Police Forces should not be militarized

The process by which civilian police officers increasingly draw on and model themselves after the tenets of militarism and military models is known as police militarization. (Greenwald, G.) 1) This includes military tactics as well as the use of military equipment such as snipers, armored vehicles, and SWAT services. In the recent past, American society has been seen using a non-militaristic approach to solve political, economic, and social issues, applying war metaphors to programs and policies to emphasize the gravity of the problem and the path to resolution. (Photo courtesy of Phillip T. Wyrick). The essay below explains why I strongly disagree with the idea of militarizing police forces. Aaron Glantz in the book ‘War comes home’ says;

Across the country, heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are forcing their way into people’s houses in the middle of the night, often deploying explosive devices such as flash-bang grenades to temporarily blind and deafen residents. SWAT only does this to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that someone may be in possession of a few drugs. The society is not a war field, and our police officers should not treat us like wartime enemies. ( 11). An article by Timothy Tietz, ‘Militarizing The police force and creating the police’ describes the attack on a suspected drug dealer. Timothy recalls how the SWAT men were armed; night vision goggles, armor-piercing bullets, and Kevlar vests. He further narrates how children are shot, and wonders for how long will such attacks continue being seen. There has been a rise in separation between the public and the militarized police. This has made the police to brutalize the same people they swore to guard and protect as everyone is viewed and treated as a potential criminal.

Police militarization can lead to unaccounted for deaths. An example is the killing of black teenager Michael Browne. The accounts for what exactly happened state that the latter raised his hands as a sign of surrender but Wilson, the officer shot him killing him. Wilson had warned Browne not to walk in the middle of the road but later realized that Browne was a robber. He had stolen Citagrolis from a local store. I would argue that after Browne had raised his hands, Wilson would have opted not to continue with the shooting.

The death has prompted the too much national conversation about both racism and the growing militarization of the police forces. (Tobias Winright 11 ) .Another example is a woman by the name Tarika Wilson who was killed by the SWAT officers. The officers broke down her front door and started shooting at her. Mrs. Wilson was holding her baby 14 months son. She was shot and died. Her baby was slightly injured but survived the ruthless attack by the SWAT officers. The officers were looking for her boyfriend who was suspected of drug dealing.

To add on another example is the killing of Euro Stamp who was watching a ball game at his home when SWAT officers stormed his house. They threw a flash-bang grenade. Stamp laid on the ground waiting for further instructions from the officers but was shot, killing him instantly. It was alleged that his stepson was the targeted during the raid but further investigations ascertained that his stepson did not even reside with Stamp. Consequently, they were both African American. There tends to be an over-use of these “ninja”-like tactics on minorities within the United States, according to Cynthia Enloe. (Timothy Tietz 191 ).

According to an article in the Business Daily March 21, 2014, why America’s police are becoming so militarized, Bill Bratton admits that it’s better to have police more armed than the people they have to arrest. He further says that awful lots of SWAT tactics are used to make the opponent surrender. The article also has a section where the court is happy with the raids by SWAT officers. SWAT officers would ambush suspects with no search warrants. There was a constitutional crisis over this, but the court ruled that the SWAT would carry out the raids with no warrants as warrants would notify the suspects to destroy or clear evidence for example flushing of drugs in the toilet.

Another website ‘the onion’ further gives the pros to the militarization of the police force. It explains that the same tactics were used in the Afghanistan successfully and that it’s not a bad idea to put a powerful gun in someone’s hands. To add on, the article says that the modern law enforcement cannot rely on tear gas and handguns only. The court further reinstates in the case Tennessee vs. Garner 1985, that a police officer cannot use force to stop a fleeing suspect not unless the officer has believed that the suspect can cause harm either physically or kill the police officer or others in the surrounding.

A majority view I further clarified by a captain. In his words, he says that ‘We’re into saturation patrols in hot spots. We do a lot of our work with the SWAT unit because we have bigger gun’ ( Timothy Tietz, jr 193 ). The officer further says that in their operation they send a minimum of four cars to carry out their operations. They do this in minor operations in the local neighborhood. The second vehicle provides periphery for their cover area. Police as much as they are law enforcers if found to be breakers of the law should be treated with the same degree as civilians.

In my position as much as I would want the police force to be well equipped and up to standard to fight drug dealers and other bandits I would suggest that militarization shouldn’t be the way. Police officers should not treat Americans as enemies when engaging them. Haberfeld says that Military equipment is used against enemies. If you equip the police with military equipment, you create a society in which the public is perceived as the enemy.( Timothy Teitz jr 193).

Police brutality has led to deaths which if officers would have used the proper way of handling suspects they would have been avoided. For example, the killing of Stamp who had offered himself to the law but was mistakenly shot. Mrs. Wilson case to is saddening considering that she had an infant at the time of the ambush. Should she have been killed? In a bid to demilitarize the police force, citizens should pass their policies which aid in this process, and this allows the community to have a police force that was renowned for being tranquil.

It should be noted that every law enforcer should strive to be a ‘safe officer.’ This is an officer who is protected by the community he serves. SWAT teams should also not treat a deployment on drugs as a threat of violence, and thus, such missions should be executed with minimal force. Also, SWAT should be deployed in instances where regular police can’t complete the task without being physically injured or rather, the use and deployment of SWAT should be proportional. Finally, Local police departments should avoid the use of training tactics that instill a warrior mindset in the officers.

Works cited

AmericanCivilLibertiesUnion,2014.WarComesHomeTheExcessiveMilitarizationofAmericanPolicing.Availableat ,lastaccessed November 17, 2017.

Cadman R. Kiker III, From Mayberry to Ferguson: The Militarization of American Policing Equipment, Culture, and Mission, 71 Wash. & LeeL. Rev. Online282 (2015), http://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/wlulr-online/vol71/iss4/5

Maybe​ ​U.S.​ ​police​ ​aren’t​ ​militarized​ ​enough.​ ​Here’s​ ​what​ ​police​ ​can​ ​learn​ ​from soldiers.”​ ​​Washingtonpost.com, ​16​ ​Aug.​ ​2016.​ ​​Infotrac Newsstand go.galegroup.com/ps/i…​ ​Accessed​ ​17 November 2017

Tobias Winright, The History of The warrior cop, Militarized policing

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