By Paul Pastor, Sheriff, Pierce County
The terrible events in Orlando this past weekend remind us that we are at war: a lethal, slow-motion, episodic, culturally-based conflict sometimes called 4th generation warfare. The origins of this war go back to 14th century Syria and Arabia. But we are not at war with a nation-state or with a religion or with an ethnic group. We are at war with a narrow, fanatical belief system obsessed with its own rectitude and obsessed with violence.
There are no front lines in this type of warfare and no sense of who is a combatant and who is not. Neither our traditional rules for the conduct of war nor our system of jurisprudence have adapted to this situation.
The theater of war is not just Kabul or Mosul or Jerusalem or London or Paris or New York but extends to Boston and San Bernardino and Orlando. In New York, Boston, San Bernardino and, now Orlando, Americans are targeted because the idea of an open, less rigid society is unacceptable to those who oppose who we are and what we are.
We are no longer threatened just by those who travel and train for terrorism. Combatants can now stay home to be inspired, recruited and encouraged to murder on the internet.
As you see in news coverage, law enforcement officers are in the middle of this conflict. We hear criticism of the “militarization” of police departments but that criticism goes quiet when Kevlar helmets and flak vests and armored vehicles save lives as they did this morning in Orlando.
All acts of terrorism take place at the local level. And significant resistance to these acts must involve local communities and local law enforcement.
We need to remember this as we build the future of law enforcement in America. As we examine policies and practices and uphold and strengthen accountability, let’s not forget the degree to which we depend on one another for safety, protection and survival.Print This Post