AnonHQ would like to predicate this article by saying we understand police officers have an extremely difficult job and risk their lives on a daily basis. If you have not seen the following video you might find it extremely eye opening.
With that said there is a fundamental problem between police and society which only seems to be escalating in recent years. One of the primary problems people have with police is the phenomenon of police militarization. When you put people in black military style clothing, have them drive around military issued vehicles and arm them with tactical War equipment, this is undoubtedly going to instill a certain psychological mindset upon the people using them. There is an increasingly large number of ex-military serving in police forces and hiring offices even admit “veterans get first look when it comes to accepting new applications.” Many people throughout the world fear that some police officers forget the difference between being a solider and being a police officer. These are two entirely different things.
A Brief History of Police Militarization
When did this behavior start?
The common logic you will find is that this all started with President Nixon and the declaration for a “War on drugs” in 1971: http://www.drugpolicy.org/new-solutions-drug-policy/brief-history-drug-war
Essentially to fight a new War against drugs police departments needed new and updated equipment to physically battle mafia, cartels, drug lords, gangs etc. This is what started the trend at least.
It was not until 1997 that the United States government began to share military resources with law enforcement officials. In 1997 the United States government initiated Program 1033 allowing the Department of Defense to directly provide military equipment to police agencies:https://www.justnet.org/other/1033_program.html
The most important part of Program 1033 you need to understand is that all of the equipment provided by Department of Defense comes at no cost to the police department. Why is this such an important detail? You might not know but every local police agency is directly funded by the taxes of the towns they operate in. Therefor tax payers and the community do have a say over police budgets and expenditure. If the citizens feel the police are spending too much money, spending money unjustly, or need more funding they have the right to lobby legislature about the issue.
Program 1033 provides legal/political loop hole to this problem. Since the military equipment is provided at no cost, it has no effect on local tax revenue. Therefore the citizens have no say in the exchange whatsoever. Even when communities objects t0 the police utilizing a MRAP on regular duty, its does not matter. All police departments have to do is apply for one. For example you can read this story out of New Hampshire in 2015 about a town getting a MRAP despite the objection of the towns people: http://www.wmur.com/news/keene-residents-at-odds-over-an-armored-police-vehicle/27890844
“There’s been a real steady increase in police stations taking advantage of this, it’s a heck of a good deal. ‘Here’s the MRAP free of charge. You’ve got to pay for maintenance and gas, but other than that we’ll take care of the rest.” – Mark Wright – D.O.D. Representative.
Since the Program 1033 began in 19997 the Department of Defense has given away more then 5,000 armored Humvee’s and over 600 MRAP’s to American police agencies. This is just vehicles, those numbers come in addition to guns, vests, equipment, et cetera: http://news.yahoo.com/as-wars-wind-down–small-town-cops-inherit-armored-vehicles-233505138.html
Terrorism, American Culture & The 2nd Amendment
For the same reasons police needed equipment to fight against drug cartels in the 1970’s, terrorism/domestic terrorism in modern society has been used as justification for continued use of military equipment in 2016. For example law enforcement leaders are on record of saying “increased military equipment and tactics are necessary to respond to violent emergency events such as school shootings.”
It is no secret America is a unique nation when it comes to gun rights. The fact that America has 2nd Amendment rights and so many Americans are armed with deadly weapons, this is also used as justification for police militarization. Ironically, preventing a national police state or government intrusion by force is exactly why the founding fathers gave the American public the right the bear arms.
That aside, police continue to maintain they need superior, military grade equipment, so they can safely and effectively defeat and any problems that may manifest in society. Police militarization is almost argued as a defense for police forces in this way.
Police militarization aside what is the fundamental duty of police officers? This is to protect and serve the communities they represent: http://work.chron.com/obligations-job-duties-police-officers-24841.html
Police officers are not soldiers, they are members of a community.