On Thursday, Glenn will premiere the latest episode of 'The Root', entitled 'Excessive Force'. Many have seen the short previews and, for some reason, assume Glenn has gone anti-police. Anyone who has watched the show knows this could not be further from the truth. 'The Root' will delve into the militarization of the police, but it will not be anti-police by any means. On his TV show Wednesday, Glenn responded to critics and explained exactly what the core issues are that 'The Root' will address.
Below is a transcript of this segment:
Tomorrow night is the latest episode of The Root. It is called “Excessive Force,” and we’re going to talk tomorrow about this time period from the early 1900s really until today, and we’re going to show you excessive force with the police and why it is happening.
I want you to understand, the reason why I’m doing this show tomorrow is because of these people and the administration, what these people are doing to try to make the bottom rise up, make the police look totally incompetent so the top comes down so we beg the Justice Department and the FBI, “Somebody’s got to do something.” The top comes down, and we’re done. This is really important that you understand this history.
Now, we put a promo together, and some people are already very angry with me, calling me anti-police and just about every other name in the book. The title of the program is provocative, but excessive force is not meant in the way the typical liberal anti-cop person means. I am by no means anti-cop, never have been, never will be. This episode does not bash the actions of individual police officers in any way.
Tomorrow’s program is to challenge the direction the local police is heading. I want to show you this promo that already is causing so much controversy with our audience. Watch.
Glenn: Local police now have the capacity to turn cities both big and small into a war zone, patrolling streets in tanks and armored personnel carriers and geared up with the same fatigues and weapons you’d see on a soldier. Rare cases, such force is warranted, but it is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
You’re going to meet some of the guys that have been doing research on this program for the last couple of months, and I want to remind you that this program has been one of the only programs that has uncovered what the Chicago police are doing, which is a warehouse in the midst of Chicago, and they are using it as almost like a CIA or Guantánamo Bay interrogation room. It goes against everything in the Constitution.
We’re talking about a complete military takeover or military style takeover of our police department for no good reasons. If they’re outgunned, I want them to have the guns. I want them to have the things that they need. I’m a guy who’s on the border patrol, arm the border patrol, arm them. Let them use their guns. I get it.
Most rational people will not argue that the police have overused or have begun to overuse the militaristic option. I have a place that we stay in the summers, and it’s a town of maybe 5,000 people. It has an MRAP. Why does this little teeny town need an MRAP? Now, there are some indisputable facts. SWAT raids have now ballooned out of control. There are 80,000 SWAT raids, and here’s the problem, if you’re going to take down a violent gang, I want the SWAT there, but most of these 80,000 kicking down the doors and using flash bang grenades are conducted on not violent but nonviolent criminals, many of them misdemeanor criminals.
This is not the fault of the officer. I believe honestly it is the fault of the city pressuring people to use these things because they paid for them. I explicitly state in The Root tomorrow night, and I’ll say it right now, officers cannot be blamed for doing the job they’re asked to do as long as it is within the lines of the Constitution. If you’re going to break the Constitution, you’re just hey, I was doing what I was told, well, so were the people that were putting the bodies into the incinerator in Germany. That’s no excuse. But as long as you’re following Constitution and you’re doing the job you’re supposed to do and you’re fighting for your life, I’m with you.
I argue and state in The Root that because of these policies, I believe our officers are actually being put at a greater risk for injury and harm. As these things spiral out of control, they want the SWAT teams. They want the military on the ground. They want all of these things so the average person looks at them as a victim, and we’ve got a war going on.
I will tell you, we never needed it in the United States before. We needed it in the 1960s. It is not a mistake. It is by design that these things are happening again. So, we have to think strategically, and somebody with $300 worth of pot and no criminal history and the weapons, for them to have their door knocked down by a SWAT team in the middle of the night—let me ask you this. We have a story. I think it’s in The Root. It may have been on the editing room floor, so if you see it tomorrow, pretend you didn’t hear it before.
There’s a story of a guy, he was a mayor of a town. They were going in to get a typical raid on somebody who had like $300 of pot next door to the mayor’s house. Well, the SWAT team got the house wrong, and they actually broke down the door of the mayor’s house, flash bang grenades, put everybody down on the floor. The mayor himself said had I had a gun, I would have drawn that gun because I’m a law-abiding citizen. I would’ve drawn that gun, and I could have fired at one of those police officers because you think you’re being attacked.
If you have guns in your house and you’re a law-abiding citizen, to have somebody break into your house, your natural reaction is to draw and shoot. You’re being invaded. He said if I would’ve done that, I would’ve been dead. That’s the mayor of a town. This exact scenario is happening over and over and more and more frequently. Eighty thousand SWAT teams were unleashed in the last year. That is a whole new territory.
