LEOs, Terror, and “Militarization”

In early January, terrorists attacked a newspaper and a deli in Paris. LEOs were killed. This month, terrorist attacks in Denmark wounded LEOs. In both attacks, LEOs responded by returning fire when they were able and finding and taking into custody or killing the attackers. This week, a terrorist organization threatened attacks on the Mall of America. Who will respond, who will return fire, and who will take the suspects into custody or use deadly force against them?

LEOs have long understood that malls, like any other “soft targets,” have always been potential targets of terrorists. This is nothing new. These same locations are targets of active shooters for the same reason; lax security and the low likelihood of an armed response. The proliferation of law abiding armed citizens as well as more LEOs carrying firearms pursuant to the Law Enforcement Safety Act forms the first effort, and many times the only effort, to reverse this trend. So, this threat should come as no surprise.

What is surprising, and especially ignorant, is that many people who will call 911 and expect LEOs to respond to such events as quickly as possible, also do not want LEOs to possess rifles, specialized personal armor, and armored vehicles to enter those scenes and evacuate the wounded. Keep in mind that those same tasks are needed at every active shooter call and must be anticipated on the scene of every high risk warrant.

Law enforcement has become, over the past 25 years, a highly specialized profession. LEOs attend thousands of hours of training over the course of their careers. LEOs receive specialized degrees and agency heads, as well as their command staff, often have advanced degrees. It amazes me that the same critics who demand more training and education still believe they are qualified to dictate the methods through which LEOs do their jobs.

Any time you believe you have all the answers or know a better way to do it, put in an application and attend your local law enforcement academy. One of two things will happen; you might learn something or we may wonder how we ever survived this long without you. Stay safe.

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