstanding Monograph written by Mary Lawton [long deceased] and published in 1980 entitle something like MILITARY SUPPORT IN CIVIL DISTURBANCES.

In the next 20 years I personally distributed over 1000 copies, principally in Pentagon TANK exercises, while after 1990 I almost continually asked for its update by DoJ!

There is almost no good history of the civil/military interface during riots and civil disorders in the late 60’s and 70’s.

Comment by Christopher Bellavita

August 19, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

Another police officer contributes a thoughtful essay related to Ferguson: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/19/im-a-cop-if-you-dont-want-to-get-hurt-dont-challenge-me/

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Reports indicating the police officer in Ferguson badly injured and may never have exited his patrol car.

Comment by E. Earhart

August 19, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

Mr. Geron,

Thanks for the excellent post. I agree with the Militarization viz-a-viz equipment and “toys.” However law enforcement has always been filled with both current and former members of the military.

Some research suggest that the number has remained fairly consistent over the years. It also suggest that in smaller departments, the number has always been high and this intuitively makes sense.

In your post above, you write:

“The withdrawal of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan has left thousands upon thousands of former soldiers looking for work.”


“The issue of militarization of American policing is not just the acquisition of military equipment; it is the infusion of so many former soldiers into the ranks of the civilian police.”

Likewise, in your Thesis (very enjoyable) you write similarly:

“With the removal of troops from Iraq and reductions in force in Afghanistan in recent years, those former soldiers are entering the domestic job market. Many choose police work. In fact, military.com lists the job of police officer as one of “5 Hot Jobs” for former soldiers.”

I would be very interested in any data supportive of these claims. In your Thesis, you cite to a military.com veteran-jobs, career advice article. The other 4 “hot jobs” include Information Technology Specialist, Math or Science teacher, entrepreneur (according to the article almost 25% of veterans buy or launches a new business) and Civilian Public service.

Hopefully these occupations are not becoming too militarized.

Comment by E. Earhart

August 19, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

Mr. Cumming,

Drudge posted this on Monday:

US Army 2014 Civil Disturbance Manual April 2014: https://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-CivilDisturbances-2014.pdf

So if DoJ was not aware of it, they are now.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2014 @ 7:46 pm

Thanks Double E!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 20, 2014 @ 3:15 am

Breaking News CNN:

ISIS beheads American

2nd U.S. journalist threatened in video
A militant speaking with an apparent British accent says the life of the other American in the video hangs in the balance.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2014 @ 9:20 am

More related blasting from the past [a former post on one of my blogs]:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Military Support for Civil Authorities-32 CFR Part 185
An important final rule was published in today’s Federal Register at 76 Fed. Reg. pp2246-2253!
The rule claims to have been signed off by DOD lawyers, DHS lawyers, and DOJ lawyers. All of the above correspondence on the rule should be immediately released for interested public perusal IMO.

Certain assumptions in the rule are questionable but one particular definition in the body of the rule I question its validy on Constitutional grounds based on the following:
1. Mary Lawton’s 1980 Monograph on Military Support for Civil Disturbances–and note she was the DOJ expert on these/those issues until her untimely death in the early 80’s.
2. DOJ/OLC opinions I don’t have but saw during my 20 years in FEMA concerning this subject matter.
3. The formal withdrawal of an earlier effort resulting issuance of a draft/proposed rule by DOD on Constitutional grounds in the early 1990’s.

The offending language is set forth below:

“Emergency Authority. A Federal
military commander’s authority, in
extraordinary emergency circumstances
where prior authorization by the
President is impossible and duly
constituted local authorities are unable
to control the situation, to engage
temporarily in activities that are
necessary to quell large-scale,
unexpected civil disturbances because
(1) such activities are necessary to
prevent significant loss of life or wanton
destruction of property and are
necessary to restore governmental
function and public order or (2) duly
constituted Federal, State, or local
authorities are unable or decline to
provide adequate protection for Federal
property or Federal governmental
Posted by The Vacation Lane Group at 10:41 AM

Comment by Dan O'Connor

August 20, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

Confluence or complexity?

America is a complicated place. We gloss over certain historical facts and glamorize others. Our narratives are over sensationalized and then again not. The news and the idea of free air time for keeping an informed populace has been corrupted beyond repair. Our political situation may appear dire, but perhaps not. Often times it’s harder to find the facts than it is to have them provided to/for us. We do not have what one could call an admirable track record when it comes to a variety of issues as they relate to national and international policy. In laymen’s terms; there is a lot of bullshit and it is really distorts the challenges we face.

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt, is a philosophy essay that presents the application of bullshit in the context of communication. Frankfurt argues that bullshit either can be true or can be false; hence, the bullshitter is a man or a woman whose principal aim — when uttering or publishing bullshit — is to impress the listener and the reader with words that communicate an impression favorable to the speaker, with no concern for the truth of what they’re saying.

