Paper 3 English

Submitted By BubblyBee92
Words: 1362
Pages: 6

Kayla Best Best I
English 1010
Paper 3

The Militarization of our Police Force

In the wake of recent political outbursts due to deaths of unarmed civilians by the hand of police officers, an interesting look into the methods and equipment of law enforcement has begun. Civil forfeiture rates have 1900% since 1981, as well as a 1650% incident increase in tactical raids on civilian homes (Wolfe 1). Paramount to these two key facts, numerous investigations into the equipment, training, and supervision of police departments have gone underway on a national level. The only way to stop the influx of police brutality and militarization is a call for an intervention on the sales of wartime weapons to law enforcement agencies. Perhaps most surprisingly, the largest provider of lightly-used military grade equipment to lawmen is the United States Government itself. In recent years, arms and equipment from the Department of Defense leftover from the Middle Eastern conflicts and military surplus have been sold to city and county governments at discounted rates. This includes items, but not limited to long-range firearms, pistols, personnel carriers, helicopters, and even tanks. While these tools may be important for our soldier’s overseas, it’s important to note they receive countless hours of specialized training on weapon safety, conflict rules, vehicle maintenance and orders, and how to deploy their weapons during a combat environment. Officers on the other hand are trained in an entirely different environment (Dansky). In August of 2014, a 19-month old child was injured during an executed breach in
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Habersham County, Georgia. Oblivious to the children’s toys scattered across the lawn, an officer entering the home on a no-knock drug raid decided to toss a flashbang grenade into the living room. The explosive burst next to the toddler’s crib, maiming his face with severe burns, and even creating a hole in his chest so large ribs were visible. The SWAT breach was due to a search for a resident that no longer lived there, and whom was later arrested without incident. While this may seem like an out of the ordinary case, it’s anything but. In 2011-2012, over 50,000 no-knock raids were performed by law enforcement officers. An ACLU study of 800 deployments across 20 agencies uncovered a staggering figure, 62% of attempts were for non-violent drug searches, 79% of the total was enacted for search warrants (The Excessive Militarization 4). The force that’s famed in hostage negotiations and bank robberies has been reduced to breaking into homes of people not-yet-convicted with a crime. Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank recently stated, “We’re not the military. Nor should we look like an invading force coming in” (Evenson 1). Just a few decades ago, the perception of a police officer was radically different than today. Images on the news of Furgeson protests show lawmen clad in military issued camouflage, walking with M-16 assault rifles, and full BDU tactical gear. Missouri may be hundreds of miles from Tennessee, but the volunteer state is feeling the effects also. A look into the Knox County database of requisitioned items is eye-opening. Over $1M has been spent since 2006 on military rotary-wing vehicles, and $733,000 on a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (MRAP) in February of 2014 (Syrmopoulos 1). The United States Army does not recommend driving the MRAP on base, and especially discourages using the equipment on public roads (Traffic Engineering 2). The 19-ton vehicle is simply too heavy, prone to roll overs, and not mobile enough to be used on
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