Long gone are the days of Adam 12, Dragnet, and Andy Griffith, where the local police were dressed and armed to “Protect”, yet still be non-threatening to the average citizen who relies on them to “Serve”.
Our largest cities have militarized our police to a point that we cannot tell the difference between them and our military.
The Boston Marathon Bombing showed us just exactly how far the militarization of our police has come.
Craig Atkinson asks in a piece at the New Yorker:
“The police in Boston and its suburbs sent armored cars into the streets and deployed officers dressed like Storm Troopers, who carried assault rifles and fanned out across neighborhoods as though they were in an infantry division in Afghanistan. Atkinson [a New York filmmaker] asked himself, when did local police forces, in their equipment and tactics, come to resemble armies of occupation?”
Atkinson has come up with a solution. Hecreated a documentary film “Do Not Resist,”
The film follows the transformation of police departments into forces that look more like the Army and Marines.
We learned a valuable lesson after the last days of colonialism. After the Revolutionary War, America’s revolutionaries kept soldiers in the streets and it brought about bring conflict.
As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement.
Many states are also aware of the problem!
On January 28th, 2015, Montana Representative Nicolas Schwaderer(R), introduced and passed HB330. The bill placed limits on the types of military equipment a local or state police department can purchase. It also audits the current inventory as well as requires oversight of military grade equipment.
Tennessee has also passed a similar law.
We haven’t seen a lockdown and occupation of any American city on the scale of what happened in Boston after the marathon since the Watts riots in the 60’s.
Where are we headed? Is the National Guard and it’s purpose becoming more and more irrelevant as local law enforcement becomes the new Gestapo?
The Federal Government is largely responsible for the current militarized police that we have today.
Beginning in the 80’s with the failed “War on Drugs” and going into over-drive after 9/11, the Feds have been arming, funding and training local police forces for over three decades.
In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security gave close to 1 Billion dollars in counter-terrorism funds to state and local police to purchase tactical vehicles, drones, and tanks showing almost no benefit to public safety.
We definitely live in more dangerous times and we surely want to be protected when the occasional situation arises, but on a day-to-day basis, do we really want our local law enforcement to continue to become an aggressive paramilitary force?
Common Sense dictates that the money would be better used at the National Guard level for the occasional time that a larger presence of enforcement is needed, than to be wasted on a day-to-day basis in the local municipalities that most likely will never have a real need for it.