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"Hired guns" for LA law enforcement?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Preacherman, Mar 14, 2006.

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  1. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    From MSNBC ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11800942/ ):

    Storm-battered parish considers hired guns

    Contractors in Louisiana would make arrests, carry weapons

    By Renae Merle
    The Washington Post
    Updated: 1:06 a.m. ET March 14, 2006

    ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. - Maj. Pete Tufaro scanned the fenced lot packed with hundreds of stark white trailers soon to be inhabited by Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Shaking his head, he predicted the cramped quarters would ignite fights, hide criminals and become an incubator for crime, posing another test for his cash-strapped sheriff's department, which furloughed 206 of its 390 officers after the storm.

    Tufaro thinks the parish has the solution: DynCorp International LLC, the Texas company that provided personal security to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and is one of the largest security contractors in Iraq. If the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the sheriff's department's proposal, which would cost $70 million over three years, up to 100 DynCorp employees would be deputized to be make arrests, carry weapons, and dress in the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Department khaki and black uniforms.

    But while the plan is for the DynCorp employees to eat and live with the other deputies in the same trailer camp, the hired guns would earn "significantly more" than the $18,000 annual salary of an entry-level deputy and the $30,000-a-year salary of a seasoned officer.

    For DynCorp and other private security companies, the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, like Iraq, is a land of opportunity. Hired shortly after the storm to protect several New Orleans hospitals, its first domestic security job, the Texas firm has earned about $14 million from work in the Gulf Coast since Katrina, not all of which has involved security.

    Blackwater USA, which protected the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and lost four employees in a brutal ambush in Fallujah in 2004, earned about $42 million through the end of December on a contract with Federal Protective Service, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, to provide security to FEMA sites. Most of the 330 contract guards now working in Louisiana are employed by the company.

    The Homeland Security Department's Inspector General said the company's costs in its FEMA contract -- it earns $950 a day for each employee -- were "clearly very high," and it expressed hope that competition would lower them. But costs are not the only concerns raised by critics of the companies.

    "Katrina broke all of the rules. It was the first time you had the deployment of armed private security contractors in the U.S.," said Peter W. Singer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry."

    Singer said the proposed contract with DynCorp raises a number of questions, including whether the DynCorp officers will be properly supervised, whether the pay difference will cause tension in the sheriff's department and whether it suggests that even government jobs that assume a level of public service can be done by private corporations.

    Danielle Brian, executive director of Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, said that instead of using the money to hire contractors, the sheriff's department in St. Bernard should invest in training more officers or try to rehire those they furloughed. "Our law enforcement system is based on public service employees and not private contractors pretending to be law enforcement," Brian said.

    Greg Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman, said companies like his with experience in security and logistics have a lot to offer government agencies in emergency situations. "We do a lot of work for government that the government finds, for its own reasons, more convenient or more economical to contract out," he said. "Sometimes it's more efficiently done by the private sector. We don't make those determinations; they do. If there is work we can do, we'll do it."

    To Tufaro and other law enforcement officials, St. Bernard Parish is facing an emergency. Money dried up so fast after Katrina hit that Sheriff Jack Stephens, an imposing, 6-foot-4-inch New Orleans native, took out a loan of more than $4 million on behalf of the department, which he says he would be held personally responsible for if he left office before its repayment. "It is what I had to do," he said.

    Besides being nearly broke, the department has a host of new challenges. The FBI has warned that gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, could come attached to construction crews and establish operations, prompting the department to establish a strike team that has already arrested eight alleged members, police officials said.

    Before the storm, the department tangled with "local toughs, slinging dope," not sophisticated international gangs, Stephens said. Added James Bernazzani, the FBI's special agent in charge in the region: "We would be naive to think that this being perhaps the largest construction boom for a region for a long, long time, we're talking eight to 10 years, that they might not try to take advantage of the situation."

    The officers have also been turned into part-time psychologists as they deal with the 5,000 or so residents who did not leave the parish. There was recently a standoff with a man who threatened to shoot himself unless he spoke to a FEMA representative and another in which someone chained himself to a trailer. There have been five suicides since the storm, compared with one every other year before, they said. "I think that kind of thing will just increase as time goes on," Capt. Darlene Poche said, noting that a traffic stop can turn into an hour-long conversation. "Everybody wants to tell you their story."

    Stretched thin, the department is ready to turn to private contractors to head off what it fears will be an increase in crime as construction in the parish booms and residents adjust to life in cramped trailers.
     
  2. Kodiaz

    Kodiaz member

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    Well I'm sure using the Hessians is no big deal after all King George did it a couple of hundred years ago.
     
  3. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

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    This scares the crap out of me.

    Just picturing next post-disaster, when all social order is broken down again...and some of these who signed up for the WRONG reasons are allowed to run free. When there's no chance of crimininal investigation of how they deal with "inconveniences"...

    "You WILL leave this area and leave your home NOW."
    "No, no, I have plenty of food and water, I'm fin..." *BLAM!*
    "Too bad, another victim of looters. Throw'im in the water, let's move on."

