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Police Paramilitarization, in Ferguson and Beyond

August 14, 2014 in Economics

As the unfolding events in Ferguson, MO—a town of 21,000 outside of St. Louis—demonstrate, America’s domestic police forces can come to resemble the standing armies the Founders feared. “Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb?,” asks Cato’s Walter Olson, why fire tear gas canisters at people standing in their own yards? “Shock and awe” tactics are fast becoming the new normal as federal policy has fed an unhealthy warrior mentality among what used to be called “peace officers”—with federal subsidies and Pentagon giveaways of military ordnance. The clampdown in Ferguson highlights the dangers of our drift toward paramilitary policing, as well as the broader trend of law-enforcement lawlessness documented by Cato’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project. For relevant Cato work/events, see:

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