BOSTON, Ma. – At least twenty-six people were hospitalized last month following a brawl between Boston police and Massachusetts State Troopers outside of a Whole Foods in downtown Boston. Witnesses say at least two officers with the Boston Police Department accosted a State Trooper as he exited the Whole Foods on Cambridge Street. One officer allegedly told the trooper, “Go back to f****** Framingham, you c***,” before ripping the trooper’s groceries from his hands and hurling them into the street.
Shoppers and Whole Foods employees watched in horror as the two officers began beating and kicking the trooper, all the while screaming obscenities at him, until he collapsed on the pavement. Miraculously, the trooper was able to call for backup before losing consciousness. Massachusetts State Troopers attempted to defuse the situation but were overwhelmed when a Boston Police Special Operations Unit arrived on scene and began firing rubber bullets and tear gas in the direction of the troopers. In all, seven troopers and nineteen bystanders were treated by paramedics for non-life threatening injuries.
“Over the last decade we’ve witnessed the rise of a disturbing and often unreported trend in the law enforcement community,” said Dr. Carl Gapinski, a former LAPD detective and criminologist. “These encounters are happening all over the country but are most prevalent in departments that have received military-grade weapons and hardware from the Pentagon.” Dr. Gapinski said a variety of factors contribute to the surge in police violence but available data suggests jurisdiction disputes or “turf wars” are the primary cause.
Just outside the nation’s capital, in April of this year, two Fairfax County police officers shot and killed an Arlington County police detective after he initiated a traffic stop less than a quarter of a mile outside of his jurisdiction. Following light media attention, both officers were immediately placed on paid leave, however no charges were filed and one officer was later promoted.
In another incident, this time in Florida, a Coral Gables SWAT team carried out what authorities later described as a late-night “no-knock drug raid” on a rival police department four days after losing a state-funded softball tournament. During the raid, Coral Gables police utilized a Mine-Resistant Armored Personnel vehicle (MRAP) to breach the rival department’s main entrance before firing tear gas and stun grenades into the building using Department of Defense-issued shoulder-fired grenade launchers.
“This militarized mindset coupled with high testosterone levels creates a dangerous environment that, as we’ve seen time and time again, can easily escalate beyond the walls of the department,” said former FBI Special Agent Ricardo Gutierrez. According to the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Report, nearly 1 in 10 American police officers engaged in some form of aggressive action against officers from another department that year. As more and more police departments across the United States begin to embrace a militarized version of law enforcement, Gutierrez said, “those numbers will continue to grow.”