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August 22, 2014 / jeffnward

Geneva’s getting ready for the riots!

Having recently written a column on the militarization of our police departments in which I described my utter shock and awe at the lack of a conservative response to this clear and present danger to our personal freedoms, I got to thinking.

And you all know that’s always a dangerous proposition.

The question was, of all Kane County municipalities, excluding the truly smaller towns like Maple Park or Pingree Grove and the larger ones like Elgin and Aurora, which would folks likely vote to be the safest? But before I managed to complete that thought, the word “Geneva” leapt into my consciousness faster than Rahm Emanuel’s approval rating could plummet.

C’mon! You can bet your sweet bippie that any city consisting of 93 percent white folks with a median age of 42 ain’t gonna have much going on. This is a town that rolls up the sidewalks at 9 p.m. on Saturdays and still considers Swedish Days to be the pinnacle of excitement.

It may be true that my fair city just experienced its first murder in nearly 40 years, but whenever one spouse kills another it really doesn’t count because I’m surprised that kind of thing doesn’t happen far more often.

Given all the grief I give my wife combined with that million dollar life insurance policy, the fact I’m still alive is a constant source of utter amazement. But I digress.

So with the most sedate city in Kane County question settled, in an effort to test just how pervasive the spread of surplus military equipment might be, I “asked” the Geneva Police to provide me with a list of any such items above and beyond the sidearm and Kevlar vest the officers generally wear.

Despite the GPD’s widespread reputation for harboring an “us against them” mentality, and as cynical as I can sometimes be, I firmly believed this request would bear no fruit. Had that been the case, I would’ve dutifully noted it here.

But much to my surprise and ultimate chagrin, there was a result! Between 1996 and 2000, the GPD availed themselves of the military surplus program by acquiring 35 separate items consisting mostly of helmets with some body armor thrown in for good measure.

riot gear

While it’s certainly a far cry from procuring an MRAP or Apache helicopter, why in the world would the GPD need to start stocking up on riot gear?

I suppose the ten black folks in town could shut down a side street, or those feisty little old ladies could get a little crazy if the Little Traveler ever shut down, or Batavia could always invade, but beyond those dubious possibilities, why does a police department that’s seen one murder in 40 years need any surplus military equipment whatsoever?

We don’t get hit with earthquakes, wildfires or hurricanes either. The worst natural disaster we Midwesterners can expect is a tornado whose widespread destructive power pales in comparison to the aforementioned catastrophes.

Am I really that worried that the GPD obtained a few defensive toys? No! But the fact they made the effort to get them – before 9/11 – evinces a mindset in which their command hierarchy believes they need to be prepared for a time that it would come down to us versus them.

So here’s what I want you to do. Send a simple single sentence email FOIA request to your own local police department requesting a list of items they’ve obtained under the Department of Defense 1033 program. And I want you to do this for two reasons.

First, it lets them know you’re watching, which is especially critical when you consider the accelerating deterioration of local newspaper reporting. Not only that, abut his kind of voyeuristic tendency may just get them to reconsider both current and future acquisitions.

And second is, the list you receive, if there is one, will tell you far more about your police force than any policy manual, press release or website ever could. You might just discover exactly who they plan to serve and protect.

13 Comments

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  1. The other Jeff N / Aug 22 2014 11:54 am

    Actually, I’m surprised that’s all they’ve gotten, especially since the feds really started opening the floodgates to local PDs after 9/11. The defensive stuff you mention doesn’t bother me too much, especially considering some of the stuff that’s gone on in recent years. The standard Kevlar vest worn by patrol officers won’t stop a rifle round, like those fired in most of the mass shootings that have occurred. The one that really gets me is the MRAPs. If the cops really feel the need for armored vehicles, give them the old armored Humvees. They’re not facing IEDs, which is what the MRAP is designed for.

  2. jeffnward / Aug 22 2014 12:14 pm

    Jeff,

    I’d agree with you if it weren’t Geneva. And again, it’s not as much the equipment, it’s the fact they wanted to acquire in in the first place. It’s the current police mindset in which every member of the public is automatically an enemy.

    The Geneva police don’t need helmets! And if they do require anything serious the Sheriffs office equipment is a little more than a mile away!

    • The other Jeff N / Aug 22 2014 3:22 pm

      Well, they do have YOU to keep an eye on!

      • jeffnward / Aug 22 2014 3:28 pm

        Ain’t that the fucking truth!