The polarization of America continues and has created or better stated exposed many layers of hypocrisy. Some we speak of, others we avoid like the plague. There has been an overt militarization of law enforcement. Whether its post 9/11, the Patriot act, or other reason , the general disposition I observe and often hear comment about cops is their relationship with their constituency and citizens now being considered. Again, overstated and histrionic but perhaps not. There is an “us vs them” theme that moves through society and it permeates all facets of law enforcement.

How did this come to be? Did see something/say something turn us into East Germany? The flip side is there appears to be little regard for law enforcement as it relates to their safety and job difficulty. It’s a very difficult and dangerous time to be in law enforcement.

Compounding this polarization is the perpetuated myth of immigrants not paying taxes (quite a few do; billions annually and no representation) That all wealth by the highest earners is “earned” through hard work and intellect (some yes, some no), that public assistance has rendered people lazy and leeches on society (hardly the case and in some cases) and that elections are fair here and unfair everywhere else (there’s lobbyists and PAC’s for a reason). Mass killings and violence have always been part of American culture. But we only address the gun part and not the mental health part. Speaking of health, we have scared the crap out of many to provide for the few…and we pay far too much for too little.


Both political parties effectively negate one another so there seems to be no good ideas or progress; national status quo. Is it because they are inept or the job is too complex? The economic numbers are always a thriller too. More and more people leave the job market, more jobs leave the country, more jobs are replaced by technology but unemployment shrinks…that’s some new math, isn’t it?

Education is corrupted by any number of interests and we are pitched, sold, influenced, and patronized by a 24 hour PR/propaganda machine that mines your life to gain an edge in understanding the “why” instead of the “how”.

What happened in and continues to happen in Ferguson, Missouri is a symptom of our polarized society, in my opinion. We don’t know the facts but what has been reported to us. The rapidity of the pendulum only stokes the polarization. Did the kid attack the cop? Did the cop kill the kid on cold blood? What value does Jesse Jackson bring to the situation? Is it any more or any less than Michael Savage?

In an instant gratification world with perceived entitlement and expectation of instant omniscience, we will be disappointed, often.

Our civil liberties are also being challenged… or are they? The right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances seems to be under duress. But then again launching Molotov cocktails from the assembly will surely render a disbursement.

The occupy movement saw both egregious behavior of law enforcement and citizens taken against one another. And our actions and lack thereof in other countries has created or at the very least combined conditions to have tens of thousands of people killed for their belief system. The problem here is there was not too much press about ethnic cleansing, genocide, and mass murder in Rwanda, Darfur, and scores of other places.

Our general contempt and cynicism for elected officials, authority, and respect has eroded to such a degree that it’s a wonder we can agree much less accomplish anything. That’s the confluence. So many things, so many points of view, so many with much and so many with not so much barely scratches the surface of our national discord. The solutions required are very complex.

Are the actions and perturbations we see globally the entropy of our failing attempt to manage and exploit the world? Is it the unintended consequences of failed global and domestic policy as it relates to economics, human rights, and security?

Are the activities in Ferguson merely a symptom of decades of neglect, hubris, and greed? Has the long simmering debt of inequality and exploitation reached a point of no return? Has the law enforcement of this country forgotten they are paid to protect and serve, not arrest and curb? Or are they so incredibly outmanned and overwhelmed that they could never protect us from one another or outsider? What are our expectations?

The realization that these activities are destroying us from within must soon be recognized. The inability to balance these volatile competing interests, recognize the cognitive dissonance, see the instability and unsustainability of our “ways” demonstrates that we have neither the talent, leadership, or character to overcome or are ripe for another revolution of correction. We, before our own eyes are becoming less resilient and incapable as a nation.

Let’s hear more about that and less about the hucksters and spin doctors pushing people into corners and ideologies.

We are hearing a lot of bullshit. If we are to address our current condition as a Nation, we should perhaps read some history, reflect on its relevance, and have candid conversations about moving forward. Otherwise, this flareup will only be one in a series of incidents that will invariably increase in frequency and intensity.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 20, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

Thanks DAN for the brilliant comment!

And noting there is no ability of our Nation to afford in many ways a Constitutional lawyer in uniform on every street corner.

Comment by John Comiskey

August 20, 2014 @ 5:33 pm


Your post belongs on the editorial page of the NY Times.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 20, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

Here is an oped in the Boston Globe by Juliette Kayyem that notes the impact on homeland security of the trends identified by what is going on in Ferguson.


–“But military-grade weapons are dangerous not simply because they represent a war-like response so prevalent in security efforts in the post-9/11 era. They also violate the cardinal rules of security in the homeland: flexibility and a capacity to pivot are key.”

