Friday, September 6, 2013

So THIS Is Why DHS Got A Hundred Gabillion Rounds...

Several folks sent this one in. It merits a:

(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Gold miners in remote Alaska town want answers after task force storms in
Some miners in Alaska want the feds to start digging for answers.

A task force including members of 10 state and federal law enforcement agencies descended on a gold mine in the tiny town of Chicken (pop. 17) last month, in what locals described as a raid.

“Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say "POLICE" emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms,” gold miner C.R. Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch. “How would you have felt? You would be wondering, ‘My God, what have I done now?”
Yep. Body armor and sidearms so they could investigate Clean Water Act violations. The EPA is claiming that their "law enforcement" agents are required to carry firearms; however there's no reason given why the EPA *HAS* a "law enforcement" division in the first place. If they found a business or residence in violation of the Clean Water Act, one would think the role of the EPA would be to file a report and press charges - and then let the police handle it.

No, in today's day and age - when the Department of Education has short-barreled shotguns - every Federal agency has their own "law enforcement" division that has to have pistols, rifles, shotguns, and machine guns. According to the article, some 10 agents - from 10 agencies - descended on this booming metropolis of 17 people - to look for violations of the Clean Water Act. TEN ARMED AGENTS in a town of 17 people. For the Clean Water Act. What an egregious waste of resources. Why on earth this couldn't have been done by one dude with a clipboard is beyond me.

Well, that's not true. One agent with a clipboard is only one person employed by the State. One paycheck, one health care plan, one drone voting to keep whoever will promise the best raises and perks. One person representing one agency with one budget. Ten people from ten different agencies means an order of magnitude more tax dollars needed - and more voters voting to keep the gravy train rolling.

Plus, hey, you get to wear body armor and carry a Glock and terrorize the subsistence living of people in small towns! SCORE!

That is all.


Anonymous said...

The fact it was in Alaska makes me think the feds were still out gunned. Some bright boy thought enough to bring the statees to act as peace makers.


Armed Texan said...

Let me guess, along with their guns and body armor they also brought fishing poles and got some trout fishing in between raids. I think I see the reason they had to fly in so many bureaucrats.

Geodkyt said...

Um, we have an armed federal law enforcement agency specifically tasked with enforcing the law based on determiniations by other agencies.

Called the US Marshal's Service.

One pencil necked engineering type with a clipboard writes a citation and obtains a court order, and if need be, the federal courts for that area dispatch the Marshals to enforce the court order.

Done. That will work for the overwhelming majority of federal cases, which are regulatory violations, not ongoing violent crime or criminal enterprises.

I'll buy the necessity for agenciues like ATFE, FBI, Secret Service, and DEA to be armed and commissioned LEOs (however much I might disagree with their missions -- they actually investigate some violations where the Bad Guys(tm) are likely to think it's worth shooting back over, and are highly unlikely to respond to a simple summons.

But teh Clean Water Act? Look, unless it's Al Qaida or the Joker poisoning the NYC water supply, I don't see the likelyhood of violent response -- and if they continue to be noncompliant in teh face of a court order, well, that's exactly what the Marshals Service was founded in 1789 to do.

Wally said...

I find it interesting that vests read "POLICE" but for the agencies present, none were actually police.

I might be a little paranoid here, but this whole story has a touch of WTF

Anonymous said...

Both the EPA and US Coast Guard can enforce the Clean Water Act, and both branches DO in fact have armed agents. They also do a number of CRIMINAL investigations along with their routine non-criminal regulatory investigations. They are granted that authority through regulation and statute.

I work for a non-federal environmental agency as a responder/investigator, though I am not "police" nor am I supplied firearms by my employer.

You might equate me as the guy with the clipboard. But believe me when I tell you, investigations of environmental crimes are not always peaceful or pleasant. My life has been threatened (not just verbally) on many occasions.

While I don't do knock-down-door type raids, I am in vulnerable positions (oftentimes ALONE) during my investigations. Because of a few incidents, I now keep myself armed, though I have to conceal as I cannot legally open carry.

For those of you who think dealing with environmental crimes is a cakewalk, I'm here to tell you it ain't.

Cape Cod Ex-pat said...

Up here, Governor Parnell's none too happy about this.

Geodkyt said...

Anon --

And how does that differ from the chances of a city building inspector or zoning commission inspector dealing with someone who is irate over what they are being told they cannot (or must) do to their property?

Don't think the county Zoning Commission needs a raid team, either.

Hell, sometimes librarians need LEO backup to deal with a particularly bad "customer". Doesn't mean the public library needs a Goon Squad.

All sorts of private citizens and employees of privately owned businesses have to deal with irate (and potentially violent) people during some aspect of their job. And THEY do not establish an in-house door kicking team; if they need LEOs, they call the local LEA to send backup to be on site when they go their thing.

You need an actual cop, call the cops.

(And, BTW, I used to work for an environmental organization that was ALSO the local marine mammal stranding team. Yes, we sometimes had to deal with very angry people, and occaisionally had to call cops for backup.)

Geodkyt said...

Best yet, Anon 2:03 --

"The agents, armed and wearing body armor, claimed they were looking for violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. No arrests were made and no citations were issued."

This was an investigation, not even the serving of a summon, executing a search warrant based on probable cause, or anything similar.

A routine (supposedly) site inspection.

Geodkyt said...

For those of you who aren;t aware, the specific section of teh Clean Water Act they were investigating, concerns discharging water into navigatable waterways.

In other words, they were making sure the miners did not dump excessively silty water (drawn from the river in the first place) from their gold washing operation back into the river.

