Military and Police

Yes, FBI Agents Were Armed During Roger Stone Raid — Conservative Commentators Should Stop Making That Such a Big Deal

Warning! Pet-peeve alert: You’d think conservative political commentators would know better, but they can’t seem to get over the fact that cops are armed. Where are we, in Great Britain? American cops are almost always armed no matter what they’re doing. If their rifles are deployed it’s usually due to the nature of the weapon, as they are difficult to conceal. And they draw their side-arms when instinct, training, and protocols dictate, not when pundits and media types think they should—or shouldn’t.

Man, if I hear one more conservative pundit exclaim about the “armed” or even “heavily armed” FBI agents serving a warrant on President Trump’s former political advisor, 66-year-old Roger Stone, I’ll… Well, I’m not sure what I’ll do, but you’ll probably want to avoid the unpleasantness of whatever it is.

Yes, the FBI agents were armed, as they must be. It doesn’t matter that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller gave a corrupt order, that everyone knew was corrupt—hell, even my grandmother probably knew ordering such a raid was corrupt, and she died eight years ago, at 94 years old, God rest her soul, and she suffered from dementia!

So, yes, it seems Mueller planned a corrupt (though probably not illegal) operation and wasted the time of highly trained FBI agents by exploiting them, ordering them to conduct an early-morning raid to serve an arrest warrant in a manner that looks like it was for political purposes.

Of course, Mueller, my deceased grandmother, and everyone else on the planet knew that to accomplish Mueller’s goal he only had to notify Stone’s attorney to have his client turn himself in, as he’d done in the past. And from CNN’s mystical presence, as the only media on scene, one has to wonder if someone informed CNN about the bust rather than Stone’s attorneys. Bah, that’s probably just my cynical cop mind getting away from me.

Anyway, corruption aside, here’s the point: When conducting law enforcement duties, officers, deputies, agents, etc. abide by their agencies’ policies, procedures, protocols, and tactics. With few exceptions, officers try to follow consistent practices that have proven to be the most effective and safest to conduct a specific task or operation.

Though they will be apprised of special circumstances, age, gender, disabilities, violent proclivities, weapons, pets, etc., if they are known, agents don’t have the luxury to significantly modify their fundamental operational procedures for every warrant service. Proverbially, they may hope for the best, but they must be prepared for the worst.

When law enforcement at any level conducts a task, whether responding to a bar fight, bank robbery, or conducting a “raid,” such as serving an arrest warrant at Roger Stone’s house in the wee hours, they try to follow their protocols, what are often called “best practices,” for every event—every time. When you do things the same way every time, in each situation, with every person, people are less likely to make mistakes and people are less likely to get hurt—cops, bystanders, and suspects.

To show you how silly the emphasis on “cops being armed” sounds to law enforcement, here’s a headline that could have come from my career: “Police officer, heavily armed with semi-automatic, .40 Cal. Glock 22 firearm, OC pepper spray, and Monadnock PR-24 nightstick issues blocking fire hydrant parking ticket to unarmed, middle-aged woman.”

Can you imagine dispatching a well-trained, well-armed police officer (again, armed) to such a “low-risk” incident? Should I have dumped my gun belt at the precinct before responding?

With few exceptions, American cops are always armed while on duty (and often while off, too). Why? Because cops never know what will happen or when. Look at Natalie Corona, the young Davis, California police officer who was recently shot and killed in the line of duty. She had responded to a traffic collision. A man not involved in the crash just came up and shot and killed her. A state trooper in Washington State was similarly shot a few years back while waiting for a tow truck for a crashed car. It happens.

Because so many conservative pundits emphasize that the cops are “armed” when talking about cops arresting people whom they believe are “low risk,” I won’t specify individuals. It wouldn’t be fair to call out a couple or a few when it seems almost every single person I read, watch, or listen to does it. Just think of any conservative opinion writer or podcast, TV, or radio host and listen to them describe the “early morning raid” by “armed” FBI agents on former Trump campaign official Roger Stone.

