Arkansas Town Declares Quasi-Martial Law to Fight Property Crime

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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46 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I really liked TNC’s take of the whole issue.

    Do we really want to live a world of maximum guns? Do we really want to live in a society where everyone is packing heat and is quasi-militarized?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/a-world-of-maximum-guns/266320/

    I hope the answer is that for many people the answer is no. When I went to Mexico City in 2008, I noted that many of the shops had heavily armed-security guards in front of things like department stores. This is a sign of an unsafe society.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      I agree with you and TNC but the facts seem to be that many people do very much want to live in a militarized world. That seems naive to me and based on a romanticized view of violence and the Old West, but there it is. A lot of American’s are truly in thrall of violence; they see all good fun parts but don’t see the negative.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t disagree with you either. I almost commented on TNC’s blog that a lot of people do seem to want it.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        There are other candidates for the focus of attraction to this sort of thing.

        Some people are really in to hierarchy, order, authority, and the display of overtly exercised power.

        Some people hunger for a highly-structured social existence.

        Some people want the appearance of control rather than the appearance of safety.

        And some people just plain don’t like freedom, because they cannot abide that other people do things with their freedom that they personally would not choose to do or things with which they are unfamiliar. Perhaps they fail to distinguish between “harm” and “personal distaste.” Better, then, that there be less freedom so that they do not need to have to even confront something different than that to whciht hey are accustomed.

        I suspect, but lack sufficient expertise to do more than guess at, the existence of substantial amounts of overlap between these preferences, and the relationship of such a constellation of preferences and the incorporation of relative comfort with weaponry and at least some forms of violence into such a constellation of preferences.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I think all those things you listed and an attraction/romanticizing violence all go together. You can’t think dramatic shows of power are a good thing without seeing only the good parts of dramatic shows of power.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I think there is a decent amount of evidence in evolutionary psychology to show that people are hierachical by nature. It is not an accident that we form some kind of hierarchy in our cultures and societies but by design.Report

    • Avatar Derp De Durr! says:

      “An armed society is a polite society.”

      An armed society is one where people get shot over games of poker, and for even less valid reasons.

      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/275/was-wild-bill-hickok-holding-the-dead-mans-hand-when-he-was-slainReport

  2. Avatar Morat20 says:

    So to combat theft and other non-violent crime, we need…SWAT gear?

    You know, about 70% of my complaints about the way police seem to be working these days would go away if they, you know, worked out they were police and not soldiers — and that the people around them were their fellow citizens, not an occupied land.

    The other 30% is just griping about ticket quotas, perverse incentives on tickets and fines, and taser misuse.Report

    • Avatar Christopher Carr says:

      Why shouldn’t soldiers treat the civilians of occupied territories with similar respect?Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Up until the end of WWI, traditional farming meant what we now pretty much call organic farming. Then, searching for markets for left-over bomb material, they decided to put nitrogen and phosphorus on the fields. From the end of WWI to WWII, there was some debate, back and fourth.

      After WWII ended, the same market need existed; this time, the need was hitched to the USDA, and the new, modern farming techniques, including massive use of fertilizers, defoliants, and pesticides blossomed. There was expertise available free of charge from county extension service in virtually ever county in the country.

      A similar market need exists now, what with the winding down of the wars. There’s excess capacity to produce armored vehicles, body armor, weapons. Cool stuff like night vision goggles that PD’s can be convinced they need. And if they get them, you know they’ll use them. Sometimes, this might be a good thing. Most of the time? I seriously doubt it. But they will decide they need it, and they will ask for grants from Homeland Security and matching local funds to purchase it. 100% guaranteed.Report

  3. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    I like the RCP-90.

    And proximity mines.

    If you get proximity mines in the complex…game over!Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      If I could get back all of those GoldenEye hours…ah, who am I kidding, I’d waste them all over again.

      That was a fun game on head-to-head mode. I think I still have my N64 and the game, I wonder how it would hold up with my kid.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        I played it a few years ago when somebody dragged their N64 out of storage. It actually holds up really well. Truly a classic for the ages.Report

  4. Avatar Kylock says:

    AK is the postal code for Alaska, AR is the postal code for Arkansas. Just a heads up.Report

  5. Avatar Will H. says:

    I’ve been in areas with curfews enacted following a hurricane. I’ve heard of curfews being temporarily enacted in areas of high crime.
    I’m not so sure of the Terry stop-and-frisk aspect of this though.Report

  6. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    It should be easy enough to prove that you’re walking your dog, but proving that you’re not doing anything else could be tricky.Report

  7. Avatar LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

    This isn’t surprising to me at all.

    Most people are happy with authoritarianism, as long as it is aimed away from them.

    The people who voted for Arizona’s “papers, please” law, the New Yorkers who approve of the stop and frisk program, and the Arkansas people who voted for this nut job police chief all did so imagining that this would only affect “those people.”

