There has been a trend that has started in the mid 1980s, but after 9/11 took a steep increase. This trend is the militarization of our police force. At first it seemed necessary to help with the domestic fight on terror, but it has not quite worked out that way. Police have more evasive rights over citizens and are now equipped with militaristic weapons which have been used to fight domestic issues instead of potential terror issues. Now I am not saying that they do not fight possible domestic terror threats, but we see an enormous increase of drugs arrests from these new means that police departments have been equipped with. It is not an issue that they are cracking down on drugs, but will these new rights that police have spill over to invade the rights of average citizens. One of these new police rights is delayed-notice search warrants – also known as “sneak-and-peek” warrants – where cops no longer need search warrants on the spot as they once did. As the Huffington Post said “The problem with this mingling of domestic policing with military operations is that the two institutions have starkly different missions. The military’s job is to annihilate a foreign enemy. Cops are charged with keeping the peace, and with protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents. It’s dangerous to conflate the two.”
Obviously the culture of our police force has changed. Police are being protected more and more, which I believe is necessary. But does that necessarily mean that the police need to be militarized. Does it mean that our police force must now have M-16s, M-14s, grenade launchers, and things of the like? These are the boundaries that are being crossed
Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says “We needed local police to play a legitimate, continuing role in furthering homeland security back in 2001. After all, the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place on specific police beats in specific police precincts. Instead, we got a 10-year campaign of increasing militarization, constitution-abusing tactics, needless violence and heartache as the police used federal funds, equipment, and training to ramp up the drug war. It’s just tragic.”
When the numbers show that the SWAT team has increase by 157% between 1984 and 1996, we must reassess what it is we are really doing. The post-9/11 world has definitely called for more security, but when it is not being used for it’s intensive purpose we must analyze everything and correct what it is that we are doing.
The question is how far will this militarization go, how will it effect the American people, and what do YOU as Americans think about it?