Members of the city council voted unanimously to buy 500 body armor inserts for $109,000. The inserts will provide police officers protection against rifle bullets.
The bulking up of police officer armor plate continues the Chattanooga trend of increased militarization and an increased divide between executive branch police departments and an increasingly lowly and embittered citizenry.
By David Tulis
“It basically raises the level of protection our body armor would give us relative to increased threats from rifle-grade ammunition,” deputy police chief of staff David Roddy says. Members of city council are thrilled to provide the additional military gear. City council member Jerry Mitchell said, “That’s just great that we are supportive of this. It is very, very important for the safety of our police force.”
Even Yusuf Hakeem, the most strongly conscious among council members of police abuse, seems agreeable to armor plate.
The rationale for the upgrade is recent attacks on police officers by rifle-armed malefactors. Equipping cops for urban warfare with rifles is described as a police best practice.
“The community has said they want to protect those who protect them,” Chief Fred Fletcher says. “People want us to make sure our public safety officers are safe.”
National economy approach
Armed attacks against police are indeed extraordinary. The conversion of peacekeeping police departments into law enforcement warfare-style agencies is, shall we say, very national economy.
If Chief Fred Fletcher wanted a more ample exercise of community policing he espouses, he would be working to disarm police officers and make them more like the common people. He would help an evolution occur between the people and the enforcers. Cops would operate less on a threat, bluff and menace level and rely on discussion, cooperation and voluntary compliance to avoid deadly and violent confrontations.
Copdom projects violence; it could over time defuse violence by altering the parameters of law enforcement, making state actions more civil in nature (civil as in subject to courts of equity rather than criminal courts).
Police departments represent the state and statute. They serve the executive branch of municipal corporations, that post held in Chattanooga by Mayor Andy Berke. They do not necessarily represent public order and peace, but the enforcement of statute against the populace.
They’re increasing militarization since the 1970s suggest an internal recognition of increasing divide between the state and its agents vs. the people, especially the poor among them. The rise of police executions and the publicity surrounding them has created a backlash, with military veterans such as Micah Johnson leading the way in gunning down police officers, sometimes with racial animus.
No defusing people v. state conflict
If the executive branch of city government were interested in defusing the sense of siege by members of the lowest strata of society in black neighborhoods, it would emphasize disarmament, respect for the people and community relations. It would lose interest in the sorts of pretexts that make young black men almost universally fearful of the men in blue.
A crucial contradiction, however, in community policing is that it seeks to fulfill the function of the church office of deacon and of neighbor.
However the role of the church cannot be filled by state actors wearing pistols, mace and stun guns. Good works and acts of mercy for which police officers like to take credit are not the role of the state. That is the role of members of the church, and neighbors — the so-called community.
Meanwhile, city government is borrowing from the National Security Agency and other federal snooping organizations by creating a new intelligence division that will use asphyxiating surveillance with the aid of corporations, churches and others with security systems.
The F$380,000 Watson field reporting system “will help our officers coming onto a scene to have everything available to them before their cars are placed in park,” Mr. Roddy says.
Paul Leach, “City police to receive improved body armor,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, July 27, 2016
Kelsey Bagwell, “Chattanooga Police consider creating central-intelligence center,” TV9, July 26, 2016. http://newschannel9.com/news/local/chattanooga-police-consider-creating-central-intelligence-center