The policy is what we’re challenging, not the police officers. This is a program, not a condemnation of officers. I want to take some time and just respond to some of the letters, some of the comments that are up here on Facebook that are truly remarkable. I’m just going to answer a few of them that are the common complaints.
This one comes in from Daniel. “Should they be wearing ball caps and tennis shorts? You equip with the best available to protect yourself.” Daniel, please, don’t be insulting. Of course, officers should be appropriately protected.
I was just at a movie theater last Friday. I go into the movie theater, and here’s this woman cop. She’s standing by the popcorn counter. Now, she’s working at a movie counter in a suburb of Dallas, okay? I walk up to her, I thank her, and I put my hand on her back, as I do it every single cop I ever see. If I feel a vest, I say, “Thank you and thank you for being safe.”
She wasn’t wearing one. I tapped her on her back, and I said, “The world is changing rapidly. Please, don’t go out without a vest.” Of course, we address this. Of course we have them dress appropriately. But why the camouflage? Why the military look? Most of the 40,000 raids conducted are nonviolent drug offenders. Listen to that, 40,000, 80,000, I think in the last year, estimated 40,000 in the last few years, and most of them nonviolent drug offenders. Because of the increased frequency, there are increased mistakes, often with tragic consequences.
We on this program told you the story of the flash bang that went into a house, and there was a baby in the room. The baby suffered severe burns from it. This is going to happen. The more we do these things, the worse it’s going to be for the officer and the citizen. Some officers have been shot because the person being raided in the middle of the night has no idea what’s going on. They think they’re being robbed by a gang. They shoot.
The overuse of the military heavy weaponry is what I have a problem with. As I said, in my small town of 5,000 people, there may not even be 5,000 people in that town, they have an MRAP. Ask why do you have an MRAP? Well, sometimes we have to serve a warrant. Does the mob live here? Do you have biker gangs that live here? Did you have a big shootout with somebody? No, unnecessary.
Peter writes, “We dress so we come home!” I know that. “Believe it or not criminals have stronger weapons than police. Police equip to survive. Take your anti police views to CNN.” Okay, I’ve never had anti-police views, ever. When the subject of a raid is known to have heavy weaponry or suspected to, has a violent history, I am all for taking the SWAT team and go armed to the teeth. The problem is, Peter, the situation you describe is not what is actually happening the majority of the time.
We can talk about feelings. I’d much rather talk about facts. Most of the SWAT raids conducted now are for standard drug warrants involving misdemeanor-level criminals who have no violent history. All officers risk their lives every single day. Every day they suit up and put a badge on, they’re risking their life. I know that.
So, why is it then they don’t wear the military gear all the time? Wouldn’t that give them the best chance to survive? Of course it would. Why don’t we do it? Because we know being policed by a military force rather than a partner in our community is what creates distance between us. Do you think CAIR, International Answer, MoveOn, Color of Change, Code Pink, Open Society, you think it helps to have everybody suited up like a military and MRAPs running through our streets all the time? Do you think that’s helping their case or helping your case? I guarantee it’s helping them say the police are out of control, and they’re going to get you.
You have people in this country who have always respected the flag, always respected the law, have lived their life, their entire life, being the kind of people that always—I’m one of them—always goes up to the policemen, even in New York City, and shakes their hand and say, “Thank you. I know what you’re dealing with. Sometimes I probably don’t, but thank you for doing what you’re doing. I appreciate it, and so does my family.” I always do that.
Even I and people like me all across the country are starting to have doubts. Why? Because the government is arming the military. You have to look at optics as well. Paul writes, “Shame on you Glenn and during National Law Enforcement Memorial Week to boot. Here’s a Novel idea…walk a mile in their shoes. I challenge you sir…go spend some time and some of these crime ridden cities on the streets with the Officers.”
No, thank you. No, thank you. I don’t know what you go through, but I can guess. I’ve driven through many times going to work at a soup kitchen in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I know exactly what a hell hole that is. No, thank you. “I know without a shadow of a doubt you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding and a [sic] abiding respect for our brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement!” I already have that, Paul. I have the deepest respect, and I honor the men and women in law enforcement. I always have. I always give them the benefit of the doubt time and time again.
Have you heard me condemn the police officers in either Missouri at Ferguson or in Baltimore? You haven’t heard it here. You have heard me say get the bad ones out, but let’s let the system work. I know I have talked with countless officers. I very much understand and respect the men and women in blue. Blue lives matter, but that does not mean that I have to agree with the policies that they are being forced to abide by. I actually think those policies are very harmful to the officers you say I don’t respect.