    So we have our own Hessians.

    I'll have something with 7.62x25 or 5.7 carried concealed in any post-disaster scenario, and that's all I'll say.

    (BTW, who is paying these exhorbitant salaries for the private police? Taxpayers? Us?)
     
  4. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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  5. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    Who else?
     
  6. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    Every tomorrow is one day closer to yesterday it seems. Used to be in the Wild West days they hired Pinkertons when the locals couldn't handle whatever the problem was, now it's MPRI or Triple Canopy or Blackwater or Dyncorp. Looks like same same deal now, locals can't or won't handle it so hired help does, no matter how expensive. It isn't evolution it's devolution.

    Guess no one much remembers any lessons from the town of Northfield, MN any more. Can't imagine Mara-istas or any other bunch being that much worse than the James- Younger Gang, they ain't none of 'em bulletproof after all. Just declare 'open season' on crooks in Saint Bernard Parish and give ol' Boudreaux a get-out-of-jail-free card... or better yet, pay a bounty on 'em like nutria, when turned over to the sheriff with undeniable proof of criminality. That ought to enliven the local atmosphere sufficiently to discourage the criminally inclined.

    lpl/nc (might have to invent a gun mount for digital video recorders)

    http://www.northfieldhistory.org/JJ/story.html
     
  7. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    DANGER, Will Robinson, DANGER.

    That contract translates to $233,333 per employee per year.

    I guess that just might cause a little friction with the $18,000 a year rookies.
     
  8. Fly320s

    Fly320s Member

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    If the parish furloughed most of it's officers due to a lack of money, how are they going to pay the higher salary of the DynCorp cops? :confused:
     
  9. offthepaper

    offthepaper Member

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    Manedwolf:

    I'm with you. This almost appears to be pretty much what the 2A folks stress cannot be allowed to happen in this country. Maybe not so, but just the appearence of govt encampments of it's poulation should make one pause.
    These guys aren't rent-a-cops. They're sent to an array of many of the hotspots in the world. They're basicly paid mercenaries, being paid by our own govt to "keep an eye on" or "secure" the local population in that area. This outfit hasn't been selected because they"re cheaper, or more cost effective than the local law enforcement. They were selected because they posses the ability to bring a massive amount of force to persuade a large body of civilians to conform to their (or someone's) demands, with much more of a military type operation than the sheriffs deputies ever could. Not to mention, some of the locals cops may have a different feeling about their duties if they truely think some of the policies are dead wrong concerning individual rights.
    It's just interesting that the govt thinks this is the BEST way to provide for this fascet of the massive rebuilding program needed. Very costly (at a time when money is tight), not giving the local cops their jobs back (tax paying, know the area/people), thinking about those roadblocks too.
    It just smacks me in the eye that this seems more like an exercise in massive crowd control within the US borders. The money to pay for this is coming from the Federal Relief monies, and I'd bet my last monies the Feds may have a bigger interest in how things go than the local govt does.
    Like I said in the begining, maybe not so, (hell, I'm always paranoid) but it shouldn't become the norm when after a "declared disaster" the govt sends JBT's to "secure" the locals. We likely in the future will suffer another major event in this country that may affect a major population center, be it from nature, terrorism, bird flu, whatever. At some point the govt may feel forced to tightly control a major population in a given area(s). This just looks like practice to me. But I'm paranoid.
     
  10. Creeping Incrementalism

    Creeping Incrementalism Member

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    Isn't this the parish where deputies were captured on video driving around shooting healthy, non-threatening dogs in the aftermath of the hurricane because "Where they gonna find food? Where they gonna find water?"

    If it is the same department, then I'd take the contractors.
     
  11. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

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    You're speaking logic, not money trail.

    Money from taxpayers goes to -> appropriations -> hiring DynCorp -> contractors. Kickbacks go from DynCorp -> complicit bureacrats -> lawmaker who caused it to happen.

    Follow the money. Always follow the money.
     
  12. Sgt Stevo

    Sgt Stevo Member

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    Blackwater is sending guys down as well. And there are lots of contractors there.

    I used to work in the projects for HUD. we were contracted POST qued guys.

    the lines were blurred at Times. the cops did not like us to much. Until we proved we were not over stepping our bounds.

    The money goes to the company not the guys. They get a good base pay. But, the company gets most the cash.

    I did this part time off duty. It is very hard work. People dont like to told what to do by none sworn people of any type.

    But what is a better idea??........
     
  13. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    I'm going to go ahead and be a contrarian here...

    In a country in which the military is supposed to be composed of the entire body of the people, we have to expect that private citizens with guns will be used when the authorities are stretched too thin. Of course, I would prefer that the people with guns be the people that actually live there instead of imported contractors, but it isnt a perfect world.

    I agree that the private contractors are certainly more expensive than either cops or the free services of the local residents in terms of keeping the peace.

    I also agree that hiring what are essentially a mercenary corps to do civilian work is essentially wrong.
     
