Police Militarization is Not Inevitable: 58 Percent Think It’s Already Going Too Far

they've gone to disneylandAmericans, it seems, have had enough police
militarization, with the latest Reason-Rupe poll
a full 58 percent of respondents believing that the use
of drones, military weapons, and armored vehicles by local police
departments as already going “too far.” That includes a full 60
percent of both Democrats and Tea Partiers. Opposition is under 50
percent among non-Tea Party Republicans.

Policing in the United States has seen rapid militarization,
fueled by the war-like mentality that comes with the “drug war,” as
well as by the abundance of military surplus available to local
police departments from the federal government, especially since
9/11. The military gear ends up at agencies across the country,
New York
. Earlier this year, the Defense Department even sent
“free” (original cost to taxpayers: $658,000 each) mine-resistant
ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles
to 500 local police departments
; vehicles the Pentagon didn’t
think the military needed are now being used by local police
forces. Disturbingly, an ACLU FOIA request revealed one police
department, that of Concord, New Hampshire, cited the presence of
Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire activists as domestic
terror threats for which the military vehicles were necessary.
Concord had
spent some time
trying to get the feds to cover the cost of a
military vehicle, and ended up getting at least the one for

The Super Bowl has become one annual display of such a post-9/11
dedication to security theater. Next month’s Super Bowl, to be held
in New Jersey, has the NYPD promising “unprecedented
security for the event. Police militarization is difficult to
ignore. Evidence of the policy greets Americans at nearly every
transit center in the country, and at countless other points of
interest.  It’s inherent danger is displayed every time a
story about police abuse pops
up; not many may make it into the national news cycle, but there’s
a constant stream of such stories in the local news. Former Reason
editor Radley Balko’s new book, Rise of
the Warrior Cop
, chronicles the history of police
militarization in America, helping make the policy part of the
national debate and not an inevitability to be resigned to.

The opposition to police militarization even (or especially)
extends to the use of drones by cops, the least readily
identifiable of domestic law enforcement’s military toolbox.
Earlier this year, the FBI
using drones for domestic surveillance in “a very
minimal way,” but it’s impossible to point to a drone the way you
can point to an automatic weapon, a military vehicle, or full body
armor. Nevertheless, wherever a local cop or politician has
suggested the acquisition or deployment of drones, there’s been a

from concerned residents.

Related: Watch Reason TV’s “Cops With Machine Guns: The Killing
of Michael Nida,” a piece from 2011, below

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/18/police-military-is-not-inevitable-58-per

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