Not Just Ferguson: 11 Eye-Opening Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces

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This post originally appeared at AlterNet.

Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The “war on terror” has come home — and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.

The weapons that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization — complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades — when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.

Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorizes the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement agencies are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.

A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo reported that in the Obama era, “police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what looks like an invading army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.”

The information contained in the ACLU report — and in other investigations into the phenomenon — is sobering. From the killing of innocent people to the almost complete lack of debate on these policies, police militarization has turned into a key issue for Americans. It is harming civil liberties, ramping up the “war on drugs,” impacting the most marginalized members of society and transforming neighborhoods into war zones. Here are 11 important — and horrifying — things you should know about the militarization of police.

1. It harms, and sometimes kills, innocent people. When you have heavily armed police officers using flash-bang grenades and armored personnel carriers, innocent people are bound to be hurt. The likelihood of people being killed is raised by the practice of SWAT teams busting down doors with no warning, which leads some people to think it may be a burglary and try to defend themselves. The ACLU documented seven cases of civilians dying in these kinds of raids, and 46 people being injured. That’s only in the cases the civil liberties group looked at, so the true number is actually higher.

Take the case of Tarika Wilson, which the ACLU summarizes. The 26-year-old biracial mother lived in Lima, Ohio. Her boyfriend, Anthony Terry, was wanted by the police on suspicion of drug dealing. So on January 4, 2008, a SWAT team busted down Wilson’s door and opened fire. A SWAT officer killed Wilson and injured her one-year-old baby, Sincere Wilson. The killing sparked rage in Lima and accusations of a racist police department, but the officer who shot Wilson, Sgt. Joe Chavalia, was found not guilty on all charges.

2. Children are impacted. As the case of Wilson shows, the police busting down doors care little about whether there’s a child in the home. Another case profiled by the ACLU shows how children can be caught in the crossfire — with devastating consequences.

In May, after their Wisconsin home had burned down, the Phonesavanh family was staying with relatives in Georgia. One night, a SWAT team with assault rifles invaded the home and threw a flash-bang grenade — despite the presence of kids’ toys in the front yard. The police were looking for the father’s nephew on drug charges. He wasn’t there. But a 19-month-old named Bou Bou was — and the grenade landed in his crib.

Bou Bou was wounded in the chest and had third-degree burns. He was put in a medically induced coma.

Another high-profile instance of a child being killed by paramilitary police tactics occurred in 2010, when seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones died in Detroit. The city’s Special Response Team (Detroit’s SWAT) was looking for Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the killing of a teenager who lived on the second floor of the apartment Jones lived in.

Officers raided the home, threw a flash-bang grenade, and fired one shot that struck Jones in the head. The police agent who fired the fatal shot, Joseph Weekley, has so far gotten off easy: a jury trial ended in deadlock last year, though he will face charges of involuntary manslaughter in September. As The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith wrote last year after Weekley was acquitted: “What happened to Aiyana is the result of the militarization of police in this country…Part of what it means to be black in America now is watching your neighborhood become the training ground for our increasingly militarized police units.”

Bou Bou and Jones aren’t the only cases of children being impacted.

According to the ACLU, “of the 818 deployments studied, 14 percent involved the presence of children and 13 percent did not.” It was impossible to determine whether children were present in the rest of the cases studied.

3. The use of SWAT teams is often unnecessary. In many cases, using militarized teams of police is not needed. The ACLU report notes that the vast majority of cases where SWAT teams are deployed are in situations where a search warrant is being executed to look for drugs. In other words, it’s not even 100 percent clear whether there are drugs at the place the police are going to. These situations are not why SWAT was created.

Furthermore, even when SWAT teams think there are weapons, they are often wrong. The ACLU report shows that in the cases where police thought weapons would be there, they were right only a third of the time.

4. The “war on terror” is fueling militarization. A growing number of agencies have taken advantage of the Department of Defense’s “1033” program, which is passed every year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The number of police agencies obtaining military equipment like mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) has increased since 2009, according to USA Today, which notes that this “surplus military equipment” is “left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” This equipment is largely cost-free for the police agencies that receive them.

In addition to the Pentagon budget provision, another agency created in the aftermath of 9/11 is helping militarize the police. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) grants funnel military-style equipment to local police departments nationwide. According to a 2011 Center for Investigative Reporting story published by The Daily Beast, at least $34 billion in DHS grants have gone to police agencies to buy military-style equipment. This money has gone to purchase drones, tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, tanks and more.

5. It’s a boon to contractor profits. The trend towards police militarization has given military contractors another lucrative market where they can shop their products. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making big bucks by selling their equipment to agencies flush with Department of Homeland Security grants.

In addition to selling equipment, contractors also sponsor training events for SWAT teams, like Urban Shield, a major arms expo that has attracted increasing attention from activists in recent years. SWAT teams, police agencies and military contractors converge on Urban Shield, which was held in California last year, to train SWAT teams and promote the equipment.

6. Border militarization and police militarization go hand in hand. The “war on terror” and “war on drugs” aren’t the only wars helping police militarization. There’s also the war on undocumented immigrants.

The notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for brutal crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, is the paradigmatic example of this trend. According to the ACLU, Arpaio’s Maricopa County department has acquired a machine gun so powerful it could tear through buildings on multiple city blocks. In addition, he has 120 assault rifles, five armored vehicles and ten helicopters. Other law enforcement agencies in Arizona have obtained equipment like bomb suits and night-vision goggles.

Then there’s a non-local law enforcement agency on the border: the Border Patrol, which has obtained drones and attack helicopters. And Border Patrol agents are acting like they’re at war. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that the Border Patrol killed 19 people from January 2010-October 2012 — including some incidents in which the agents were under no lethal, direct threat.

7. Police are cracking down on dissent. In 1999, massive protests rocked Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting. The police cracked down hard on the demonstrators using paramilitary tactics. Police fired tear gas at protesters, causing all hell to break loose.

Norm Stamper, the Seattle police chief at the time, criticized the militarized policing he presided over in a Nation article in 2011. “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict,” wrote Stamper.

More than a decade after the Seattle protests, militarized policing to crack down on dissent returned with a vengeance during the wave of Occupy protests in 2011. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to break up protests in Oakland. Scott Olsen, an Occupy Oakland protester and war veteran, was struck in the head by a police projectile, causing a fractured skull, broken vertebrae and brain swelling.

8. Asset forfeitures are funding police militarization. In June, AlterNet’s Aaron Cantú outlined how civil asset forfeiture laws work.

“It’s a legal fiction spun up hundreds of years ago to give the state the power to convict a person’s property of a crime, or at least, implicate its involvement in the committing of a crime. When that happened, the property was to be legally seized by the state,” wrote Cantú. He went on to explain that law enforcement justifies the seizure of property and cash as a way to break up narcotics rings’ infrastructure. But it can also be used in cases where a person is not convicted, or even charged with a crime.

Asset forfeitures bring in millions of dollars for police agencies, who then spend the money for their own uses. And for some police departments, it goes to militarizing their personnel.

New Yorker reporter Sarah Stillman, who penned a deeply reported piece on asset forfeitures, wrote in August 2013 that “thousands of police departments nationwide have recently acquired stun grenades, armored tanks, counterattack vehicles, and other paramilitary equipment, much of it purchased with asset-forfeiture funds.” So SWAT teams have an incentive to conduct raids where they seize property and cash that then goes into their budgets for more weapons.

9. Dubious informants are used for raids. As The New Yorker’s Stillman wrote in another piece, informants are “the foot soldiers in the government’s war on drugs. By some estimates, up to eighty percent of all drug cases in America involve them.” Given SWAT teams’ focus on finding drugs, it’s no surprise that informants are used to gather information that lead to military-style police raids.

A 2006 policy paper by investigative journalist Radley Balko, who has done the most reporting on militarized policing, highlighted the negative impact of using informants for these raids have. Most often, informants are “people who regularly seek out drug users and dealers and tip off the police in exchange for cash rewards,” and other drug dealers who inform to gain leniency or cash from the police. But these informants are quite unreliable — and the wrong information can lead to tragic consequences.

10. There’s been little debate or oversight. Despite the galloping march towards militarization, the ACLU report notes that “there does not appear to be much, if any, local oversight of law enforcement agency receipt of equipment transfers.” One of the group’s recommendations is for states and local municipalities to enact laws encouraging transparency and oversight of SWAT teams.

11. Communities of color bear the brunt. Across the country, communities of color are the people most targeted by police practices. In recent years, the abuse of “stop and frisk” tactics has attracted widespread attention because of the racially discriminatory way it has been applied.

Militarized policing has also targeted communities of color. According to the ACLU report, “of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.” The majority of raids that targeted blacks and Latinos were related to drugs — another metric exposing how the “war on drugs” is racist to the core.

The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.

Alex Kane is AlterNet’s New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
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  • Anonymous

    I might add another ‘topic’ or ‘tag’ along lines of ‘social fabric’ in support of a 12th problem with militarized civilian police forces. I’m concerned about psychological impact(s) on innocents, accused, and on the police themselves. It seems this militarization cannot help but persuade police to view citizens as ‘the enemy’, and I suspect training may support such an attitude at least in part. This becomes a ‘psychological paradigm’ for the police.

    Citizens in such an environment will also be psychologically ‘shifted’ out of a willingness to trust. Escalation of fear and mistrust – between domestic police forces and citizens they swear to ‘serve and protect’ – seems unavoidable. And yet the officers will also be ‘regular citizens’ when out of uniform. This puts them in strange relationship with non-police citizens.

    Such deep mistrust runs against weaving a quality ‘social fabric’ in which both non-police and police citizens can enjoy a free-thinking, free-speaking, and freely-trusting society’.

  • Anonymous

    I was vocally opposed to this before it was cool.

  • PigStateNews

    At least 676 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2014.
    At least 1425 have been killed since May 1, 2013.
    At least 1087 were killed May 1, 2013 – May 1, 2014
    Source: Police reports via corporate news reports
    Facebook/KilledByPolice

  • Leave A Mark

    Whether privatized for-profit prisons or militarized peace keeping force these approaches are fraught with opportunity for abuse. Everything – everything eventually leads to ruling elite enriching themselves at the expense of the greater society. We have witnessed the greatest transfer of the nations wealth to the top 1% without any indication of it slowing anytime soon. The plutocrats know not the obvious collapse that awaits us all. The perpetual stock piling of Americas wealth has no economic purpose. Monopoly game ends when one has it all. The games end is less fun in real life. By force or by reason an eventual correction is inevitable. The planned militarization of our police force is for the benefit of the upper class – to protect them from us when we have finally had enough. Its unfortunate but clear the ruling class has chosen force over reason . . .