  14. outofbattery

    outofbattery Member

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    Wow-$18k a year for a rookie deputy,up here starting pay is almost literally double that! Granted the cost of living is several magnitudes cheaper in LA than MA but man,I don't think $18k/year is enough to convince me that _I_ should be the one stepping into the middle of domestic disputes or pulling over a suspicious carload of guys on a back road in the middle of the night.
     
  15. davec

    davec Member

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    Reminds me of OCP in the Robocop movies.
     
  16. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Dyncorp contractors??? :what: Just what do they know about being a peace officer? Providing security to the Afghan president is one thing, quieting a domestic disturbance is another.

    I suppose LA POST or whatever certifying organization they have is just going to waive any educational and training requirements. A good soldier does not necessarily make a good cop. I know, I've been both.

    We don't need mercenaries in American law enforcement. There is plenty of work for those people overseas. I am emailing my congressman about the issue now.

    Give St Bernard Parish a federal grant to hire some real police officers. I'd rather see them deputize locals then hire mercenaries.

    Jeff
     
  17. Echo Tango

    Echo Tango Member

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    I get the feeling theres gonna be a riot.
    Having worked for said company in the last year, I can safely say, this is quite possibly the dumbest idea anyone has come up with in a long time.
     
  18. LAK

    LAK Member

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  19. Azrael256

    Azrael256 Member

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    Just because they're contractors doesn't mean they aren't real cops. DynCorp is involved in sending American officers over to Iraq and Afghanistan to start and maintain local PDs over there. DynCorp doesn't recruit Joe XYZ off the street for this kind of thing. They want plenty of experience from anybody they hire. I would happily wager that these "contractors" are former officers, reserve officers, or current full-timers from various departments around the country. They ain't exactly hessians.
     
  20. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

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    at first

    I was with Azrael256, I know these companies hire good men most of the time...
    but then Echo Tango said he worked for them...I'd believe a worker before management...(sorry management guys!)
     
  21. mons meg

    mons meg Member

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    So they can't get a FEMA grant to hire back the rest of their own deputies, which would cost less?

    The CHPs that LA borrowed were "real cops", but that didn't go over too well either, remember?
     
  22. fourays2

    fourays2 Member

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    sounds like they're creating a huge "open prison", maybe they should get DoC personnel instead of cops or mercs.
     
  23. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

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    Something that doesn't use MY taxpayer dollars to make DynCorp have a fat wallet!

    BTW, why doesn't some REAL conservative lawmaker bring this up as issue that hired mercenaries...essentially, yes, SOLDIERS doing law enforcement could be seen as a violation of posse comitatus?

    The founding fathers likely only didn't include a provision against this because they never figured we'd have our own Hessians. :barf:
    I'm just picturing the domestic-call scene and its resolution in the spoof video "TROOPS"...
     
  24. CoachVince

    CoachVince Member

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    Reminds me of OCP in the Robocop movies.
    sounds like they're creating a huge "open prison", maybe they should get DoC personnel instead of cops or mercs.
    Maybe the movie reference for people to consider should be "Escape from New York", as in Escape from the New Orleans area, now!

    I can only imagine that finding those responsible for rights violations could be a huge quagmire, due to lack of public oversight. Maybe I'm wrong, but a lot of people have problems just with the standard, "non-mercenary" police. I cannot imagine that outsiders will improve this, and I can't see the expenditure of funds for them, instead of standard officers being reasonable. It really does seem like the groundwork for an OCP-type venture; where a whole city's services end up being provided by private firms, possibly interconnected.

    Would anyone have any info on the ownership of the firms providing security; i.e., are they U.S. owned at least? I would think some of them are, but I'm not familiar enough with the field to be sure.

    Something that doesn't use MY taxpayer dollars to make DynCorp have a fat wallet!
    BTW, why doesn't some REAL conservative lawmaker bring this up as issue that hired mercenaries...essentially, yes, SOLDIERS doing law enforcement could be seen as a violation of posse comitatus?


    This site http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=5115 mentions how we already have a group that SHOULD be available to take care of any problems like this, resulting from Katrina, etc; but they're in a foreign land...
    American law calls for civilian peace officers to keep the peace, or, failing that, National Guard troops under the command of their state governors. So perhaps we should stop treating the National Guard as if it's no different than the Army Reserve.
    As Katrina made landfall, there were 7,000 Louisiana and Mississippi Guard troops deployed in Iraq. Among them were 3,700 members of Louisiana's 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, who took with them high-water vehicles and other equipment that could have been put to better use in New Orleans.
    The Guard personnel at home had only one satellite phone for the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast when Katrina initially hit -- because the others were in Iraq.

    Edited to add cato.org link
     
  25. TheEgg

    TheEgg Member

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    One of the strengths of our legal system is that those charged with enforcing the law are normally locals, residents of the area, in other words our friends/neighbors/relatives.

    Hiring 'contractors' goes against this principle, and I find it unacceptable. I suspect that in the long haul, it would actually increase crime and violence, not decrease it, as the population reacted very unfavorably to these 'contractors'.
     
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