Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Science of Kicking Ass: Militarized Police Training for Teens

Jack boots and body armor for the pimple set (all the people in these pictures are teenagers). I had to pick myself off the floor after reading this article, on Explorer Scouts (a branch of the Boy Scouts) who can now experience zero-tolerance law enforcement training between the ages of 14-21.

Their targets? Simulated terrorists, illegal immigrants, drug runners and other criminal populations.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.
It's a long way from tying knots and throwing hatchets, isn't it? I love that line: "not intended to be applied outside the simulated setting." Look at how the kids respond to this kind of hyper-aggressive, militarized training.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

One participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked “the discipline of the program,” which was something he said his life was lacking. “I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are committed,” he said.

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”
I'll bet. Check out the qualification and parental support.

The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average, but there seems to be some wiggle room. “I will take them at 13 and a half,” Deputy Lowenthal said. “I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid.”

Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids. In their training, the would-be law-enforcement officers do not mess around, as revealed at a recent competition on the state fairgrounds here, where a Ferris wheel sat next to the police cars set up for a felony investigation.

Their hearts pounding, Explorers moved down alleys where there were hidden paper targets of people pointing guns, and made split-second decisions about when to shoot. In rescuing hostages from a bus taken over by terrorists, a baby-faced young girl screamed, “Separate your feet!” as she moved to handcuff her suspect.
Of course, this is the logical extension of 40 years of militarizing America's law enforcement, if you think about it. What a better way to start formulating the zero-tolerance mindset in adolescence and prepare tomorrow's "goon squads" while they're still popping zits.

Make sure you check out the photo gallery, which I pulled some of these pictures from. The Scouts should be ashamed of themselves.

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