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps we should dismantle the Statue of Liberty and send it back to France.

  • Janet Innes-Kirkwood

    Clearly the US is entering or maybe actually very far down the slide to being a police state. We have under 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the prisoners on top of the SWAT and the snitches and set ups and all the surveillance and asset forfeiture. We look at the trends and we see the red flags everywhere in all sorts of areas. The public servants in law enforcement and and criminal justice and prison systems can not hide behind the war on people propaganda. They should really start seeing how many of their fellow American citizens especially the most vulnrable experience and suffer greatly under their own government. It is a national disgrace…..

  • Anonymous

    I agree with most of the points made in this article and the need for way more oversight and the need for a change in tactics. That said, and with all due respect to the intent of your post, simply quoting the numbers of people killed by police is not very instructive. Yes, the numbers certainly seem very high, but the numbers alone don’t really tell you much without putting those numbers in a better context. Again, I don’t mean to criticize your intent, but perhaps there are better ways to present this data.

  • Tadashi

    Okay, I’m sorry, but… there’s just too much rubbish mixed in with the potentially valid points in this article to let it slide.

    Let’s just say that if the author thinks SWAT teams (and their use of flashbangs) are new, they must have been living under a rock. They’ve been around since AT LEAST the 1990s, and that’s just as far back as my memory clearly recalls.

  • Anonymous

    Becoming part of the military is often the time when boys become men. Too often that’s when they stop maturing. The glory days then spread out over a career of police and security jobs. Every problem is met with attacking the enemy. Not all police, but many.

  • Tadashi

    While many of the points in this article are potentially valid, there’s one thing I have to point out: SWAT teams (and the use of flashbangs) aren’t new.

  • wilywolf

    Read the article again. It clearly states that militarization, including SWAT and flashbangs, began during Reagan’s War On Drugs.
    And how does the *single* point you gave add up to “too much rubbish”?

  • Terry5135

    Life is about degrees.

  • Anonymous

    But are they being used more and in more localities? That’s the pertinent question here.

  • DougNTexas

    Obviously we need to drastically cut the Department’s of Defense and Homeland Security Departments budget’s. They have way to much money to be doing this kind of stuff.

  • lesterthegiantape

    I watched a live stream from Ferguson last night. The police (dressed in sci-fi war armor) deployed those ear-splitting noise cannons on the crowd. The cannons were mounted on military vehicles with sniper positions on top of them. Then they fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the protesters and marched through the residential neighborhood into which the crowd had been corralled.

    It didn’t look real. It didn’t look like America. But we’ve all been asleep. This is very real and it’s an America that people of color, particularly, are confronted with almost daily in one place or another. I hope we wake up from our war-fueled sleep before it’s too late.

  • Leave A Mark

    “From the nation’s beginnings, the law was to be the great equalizer in American life, the guarantor of a common set of rules for all. But over the past four decades, the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two-tiered system of justice ensures that the country’s political and financial class is virtually immune from prosecution, licensed to act
    without restraint, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater
    ease and in greater numbers than in any other country in the world.”

    From the book, ‘With Liberty and Justice for Some / How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful’ – by Glenn Greenwald

    The ruling elite have chose force over reason by militarizing the peace keepers as last resort to keep power. This is not going to end well for anyone. Most societies collapse given time, a fact not lost to the world. History swings like a pendulum fighting its way back to equilibrium. It’s a very rare trajectory when we see it up-end at the apex, abandoning all contents to the chaos of gravity, and settling to start all over again. Hold on, for mankind is approaching a pivotal displacement.

  • lesterthegiantape

    100% of the time, this strategy has resulted in overthrow. History has an unbroken record on this.

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    And yet, you continue to espouse the grandiose fiction of big government. You reap what you sow.

  • Strandwolf

    I could debunk this article point by point. It’s one of Billy’s more dissolute rambles.

  • Strandwolf

    Those damn snitches! Telling the cops information that sweeps our bruthas off the block! That ain’t right, no how!

  • Strandwolf

    Don’t try to reason with these ninnies. They aren’t having it.

  • Strandwolf

    Yay-ay!

  • Janet Innes-Kirkwood

    Actually in the United States there are many constructed cases by law enforcement that often take 6 months or a year where they are buying and blowing up cases and getting people involved in crimes that they would not have thought of. They often do this to get bigger cases or to get money or cars or to sell drugs and pocket the money or to set up other types of cases. This use of snitches in communities is beginning to meet serious resistance. Remember the concept of community policing is try and keep the peace not create conflicts. America has become a country that uses many very caustic and questionable policing tactics including the overuse of SWATS and surveillance. It also helps explain why the US has under 4% of the world’s population but about 25% of all of its prisoners. The cultural War and racial history of the US and all of the institutional racism helps explain the demographics and geography of the national crisis.

  • Anonymous

    Social justice hipster ;-)

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. No differentiation between innocent victims and violent offenders posing a legitimate threat.

