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TIME Op-Ed: We Must Demilitarize the Police

August 14, 2014 in Politics & Elections

READ OP-ED HERE: http://time.com/3111474/rand-paul-ferguson-police/
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.The outrage in Ferguson is understandable-though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.Glenn Reynolds, in Popular Mechanics, recognized the increasing militarization of the police five years ago. In 2009 he wrote:Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.’The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson observed this week how the rising militarization of law enforcement is currently playing out in Ferguson:Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (”This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.’) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that ‘We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone’?Olson added, ‘the dominant visual aspect of the story, however, has been the sight of overpowering police forces confronting unarmed protesters who are seen waving signs or just their hands.’How did this happen?Most police officers are good cops and good people. It is an unquestionably difficult job, especially in the current circumstances.There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement.Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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