The Militarization of the police and the Surveillance State Sept. 26

Watching the protests in Charlotte N.C. we saw the use of overwhelming police and National Guard forces. Before the arrival of the National Guard there was some destruction of private property, there were rocks and bottles thrown. If I was on the police line I would have been grateful for the riot helmets shields and bullet proof vests. So what is wrong with using military tactics, uniforms, arms, and equipment to quell riots?

First of all lets look at what we mean by the militarization of police. According to Wikipedia: Militarization of police involves the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored personnel carriers, assault riflessubmachine gunsflashbang grenades, grenade launcherssniper rifles, and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. The militarization of law enforcement is also associated with intelligence agency-style information gathering aimed at the public and political activists, and a more aggressive style of law enforcement.

I think that when facing well armed militia organizations, that have body armor,  automatic weapons,  explosives,RPG’s and sometimes 50 cal. weapons, they might need armored personnel carriers and even tanks, but when in inner city areas, it should be more important to establish trust and good will with the community. When it looks like a heavily armed army invades the community it is difficult to trust them.

The main question is, should the military treat you and me as the enemy, or as the people that hired them to serve and protect us?

Watching the world stage, and seeing the power of the military to overthrow governments and crush revolts, it is perhaps good to review the Posse comitatus Act of 1878. “It shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section.”

“This does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.”

The Young Turks Militarization of Police 5:00min.

After 9/11 the power of the government to conduct surveillance was expanded dramatically. They can now monitor emails, phone calls and other electronic means of communications. Does that violate the 4th amendment which says? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,  particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” 5:20 min

The FBI has admitted that it is using drones for surveillance. We currently have few controls or guidelines to prevent their abuse.

Another method of surveillance is the use of cameras. Britain has nearly 5 million cameras. Can they be responsible for the low rate of crime in Britain?

The basic question should be is the government there to protect us or to persecute us? Should we fear the police, or should we feel comfortable going to them for help? Can the police count on it’s citizens for information about crime if the citizens are treated as hostile terrorists?

Finally we should ask, is there a need for all of this surveillance and the military might of the police? The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that there has been an “almost one thousand percent upsurge in “militias and radical antigovernment groups … from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.” Fifty six percent of domestic terrorist attacks are from far right groups.

Despite that, America has suffered far fewer terrorist attacks than most other countries, and the chances of your being killed in a terrorist attack is about 1 in 21 million. This is far less than the risk of dying from just about any other means of death including lightening.

So the final question should be, is the loss of freedom due to the increased surveillance and the danger of a militarized police force worth the small increase in security in our lives?

About altruist1

I am a raging progressive and a writer. I received Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Arts with a Secondary teaching certificate and a minor in Physics. I taught for about ten years, then did various jobs including welding,fabrication and traffic engineering, and am now retired. I am interested in science, energy, the environment, and architecture.
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