Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen has stirred up a hornet’s nest with his ‘Operation Exodus”, which, according to his press release “will provide for self-sufficiency in the event of a manmade or natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Exodus will take local volunteers, train them and use them in response to a catastrophic disaster in the area. These volunteers will work in conjunction with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office to secure and protect viable resources in such an event.”
So far so good. The sheriff has provided very good emergency services when needed, as in the tornadoes last fall. Sheriff’s patrols were out immediately protecting vulnerable areas and offer assistance to the areas affected.
I think he would have been better served to leave the project to ‘emergency preparedness’ and ignore the preceived ‘Islamic Terrorist’ threat which at best is very tenuous, and which seems to some people just a tad paranoid.
I also think using the Biblical connection with ‘Operation Exodus’ could have been a mistake. A spokesman explained that Exodus had nothing to do with the Biblical connotation, but referred to the Sheriff’s office ‘moving outside’ it’s normal boundaries. Unfortunately, when people see Operation Exodus and Islamic Terrorists in the same paragraph they sort of jump to conclusions. Here is a video put out by the sheriff dealing with the program. Doyle Dempsey, chief deputy for support services, says in the video that if the project is successful "we will be ahead of the curve when it comes to fighting Islamic extremists."
The volunteers will be equipped with shotguns, riot shields and batons, according to reports. A .50-caliber machine gun will be mounted on what the sheriff's office calls "the war wagon."
The War Wagon is a .50 caliber machine gun that will be mounted on some sort of rolling conveyance. That makes it sound like they are preparing more for an invasion than a random terrorist act.
The War Wagon troubles me.
Now I know a number of Bossier Parish deputies, and they are a well-trained, professional bunch. Operation Exodus brings everyday citizens into the equation, and although I like my fellow Bossierites, I don’t think I want them wielding a War Wagon down my street. I think I would trust the ‘regulars’ for security.
The program has attracted a lot of national interest, little of it good.
Talking Points Memo interviewed Ed Baswell and this is an excerpt of what they printed.
The office of the Louisiana sheriff who's forming a citizen militia to defend the parish in the event of a terrorist attack says it has information about possible Islamic terrorist activity in its midst.
"We understand, based on some intelligence that we've collected over the last year, year and a half, that there have been cells and people operating even within our parish that have been trained as terrorists or went overseas to be trained as terrorists," Ed Baswell, a spokesman for the Bossier Parrish Sheriff's Office, told TPMmuckraker this morning.
So this is not something that's far, far away," Baswell added. "This is something that is a possibility here in Bossier Parish."
Baswell said that his office believed that the suspected terrorists had been operating in Bossier Parish at one time but have since left. "We have had indications that there have been some that have come and gone from the parish," he said.
"Islamic terrorists have been in and out," he said. "And we've had intelligence information that confirmed that for us."
Baswell added that the sheriff's office had worked with the Feds on the threat. "A lot of our intelligence information has come in conjunction with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies," he said. The FBI's Louisiana field office told TPMmuckraker they would look into the claim.
Baswell said it wasn't entirely clear what the suspected terrorists were up to. "We didn't get the impression they were plotting an attack," he said. "We got the impression they were in training or headed for training overseas." He stressed: "We don't believe in any way shape or form that there is any sort of imminent threat."
Baswell described the intelligence as "just tidbits of information we've gotten over time."
KTBS did a story on it.
Did Chrissie Coile just say that the program ‘comes at no cost to taxpayers’? I would like to hear the justification for that statement. Is it being funded by private donations? Are those donations paying for the use of the training center, the salaries of the officers doing the training? If it is a training operation under the auspices of the Sheriff, then of course it is paid with taxpayer money. I would find it very troubling indeed if something like this was privately funded.
All of the negative aspects to this could have been avoided with a little common sense. The name of the program (if you must name it), could have been 'Operation Preparedness' or something of the kind. The purpose of the program could have been limited to preparing for natural or manmade disasters, not Islamic Terrorism. Had those simple steps have been followed, then this wouldn't even be a story.
Here are just a few of many links available on the story.
The Mike Malloy Show
The Zombie Squad