Although there has been no dramatic increase in crime statistics to warrant the increase in police militarization within the United States, police departments continue to outfit themselves with military weaponry. The police in America who now more aptly resemble soldiers, bring with them conflict and tyranny to the streets and our communities.
The consequences of this been an increase in unjustified home invasions, and the murder of innocent people. The home is no longer a safe haven because our guaranteed right to not have our privacy arbitrarily invaded by police is constantly violated. When we see the police, we now feel more fearful than we do protected, in some cases we are more fearful of police than we are of crime. And no matter where you are: you are more likely to be killed by the police than terrorism.
Police frequently execute warrants and initiate raids on the wrong homes. Along with this unacceptable inaccuracy, there is also an unfortunate rise in deaths of numerous dogs at the hands of aggressive (abusive) police tactics. The increased violence is giving rise to a very nervous atmosphere, and hatred for law enforcement officers continues to grow, along with the increase in viral videos and stories displaying examples of police brutality. An investigative reporter, Radley Balko, interviewed several police officers regarding their personal experience with no-knock raids:
“When I interviewed police officers for the book who’ve been on these raids, the words that they would use to describe how they felt during the raids are the same adjectives we use to describe the effects of the drugs that they’re conducting these raids for in the first place. They’re described as intoxicating and [officers claim that they] get this huge rush…it’s a thrill.”
The numerous declarations by the state, of war against vague enemies like drugs, terror, and crime, have been used to justify further police militarization. Even though it can be argued that these wars cannot be won, and several decades and billions of dollars support that notion, the state continues with the charade. And because of this, these relentless expeditions have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier (Balko, 2013). The increased frequency of unaccountable and heavily armed police raids which are being conducted on homes of unarmed, and non-violent suspects, in the middle of the night, is an alarming misuse of state power.
Why can’t the police conduct their raids during the daylight? Perhaps that might lower the occurrence of innocent bystanders who get terrorized and/or lose their lives. Maybe that would increase the accuracy of entering the correct home that the warrant has been issued for. Apparently, it is much easier to go busting into someone’s home in the middle of the night (Balko, 2013). Granted, there are occurrences when individuals have good interactions with police officers, officers are often shown respect from individuals when they deal with the public in a respectful manner.
The increasing trend has been majorly overlooked by the public and their representatives. A Mayor in Maryland sought an explanation from the federal government as to why SWAT team members had burst into his home without knocking and killed his two dogs, in what turned out to be drug raid ‘mix-up’. In the past decade that has been a 3000% increase in no-knock SWAT team raids. Police are being equipped with body armor, Blackhawk helicopters, armored vehicles, chemical spray, night vision, and even drones. The police are annually looking less like the benevolent keepers of the peace. Today in the United States, SWAT teams are deployed about 100 to 150 times per day.
“It’s really about a lack of imagination and a lack of creativity, when your answer to every problem is more force, it shows that you haven’t been taught and trained to consider other options.” – Norm Stamper, retired Seattle police chief from 1994 to 2000.
It is claimed that the police cannot arrest people in a violence-minimizing manner due to “lack of resources”, but we know that thanks to asset forfeiture and revenue expeditions, like radar and seat-belt traps, police departments are collectively bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars.
But, if they believe the drugs to be in the home, and need to enter in a frenzy to decrease the chances of the suspect destroying any, why not enter the home when the suspect isn’t there? And if the materials are believed to be on the person, why not arrest them in the daylight when their actions are more visible, to notice if they discard of any substances? Most instances do not call for extreme violence, especially when the identity or guilt of suspects is remotely unsure, and especially shouldn’ be used in regards to matters of personal choice.
Some suggestions to curb further militarization of America’s multiple police forces, include:
End The War On Drugs
Prohibition has proven to be ineffective at eradicating or preventing drug use, and the goal of ending drug use and production is seemingly impossible.
End anti-drug Byrne Grants
These grants create federal incentives for further militarization, and also create multi-jurisdictional drug task forces, who often lack any real accountability or oversight.
End The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program
When police departments reach a threshold of drug arrests, the agency becomes eligible for more federal funding, which encourages more aggressive enforcement of drug laws.
End Civil Asset Forfeiture Program
Police departments seize a variety of items that are believed to be connected to ‘drug activity’ such as: cash, cars, homes, boats, bikes, and jewelry. This has obviously created a lucrative incentive for police to send SWAT teams to conduct routine raids to serve drug warrants. One thing is for sure: police militarization is bad for everyone and is a greater danger to our freedom and health than “terrorism”.
Balko, R. (2013). Rise of The Warrior Cop. PublicAffairs.