Regulatory Agencies Sending Armed Squads To Check Water Quality, 'Rescue' Baby Deer

from the when-all-you-have-is-a-bunch-of-armed-officers... dept

It seems as if nearly every police department, no matter how small or unthreatened by criminal activity, wants to outfit their officers with military-grade equipment (something the DHS is only to happy to help with -- provided someone invokes the codeword "terrorism" at some point during the requisition). The outcome is inevitable, tragic and more than a little ridiculous. Local SWAT teams are now rolling up on suburban lawns like they're storming Normandy, executing no-knock warrants in the dead of night to unverified addresses. Some occasions result in little more than completely freaked-out citizens. Others end in death and injury. Sometimes it's just the family dog that takes a bullet. Other times, it's innocent civilians.

But this militarization goes even further than various police departments. It also permeates other government agencies, agencies that really shouldn't be utilizing heavily-armed SWAT teams to enforce regulatory policies. It's not as if anyone should be expecting the kind of resistance these teams are armed for -- at least not in these situations.

This is the bold new face of American enforcement -- squads of armed men sent on a life-or-death mission to… check water quality.

Miners from the Chicken area -- a gold mining town of just 17 full-time residents and dozens of seasonal miners off the Taylor Highway, between Tok and the Canadian border -- said that during the third week of August they were surprised by groups of four to eight armed officers, who swarmed onto their mining claims with little or no warning.

The officers were armed and wearing body armor. They were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and were there to check for violations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act, according to several miners who were contacted by the group. Section 404 governs water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.
Men with guns, checking water supplies. That's the new EPA -- an agency that backs up its policies with armed officers. I'm guessing it's done handing out fines for violations. No more "30 days to comply with federal PPM standards." No more Mr. Nice Regulatory Agency.

So, why did the EPA feel it was necessary to send armed officers to verify water quality?
The EPA has refused to publicly explain why it used armed officers as part of what it called a “multi-jurisdictional” investigation of possible Clean Water Act violations in the area.
None of your business, citizen!

One "helpful" staffer suggested it was probably because drugs and sex.
According to one Senate staffer, the federal agency said it decided to send in the task force armed and wearing body armor because of information it received from the Alaska State Troopers about “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.”
Drug dealing, human trafficking and potentially unsafe water? That's quite the trifecta. Let's go to the State Troopers for a little more explanation.
“The Alaska State Troopers did not advise the EPA that there was dangerous drug activity. We do not have evidence to suggest that is occurring,” said Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters.
This is what happens when you have an excess of tactical gear and nothing to deploy it against. The "dangerousness" bar continues to be lowered until it ultimately bottoms out, and once that happens, officials just start making up their own justifications. And once that happens, people start getting hurt.

You can't amp up your squad, hand them tactical gear and loaded weapons, and then send them out to maintain a defensive perimeter while someone obtains a water sample, and not expect someone to misread something, anything, about the situation and react in a regrettable fashion. You've set them up for danger and delivered a glorified science fair project. Someone's trigger finger's going to get itchy. Someone's going to see normal movements as "furtive" and disgruntled exclamations from the victims as "threats."

Here's one more example of regulatory agencies acting like paramilitary strike teams in order to handle yet another life-threatening situation -- a baby deer that had ended up at a local "no-kill" animal shelter.
Two weeks ago, [shelter employee Ray] Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border when a swarm of squad cars arrived and officers unloaded with a search warrant.

"(There were) nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth," Schulze said.

Agents told staff they came to seize the deer because Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

"I said the deer is scheduled to go to the wildlife reserve the next day," Schulze said.
Agents rounded up the staff and kept them controlled while they went in search of the fawn, which they then killed. Sure, the animal shelter might have released it alive, but Dept. of Natural Resources policy says seized animals must be killed to prevent the spread of disease. A spokesman for the DNR said "its heart was in the right place" when it stormed the animal shelter with armed officers and seized the very much alive fawn and killed it. (There's some dispute as to whether the DNR killed it at the shelter or euthanized it later, but the end result is the same.)

When reporter Colleen Henry asked if the department could have called first and asked for a voluntary surrender instead of expending all of these resources, she received one of the most ridiculous answers ever.
"If a sheriff's department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don't call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up," [DNR Supervisor Jennifer] Niemeyer said.
When all else fails, start talking about drugs (see our first story). Obviously, harboring a wild animal is the same as possessing drugs and should be treated as such -- with an armed response. To compare an animal shelter to a drug dealer is more than simply disingenuous -- it's the nadir of rhetoric. It's a painfully weak fallback argument which is solely designed to allow the embarrassed "enforcement" party to extricate themselves from the discussion.

