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.

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Comments on “Regulatory Agencies Sending Armed Squads To Check Water Quality, 'Rescue' Baby Deer”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?”

theOtherDude says:

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..

out_of_the_blue says:

"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.

JWW (profile) says:

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.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

The Real Michael says:

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.,0,7970718.story

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

Cowards Anonymous says:

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…

Anonymous Coward says:

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.


Can'tYouReadTheGangSigns? says:

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!”

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