    List also leaves out the number of cops killed.

  • Doc Realistic

    Ah yes, the mythical “you.” This wins the Ironically Un-self-aware Post of the Day.

  • Gato Pardo

    The real question is: How was anyone able to see the police force if they are wearing cammo?…. Ha, ha, ha!

  • Stephen Rosenberg

    The arming of police forces around the country began in the late 1960′s under Nixon with the passage of legislation establishing the Law Enforcement Assistance administration (LEAA) as part of the U.S. Department of Justice. You all remember Nixon, he’s the guy who placed a portion of the 82nd Airborne in the basement of the same
    Justice Department in response to rioting in some black neighborhoods
    in Northwest D.C. (far away from Pennsylvania Avenue) when Martin
    Luther King was assassinated.

  • Gato Pardo

    Please enlighten us…….

  • HopeWFaith

    As usual, “little debate or oversight” is the second key. The first is who is profiting from the sale of all this military gear being sold off to every police department in this nation?

    I feel like I’ve been watching a bunch of 8 year old boys, dressed to the nines in their Halloween Cop costumes, playing cops and robbers. They all look like they’ve gone off the deep end and had no one in charge telling them to cool it. GEEZUSCRIST, what does it take these days to get a decent, intelligent leading mind in a police force?

  • Hoss

    No wonder they want to disarm America…they don’t want any resistance when they decide to turn the country into one giant police state. This is a perfect example of why the 2nd amendment is still, and will always be, relevant.

  • HopeWFaith

    Many of them should be sent to the prisons to become cleaning crew.

  • HopeWFaith

    AMEN!

  • HopeWFaith

    Very grateful for one thing related to this insanity going on in Ferguson. The people there are standing up for their rights, with great courage and incredible tenacity, and they are bringing this out of the silent acceptance that most Americans sit upon daily. Great courage is needed to get this changed. Proud of the people in Ferguson!

  • Anonymous

    Police are killing unarmed people all over America. It is never just one bullet, usually multiple shots and one in the head. The Sheriff of Sacramento County CA bought a Stingray II military grade Cell Phone interceptor for $250,000 They use it to illegally listen to cell phone conversations.They use it as the “Confidential Informant” Google “Sacramento Sheriff Stingray”. Look at “Cop Block” page on Facebook and see what police are doing to America.

  • Anonymous

    Yep. Just a matter of time.

  • Anonymous

    America has undergone a coup d’etat and the majority of people haven’t even noticed

  • Erin Winslow (V)

    The US has been a police state for years now. Just noticing are you? And what have your 2nd Amendment gun nuts done to protect people’s rights?

  • boB

    While I think most of them are military wanna-bes that couldn’t get into the military, many are racist good-ole boys. Course, neither of us has any real information to provide, just our own opinions.

    Though, if one looks at the pictures of cops pointing weapons at civilians, you might notice that there are a lot of them, and they’re all doing things that military-trained personnel don’t do.

  • Hvacrpro

    your GOP smaller govt tax dollars at work… imagine if the GOP took over county by county , state by state, congress by congress senate by senate and pres admin by pres admin and the sup court. what would be another Ferguson Mo. everywhere ya go. reminds one of when reagan used the cia chief bush klansman to force his agendas on the tax payers. since then g dumbya got in bush jr and did the same. high tax debt deferred to tax payers that are not rich enough to get a tax cut. go fig.

  • Hvacrpro

    exactly… google can be your best friend too.

  • Hvacrpro

    I think the white man has lost his way.

  • Anonymous

    America’s dystopian future has arrived.

  • http://www.ccrider27.com/ ccrider27

    test comment…

  • Robert May

    The “war on terror” has come home — and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.

    OBEY OBEY GET ON THE GROUND GET ON THE GROUND.. STOP RESISTING BANG BANG BANG…. freedom of assembly ? freedom of speech? not any more not in the land of the “Free”

  • Hoss

    Nothing. It’s not about protecting others peoples rights. It’s about being able to protect myself, or fight to the death when these jacks turn America into a police state. Go ahead and keep yourself unarmed, but don’t cry for our help when the police begin rounding us up without cause

  • Larz

    Sad thing is that they are using the excuse that the number of armed citizens requires the police forces to aquire heavier arms. Its a self realizing paradox. Sad thing is young men of color will never win that arms race.

  • Hosea Mcadoo

    With the militarized police armed with assault weapons and staffed with psychopaths who enjoy maiming and the sense of power make a fertile field for the right leader to arrange a military dictatorship.

  • Anonymous

    got it in one.

  • Anonymous

    This has been going on for decades, it was started to gain more and more control over the American public. The only problem now, is the police seem to be a lot better armed than the public, and we all know where this will lead. Just one reason why I will never go to the USA again.

  • NotARedneck

    It has been a long time since the right type of person was hired by police forces. Thirty to 40 years ago, they here getting immature trash who wanted to fire guns and drive fast cars. Now they hire those who want to wear flak jackets, fire automatic weapons and drive around in armored vehicles – all without having to go to Afghanistan!

    Meanwhile, the ever expanding drug war has given both types the hope that after they blast down a door, they can stuff their clothes with large stashes of drug money.