I will highlight attorney Sol Weisenberg, who I heard speak on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show against the mischaracterization of the FBI agents as nearly Gestapo-like, according to many pundits’ descriptions. Dan Bongino has also been great on this pet peeve of mine, but, then again, he was a cop and federal agent, so he knows. Nevertheless, I appreciate it. The hosts they’re talking to should pay attention to these guests.

So, while many conservative commentators went out of their way to say individual FBI agents were not at fault for the excessive response, they still described the agents’ firearms as if that, in itself, were a problem. As if the individual agents had a choice to be armed. Hell, even Mueller had no choice. Once he gave the corrupt order for the FBI to serve the warrant, the agents gear-up just as they would for any other similar operation.

Now, I can guarantee many of those FBI agents also wondered why they were sending such a large contingent to this particular warrant service. To be fair, depending on the size and construction of the house, sometimes numbers are just a matter of the manpower needed to cover escape routes, to search the premises, and to collect evidence. Still, knowing there were probably just Stone and his wife (who reportedly happens to be deaf) at home, the number of agents still seems odd.

Just to give you an idea of the contrast with other operations of this type: before I retired, the last warrant service I was on happened to be with members of a combined federal/local task force. They were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect wanted for federal child pornography offenses. Our “raid” consisted of one U.S. Marshal, one county deputy-detective, and two city police officers. And, unlike Roger Stone, this suspect obviously had a criminal history and was very likely to attempt to escape or resist arrest.

Anyway, when those FBI agents were assigned to execute the arrest warrant on Stone, regardless of how many agents were detailed to the operation by Mueller, they prepare and execute as close to the same way every time because that’s what’s most effective and safest.

Even Stone said the individual agents, following the initial arrest, were “extraordinarily courteous.” Again, having known and worked with FBI agents over my career, I can guarantee you many weren’t happy while watching the news coverage that Mueller used them to exact a political objective.

Now, of course, one has to wonder if Mueller was taking advantage of the soon-to-be-filled void in leadership at the very top of the DOJ. Perhaps this was one more opportunity to make another, perhaps final, attempt to shake something loose that might appear to validate the Russia-hoax/coup attempt he and his co-resisters appear to have been engaged in since before the president’s election. But I think this observation might have me swerving out of my lane and into straight politics.

So, back on course with cop stuff. What that man has done and is doing to the reputation of the FBI, America’s premier, world-renowned law enforcement agency, especially with this recent act, is catastrophic. I mean, former FBI head James Comey needed no help damaging the FBI’s reputation. He did a spectacular job of tarnishing such a great agency all by himself. Now, Mueller has sealed his own legacy, too.

Especially when you consider Mueller took this disproportionate action with Stone when he’s so obviously avoided—resisted—investigating so many others such as several reassigned, demoted, or fired FBI/DOJ “luminaries” as well as Hillary Clinton and her extensive posse of sycophants.

Ironically, as opposed to zero evidence of Russia collusion or anything other than a process crime alleged against Stone, the FBI has tons of evidence those upper-echelon FBI officials and Clinton and her collaborators committed a multitude of wrongdoing. This includes the only charge Mueller has against Roger Stone: lying to Congress and/or the FBI.

So, we’re all pissed off about Mueller’s actions: conservative pundits, conservative audiences, civil libertarians (or they should be), me, and probably my dearly departed grandmother. But, in conclusion, to the conservative talking class: please, be pissed about Mueller’s overreaction, it deserves your animosity. But also understand cops carry guns. It’s what we do no matter what we’re doing. Stop making cops look bad to average Americans who don’t know police procedures. Talk like that may make them think cops have a choice as to when to be armed or whether or not to follow established policies when conducting specific tasks.

Cops carry guns, and sometimes we even have to draw them from our holsters because, as the tragic death of Officer Corona reminds us all, cops never know when, where, or how tragedy might strike.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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