Saturday, August 18, 2012

Do police need military hardware?

Originally posted 07/06/2011 on I've included the comments on this one. Good information. asked an interesting question yesterday. "Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of of the US Police Force." I know about the 'war on drugs' and the 'war on terror' but are SWAT teams and armored personel carriers really necessary?

U.S. law prohibits the use of the military to enforce U.S. law. That is what civilian police are for. The purpose of the military is to protect us from invasion and kill the enemy. The mission of the civilian police is supposed to be to enforce the law and protect the citizens. "To protect and to serve" was the slogan on the police cars in Adam-12, the late 60's TV police drama. What happens when you give military hardware to police and train them in military tactics, tactics designed to kill the enemy?

For one thing, you see SWAT teams being used to serve search warrants, whether they are needed or not. You see military style raids used to quickly resolve standoffs. A little over a month ago a little girl in Detroit was shot and killed when the SWAT team raided the home she was in. The only shot fired (under disputed circumstances) was fired by a SWAT officer and hit her in the neck. A stun grenade thrown in the window allegedly singed her blankets (or her, depending on who's telling). Almost 10 years ago in Lubbock Sgt. Kevin Cox was fatally shot by friendly fire in standoff that might have been better handled by waiting out the man inside the house than by military style operations - though the situation did fit department guidelines for calling the SWAT team. Just last week in Lubbock the SWAT team was used to serve at least one search warrant. The performed admirably, but were they necessary?

For the past 50 years, give or take, US law prohibiting use of the military to enforce US law has been increasingly subverted by militarizing our civilian police forces. There are good reason the police should not be militarized, but all of them are for the good of the citizens. The only ones who actually benefit from having a militarized police force is the government. When the military and the police are one we have a police state, and we are moving in that direction, slowly but surely.