The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson

Police State America

The intensive militarization of America’s police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on “the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement,” the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined “police militarization” as “the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.”

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.

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1 thought on “The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson”

  1. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I suggest Congressional Hearings might be in order. But that means naming names of individuals that have exceeded their authority. It means criminal charges against said police forces. Those charges could easily be felonies.
    What has to happen first is everyone simply get off the streets so that they do not provide a target.
    Second, charges have to be brought in a court of law. Back it up with videos of what is going on.
    Internal Affairs have to be notified that said charges are in the works.
    The trouble with a military type force against a public that is angry is that it will backfire politically.

    In the case of a black minority community, it is likely to backfire into military action against the police if they continue in this manner to subdue the public. If this was done in an all white upper middle class neighborhood, you better believe those police should fear for their lives. There is more than one rifle in said communities and they will take action. The problem is that in the past the black population has allowed these police to walk all over them. I think that day is past.

    That means a lot of people are going to get hurt regardless of who wins.
    One man in authority can do harm to 100 men. But in the long run, those 100 men can do a lot more harm to that one man. IF you do not like how it is being handled there are options.
    If I were a merchant in this area, those rioters and thieves would be in a sorry position. I would simply bring theft charges against the lot of them backed up with night cameras showing them being thieves. That means jail time. Rioting does have legal penalties in our system of justice.
    The obvious answer is Ferguson will lose all of its merchant business and have to go 15 or 20 miles just to get groceries. This is not discrimination. It is simply good business to leave a place where people think they can steal with impunity.
    The long term result is no one will do business with them.
    Rioters are never in the right no matter what injustice has been done.
    Going against the news media is the biggest mistake of these police’s lives. That will get them put in jail somewhere down the road. That is where those congressional hearings are likely to start.

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