    Most of the worst abuses are from the latter motivation.

  • NotARedneck

    People on here generally want far less government. They’d slash $1.5 trillion in spending by drastically cutting the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, Homeland Security, Prison Industrial Complex, subsidies for right wing religion, rural and corporate subsidies plus eliminate the DEA (and all other drug enforcement) entirely.

    Then half the savings could go to the health, education and welfare of Americans plus more spending of fixing infrastructure. Less government and better outcomes. Only the right wing criminal trash could be against this – in other words those who are currently in the pay of wealthy and corporate interests.

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    It would be nice if that’s the way it worked. But power doesn’t work that way. You can’t have the good without the bad – especially in this country. Try to touch the military industrial machine and you’ll have both unions and the right beating the hell out of you. IMO, the only means of making it happen is to force our leaders to get back to a surplus and wind down the debt. They shouldn’t be able to borrow money on our future – then spend it on tanks that they then sell to local police forces.

  • John Newman

    Wars aren’t caused by people,they are caused by governmemts and historically have been driven by greed and/or ecomonical/finacial collapse. Whislt we live in a society based on the fraudulent concept for the need for continual economic growth, which requires increased consumption and an increased population, there will be no peace. Until human greed is irradicated, and the human race comes to accept and participate in the need for economies to be engineered to create deflation and along with it environmental sustainability, there will be no peace and history will keep repeating itself. Is the militarization of police forces around the world really just to keep civilians in check, or is it designed to fool/distract and control the public from the realization that the collapse of the US dollar is imminent and forces are being trainned in preparation of the next world war?

  • Mr. J

    Stop using the word ‘tank’. Please, if any law enforcement agency in any town or city in the country has received an actual tank, point me to the proof. Operation and maintenance costs would be too high, many roads in the country aren’t designed to handle the weight of such a heavy tracked vehicle, and there is no practical purpose for a 120mm main gun. Aside from it’s impracticality, it would decimate whatever it’s aimed at and everything behind it for quite some ways. So please. Stop using the word tank. An armored truck, whether it has four wheels, six wheels or eight, is not a tank. Period.

    The issue at hand though. Militarization of the police is ridiculous, unnecessary, and as this article points out, jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of this nation.

  • Anonymous

    The bottom line is the American public have now become the ” terrorists”. Whether it is the NSA doing all we know they have done to invade our privacy to state and local police cars and traffic cams located all over the country conducting daily licence plate scans and storing, and using that data, all that data with no over sight at all.

    Our first and fourth amendment rights are being trampled.

    While most people could not relate to the universal tactics that were used to squash the Occupy movement events in Ferguson painfully illustrate how hard and quickly the hammer will come down when folks openly disagree and criticize their elected officials or the actions of tax payer paid employees.

    The painful realty is there is very little political clout to check and balance these over reaches in Congress or the White House.

  • jerry

    Sounds like a win-win for the 1% and their toadies.

  • jerry

    When it comes to Occupy, the media coordinated to ignore them. When they got too big to ignore, they made fun of them until most of them just gave up. But those were mostly white hoards. Theses mostly black hoards scare the elite a lot more, so the “big guns” literally had to come out.

  • Swannyww

    Using more force will not solve the unrest. It will however get a violent response from the citizens. The military equipment is used to kill, and that means it is useless against American citizens because if they start killing, the police will lose the fight to restore peace.

  • Anonymous

    Sheriff Arpaio is one of the few Sheriffs in America today that really do need the equipment needed to defend our Southern border. If this sheriff was allowed to defend our border as needed we wouldn’t be in the shape we are today ! The terrorists and the ill that are allowed to cross our border today is insane. We will all pay the price come this fall when the “children” over run every service we have ! Good luck getting into a hospital or school by the time this is over. Oh, and make sure that you enjoy that TB that your children have just been exposed to comes home !

  • http://www.hawaiian-shirt.net/ Hawaiian Shirt Aloha

    What do the police actually do? What is their job? If you say their job is to protect citizens and uphold the law, then you must conclude that the military arsenal they are amassing is there for some other purpose. The casual argument is that it is for ‘safety’, but the job is just not that dangerous. Perhaps they are doing so just because they can. If that is not the answer to why the police are gearing up for war, then one must ask, ‘What war? Who is the enemy? And why is war being waged when no war is needed… and most importantly, WHO benefits?’

  • Lee Jankowski

    My father was a State Police Officer for almost 25 years and he felt a strong loyalty to defend police officers everywhere but he began to realize the institutions that trained officers were creating a divide between officers and the public that was not healthy for the nation and in fact was quite destructive to everything he had stood for over the years as he tried to bring out the best in the people he SERVED.

  • Anonymous

    South Eastern Ukraine, Gaza, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ferguson, Missouri USA.

    The Concrete War Machine plows over the Bones of the People.

  • ALBNYC

    I’ve been saying for a while that somewhere it changed from “To Protect and Server” to “Intimidate and Control”… I mean the police cars in the city I live in, don’t even bother to have the old slogan put on them anymore…

  • ALBNYC

    Really??? Just a bit dramatic and paranoid are we? You must watch a lot of Faux News’ Fear Machine

  • ALBNYC

    Poignant!

