Use of Alabama Troops After Murder Spree a Federal crime?

March 19, 2009

(Chattahbox) — On March 10th, the peaceful town of Samson, Alabama was thrust onto the world stage in an event no community should ever endure; 27-year old Michael McLendon shot his own family, plus five residents of Samson and four more in the neighboring town of Geneva, before finally taking his life. As a response to this murderous rampage, troops from the nearby Army aviation base of Ft. Rucker were deployed in the town. And this has caused even further upset, according to reports from CSN News.

A total of twenty-two Military Police and one Marshal were ordered to enter the town on that fateful day to help local Police take control of the scene. Military personnel familiar with the case believe the intent was for the troops to assist with traffic control and securing the locations of McLendon’s murderous crimes. Such use of the Military, however, may be in violation of Federal Law, and the U.S. Army has launched a full-scale Commander’s Inquiry to determine the motives for such unprecedented deployment.

Policing a town of just 2,071 people isn’t exactly a strenuous task and Samson only has five police officers working full-time. So when the killings began, frantic calls went out for assistance and Officers from every neighboring police department were soon at the scene. But who exactly called in the troops is causing a lot of concern. The local Police Department are reported to have been more than grateful for such well-trained assistance. Those in charge of the troops, however, are not so easily calmed.

Under Federal law, troops should only be deployed on the streets by Alabama’s Governor, Bob Riley, or by a direct order from the President. Neither of these men gave the order that day. Without their directive, such use of troops is in direct violation of numerous federal laws, some dating as far back as 1878. In 2007, for example, Congress updated Title 18, Section 375 of the U.S. Code, which now expressly forbids Army personnel from participating in the kinds of duties they were required to perform.

Congress has repeatedly made it quite unerringly clear that the use of U.S. troops for civilian policing is wholly and expressly forbidden. Prison time and severe fiscal penalties await those identified as the cause of such duties, and the Department of Justice will be required to initiate a full-scale federal prosecution once the party responsible is brought to their notice.

The inquiry continues, and we will update as new details emerge.


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