May 30, 2015

DEMILITARIZATION OF POLICE: MAKE IT PERMANENT:  So argues this commentary in Roll Call:

It just got more difficult for police to arm themselves like soldiers. Recently, President Barack Obama announced a plan to de-militarize law enforcement with an executive order curtailing the federal programs that provide weapons of war to local police. This was a surprisingly bold announcement, given that national consensus post-Ferguson seems to be that the solution to an increasingly militarized police force is more training, or body-worn cameras. The Obama administration ignored that consensus by issuing this executive order. And it was exactly the right thing to do. . . .

To be clear, the administration’s bold action does not let Congress off the hook. To the contrary, it is now more important than ever that Congress pass legislation to codify these changes or even take them further. The next administration could just as easily reverse this policy as this one put it into place. That would be unacceptable, because we have learned far too much in the last year to move backward. Without real efforts to de-militarize police, there will almost certainly be more Fergusons.

The “more Fergusons” comment aside (the riots had no connection to the militarization of police), I agree with this, as I see no legitimate reason for police to have military weaponry, other than perhaps limited riot gear in larger cities. The section 1033 program should be scaled back by Congress. But the militarization of police and excessive use of miiltary-grade force has gone much farther than this, just ask Giggles the Deer, may she rest in peace, or more disturbingly, 75-year-old Roger Hoeppner of Stettin, Wisconsin, or the parents of toddler Bounkham Phonesavanh.

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