The Wooster newspaper, The Daily Record, ran a story on the front page today. Neighboring Orrville, population 8500, had acquired an armed personnel carrier.
Orrville is an idyllic little town; the biggest employer is the Smucker Corporation, whose headquarters are there. As Smucker’s has done well in the last few years, Orrville has not been affected much by the recession. I carried mail there, on loan, a couple of winters ago. I was struck by the fact that in contrast to Wooster,everyone shoveled their walks. It was so universal that I asked if the city maybe cleaned the walks, but no, it was just the way it was in Orrville. And I was struck by the fact that there were fewer run-down older homes in Orrville, and fewer rough neighborhoods.
So, you may ask, does such a bucolic little town need an armed personnel carrier? Well, the police chief explained, you never know when there is going to be an Aurora style mass shooting. He did emphasize that no Orrville tax dollars were used, that it was given to the town by the federal government. It did not seem to occur to him that this was still tax dollars.
The story put me to mind of a picture I saw in the same paper a few years ago. In the aftermath of a drug raid a Holmes County sheriff was strutting down a street in Millersburg, the county seat, assault rifle in hand, wearing camouflage. Huh? I thought. You might need camouflage crawling through a field. Why do you need it for a drug raid in town? Holmes County has the largest Amish population in the world; a straw hat and suspenders would make a better disguise.
But it is obvious that the real motive was that cops like to be badass, to throw their weight around.
No, not all of them, of course. But if you don’t think that a disproportionate number of police recruits are motivated by the chance to be tough guys with societal blessing you really don’t understand the human condition.
Think Barney Fife.