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Column 090114 Brewer

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Need for Well Trained and Well Armed Police in the Americas

By Jerry Brewer

The failures to effectively engage and contain local and transnational organized criminals has given birth and long adult life to strong, heavily armed cadres of ruthless killers and modern day pirates.

As they murder and maim with impunity, steal and plunder large swaths of sovereign territory and government land, these murdering marauders have sought to take anything they want with minimal obstruction.

As U.S. top officials casually turn from other areas of the world and glance back to their southern border and points further south, what are their collective thoughts as to Latin America’s future, and does it and will it continue to impact the United States?

To truly engage or not engage in Latin America's future must currently be a critical concern for some U.S. leadership officials, especially those in states that are on the front line and directly impacted by human flight and chase.  Those who also face emboldened criminals, drug traffickers and gang members with superior weapons, and agendas to conquer, retaliate, and achieve illicit wealth at the expense of their victims. As well, far too many of those overrun are simply eliminated and dumped in unmarked graves.

Implied conventional and sanctioned police procedures and authority, on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, are redefining the role of federal, state, county, and local law enforcement.

Let us be emphatically accurate that the wave of paramilitary styled violence did not sneak up on either side overnight.  Furthermore, the fact is that much of the threat has been ignored and disguised by some in the media and through political subterfuge for years.

Boldly but reticently, and quite possibly somewhat oblivious to the bloody carnage to the south and incursions by violent gang members and organized crime insurgents into cities and neighborhoods across the U.S., many are demanding that U.S. law enforcement not “appear militarized” or exhibit tactical equipment. The “demilitarization of police” has become a ritual chant and debate by many. This as U.S. police officers continue to face escalating violence, plus there is a near constant flow of intelligence regarding threats by terrorists and others to the U.S. homeland. 

The rule of law and previous “protect and serve” mantra in the U.S. is now giving way to those that seek justice away from police actions, seeking their own prosecutors, their own independent investigators, or simply seeking federal interventions or a government hierarchy to intervene or circumvent primary jurisdictions in the courts, cities and states. As well, they want all police to wear cameras; when there is a need to shoot to simply wound; take a beating in lieu of using stronger force; and to do anything necessary to recruit the ethnicities of the police agencies to reflect the majorities of the community in which they serve. All of us who have faced these dilemmas, as police administrators in U.S. cities, truly know the facts of such fantasy requests.   

The new U.S. cultural nuance of emasculating and practically asking for police to carry personal and visible lie detector equipment must be purely satirical to Mexico and the northern cone nations of Central America. They have buried hundreds of police officers; city, county and federal government officials; members of the military; journalists; and around 60,000 (known) citizens who were trying to protect their homeland from the violent war-like scourge. And a majority of those victims were killed for a hedonistic illegal drug demand, estimated at nearly US$80 billion a year, much of which goes south of the U.S. border.

The U.S. border has been described, coyly, as simply an “illegal alien” invasion site for migrants coming for U.S. jobs, and to take advantage of social benefits; and as strongly as proclaiming that world terrorists are sneaking in to attack from the south. 

Through previously existing wisdom, or knee-jerk reactions, it was decided that a slightly less than 2,000 mile fence, projecting a potential US$49 billion price tag, would stop that nonsense. The shouts to “secure our borders” failed to reason with the fact that the insurgent-like encroachment can tunnel under or scale any obstacle. The next less than logical blunder is to throw massive dollars into the wind south and have them help themselves by finding a way to keep everyone at home, safe and happy.

Just what is the threat to the U.S. border and Mexico alone? Weapons confiscated from the transnational organized criminals have been described as having the "capability to arm the entire army of El Salvador."

In Mexico, this was a quick lesson in local policing that clearly demonstrated that police below the federal levels are generally ill-equipped, outmanned, outgunned, and inadequately trained to handle the continued growth and obvious threats. Lessons learned were that a new ability to recognize, prepare, and deploy the appropriate resources to incidents that threaten to totally destabilize a region or paralyze a government must never be ignored.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto learned the lessons from other troubled nations in Latin America that have experienced the realities of these threats and massive death.  He recently deployed a 5,000 person militarized version of police (Gendarmerie) to free up the military that happened to be Mexico’s only option at the time in its fight against a superior armed and tactical criminal insurgency.

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.

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