–“New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia wanted the federal government to adopt a war mentality in US cities, with sirens, neighborhood militias, and concrete bunkers. Community-engagement efforts, he once wrote, were “sissy stuff.”

It wasn’t until President Richard Nixon that the obsession with national security threats finally started to change. That change came because Hurricane Camille in 1969 and several other natural disasters exposed an inadequate and ineffective federal response. In reaction, Nixon authorized an important shift in policy: Domestic security funds could be used for any kind of threat. The new approach was called “dual use” and applied to planning, equipment, and training.”

–“federal funding schemes should be altered to support well-established policing policies and response efforts. Currently, it’s all but impossible to use federal funding to hire new state or local employees. The thinking is that because policing is a local effort, jurisdictions should pay for their own personnel. But that sets up a strange system under which the purchase of “gizmos” is allowable, but the hiring of community-relations experts, bilingual police officers, and more diverse workforces isn’t. That needs to change.”

Comment by E. Earhart

August 20, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

NYPD-June 2014

The NYPD welcomed 607 new graduates to its ranks Monday as one of the most diverse classes in the agency’s history graduated from the Police Academy.

The 607 graduates form one of the most diverse classes in the NYPD’s history. Fifty-one percent of the class is black, Latino or Asian, and women make up 20%.

The class included 71 people who served in the military and 53 who each speak three foreign languages.

In an address to the graduates, Mayor de Blasio, hailed the group’s diversity.

“Fifty-one percent of this class is African-American, Latino or Asian. Nearly 20% of this class is women,” de Blasio said, as the crowded room filled with applause.

“You hail from 47 different countries. . . . We have a Maltese speaker here in the class. We have a Tajik speaker here in the class. We have an Ewe speaker, which is a language spoken only in Ghana and Togo in West Africa. You name it, we got it at the NYPD. And you’re adding to that richness,” the mayor added.


Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 21, 2014 @ 7:40 am


I did not read your comment until Thursday morning. Thanks very much. Seems to me we are two witnesses to the same action (see my Thursday post). Your angle is contemporary. Mine is classical. Our conclusions are remarkably similar. I blame banality, you call it bullshit. We have never been without either. But we are now nearly overcome by toxic blooms of both. I was raised to ignore stupidity and allow it to pass. But today that tactic seems increasingly counter-productive. What I have not figured out is how do we confront idiocy (banality or bullshit) with humility? For without that essential prophylaxis it seems to me we are overtaken by the contagion. Any suggstions?

Comment by Dan O'Connor

August 21, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

Somewhere along the way it has become illogical to speak truth with humility. Kindness has been replaced with dismissiveness. And rhetoric is championed while reason squelched.

Unfortunately there is no elixir to overcome marketing and spin. Truth while perhaps somewhat subjective subjective, tends to have veins of fact that can be reasonably observed. When the unreasonable demand untruths the ‘toxic’ blooms flourish.

To a certain extent, the stupid have won because we have all chose to ignore them/it with the reasonable expectation that it would pass…we were wrong.

The degree of frivolous activity is startling, so much so it numbs the spirit. It is also beyond troubling that if there is push back or challenge of the status quo that action can be labeled with any number of pejorative monikers.

Though not contextually accurate to the time and action, I am struck at the irony of Mario Savio’s words speaking on the steps of Sproul Hall, on December 2, 1964.

“…There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all…”

I think our freedom or at least some kind of definition of it and our capability is being usurped, be it in the banal or bullshit realm.

I suppose then that we have to either regain or re-establish reasonable discourse and find a common purpose and vision. Otherwise the very idea of what we believed ourselves to be and what we once dreamt for ourselves will be in jeopardy.

Is this the end times or a crisis of confidence, or a crossroads? Who knows. I think there are elements of change that are not healthy or constructive and those obstacles become increasingly difficult to defeat. That’s my initial response to your question, Phil.

Pingback by Case for Police Reform is Bigger Than Ferguson Shooting – BrianGarst.com

August 21, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

[…] But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Max Geron, a security studies scholar who runs the Media Relations Unit of the Dallas Police Department had to say: […]

Comment by Joe McDermott

August 22, 2014 @ 10:52 am

I’m distressed that there’s no mention of the looting victims — the business owners. In any protest situation, the law, custom and practice should be that the police’s mission includes protecting law abiding businesses from looting and vandalism with all necessary force, including deadly force. There’s a reason that Locke wrote of the rights of life, liberty and PROPERTY. He — and the Founders — understood property was an equally important interest.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 23, 2014 @ 8:15 am

Dan: Thanks. Not sure I have anything worth adding. My impressions would mostly confirm yours… and I especially agree that it is not a foregone conclusion that our current crisis must end badly.

