Filed under: Domestic Policy, Law, National Security | Tags: Communication is Key, Policing in America, War Surplus Materials
Police militarization has worried a lot of people. Some of the vehicles that police departments have acquired are distinctly scary. Most of us whose encounters with the police are limited to exceeding the speed limit can’t imagine being confronted with an officer in full military gear, helmet and assault weapon.
Policing is intended to protect civilians and communities, it is defensive in nature. But there are exceptions, and there are crazy people, and there are riots and armed standoffs. Apparently one of the worst situations is a confrontation with meth-cookers who can be heavily armed and high on drugs.
We want our police to be safe. They apply to do dangerous work, and train in how to deal with bad situations. Domestic disputes can elevate into something truly dangerous to everybody nearby.
The solution, as in most things, is communication. Show the vehicles and the equipment to the public. Kids would love to see an ex-military MRAP (Mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicle. A community that understands why their department acquired such a vehicle, why the department thinks it necessary, and something about their training and goals.
Panic comes when police show up with unexpected and unnecessary force. Understanding defuses scary situations.
On the other hand, I don’t understand why the Agriculture Department needs a swat team armed with machine guns.