  • ALBNYC

    Just watched the Sheriff’s reaction to a reporter asking him about the device usage, He looked like he wanted to hit the reporter. Insane, absolutely insane. Well, now we know who the “Confidential Informants” are, the person’s themselves when using their phones…

  • ALBNYC

    Worse still, they barely sell them. For all intents and purposes the military practically gives them to the local law enforcement agencies :-

  • ALBNYC

    Yes, all world powers collapse from within…

  • Queen Mennon

    most of them are ex-military who have to learn that the civilians are not the enemy. It all depends on how much they understand their role as enforcers of elite agenda vs their loyalty to the class they are born into.

  • Anonymous

    No, to faux news and if you think I’m paranoid just wait. You have no clue to who I am or what I’ve done, but I have experience with third World Countries. I also have firsthand knowledge and experience with TB. If Barry& his butt buddy holdme would allow Arpaio to do his job along with the rest of the border Sheriffs we wouldn’t be overrun by this Southern invasion. Not paranoia , just reality. Something that I suspect you of lacking.

  • Anonymous

    I lived near Albany for years and it is far removed in every sense from the cities, towns and villages near the Mexican border. Public health down there is an issue. Terrorism isn’t a threat but the Mexican gangs are every day in lots of ways. However, in general, American local police are overarmed and in too many cases undisciplined.

  • Steve Brickman

    An almost never reported scandal is how police across the country hijacked billions in federal funds for community policing. Much of the funds were instead used to buy all the big toys.

  • Steve Brickman

    True, but both Clinton and Obama have happily continued the practice. Whether out of sincere belief, or to gain political cover showing they are “tough on crime”, the heavy weapons keep flowing.

  • Anonymous

    So explain how Clinton continued the practice that Bush started. I could have sworn he was the Prez BEFORE Bush.

  • Pepper1311

    I’m old and never even a parking ticket, but I can say the police are out of control. What’s sad is we allowed this to happen.

  • erik Brown

    What does the NRA think about the militarization of the
    local police?

    This either- ups the ante a bit or makes the 2nd
    amendment worthless.

    How can a local militia take on a government force that has
    serious battle field arms?

    Under the 2nd amendment which allows citizens to
    arm against a government threat the citizens should be allowed to own military
    caliber weapons as well.

    Again–If not the 2nd amendment is worthless.

  • Katy Thrace Broadbelt

    Obama said in his first speech that he wanted a home defense force…never knew at the time it was for us. US isnt us anymore..

  • Hoss

    Again…that’s not what it’s about…it’s not about winning the battle. It’s about standing up for our rights as Americans. Clearly you have no guts and would rather submit. I will die defending my rights…proudly

  • JPC

    So Deanrd what have the Democrats who have been in power for these last many years done about it? Nothing. Why? Because they all get paid. When are you people going to figure out that neither “side” is for you – “they” are for “them” – Just wait until some perceived “National” emergency (a.k.a Katrina) invokes some of the Executive orders on the books by all Presidents – not just Obombus’.orders – you’ll be praying for the 2nd amendment and a AR-15. Hopefully, when the new SS comes to power I’ll be long gone from this world – but you are going to have to fight or die or be a prisoner of the State. It is not about race its about power. Race wars is just the diversion that allows things to get out of control so they can bring in Marshall Law. What a better way to seize power in the country. If not, can you think of a better way if you were trying to seize control in a free nation. Be Careful and vigilant because know it or not the UN has a lot to with this behind the scenes. Remember we are moving towards a one-world government and this is the start of it here.

  • JPC

    GO check out the National Archives – here are some starting points for you – you’ll be very shocked at what some of these allow. It does take some research on your part – but no President is cleaner than another when it comes to usurping the way we are supposed to make laws. You are not a citizen anymore you are a subject of the new world order. Its too easy for power to get out of hand thats why we started this country with a revolution to get away from a heavy handed King. Do you really want a King of the US? Sound far fetched doesn’t it.

    Barack Obama (2009-Present)
    EOs 13489 – 13672 | Subject Index

    The Disposition Tables list the status of Executive Orders from:

    January 8, 1937 – July 21, 2014

    Disposition Tables contain information about Executive Orders beginning with those signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and are arranged according to Presidential administration and year of signature. The tables are compiled and maintained by the Office of the Federal Register editors.

    The Disposition Tables include the following information:

    Executive order number;

    Date of signing by the President

    Federal Register volume, page number, and issue date

    Title

    Amendments (if any)

    Current status (where applicable)

    Learn More About Executive Orders And About These Tables

    George W. Bush (2001-2009)
    EOs 13198-13488 | Subject Index

    William J. Clinton (1993-2001)
    EOs 12834-13197 | Subject Index

    George Bush (1989-1993)
    EOs 12668-12833

  • JPC

    That’s because people don’t want to get involved and look up from their football games and Sunday comics to see how the local environment is closing in on them. I think 1930′s Germany experienced a little trouble with one of their leaders- but you can’t fix stupid and until the storm troopers knock on your door it means nothing – remember America’s new motto – “If it doesn’t affect me then I’m not getting involved”

  • Anonymous

    I have no aversion to research, as time allows (yes, I have a job). I have no illusions that one Prez is better than another. They each have their sins, they’re human, and the evil done can be measured in many different ways. I just came across a study rating Presidents by the deaths they caused. Interesting.

