Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force
Continued from previous page
Training and technology-sharing between the defense and civilian law enforcement seems responsible for the pervasive culture of militarism plaguing domestic law enforcement. In fact, an estimated 46 percent of paramilitary units were trained by "active-duty military experts in special operations." Lawrence Korb, a former official in the Reagan administration, famously said that soldiers are “trained to vaporize, not Mirandize." As police officers continue to emulate soldiers in their weaponry, language, tactics, uniform, and mindset, it won't be long before they vaporize instead of Mirandize as well.
We have created circumstances under which the American people are no longer individuals protected by the Bill of Rights, but rather "enemy combatants." The consequences of such a mindset have proven time and again to be lethal, as we now rely on military ideology and practice to respond to crime and justice. For some insight into the implications, one needn't look any further than minority communities, which have long been the victims of paramilitary forces posing as police officers. Black and Latino communities in the inner-cities of Washington DC, Detroit and Chicago have witnessed first-hand the deadly consequences of militarization on American soil. Military culture now permeates all aspects of our society. Does anyone really believe that heavily armed soldiers trained to kill are capable of maintaining an atmosphere of nonviolence?
It's important to remember that police officers are not responsible for instituting these policies. Over the last three decades local police departments supplied with military uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, and training, were told they were fighting a war on drugs, crime and terror. The politicians who instituted these policies are responsible for the militarization creeping into civilian law enforcement. What might the end result be if the distinction between police and military ceases to exist? The answer is a police state -- and certain segments of our society are already living in one.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.