Police militarization

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

I don’t really have any sort of opinion regarding who did what in Ferguson (unlike, say, my opinions on Trayvon Martin), largely because a) I am firmly convinced that both sides are in the wrong and b) I am not really following it very closely. However, the response to the community upset (note that I firmly believe that thugs have been attracted to the attention and that much of the violence isn’t initiated by the local citizens) by the ‘militarized’ police is more of an issue to me. When I read the above article it aligned very nicely with what was percolating in my noggin so thought I would share it with my reader(s) in lieu of my own babbling.

I recall when in the National Guard that we trained for riot control. I always felt silly doing the training (we had to stand shoulder to shoulder and bang our night sticks against our shields and shout something scary in unison as we advanced in lock-step) but my understanding was we were never likely to need to use that training unless there was a serious disaster and social breakdown had happened. However there is an interesting timing issue: much like the shootings at Kent State, did the riot start because riot police showed up or was there going to be a riot either way? I lean toward the former and except for the idiots that joined the Ferguson protests just because they wanted to riot and loot, I expect the locals didn’t have anything but peaceful protest in mind when they started out. I have read several reports (not on this latest thing in Ferguson specifically) where concerned citizens tried to approach the police to point out problems only to get beaten and thrown in jail for their trouble. When, as appears to be largely the case in the US now, the police start to think that _every_ citizen is a criminal out to get them these over reactions are inevitable.

I am reminded of a few articles I have read over the last decade or so regarding the transition from beat cops to cops in cars. Back when the local police patrolled on foot, they had intimate knowledge of the neighborhood and further, were friendly with many of the citizens. As a consequence (or so I have read), when there were issues the police were often informally informed of the nascent problems by these concerned citizens and are able to head things off before they get out of control. Further, when things have got to a bad point, the police have personal relationships with local citizens so won’t bang them on the head and arrest them when they try to tell them about specific problems.

More signs of the apocalypse…

Author: Tfoui

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