“American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) latest campaign proclaims. “Federal funding in the billions of dollars has allowed state and local police departments to gain access to weapons and tactics created for overseas combat theaters – and yet very little is known about exactly how many police departments have military weapons and training, how militarized the police have become, and how extensively federal money is incentivizing this trend. It’s time to understand the true scope of the militarization of policing in America and the impact it is having in our neighborhoods.” Well there’s something we can agree upon. What’s somewhat ironic about this . . .
The ACLU is generally considered a left-leaning organization; many members hail from the liberal side of the political spectrum. The fact that their champions in the Obama administration have continued the alarming trend of police militarization may get a pass from its supporters, but the ACLU has finally woken-up to the quiet Rambofication of our nation’s police departments . . .
On March 6th, ACLU affiliates in 23 states filed over 255 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments. Stay tuned as this project develops.
The website lists ten chilling examples of police militarization gone wild:
- Police mistakenly shooting and killing a sleeping nine-year-old girl after they became confused by their flash bang grenade.
- A South Carolina county sheriff’s department whose equipment includes an armored personnel carrier complete with a belt-fed .50 machine gun
- Two SWAT teams who shut down a Colorado neighborhood for four hours searching for a man suspected of stealing a bicycle from Wally World.
- Police in Arkansas who planned to patrol streets wearing full SWAT gear carrying AR-15 rifles.
- New York Police admitted to using “counter-terrorist” methods to remove Occupy Wall Street Protesters
Obviously, the list of police abuses goes far beyond this. And no matter what you think of the ACLU’s defense of seemingly indefensible behavior, credit where credit’s due: the organization is like a dog with a bone. They will uncover previously hidden information about police militarization. Question is: what happens next?
As RF has pointed out, de-funding is our first best hope to de-militarize the police. The money Uncle Sam funnels to cities and towns that fuels this firearms frenzy (and MRAPs and training). The Center for Investigative Reporting pegs the Department of Homeland Security’s annual spending at $34 billion.
Police claim they need all of this new gear to keep up with the bad guys. Okay, but then perhaps we should allow citizens access to the same gear to keep up with the cops. After all, it’s the citizenry who makes up the militia identified in the Second Amendment, so that citizenry should have access to anything we’re giving our police.
Now, where can I get my hands on an APC with a belt-fed .50 cal?