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January 2, 2015

The Real Motives Behind Police Militarization in the U.S.

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

Do we want American streets to become a war zone?

Through our research at the Truth in Media Project, in this video we outline “The 1033 Program,” a.k.a. “Department of Defense Excess Property Program” that is a federal grant scheme, and provides the mechanism in which the D.O.D. gifts surplus military equipment recently used on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan to county sheriffs and local police departments.

As such, it is through the 1033 Program in which local law enforcement such as those in Washington, Iowa and Concord, New Hampshire, to highlight just two examples, received fully armored military-grade vehicles, such as MRAPs and Bearcats, designed for war zones.

However, excess ground vehicles are only a portion of 1033, the program also sends police departments (e.g., Los Angeles) military-grade aircraft. Despite what media spin-doctors will tell you, this military equipment is not being granted to police and sheriff departments for the purpose of fighting the war on terror.

Rather, this D.O.D. program is nothing more than the latest symptom of America’s ever-expanding war on drugs. On average, 40,000 times a year SWAT teams are carrying out military style raids in order to serve drug warrants.

Moreover, the absurd equipment dispersed to local police is only part of the equation, as the normalization of transforming police officers into combat ready soldiers in conjunction with a change in traditional civilian law enforcement rules-of-engagement from “Protect and Serve,” to those used in war, “Eliminate All Threats,” presents a less visible but greater danger to our liberties.

In short, don’t be distracted by the claims that police forces are simply “better trained” than they have been in the past. Rather, police forces are being trained as military units by former members of the military.

Further, we indicate while the mainstream media has highlighted militarized police with tabloid-like fanfare regarding the outrageous acquisition of equipment, old media editorial pages have had almost nothing to say regarding the implementation of military-style tactics and raids whose casualties include innocent men, women and children and are far too often executed upon the wrong address.

Thus, the threat to our liberties presented by militarized police departments will require a multipronged approach to mitigate this burgeoning problem plaguing the streets of America, which can arguably be stated is far more pressing than the federal government’s desire to prosecute narcotics.

This issue was brought home for one of the Truth in Media team members, when one of the guys he had served with in Iraq (before he became a peace activist) was shot and killed by police in Pomona, California in early November when they received a call to respond to a potentially suicidal individual suffering from PTSD.

This issue isn’t just black and white, and it’s going to take all of us to help guide our law enforcement agencies back into being the keepers of the peace that they once were. We hope you will do much more than watch this video and hope you will get involved with your local government, as we believe that creating a peaceful future needs to start in all our hometowns.

 

 

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Author: Ben Swann

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Yahoo News

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