There has been a flurry of coverage in the media lately on the subjects of both police brutality and the militarization of police forces across the country.
Both of these things are totally unacceptable and violate the public’s trust.
The death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Missouri several weeks ago has helped to spark this controversy.
It is incredibly unfortunate that it takes such tragedy to shed light on these issues.
This shooting also quickly brought to light that the nation’s police forces may be more than what you would expect.
The government program 1033 through the Defense Department allows for surplus military gear to be allocated to local police forces upon request.
Shortly after the shooting of Brown, protesters came face to face with police officers who just so happened to be donning some of this surplus military gear.
But why? There is no reason a local police force should have military grade equipment.
This is the fundamental problem.
The “give the other guy a bigger stick” mentality simply doesn’t work. That type of thinking is what gets so many people killed in this country.
Instead of our government stepping in and saying, “this isn’t right” they are saying “here, take some of our militaries ‘bigger sticks’ because they have plenty.”
Militarizing police forces seems to be a very easy way to have the public turn against them.
I am not saying that police officers are bad, a position that many of my peers would be quick to take.
I value public service and have great respect for those who choose that path. But it is exactly that, a public service.
The public does not need to be served with military grade police roaming our streets. It creates a sense of animosity and distrust.
There should not be such animosity toward public servants.
These are the types of things that fuel fires that do not need to be fueled.
Increasing the strength of local law enforcement will only lead to more violence and more distrust from the public.
What happens when that trust is totally gone?
Can we, as a society, really afford to travel down that road?
I think not. The police force does not need to be militarized, we already have an astronomically large department for that in this country. It’s called the United States military.