Militarization of Police Forces

Aug. 14, 2014

Tear gas, armored vehicles, and assault rifles aimed at an angry crowd looks more like a war zone than the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, according to John Whitehead.

After several nights of chaos since the fatal shooting of a Missouri teenager, police in Ferguson are using what many are calling excessive force against citizens. Whitehead, of The Rutherford Institute, says he's not surprised.

“Once the police put on military outfits, helmet, armored vehicles, AR-16's, sometimes armored with bullets they use over in Afghanistan, studies show they become the military. So when they view us, it's almost like they view and enemy combatant.”

Whitehead says part of the move to militarize the police begins during training, but a large component is the weapons being given to police departments around the nation.

"The Pentagon through the Department of Homeland Security is handing out all of this equipment basically free to policemen," said Whitehead.

According to Whitehead, military style tactics have communities on edge. He feels it's time to move away from weapons of war, to making officers more approachable.

"The shoot-first-ask-questions-later, that needs to be reversed," Whitehead said." Change the color of uniform from black, because that's the Darth Vader look. Go back to the blue or brown outfits. Do away with automatic rifles. We don't need people running around with automatic rifles."

He also suggested oversight committees be put in place to monitor police and make sure appropriate responses are used in every law enforcement matter.

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