Look, they are arming you to the teeth, and then have you noticed in Ferguson and in Baltimore, they had no-go zones. You’re armed to the teeth so you look provocative, and yet they’re holding you back. Why do you think they’re doing that? Why? They are causing the American people to lose trust in you. Nothing you’re doing is making the American people lose trust in you. This is orchestrated, and we must know what’s going on and what the end of the road is.
If we were just sitting here talking about violence and what we arm people with, you and I could have a very reasonable conversation, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We are talking tomorrow about who this guy is, who this guy is, the guy who put into motion the militarization of our police force. When you see him in the progressive era and what it has led to, what happened in the 1960s and 1970s and now this coordinated effort, with the president saying we need a well-armed police force, a well-armed civilian force, I guarantee you, it will not be the local police.
The president just said I’m taking some of this military equipment away. No, he’s not. No, he is not. What he really did was say I’m not going to sell you tanks. Well, I hope that the police aren’t saying that they need tanks now. We got that. And he said no grenade launchers. I don’t know a cop that says he needs a grenade launcher. So, he is creating the impression he says you’re out of control because remember, the police act stupidly, so he’s creating the impression that you’re out of control, that you have too much stuff, when in reality he’s not taking any of that stuff away.
His people are holding you back while they are calling for the Justice Department to take over local policing. Don’t you see the game that is being played, and the cops are being set up? By God, man, I’m your best friend because no one else will talk about this—strategy.
These policies of increased force and militarization present the police as occupying military, not a partner in the community. That is not the fault of the officer. Let me ask you something, is it a good thing for the police officer to get out and throw a football with a kid on the street? Absolutely. Why? Because it shows the cops to be just like you, part of the community. Hey, you can trust them. When they come rolling in an MRAP to serve a warrant on your neighbor, what the hell is that? That’s not part of the community. That’s an occupying force to many Americans, and unfortunately, our cops will suffer the consequences of these policies.
I invite you to watch the program tomorrow night and see if it changes your mind. It may not. It may not. I know that we have done months of homework on this particular program, months. I don’t expect to be popular with everybody. I know my views are controversial. I accept that. My job is to tell you the truth, whether you like it or not, the way I find it.
The problem is not the police officer. It is the policy of increased militarization. This is new. I don’t have a problem with our police officers. I have a problem with the Department of Homeland Security. And what else? What are they calling for? What is this top that will come down? I believe what our president, this administration, and many in Congress are lining up for is out of line with the vision of our framers, and I’m sorry, the Constitution is not just a cute rule of thumb. The Constitution is the law of the land. If you don’t like it, we should amend it. There are those who just want to overthrow it or dismiss it. I am neither of those two.
Taylor wrote and said, “If they have ak47 and I’m going into a house I at least want a [sic] m4 or something of equal stopping power. We are not fighting gangs with sling shots people.” I got it. I got it. If there’s a raid and we know they have AK-47s or we have reasonable belief that they do, by all means, lock and load, no problem, but you cannot apply that logic to the patrol of regular city streets because if you do, then my argument, just to be consistent, is we don’t know what the bad guys could have.
We’re dealing with ISIS coming across our border. They might have RPGs. We better have armored vehicles and MRAPs for all routine patrols just in case. You cannot go down that road. Jason, “Take the ‘military’ equipment away from the police and when the situation arises when that equipment is needed you’ll have to call out the actual military. Be careful what you wish for.” Don’t think that I haven’t thought that one through. I never said take the equipment away from the police. What I’m arguing is exactly what you say—when the equipment is needed, it should be the only time it’s used, not to serve warrants. This is not the reality now—80,000 SWAT events, 80,000 SWAT events.
When you see what a SWAT team was originally designed to be, it’ll make a lot of sense. It is being unnecessarily used. I invite you to go beyond judge a book by the cover. Don’t judge a program by a trailer. Watch the program for yourself. While I understand seeing the phrase “excessive force” in the headline can be misconstrued as typical anti-cop, Occupy Wall Street nonsense, I do not accept that from my thinking fans.
This is in no way with this program is about. I know many police officers who don’t agree with the overuse of military tactics. I know police officers, I know military men who are gravely concerned about the way we are using our police on the local level. They are concerned for your safety, your lives, and the future of our police departments.
There are times when force is justified, and I have no problem with those in those instances. When the case is borderline, I side with the judgment of the police. But let’s talk facts.