William Norman Grigg
18 November 2013
In an op-ed column that suppurates condescension, Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson defended his department’s acquisition of a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected combat vehicle (MRAP). Among the reasons why procurement of this “Free” combat vehicle — that is, one paid for by tax victims in other cities — is necessary, according to Masterson, because “guns made exclusively for the military are available in society for general use.” Like most statists, Masterson suffers from an acute irony deficiency.
Boise is one of several Idaho cities and towns — including minuscule Preston, which is practically crime-free — where police departments have obtained MRAPs, which were designed for counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief Masterson insists that Boise residents who are alarmed over the prospect of police militarization are focusing on what he calls “the symbolism of a free vehicle.” The MRAP, he maintains, will protect his officers — whom he calls “peacekeepers” — from “high-caliber bullets and bombs” in what he calls “an increasingly violent society.”
This depiction of Boise as a proto-Fallujah can charitably be described as statistically implausible — or not-so-charitably described as a symptom of clinical paranoia. Boise’s crime rate is roughly two-thirds the national average of cities of its size, and has fallen every year since 2000. Masterson grants that Boise “hasn’t made national news for murder and mayhem,” but maintains that his department should up-armor itself, just in case. After all, there may be people living there who “intend to harm our government and its most visible forms of authority” — meaning the tax-devouring costumed functionaries under Masterson’s command.
Once we peel away the persiflage about “protecting and serving” the public, Masterson’s case for acquiring an MRAP is rooted in the mindset of counter-insurgency warfare, in which police see themselves as an embattled salient of “order” surrounded by incipiently violent people who must be over-awed and compelled to submit. That mindset is as deeply entrenched in Idaho as it is elsewhere. The slogan of the December 2007 Idaho POST Academy graduating class was: “Don’t suffer from PTSD — go out and cause it.” That motto was chosen by the class president who, predictably, was a military veteran.”