Good Day World!
It’s getting harder to tell civilian police apart from members of our military. The fact that both are dressing alike more often contributes to that general impression.
(Photo - A riot police officer aims his weapon while demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri in this file photo taken August 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Images of police wielding military-style guns and armor have shocked many Americans following clashes that were triggered by the fatal shooting of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson two weeks ago.
Visions of jack-booted Nazis-types goose-stepping down the road are dancing in people’s imaginations as more events like Ferguson happen.
Even our normally clashing lawmakers have voiced concern about the militarization of U.S. police forces through programs administered by the Pentagon, Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security.
Programs like the 1033 program.
The 1033 program was begun in 1991 to help police forces in the "War on Drugs," and was revamped in 1997 to include counterterrorism activities. After 911, the program got a massive lift.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said last week he planned a review to ensure that the Pentagon's 1033 program, which transfers surplus equipment to local and state authorities, was working as intended before the full Senate considers the annual bill that authorizes military spending.
Not a bad idea. I just wonder how it’s going to be received.
Key concerns include a clause in the program that requires police to use the equipment within a year, something the American Civil Liberties Union argues may give police forces an incentive to use the equipment in inappropriate situations.
The program also does not mandate training for crowd control or other uses.
What else is contributing to the militarization of our civilian police forces?
Try the U.S. weapons makers. They’ve been eyeing what they call "adjacent" markets for years, keen to drum up fresh demand for products initially developed for the military, and recently, to offset declines in U.S. and European over the past year alone, according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon transferred some 600 armored military trucks known as MRAPS that were built for the war in Iraq.military spending.
By now, you’ve probably seen them where you live, or on TV. They’re scary-looking vehicles intended for full-out war (Photo right).
How much has the Pentagon transferred to local and state agencies since 2006? Hold on to your hat; more than $4 billion of equipment including armored vehicles, tents, rifles and night-vision goggles has been spent.
The 1033 program needs to be stopped. Flat out. It’s about profit, not saving lives.
Americans are looking at the specter of militarized civilian cops with increasing alarm. And for good reason. Civilian protestors no longer “see” cops – they see men hidden under combat gear, their faces barely visible under Nazi-looking helmets and face-shields.
If you agree with me, please write your congressman and tell him to do away with this divisive and un-needed 1033 program.
Time for me to walk on down the road…