Police Are Over-Militarized

Yes

  • Police are civilians – not a standing army
  • Military mentality is not the proper mentality for a civilian police force
  • MRAPS, BearCats and Robocop-style body armor create an unbridgeable gulf between the police and the public
  • Vastly asymmetrical force may lead to decreased restraint on the part of the police
  • The use of rifles in urban areas is very dangerous to bystanders and homeowners
  • In a democracy, giving the police the tools of a police-state is not wise

Police are civilians, not a standing army; and the legal and constitutional constraints under which they must operate are very different from those that apply to our armed forces.  The purpose of police is to deal with “ordinary” threats.  Police are not necessarily trained in the use of military equipment; and, conversely, military equipment is not designed to address ordinary civilian threats.  An over-militarized police force gives the public the impression that the police have – and will use –disproportionate force.  This fosters distrust and fear in the public of unjustified and disproportional treatment, which feeds a cycle of deteriorating relations between the public and the police, and actually can make the police and the public less safe.  Moreover, some police officers may feel that their job is to “control” the public, and they may be inclined to overreact and use disproportionate force “for the public good.”  Supplying these officers with military equipment may feed into that mentality and both exacerbate their perception of superiority and their perceived need for disproportional force, facilitating their acting on these impulses.  If circumstances in a community escalate beyond those that the police are equipped to handle, then other measures, such as use of National Guard troops, can be used to address them.  This would eliminate the casual or disproportional use of military force, and subject any decisions to use such force to a second layer of consideration beyond that of local police departments.

No

  • Better and increased military training will provide the police with increased capability for handling large-scale civil disorder
  • Better protection of police from threats
  • Deterrent effect to rioters, terrorists
  • Heightened sense of security by the public
  • Heightened confidence and response time by police in dealing with threats

Police officers are often required to handle extremely intense and potentially dangerous situations, such as mass protests, which would traditionally be handled (at least if they were prolonged) by the military or national guard, which are trained in the use of military equipment.  When faced with such situations, police should be provided with similar tools.  Having asymmetrical protection and firepower protects officers and reduces their stress levels in appropriate situations, and thereby allows them more time to make good decisions, rather than having to react too quickly, which could lead to erring on the side of taking inappropriate action, using deadly force, etc., for fear of their own personal safety and the safety of the public.  In addition, the existence of asymmetrical equipment on the side of the police in appropriate situations gives the general public a sense of security knowing that, if necessary, police can take swift and effective action to protect the public, rather than engaging in a “battle of equals” such as prolonged shootouts in public settings.  So long as police are properly trained on military equipment and it is deployed only when necessary and under reasonable procedures and guidelines, it is a positive tool for law enforcement.


 

Posted in: Point/Counterpoint

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.