The lines between local, state and federal law enforcement continue to become increasingly blurred.

In fact, in many ways, the three spheres of law enforcement have essentially morphed into one national police force, an unholy alliance sustained and incentivized by federal dollars, and homogenized through federal training programs.

The “war on drugs” has facilitated this blending of local and federal law enforcement agencies. The feds cannot sustain drug prohibition on their own. They depend on state and local resources and manpower to prosecute their “war.”

The “war on terror” has further facilitated the nationalization of policing, providing a pipeline that supplies billions in funding and equipment to state and local police, incentivizing and ensuring continued cooperation.

The unrest in Ferguson last year and the combat-like police response focused a great deal of attention on the issue of federal police militarization through the 1033 program and Department of Homeland Security grants. But another equally insidious way the feds intertwine themselves with our local cops has received less attention – partnerships and training programs.

A recent New American article focused on the fact that federal agents apparently consider constitutionalists a threat. But the story also reveals the way the feds influence and co-opt local policing.

“On September 29, Defending Utah spoke with David Browning, police chief of the city of Enoch, Utah. Browning told the group that he has personally participated in federal training exercises. He said that the federal agent in charge of the exercise informed local law enforcement participants that ‘the mere carrying of the U.S. Constitution constituted an individual being a potential threat.’”

Of course, the fact that U.S. government agents consider Americans who believe in constitutional principles a threat is disturbing. But we should find the fact that the feds train with local cops equally, if not more troubling.

And it’s not just federal agencies like the DEA and FBI training with your local police officers. State and local cops have also partnered with the military.

“A story published by The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, reported on recent secret joint training missions between U.S. Army Special Forces and the Richland County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Department. The article describes training exercises being conducted by ‘unidentified units’ from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Ft. Bragg is the home of the elite U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and the super-secret, super-deadly Delta Force. A spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department refused to identify who was participating in the exercise or why it was being carried out.”

The sensational nature of the feds considering constitutionalists a threat thrust the story into the limelight, but these state/local/federal partnerships are nothing new.

According to the DEA website they began more than 40 years ago.

“This cooperative effort between the DEA and local law enforcement agencies actually began in 1970, before the establishment of the DEA, with a pilot task force created in New York City by the former BNDD. The first task force was comprised of investigators from major state and local regional agencies, primarily the New York City Police Department and the New York State, along with BNDD personnel. Due to the complexity of drug problems in the region and the varied levels of drug trafficking, the New York City metropolitan area was ideal for federal, state, and local initiatives.”

The DEA admits the federal government incentivizes these partnerships.

“As an inducement to participate, DEA began to pay investigative overtime for the state and local task force officers, as well as investigative expenses such as payments to informants, ‘buy money’ to purchase contraband, undercover vehicles, and surveillance equipment.”

Like many government policies, it started out as small, limited partnerships based on informal agreements. But of course, these partnerships grew in frequency and scope. The DEA ultimately formalized the task force program through the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act.

The agency actually acknowledges it needs these partnerships because it cannot possibly enforce federal laws without state and local manpower.

“The DEA State and Local Task Force Program provides a federal presence in sparsely populated areas where the DEA would not otherwise be represented. Combining federal leverage and the specialists available to the DEA with state and local officers’ investigative talents and detailed knowledge of their jurisdiction leads to highly effective drug law enforcement investigations.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth, we have confirmation of something the Tenth Amendment Center has said for years – the federal government depends on state and local cooperation to enforce its unconstitutional acts, and the federal government uses funding as a carrot to compel such cooperation.

These partnerships don’t have to exist. In fact, your state can prohibit them. The anti-commandeering doctrine offers us a powerful pry-bar that can disentangle state and local police from the federal government. Even the federal courts agree that the federal government cannot force states to enforce federal law or implement federal programs.

These ties between your local cops and the federal government must be severed.

The ramifications of these state-federal partnerships run deeper than the drug war. Because law enforcement agencies crave the funding and military gear the federal government offers them, powerful police lobbyists attack any legislation they think might jeopardize their cozy relationship with the feds. This includes the obvious, like any legislation to protect privacy by placing limits on surveillance, and the less obvious, such as bills that would end state and local enforcement of federal gun laws.

Perhaps it’s time we the people demand that states put an end to these partnerships.

Extricating your local law enforcement from the feds won’t prove easy. It will require significant grassroots pressure to overcome the influence of law enforcement lobbyists. But failing to do so will ensure your local cops will become less and less about protect and serve, and more and more about command and control.

The feds want soldiers to fight in their domestic wars.

It’s time to say, “No!”

Mike Maharrey