This is a routine "business operation" inspection we are talking about, on teh same lines as the OSHA guy coming around your construction site to make sure everyone is wearing bonedomes and the cranes have their inspections up to date.

Anonymous said...

Geodkyt, it's not a lot different, except for one thing. These agencies (and mine) actually are responsible for invesigating CRIMINAL (in addition to non-criminal) violations - which your local building inspector or zoning commissioner isn't really doing.

Criminal investigations are vastly different than things that a building commissioner is likely to deal with. In addition, the penalties for such violations are much more serious, sometimes leading the accused/suspects to be quite agressive, non-compliant, etc.

I've been accosted numerous times, one a-hole tried to toss me off a fishing boat, I've been followed home, etc. I'm not taking any chances when it comes to protecting my life. Sadly, my agency isn't protecting me.

That all being said, I'm not condoning the use of a SWAT type response for a siltation issue. It's just not the right response for such a violation. I'm just pointing out that some folks' views of environmental crimes and criminals isn't as rosy as it might seem.

Matthew said...

Still have little sympathy. I can see armed for self-defense, but that isn't 10 guys in raid gear, that's one guy with a clipboard and a pistol under his jacket.

If you have the legal authority to inspect, and someone unlawfully refuses you access, you explain that's a violation and that you'll be back with a warrant. -Then- you go away and come back with more guys and guns.

You don't -start- with the SWAT team.

Officer safety does -not- justify overly aggressive tactics up front.

If the people being cops don't like that, they should quit and find a job I'm not paying them for (on -my- terms, not theirs) which they can live with.

Geodkyt said...

Yes, but they weren't investigating a serious crime -- they were investigating whether or not the gold miners sent muddy water back into the river in excess of their permits.

They were not serving a warrant, going in to arrest anyone, etc.

They were going in with a citation book, which they didn't even find a call to use.

As "crimes" go, that's below having a crane with an out of date inspection.

There's no realistic way to justify it.

If they were investigating a real crime (i.e., one where a suspect might actually pose a threat), such as investigating an alleged illegal strip mining operation where they have a criminal complaint or a warrant based on probable cause, they could call for some cops to accompany them when they went in to investigate.

What, exactly, in the way of routine compliance inspections under the Clean Water Act and other environmental statutes, has such a high risk of armed confrontation that justifies even having an armed raid team -- especially one where they sent in almost as many agents as there are people in the area?

Yeah, if you're going after a drug cartel on a meth lab bust, using the Clean Water Act as your pretext for the warrant (such as the pretext they used when they got Capone on tax evasion), you bring a raid team. I'm sure the DEA (or USSS, ATFE, FBI, county or state cops, or whoever normally handles the underlying criminal activity you're really worried about) would be happy to loan you a full up raid team as an example of "interdepartmental cooperation" {wink, wink}.

Anonymous said...

Geodkyt, I don't know if you're directing that at me, but I think I already said that their actions do not appear to justified when you look at the apparent violation. As in, I DO NOT agree with their justification.

Again, my main reason for writing is because I think some statements on here seem to be criticizing the NEED for a federal environmental agency to have police powers (which they ARE actually granted), and also that somehow environmental crimes are not dangerous things to have to deal with. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous of 5:15pm:

You take the King's shilling and do the King's bidding. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. I am still having trouble mustering up much sympathy for those who willingly serve the Almighty State. DEA, EPA, OSHA, NEA, EEOC, BATF, TSA, DOE, it's all a distinction without a difference to me. If your intrusions into the lives of the taxpayers are so onerous that you have to carry a piece in order to keep the peasants from hanging you from the nearest lamppost, perhaps you should reconsider your choice of careers.

You sound like those whiny cunts from DNR, the Fish Police. "I couldn't believe that redneck would pull a gun on me over a fish!" Well, you pulled a gun on HIM over a fish. You chose to work for an agency that exists to stick guns in the peasants' face over a fish, you chose a line of work where you'd pull guns on people over a fish for a living, then you sought out the confrontation and escalated it. Don't insult us by acting surprised when not everyone shares your enthusiasm for putting the kulaks in their place.

Oh, and please don't start in about your au-thaw-ri-teh. I didn't vote for you, I didn't vote for the people who hired you, I didn't vote for the people who created the agency that employs you, and I don't think that either it or the laws it was created to enforce ought to exist in the first place.

Geodkyt said...

Anon 5:15 --

The reason things like this happen is the same reason that we have SWAT teams going out of control.

If the raid force is "in-house", well, not only is it easy to call them in for piddly crap they aren't appropriate for (because you don't have to justify the use to another agency to provide them), but hey, you've got to keep justifying their existance in your budgets, and being able to say, "But our Super Ninja SWAT Raid Team conducted over 100 operations last year, Congressman!" goes a long way towards that.

I disapprove of so many federal bureaucrats being made sworn, gun wearing LEOs, not because I hate cops, nor because I think that, say, the Department of Education would never have a case where a suspect in one of their fraud investigations might be violent -- but because the last 40 years have established that agencies in general (not just federal, not just state, not just local) cannot be trusted to use this tool appropriately. Sorry, it's human nature.

When all of your agents are hammers, all of your problems look like nails.

You'll note that this is basically the same argument the Founding Fathers had against "standing armies" in peacetime -- which were generally used as national law enforcement troops during peacetime, and it is also the argument given against arming federal agents (other than the Marshall's Service and the Secret Service) in the first place. (Go study the early history of the FBI and revenue agents.)