    But what you have responded to is a questions I asked of Steve Brickman and it was a simple one: How does Clinton continue George W. Bush’s practices? That’s simple not possible, so I was wondering at the logic. While I thank you for your comments and suggestions, I await (in vain, I suspect) an answer from Steve Brickman. His eagerness to blame a Democrat is all too familiar and only plays into the two party agenda. Rather sad.

  • Anonymous

    done

  • Wojtek Sokolowski

    The militarization of the US police is disturbing, no doubt, but it is the tip of an iceberg. The problem is that violent confrontation is the accepted way of solving problems in this country. I’ve seen a study by the criminologist Dane Archer a while ago,who asked US and British teenagers to write endings to stories involving conflicts (like cheating spouse or a union picket). Most of the endings written by the US teenagers involved violence, specifically gun violence, whereas most of the endings written by British teenagers involved verbal exchanges. It is indicative of broader social trends.

    What I find disturbing is the amount of violence, especially gun related violence, that goes every day in many communities and the glorification of violence by the media from Hollywood to hip-hop industry. And the response to that violence, real or perceived, that involves more violence and violent confrontations. Stand your ground laws are but one example. The enormous popularity of gun ownership supposedly in “self-defense” is another.

    Narrow focus on military-style police tactics obscures rather than addresses the bigger problem of which these tactics are but one part – the violent nature of the US society and the forces that normalize and glorify that violence – the entertainment industry and spectator sports, the gun lobby, the military-industrial complex, the Republican party, and last but not least – the bunker mentality of the US suburbia.

  • Anonymous

    This pentagon passing-along of war materials started in 1990, by George Bush Sr. Clinton continued it. Bush Jr. continued it. Obama is continuing it. ‘Nuff said. America is doomed…especially the moment you starting seeing companies making a profit from it; the most important part of this post is #5. Corporation-ran government.

  • Douglas Baker

    Cesar’s legions and equipment are home now.

  • papernpaste

    In my opinion, this country is already in BIG Trouble and headed for more trouble than most can even begin to imagine. If one continues to read and watch videos, weeding out the absurd, and connects the dots, they will see that the original concept of Government, of, by, and for the People is a thing of the past. A silent coup has taken place right under the noses of an ignorant, apathetic, and disengaged Public. All three divisions of the Federal Government have been influenced/manipulated (essentially “bought”) by the Industrial Military Complex, the Industrial Intelligence Complex, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and The Highest Bidders (the “1%”) and the People are left, strapped with the deficit spending used to fund, not infrastructure but, the agenda of a few, spanning not only our nation, but (in the name of National Security) much of the World.

    Can it be fixed? Can the People of this once-Great-Nation regain control of an out of control Federal Government? I have my doubts. One may consider watching Bill Moyer’s interview with Mike Lofgren, a former GOP congressional staff member with the powerful House and Senate Budget Committees, who joined Bill to talk about what he calls the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is “out of control” and “unconstrained.”: http://waa.ai/4CnZ

    The present situation took decades to plan and implement. Nothing happens by accident at our national level. All is planned and executed. And our ignorance and psychological training by the Government through the Main Stream Media have left us Years behind our “leaders” agenda. This isn’t a conspiracy. It has been planned and the militarization of our civilian police force has also been intentional so that when the public awakens in abject poverty and begins to demonstrate for change, in mass, the police will deal them a heavy hand, indeed, to quell their desent.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    The biggest change of the increased police militarization is that they now have bigger, badder toys to inflict damage. The sucky Us vs Them, the people are the enemy mentality, was already there.

    When I saw unprovoked police attacks on white and non-poor Americans during the Occupy Wall Street protests, I learned that no one in America is safe from police brutality. Except maybe the 1% or media elite. People who have a lot of influence on the general public or who can buy their way out of anything.

    One positive outcome of Mike Brown’s death by cop in Ferguson, MO, is that a few more people have woken up to reality.

    Sadly, so many Americans still think, “Police are my heroes. I support anything they do or say.” I suppose it will take a personal injustice for them to maybe change their minds. Their lack of empathy prevents them from accepting the experiences of thousands of people over a hundred years as valid.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    I think a lot of American democracy is already gone. I feel confident to say we the people have less democracy today than Americans had in the 1970s.

    Many social scientists mark the decline around the time President Ronald Regan was elected.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    I think the plutocrats know. That is why they fund their own private armies, um I mean, security forces.

    The worst part is that those security folks were trained by the tax payers via the military. Another example of public socialism and private profit.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    Sad to say, I think she’s outlasted her relevance for America.

    Lady Justice may be joining the Statue of Liberty in exile soon.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    If you saw what went on in Ferguson, the police still use dogs for crowd control/disruption. I guess breaking out the fire hoses was the one line they didn’t want to cross.

  • Anonymous

    Not addressed is the fact the problem often begins with the dysfunctional courts. Judges issue warrants without clear probable cause. Someone, while putting their neck on the chopping block for perjury, had to make a CLEAR statement of probable cause, which included first hand knowledge. Instead, they extort assistance from arrestees and rely on their statements (hearsay).

