Social media has escalated the tin-foil hat revolution. Baseless, fact-lacking garbage is multiplied a million-fold with the click of a mouse. When reading the latest drivel, every person has to wonder what truth lies behind the sensationalism. For once I’ve had a front row seat to the malicious nature of shock journalism.Fifteen years of my law enforcement career were spent on the Midland County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team. My last five years on the team were spent as commander before I transferred to the District Attorney’s Office. I’ve worked in or with many government entities in police and military capacity at state, local and federal levels. My experience is that most government failure is the result of incompetence, complacency or indifference; all of which make a successful far-reaching conspiracy almost impossible.
Around 1998 our team received two M113 Armored Personnel Carriers from the military’s 1033 program. The current conspiracy theory is that these vehicles are to be used against civilians in a massive sweep to move the population into death camps. I never received any orders to take people to death camps, but we did deploy the vehicles in several high-risk situations. My team and its command consisted of very strong, proud patriots so I didn’t have much concern about their part in a world-domination plot. By providing smaller agencies with gear like the M113, the government has reduced the dependence of local police upon state or federal tactical assistance; which is the exact opposite of the alleged conspiracy. Further discredit of the 1033 foil hat theory is fodder for another blog post.
In 2007 our M113, nicknamed “Bubba,” was used to capture Pedro Armendariz in Hobbs, New Mexico. We were called to assist the New Mexico State Police because Pedro was firing on officers with an SKS rifle from inside his home and we had the closest armored vehicle. I drove the vehicle during the incident and managed to run over Pedro’s junk car while maneuvering the 12 ton APC into a position to deploy gas into the house while Pedro bounced rounds off the APC's hull. I still haven’t heard the end of the ribbing.The conspiracy spin begins with a smartass in the office next to me. Said smartass had access to a sign printer. It’s important to note that the road signs you pass every day on the street are blank when purchased. Since there are a few basic shapes and colors, it’s cheaper to purchase them blank and print adhesive vinyl lettering and pictures as needed. Our jokester decided it would be funny to stick a small adhesive car near the driver’s hatch to commemorate the fate of Pedro’s car. He didn’t stop there. He also wanted to mark successful arrests made during the vehicle’s deployments that year: Pedro Armendariz and Larry White. Larry killed three Odessa Police Officers earlier that same year. In the database of sign graphics, the best match for an arrested person was the stick figure used for pedestrian crossings. So “Bubba” was adorned with a small adhesive car and two stick figures.
In April of 2008 my team was called to assist the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers in the search of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints compound near El Dorado, Texas. I was told that the cultists promised a fight to keep us out of their temple despite a lawful search warrant, but fortunately they didn’t deliver. The older men ran away and left behind crying, terrified, unarmed young teen boys to defend their gates. We were all fortunate that the incident wasn’t a bloodbath. About eighteen men were convicted of sex crimes after the incident. During the media blast, photos of our armored vehicle made it all the way to the national media scene, including The Oprah Winfrey Show. That’s when my phone started ringing.First, it was one of my superiors. He was getting calls about the “kill marks” on our vehicle. I told him the story about how the marks came to be. He wasn’t thrilled, and I was definitely having “good idea at the time” thoughts. I told him the stickers would come off, and if he’d forward the calls to me I’d glady tell the story. I was forwarded a few calls, and most identified themselves as media. One tried to pass himself off as a college student but I didn’t believe him. I told him that I wasn’t going to lie, so I would appreciate the same courtesy. I told him the truth.
The calls tapered away, but I got called to the carpet one last time. Our department had received a Freedom of Information Act request for maintenance records of our armored vehicle, and the request was specific to the incidents involving the people we killed with it. I explained that there were no records because all we had done was change the oil, a job that was performed by the team members. We had no records to show that we’d killed anyone because there were no kills. That’s classic Roswellian fiction. Demand something that doesn’t exist then cry “conspiracy” when it isn’t produced.What followed was an article on Alex Jones’ Infowars written by Paul Joseph Watson. The full article is linked below. First, the title of the article is “Militarized Police Celebrate Killing Americans.” The article states that Gary Roberts, “former US Army tank driver” said that the marks mean we had killed two people with what the article called an “APC SWAT tank.” Watson goes on to claim that the only threat in the “polygamist retreat” was women and children. The rest of the lies are shown here: http://www.infowars.com/militarized-police-celebrate-killing-americans/.
First and foremost, MCSO’s vehicle isn’t a tank. Tanks are larger and have fixed guns. An armored personnel carrier holds people. The only armament on board is the small arms carried by officers. My experience with the FLDS has proven it to be nothing more than a cult centered on the sexual abuse of young children. However, Watson chose to downplay the reality of the compound being a pedophile cult. He dedicated the article to his disgust of how my team celebrated the murder of two innocent people; a story he fabricated. My Spidey senses tell me that Watson was one of the people I spoke to on the phone. Since the truth wasn’t sensational, he found it best to quote someone with absolutely no useful knowledge of the matter at hand. Never let the truth interfere with a good story.I ignore most anti-police stories, but this one insulted a team I’m very proud of. The men in that vehicle volunteered for that duty. Like the sheriff who commands them, they are patriotic people who swore an oath to defend the constitution. It is my hope that this story will sow seeds of doubt in the satirical media garbage that is carelessly spread these days. Watson’s article is pure hatred and self-serving commercialism. Alex Jones and those like him are a hindrance to defending ourselves against real constitutional threats.