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.
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.