    Keep in mind, yesterday that judge was another marginally competent attorney who, by political ability, attained the position. Needless to day, our law books are replete with instances of judges being disbarred, jailed, rulings over turned and so forth. And those are just the ones who acted bad enough to get caught and hung.

  • Anonymous

    WE are Cesar. We are the government. All those others are merely our “representatives. Of course, the fist thing we have to do is help the public understand this. Next, we must help it understand what type of government we have, what to do when our servants will not obey.

    Look up qui tam (pronounced key-tom). There is a lot of opportunity out there anytime a contractor, which includes public servants, don’t do that for which they were paid.

    Next, do a quick search on the word bailment (hint, someone holds something of yours and has varying degrees of duties to care for it. Perhaps even your rights.

  • Anonymous

    In truth, it gave all power hungry wannbe tyrants an excuse to wander these roads. However, it started long before that. Future cops were being taught there are only two out there, them and “pukes, decades ago.

    Effective and efficient police are friends with the public. We have more power to stop, report or solve their crimes than they do. We are hundreds of thousands to one.

  • lostinbago

    Nixon in 68 was elected on a ‘Law and Order’ platform in response to quieting vietnam war protesters. It has simply followed a standard growth pattern of all governmental programs since that time. All bureaucracies tend to increase their area of influence.

  • lostinbago

    Compare with the original WW! tanks which had no guns. These are tanks.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. The most incarcerated nation in history does not deserve a “Statue of Liberty.” When the police can and do ram though doors and walls with military equipment because they suspect the occupants are using or growing some “unapproved” herb, we no long deserve a ?Statue of Liberty.”

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    Imagine how differently things would be if this funds went to positively build up the communities rather than control and crush them.

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    Imagine how differently things would be if the funds went to positively build up the communities rather than control and crush them.

  • Tom B

    Cops have turned into thugs with a license to kill with a GET OUT OF JAIL free card.Crime in America is way down while cops in other countries rarely kill people.People need to do a search on police related deaths in other countries to see the data.

  • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

    “…a government of, by and for the people…”
    Words from a political speech, not law, not our heritage.

  • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

    “should be allowed”

  • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

    Imagine how different things would be is people were allowed to keep their “funds” in the first place.

  • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

    Hopefully we can get a Democrat into the White House who will make all the pain and horror caused by the Republicans, go away!

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    There’s no way millions of humans can live in relative harmony without some kind of government or state. That’s reality. Taxes are the price we pay to live in civilization.

    The best we can do is try to influence and shape the government to serve the majority of people. Once things get out of balance, like the pro-powerful government is becoming, that’s when things get dangerous.

  • http://archive.org/details/antifederalist_0707_librivox The Federal Farmer

    You left out “roads” and “Somalia”.

  • Pete Joachim

    Maybe the police should sell these weapons overseas to help balance their underfunded state pension plans – they can retire on the backs of supporting global terrorism – perfect capitalistic venture – would make every businessman proud.

  • Anonymous

    well said MegGuest. and to take it a step further, that is exactly what they want, they want us to bow in fear, to become depressed and willingly give in to their hideous demands. the best thing we can do is to not allow ourselves to be their slaves or victims and to stand and face them head on without fear.

  • Bascoda

    If we give them toys, they won’t be able to resist playing with them. The problem is, these toys are deadly, and the easiest way the police can justify using them is if they turn the people they are sworn to “protect and to serve” into the enemy. When you treat a person or a group of people as ‘the enemy,’ that’s what they will become. The flip side of that, of course, is that the police themselves then become the enemy, which they have. The beginnings of a solution to this is to take their toys away from them.

  • doc holiday

    Although we do have hero police officers we also have dirtbag criminals with badges running around. The question is if the courts will not do their job what is the solution??

  • doc holiday

    Except our Police fire real bullets.

  • doc holiday

    Here is a thought fire all police and replace them with security guards. They have to follow the law just like the rest of us and can be fired at any time.

  • William Clements

    You good people on the “Left” just might be begging for the police on this coming Friday, 31-OCT-2014. Think about it – - What about public safety in all parts of America (not just Ferguson, Missouri) for this coming Halloween? Are the police preparing? Will the liberal-required “sensitivity training” cause police to hesitate, and prevent them from protecting the law-abiding majority from Eric Holder’s rampaging minority? In many parts of the country there are traditions of inner-city riots and flash mobs on Halloween. Consider the timing of the “leaked” Mike Brown autopsy in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Justice’s Department’s whining response. Is it just bad luck? It’s been a tradition for inner-city thugs to riot on Halloween, and this 31-October falls on a Friday. I suspect that this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 31-October thru 02-November could be one continuous all-weekend-long orgy of riots, looting and arson. Fortunately, my family is well-armed and living in a clean neighborhood. Good Luck to everyone else…

  • JonThomas

    “Clean neighborhood”? What exactly does that mean? Is it bleached white? No dark ‘stains’?

    What an unbelievable pile of racist tripe!

    Until you just now posted your advertisement and instigation of ‘riots’ no one has ever heard of riots on Halloween. I don’t observe that day as special or as a ‘holi’-day, but the gist of your comment is quite evident. You are hoping for a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Moderator, I know I shouldn’t butt-in, and you are of course free to ignore my words and/or delete this section of my comment, but please consider removing Mr. Clement’s racist, violence-inducing comment.