And now the DNR is complaining its receiving angry comments and death threats. I would never condone death threats (and there are laws in place to deal with those) but the agency deserves every negative comment and complaint it receives. It looked at all the possible ways to handle this and decided storming the animal shelter with a quasi-SWAT team was the best response. If you don't like being treated like terrible human beings, stop performing terrible acts.

The police state isn't just the police. It's the entire government, which has a large number of tools at its disposal, but always reaches for the bluntest, weightiest one first.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    They should make a film

    They should make a film about his one ...Oh wait....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Social Training...

    They are just helping us fellow citizens get used to having SWAT teams solve your hang nail problems by blowing your finger off. See there problem solved, no more hang nail.

    Para-Military police being deployed for something like this is definite sign that we are losing control of our government.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    I want to see these "death threats" the DNR is receiving. I've seen enough of the internet to know that, sure, some of them are actual threats of death, but the government has lost enough credibility with me for me to guess that most of the "death threats" are along the lines of, "would like it if someone treated you like you treated that fawn?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    theOtherDude, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    Not New

    "Local SWAT teams ARE NOW rolling up on suburban lawns like they're storming Normandy, executing no-knock warrants in the dead of night to unverified addresses. Some occasions result in little more than completely freaked-out citizens. Others end in death and injury. Sometimes it's just the family dog that takes a bullet."

    Just because you recently notice something doesn’t actually make it new. This has been going on for better than 30 years and the original domestic arms buildup was predicated on the "drug war" mainly under Reagan. Terrorism is the new code word, but the militarization of local police forces is not new and no knock warrants are not new and innocents being harassed, scared, injured and even killed is not new. As the wealth gap grows so to does the necessity for highly armed enforcers to keep the peace..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    "It's the entire government," plus willing mega-corporations.

    And those in the conspiracy turn gov't against smaller corporations. They use the attack dogs trained in foreign wars to go full jack-booted excess, and no, they don't mind if it's publicized: they want the excesses known and feared.

    Only way to oppose gov't is on moral and common law basis, because its concentrated force can overwhelm any individual. So get Populist and start calling for a return to the good old days when gov't went after a proper targets of actual criminals, The Rich and their mega-corporations, instead of people sheltering fawns.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    bshock, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Let's be reasonable about this...

    How can the U.S. possibly degenerate into the military police state it so desperately wants to be without militarizing the police?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    What the hell happened (besides the obvious)?

    USA 1: One simple, well-trained cop with nothing more than a handgun needed to subdue entire gangs.

    USA 1.984: Dozens of cops who more well armed than our troops needed to subdue a baby animal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    It's so simple!

    Obviously the baby deer WAS the drug dealer.

    And we all know how King Arthur got excaliber, the Lady of the Lake, which means that EPA was actually looking for weapons of magical construction that might violate the clean waters act.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Dogboy, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    You had me at a town called "Chicken" I know, I should grow-up and stop trivialising the issue but seriously a town called Chicken. How did that happen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    It was either because they really like KFC, or there was a terrible "footloose" style tractor incident that wiped out half of the town's youth population.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    MM_Dandy, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    The American Inquisition!

    Nobody expects it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Isn't 404 the code for...

    404 - No water violations found.
    404 - Get off my gold mine claim.
    In case of 404 do not use elevators.
    404 - Ack! It's a trap!
    404 - Where the hell are we? You frekless lummox.
    404 - OMG! You broke the interwebs!
    Biff, Pow! Wap! Holy 404 error batman!
    404 - You're lost dude.
    404 - Thank you Mario! But our princess is in an other castle!
    404 - Your Internet is full. Please drain.
    404 - Page not found Heisenburg strikes again
    404 - Schrodinger's cat is dead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    Re: Social Training...

    A cat is stuck in a tree, quick, call the army!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Isn't 404 the code for...

    You beat me to the jokes, you jerk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    The EPA, IRS and maybe others have bought ammo

    This is a good one for the conspiracy theorists, but the EPA, IRS and maybe other questionable branches of the government have been buying large quantities of ammo. Now we know why, it seems the entire government is becoming militarized. Add to this that the IRS has targeted conservative groups and you wonder if they will be knocking down doors soon as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: What the hell happened (besides the obvious)?