    • The other Jeff N / Aug 22 2014 3:24 pm

      I guess I should disclose that my son is a patrol officer for Juneau P.D. He has to approach everyone as if they’re carrying a weapon because they are. No license required. A lot of high powered hunting rifles out there.

  3. jeffnward / Aug 22 2014 3:29 pm

    My brother’s a cop and I’m helping my nephew get a job as police officer! But the truth is the truth.

    • The other Jeff N / Aug 22 2014 6:12 pm

      Have you seen some of the comments posted by veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan about the militarized cops in Ferguson? They had more restrictive rules of engagement about when they could raise their weapon, who they could point it at, etc. than the cops were showing in Ferguson. Especially that one from St. Anne who’s been suspended.

      • jeffnward / Aug 22 2014 6:29 pm

        Jeff,

        Yes I have and the fact that we treat Iraqi citizens better than our own says it all.

  4. Victoria Davidson-Bell / Aug 22 2014 10:07 pm

    Just to point out that our great Geneva Police Dept arrested Brian Dugan blocks from my home. There may not have been a murder here but there were bad people on the streets

    • The other Jeff N / Aug 23 2014 7:57 am

      And then the Dupage prosecutors spent millions of tax payers’ dollars to put him on trial for the Nicarico slaying to add another life sentence onto the multiple life sentences he was already serving. Guy was already never going to get out of prison. But the prosecutors had to do something to get people to forget that they’d spent millions more of taxpayers’ money repeatedly trying to put 2 other men on death row AFTER Dugan had confessed to the crime.

  5. P.Danner / Aug 23 2014 12:33 pm

    Jeff, A citizen in any community (including Geneva) can go off and do a lot of damage with an assault rifle, as we have seen many times in the recent history of this country. Would you want to go up against that with a handgun? Maybe there are not a lot of bad people living in Geneva, but some of the worst that get arrested in Kane County come to your sleepy town everyday to go to court because they have violated the law. I would think you would want your police department well equipped to respond if one of these people decides today isn’t the day they want to go back to prison.The reason for police departments increasing their equipment is due to the increasingly violent society we live in. If the police are not equipped for the worst situations, they will be fighting a losing battle when going up against someone with superior fire power such as an assault rifle. Sometimes they even set off bombs or didn’t you see the Boston Marathon? God forbid a teenager shows up at Geneva High School with their dad’s varmint rifle and the Geneva Police have to respond with only handguns to stop him. The rifle is accurate at over 100 yards while the police handguns are only accurate at up to 25 yards. I think if you or your family were ever in a theater or shopping mall with an active shooter, you would change your tune about how you want your police department equipped.

    • jeffnward / Aug 23 2014 1:18 pm

      Dear P.,

      I don’t disagree with anything you said – I just want you to go further.

      You are absolutely right that just one AK47 can do a boatload of damage to any Tri-Cities community. But then what you’re essentially saying is that we have to give up our liberties in return for security and Ben Franklin had some rather harsh words about that.

      What you’re really describing is living your live under the Sword of Damocles because you’re constantly considering the worst case scenario. And that’s no way to live. Think about it! Aside from airplanes, there has not been one foreign terror attack on American soil yet we keep acting as if it’s imminent.

      What really bothers me is the utter failure of some police officers to take responsibility for the risk they assume in simply taking the job. They want the power and control, but then they want to justify using brute force at every turn to “protect” themselves. Sorry, but that doesn’t work. If you don’t want to have to worry about being shot, then don’t become a police officer.

      The risk we assume by living in a free society is that there might be a shooter in that movie theater, but the truth is, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning that ever having to endure that kind of death. I’d much rather live with the possibility of that prospect than continue to watch the militarization of the police.

      I love the fact you shared your opinion, but I stand by what I wrote!

      Jeff

  6. Todd Martin / Aug 25 2014 10:38 am

    One “Arms race” issue with police weaponry (the police need M16’s or AR15’s to stop someone with an AK47) is the risk of collateral damage. Yes, a handgun has more limited range. There can be a situation where a police officer needs to act as a sniper. However, police use of machine guns in an urban environment or semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines & high power rifle rounds dramatically increases the chances of innocent bystanders getting hurt.

    If your back-yard neighbor decides to hold someone hostage, do you want the police to use a bolt action sniper rifle or a machine gun?

    In Ferguson, if a large group of peaceful protestors have a handful of violent anarchists mixed in, do you want the Police to fire indiscriminately into the crowd?

    I believe the risks of arming the Police with M16’s & AR15’s outweigh the benefits.

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