A few incidents that took place in Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Massachusetts over the last few years depict a picture of America’s Police becoming too militarized. The American police have started applying the tactics of soldiers at war in situations where the opposition involves the everyday American citizen. With the growing crime rate and increases in international threats form overseas, more stories of officers in uniform abusing their power with an overuse of force have risen to the surface.
Beyond the symbolic resemblance, there is a lot more that the American law has done to differentiate the police from the military forces. The militarized police tactics have eradicated the peace from American streets and have effectively turned them into a war zone. A few weeks ago, the country legislators gave their approval for the use of 20 tonne Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that the US Defense Department donated to a small country sheriff in New York.
The same way Armoured Personnel Carriers lock down the main streets in some of the major cities in Afghanistan, and use Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) teams for just inspection, it seems as if militarized police tactics will soon change the face of America as well. Speaking on the matter, a journalist and an author Radley Balko informed a House subcommittee in 2007 that the overuse of force and SWAT teams has witnessed an unexpected increase of 1,500 percent in last two decades. Radley Balko expressed this dark side of America’s police through his book ‘Rise of the Warrior Cop- The Militarization of America’s Police Forces’.[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VijNLRU0v0M”]
It was an overuse of force that paved the way for an incident in Los Angeles, where a SWAT team entered into the home of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year old man and shot him dead with their submachine guns. Police officers didn’t even tell the man to put down his weapon before shooting him six times.
SWAT members explained that they were acting in self-defense, but the audio recording presented a story contrary to what the officers described.[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZFlIK-zAO8″]
In another incident, the America’s police while wearing helmets with covered faces, rushed into the home of two people in the quest of electronics and clothes worth $1,000 that were bought with a stolen credit card. Though the police didn’t find anything, they took two people into the custody, who were present in the house at that moment.
Has America become too militarized? If you think it has, it may be time for American citizens to decide if security is more important than their own civil liberties.