    Brings the old saying "One riot, one ranger" to mind. Now it takes many well armed, well armored police and vehicles to check water quality and euthanize fawns.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    When I read stories like this the only thing I can think of is:

    "Did they catch the Goa'uld they were looking for?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re:

    It was because they couldn't spell partridge. Seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Pardon me, they couldn't spell ptarmigan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Pickle Monger (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    Life imitating art

    I'm guessing someone watched "Fire Down Below" one too many times...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    When will the American version of the burning of the Reichstag happen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    JWW (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    Re: "It's the entire government," plus willing mega-corporations.

    So, ootb, should we also call for the return to the good old days when copyright had reasonable terms? Or is the the Federal Copyright Government ok , but the Federal Everything Else Government is naturally corrupt?

    Dude, I so totally don't get how you can be so cognitively dissonant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Here I was thinking this was a cute story about how over-militarized police rescue a deer where the punchline of the article was 'well, gotta use all that gear somehow'. Nothing nefarious, but still a waste of resources...

    Next thing I read they killed the fawn... Now I understand why 'rescue' was in quotes... :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Dave Xanatos, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Social Training...

    ...So they can confiscate and kill it. Keeping America safe from Bambi and Fluffy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Preview of next week's news:

    Obama Appoints Baby Dear "Rescuing" Czar, Considers Candidates For Puppy-Kicking Czar and Baby Seal-Clubbing Czar

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Preview of next week's news:

    *deer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    mudlock (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Just because otherwise people won't believe it: This is, in fact, the true story, and you can check it on Wikipedia.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken,_Alaska#History

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    Have You Ever BEEN in the Wilderness??

    Tim, have you ever even been in the wilderness? If you're alone out there you carry a weapon to protect yourself from wild animals and/or criminals who are looking for loners that can be easy targets. If I was a cop and they told me to go out and confront a gold miner out in the wilderness I would want to be BETTER armed and prepared than the guy I was going out to confront. It's not so much about the reason they were going out there (for water quality testing), but for protection from the guy who potentially has a large value of gold that he feels he needs to protect.

    But I WILL grant you that the fawn story is completely LUDICROUS, and hopefully someone loses their job over that kind of thinking/response.

    Joe

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Have You Ever BEEN in the Wilderness??

    "But I WILL grant you that the fawn story is completely LUDICROUS, and hopefully someone loses their job over that kind of thinking/response."

    Oh sure they will.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    when you look at policing in the english speaking world. police in the usa have been the most cruel, heavy-handed dumbest of all police, trained that swinging a club is always the first response.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 5:23pm

    Re: The EPA, IRS and maybe others have bought ammo

    They purchased about 2 billion rounds of ammo (inc. hollow point which is illegal to use in wars), armored vehicles with hatches on the top where soldi... err, police can wield gatling guns, armored checkpoints, no-hesitation targets depicting ordinary men, women and children aiming guns.

    Just recently they staged a terror drill in Florida where the plot was seven sovereign American citizens (I'm dead serious) hijack a bus and strap explosives to hostages in order to steal an arms and ammunition shipment (my two cents: presumably because in this hypothetical situation, the government has successfully dismantled the 2nd Amendment?). The SWAT team's mission is, obviously, to take 'em down.

    Read the article for yourself.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-port-everglades-sovereign-c itizens-20130905,0,7970718.story

    There's only one conclusion: the government is training and supplying its own private army.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Can'tYouReadTheGangSigns?, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:07pm

    These animal shelter workers are dangerous. If you live in the wrong neighborhood, you see them all them time. They cruise down the dirt roads bumping Enya at full volume. Every time they slow the car down you know someone's gonna get his cap twisted back for being in the wrong wilderness: pop pop pop pop pop! "ASCPCA, muthafucka!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Cowards Anonymous, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: The EPA, IRS and maybe others have bought ammo

    It looks like they have been watching way too many violent movies and TV shows thinking that this is the way the real world works.

    When it comes to violence in the media it's not the kids we should be worried about what they watch, obviously it's these guys.

    /sarcasm, I think...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 2:40am

    Someone in the EPA has probably seen the Simpsons movie. We'll know for sure if their next step is to put up a giant glass dome to contain the polluters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Social Training...

    Please can we have a "Sad but true" button? Pretty please?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: "It's the entire government," plus willing mega-corporations.

    She doesn't get how copyright is a tool of the Govt. and "The Rich." It's like she doesn't WANT to get it. I have no idea why; perhaps she's a failed content creator and blames her lack of success on copyright infringement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 6:01am

    Re: The American Inquisition!

    Give it five minutes. Seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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