I do see the nation culturally dividing (future perfect).The divisions are not binary, but there are some major fault lines: rural/urban, more and less educated, older/younger…

As John Comiskey has noted, moving beyond these divisions is especially complicated by the lack of a shared educational background. We no longer read/pray/sing/hear the same texts, so common understanding almost has to be constructed from scratch.

Yesterday I was in the car with my adult daughter. She said something about Ferguson that I was surprised to hear her say and struck me as outrageous. Perhaps because she is my daughter I started with questions rather than a direct response. First, this exposed to me that I had not fully understood what she was saying. Second, this exposed to her that she had not fully thought through what she was saying. It was a helpful process for both of us.

Obviously she and I share much more than the typical consumers of MSNBC or FOX. She and I have more motivation to remain in conversation than two random citizens. But if she had actually said what I first perceived her to say, then — in love — I would have been compelled to vigorously disagree. Can random citizens care enough to ask each other questions first and if we disagree do so clearly but also in love? And even if we can, would this actually work?

I’m mostly asking rhetorically, but if you have a persuasive answer, let’s get the new public policy center going right away.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

August 25, 2014 @ 1:48 pm


If there is an answer, rhetorical or otherwise, it would have to start in Washington. It would be great if there was a spontaneous outbreak of civility and trust, but we all look to Washington and wonder how anything really does get done. If time is of the essence than our leaders must embrace and exercise the contagion of example. That to me is a paradox.

In order to affect change the process must change. If the process changes, than that representative chances non election. It is a vicious cycle. I am not sure if the cycle is much different than years past. Our awareness has heightened about the dysfunction though.

In my opinion, we live in a time where the individual has been championed beyond their unalienable rights. So much so that I would speculate the entire marketing and PR schema we are subjected to has been designed to further that isolation and exploit it with undermining social and tribal alliance. Imagine a contrived state of affairs to render such exploitation.

Within that context there is a distorted reality that traps and isolates. We are constantly told what to think and how to think. Our votes and our money are the quarry.

Much like wolves and lions on the hunt, politicians, interest groups, and lobbyists “trap” the individual with innuendo, rhetoric, and fear ideology, isolating them one at a time, culling them from their tribes, villages, and culture. Comply or face consequence. We use our justice system, our tax systems, the press and our system of systems to divide and conquer. It’s an observation as much as an accusation. It maybe a bit overstated, but oftentimes it appears to be the case.

It pains me in general terms to have the same principles I was given by my family and culture labeled or criticized by information charlatans. It is also not lost on me that we are all born unique. We are also a social being that requires others… It is very complex.

We still do not know what happened in Ferguson. And, because it has now become the cause célèbre of 2014 the polarized country is not interested in truth but who is “right”. The purpose of an argument is to make progress, not determine who is right. We no longer argue for progress.

We are slowly being divorced from reality. PSA’s, celebrity marches, vitriolic carryings on and all the rest destroy any real desire to examine why the young man was killed. We do not want the truth because in the examination we would all invariably be found to a degree culpable. Since no one wants to be part of the problem the only alternative is to deny and re accuse. Eschewing responsibility is becoming our national pastime.

There is a video piece in a documentary of then newly elected Mayor Ed Koch who softly laments about walking on a Brighton Beach boardwalk when he is approached by an older New Yorker begging him to “…make it the way it once was”. Koch was circumspect in his thoughts; “Madam, it was never the way you think it was, but I’ll try.”

The collective consciousness that we read about and hear being expressed about “what’s happened” and “how did we get here” I think captures some of that Koch sentiment. It has never been the way we think it’s been, but the nostalgia and near hagiography for ideas and individuals demonstrates on some level the hope for justice and hope for forgiveness.

It also captures the necessity for truth and responsibility. If we can get there, this place, this country will be better for it. Until that candid, effacing reality happens and that we all realize we have a hand in the future, we will continue to atrophy and disintegrate…grow or die, it the nature of things.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

August 26, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

Dan: Well said and I ought give you the last word. We are, after all, now probably alone in this corner of the discussion board. But Mayor Koch’s realism is close to what I was trying to suggest with quoting a play from 2500 years ago. Perhaps we can give Aristophanes the last word. The “hero” of The Wasps is trying to save his father from the anger and rigidity he assumes as an Athenian juror. Toward the end of the play the son offers a prayer that we might say for ourselves and our contemporary countrymen:

Oh, Powerful god, Apollo Aguieus, who watches at the door of my entrance hall, accept this fresh sacrifice; I offer it that you may deign to soften my father’s excessive severity; he is as hard as iron, his heart is like sour wine; do thou pour into it a little honey. Let him become gentle toward other men, let him take more interest in the accused than in the accusers, may he allow himself to be softened by entreaties; calm his acrid humor and deprive his irritable mind of all sting.

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