Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

How Did Cops Become Soldiers?

James Fallows asks: “The images from Missouri of stormtrooper-looking police confronting their citizens naturally raises the question: how the hell did we get to this point? When did the normal cops become Navy SEALs? What country is this, anyway?”

Fallows’ piece includes startling photos of numerous police force units that have a decidedly militarized flavor to them.

Elizabeth Beavers and Michael Shank, writing in The New York Times, explain how militarizing the police has become a national trend.

“Ferguson’s police force got equipped this way thanks to the Pentagon, and it’s happening all over the country. The Department of Defense provides military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear. Due to the defense industry’s bloated contracts, there is a huge surplus. To date, the Pentagon has donated military equipment worth more than $4 billion to local law enforcement agencies. And the giving goes on, to police forces in all 50 states in the union.”

“As Ferguson shows, this militarizing of routine police work exacerbates tensions and increases the likelihood of disorder. This, in turn, appears to justify a militarized police response, and so the cycle continues.”

  • mhandrh

    This is another example of the DoD having so much money that they have supplied local police with excess inventory. Local police have not the reason nor the training to have such equipment. This is our tax dollar at work — against us!!

    The same people who defended armed civilian militia against the authorities at the Bundy ranch (where he is a confirmed lawbreaker) are those who think aiming assault rifles from the top of a tank at civilians walking in the streets is OK.

    • erick

      This scene will become commonplace as the CLASS WAR progresses. The genocidal extermination of the working class will soon follow.

    • Dave

      “Have not the reason (to have)…” Apparently you haven’t noticed that the weapons now carried by violent criminals include AK47’s and the like.
      “…nor the training to have such equipment.” Obviously you have never attended law enforcement training either, as you are misinformed on this point as well.

  • oldswede

    I read an article I cannot not find at this time that pointed out many police recruits are military veterans returning from deployments in our several wars. After tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it really is ‘them against us’ all the time, some of these soldiers return to a very constricted job market and end up as cops by default. The habits learned in combat come home with them.

  • trisul

    It is not just that the police has adopted military equipment, they have also absorbed the veterans, where else are these to go and apply their skills?

    Taking on the equipment and the soldiers, the police force has acquired the mentality of an occupying army, which is disastrous. An occupying army is deaf to the needs of the community it polices, it serves other masters.

    • erick

      This is in preparation for the CLASS WAR perpetuated by the 1% financial class against the 99% working class. The working class will be reduced to the status of 3rd world peasants that will be forced to accept austerity and poverty as the genocidal extermination plans progress.

  • Proud_to_be_American

    Haven’t you heard? There’s a war on drugs. and where do you get drugs? On the city streets. Why you so stupid? (Sarcasm & politically incorrect asian accent off)

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