    If I were forced to spin this in terms of partisan politics, I would argue that this exemplifies the danger in allowing so sharp a division in society, that one group feels totally disconnected from the fortunes of the other.

    Never heard of Paragould, but I bet anything they have a sharp divison between Us and Them.
    We don’t have anything in common with Them; Those People who get stopped and frisked are not going to be Our sons and daughters; They aren’t even friends of Ours or anyone We know or interact with, unless to give directives.

    So why should We be concerned with Their so-called civil liberties? What We are concerned with is keeping Our property safe.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    This really isn’t about guns so much as it is about fascism.

    “The arguments from many of the pro-gun writers I’ve been reading these past few days suggest that it will actually make criminals less likely to obtain or use firearms of their own; I am not so certain the opposite would not be the case”

    The arguments from many of the anti-gun advocates is that you’re not going to be able to resist the government which will always have superior firepower. To the extent they are right about this, the increasing militarization of the police *should* deter gun ownership on the margin from any rational actor, whether law abiding or not.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This is true.

      I am referring to a different argument, however, that states that if nefarious/criminal/mentally ill people know there are heavily armed folks out there they will deescalate.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Because criminals and especially the mentally ill are known for making good life choices.

        At times I think there’s an entire class of gun ownership that’s basically a cult. I like shooting guns, they’re fun. Hunting seems very fufilling, though I’m more experienced at fishing. (less messy. Gutting a fish is much nicer than cleaning a deer, and the water’s right there to wash up).

        But, you know, there’s guys I know that really love their guns. To the point where if they talked about their girlfriends like they do their guns, you’d chalk them up as “Stalker, and probably carrying roofies”. It’s kinda creepy.

        And really not healthy, I think.

        In any case, I still don’t see why we don’t treat guns as exactly what they are — machines made for killing things. Which means if you own one you need to be licensed and registered and meet certain minimum standards.

        You’d think the requirements for gun ownership would be a little more stringent than, say, driving a car. Instead of less so.Report

  9. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    That’s interesting.

    Why is it that the police in Arkansas are actually more hamfisted and authoritarian than US patrols in freaking Kabul?Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      Because the US Army has a much deeper pool to grab from. Also, they’ve also been at least briefed on the concept that it might be a good idea not to treat the people you’re protecting like crap. A local police force in Arkansas? Not so much.Report

      • Avatar Tel says:

        The US military patrols are basically clocking time until they go home, and I don’t blame them. The draw-down has been announced, and the Taliban are moving their focus from attacking Americans over to attacking local security forces. Both the available budget and the general public sentiment is going to put pressure on further draw-down.

        In towns like Paragould, the cops have to live in the community, and so do their families.

        If you check the stats, rapes are up, robberies are up, burglaries are up, even arson is up. The problem is real, even though this may not be the best approach at solving it. This cannot be waved away as merely property crime, therefore not important.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Yeah there has been in a sharp increase in burglaries and thefts in the last few years. Some of the other numbers are small so its hard to tell how statistically significant they may be. But Paragould is a smallish town, about 26000 people. so small shifts in population can make a big difference. Thefts and burglaries can be vague terms. How much of those are shoplifting from the Quik E Mart and such. I’d be more impressed with the coppers if they seemed to have a clue what was causing this rise in certain crimes. Are there meth labs in the area? Has meth hit the town hard? etc.Report

  10. Avatar WhangoTango says:

    Education? Hey, that’ll work.

    “oh wow, Missus Teacher, you mean that it’s a bad thing to smash some guy’s shop window and steal the TV’s inside? Hey, I had no idea! Now we know! And knowing is half the battle.”Report

  11. Avatar stevo says:

    But what if one of the cops goes nuts and starts shooting people with those scary black assault riflesReport

  12. Avatar Tel says:

    This is from the Paragould police website:

    In 2002 statistics were gathered and declared in 2003 that Paragould was recorded as the Safest City in Arkansas with a population of 20,000 plus. The crime rate was 15 crimes per 1,000. The city that came in 2nd place had a rate of 42 crimes per 1,000.

    So you can see why they are annoyed about it… things are a lot worse now, only 10 years later.

    Mostly I would guess that economic hardship drives people to take risks.Report

  13. Avatar DRS says:

    So why can’t they just assign cops to walk beats through the high-crime neighbourhoods? Visible presence of the law walking the sidewalks on a regular basis, getting to know the folks, the small retailers, getting familiar with who lives there – sounds like a good old-fashioned way to cut down on the impulsive, crimes of opportunity, at least. According to that crime link, the biggest categories are burglaries and thefts. In a number of other areas, the crime rate has declined since 2005 – which looks like a peak year for some reason. And there’s been exactly one murder since 1999.

    This looks like one of Radley Balko’s examples of a small town aquiring a bunch of military toys from the national government and feeling that they have to justify them.Report