Too Much Power?

Oct 2, 2013 by

In late August, the small gold mining town of Chicken, Alaska was going about their business as usual.  Suddenly, armed officers began flooding the area.  One witness said, “Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say “POLICE” emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms.” (1)  Now, one may say perhaps state police has a reason to be there.  This wasn’t local, but federal police.  Well maybe it was connected to human trafficking, as some speculation claims.  However, the agencies involved were the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Park Service.  The EPA was in charge of this operation and if the issue was anything besides environmental concerns, why was a legion of armed officers necessary in a small gold mining town?

How would you like to see this outside your door?

This incident, on its own, is meaningless.  So one agency went out of control on one operation; what is the big deal?  The problem is that this happens too much and too many government agencies are basically being given their own militias.  The number 40 to 73 departments.  Let us give our government the benefit of saying the 33 “offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers” (1) do not count.  Thus 40 agencies with armed officers.  Well, these agencies might have a need.  Let us look at a few of the agencies.  The Library of Congress (2) has trained officers at its disposal.  Now, what could trained officers who work for the Library of Congress do that the local trained D.C. police cannot?  Do they go on raids to retrieve overdue books?  Do they have snipers to enforce silence in their halls?  There is no reason for them to possess officers.  However, this is just a small thing to ponder in comparison to the Veterans Health Administration (3) is a health care system dedicated to the well being of our veterans.  It is interesting then that this health care system has some need to employ 3,128 armed officers. (2)  Compare this to the U.S. Marshals who only have 185 more officers. (2)  So, the VA, who deals with medicine needs approximately the same amount of officers as the U.S. Marshals who deal with things like witness protection, prisoner operations, and actual activities that involve criminals on a daily basis.  Moreover, the VA has more officers than the D.C. police who have 1,637 by almost twice as much. (2)

Now, let us look at the total number of officers employed by the federal government.  The total number is about 120,000. (2)  Keep in mind, this does not include the army.  This number represents the amount of officers who deal with domestic security, security against people in the United States.  When you break this number down, it comes to about 40 officers for every 100,000 residents or 1 officer for ever 2,000 people.  Compare this to local police.  On average across the nation, the amount of local police to residents is 5 officers for every 2,000 residents (4).  So, the amount of national officers is about one fifth the amount of local officers.  Now, keep in mind that local officers are out on patrol, deal with crime on a daily basis, are the usual authority to respond to crimes.  If you ever get arrested, chances are it is by a local officer.  So the question is why is the national government employing so many officers?  Why is it that the national government needs to be so well armed outside of the military and institutions dealing with foreign affairs?

 

(1) http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/14/armed-epa-agents-in-alaska-shed-light-on-70-fed-agencies-with-armed-divisions/

(2) http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fleo08.pdf

(3) http://www.va.gov/health/aboutVHA.asp

(4) http://www.theiacp.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=LF7xdWl1tPk=

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