Readers React

Police 'militarization': Better for cops to be over-armed

To the editor: Did The Times not learn anything from the North Hollywood bank robbery of 1994? The Los Angeles Police Department was outgunned by two suspects until SWAT officers with automatic rifles arrived. ("Police departments should reduce their military supplies," Editorial, Dec. 8)

That incident was the wake-up call to cities that they needed to better equip and better protect their officers.

Just last month a highly trained Pomona SWAT officer was killed while serving an arrest warrant even though he was wearing one of the "military helmets" you apparently dislike. You question the use of helmets, assault rifles and armored vehicles because they look too militaristic. Too bad; they're supposed to. I don't care what they look like as long as they work.

I'm guessing the 2,300 residents in Wheatland, the Central Valley town you single out, will be glad their officers have M16s (and helmets and an armored vehicle if they're smart) should they encounter someone with an assault rifle and bad intentions.

Jim Valencia, Chino Hills

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To the editor: Thank you for your editorial on the accelerated evolution of our local public safety organizations, from community police to armed forces.

A reboot of the "protect and serve" mind-set is the most important strategy required to effectively address the steady increase of armed over-reaction and consequent public outrage. Hopefully, it will help to steer the national conversation away from the trees (the endless rehash of the chain of events resulting in each unfortunate incident) and back to the forest, promoting the much-needed cultural shift.

This ridiculous procurement of armored attack and defense weaponry by local governments only serves to reinforce a fundamental economic principle: Supply creates its own demand.

R.C. Price, San Clemente

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To the editor: Am I the only person who has wondered why the military, with a huge annual budget, has grenade launchers, high-powered rifles, mine-resistant vehicles and fast patrol craft to give away? Are office supplies and night-vision goggles so fragile that they deteriorate and must be donated before they waste away?

This seems like wastefulness on a grand scale.

Jean Koch, Los Angeles

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