This Is Why Your Local Police Department Might Have a Tank
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Time Magazine
Posted: July 1st, 2014
As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have wound down, police departments have been obtaining military equipment, vehicles and uniforms that have flowed directly from the Department of Defense. According to a new report by the ACLU, the federal government has funneled $4.3 billion of military property to law enforcement agencies since the late 1990s, including $450 million worth in 2013. Five hundred law enforcement agencies have received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, built to withstand bomb blasts. More than 15,000 items of military protective equipment and battle dress uniforms have been transferred. More Americans are becoming aware of the militarization of policing, but the use of paramilitary tactics to fight the war on drugs has been going on for a very long time, says the ACLUs Kara Dansky. As police departments have added military gear, theyve also upped the number of SWAT deployments, especially for use in drug warrants. Almost two-thirds of SWAT deployments between 2011 and 2012 were for drug raids. Many of those units, says Kraska, base their strategy and tactics on military special operations like Navy SEALs. When people refer to the militarization of police, its not in a pejorative or judgmental sense, [Peter Kraska, a criminal justice professor at Eastern Kentucky University] says. Contemporary police agencies have moved significantly along a continuum culturally, materially, operationally, while using a Navy SEALs model. All of those are clear indications that theyre moving away from a civilian model of policing.
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