• Disturbing trend: D.C. ramps up militarization of police forces across nation
By John Friend
Recent reports emerging from Utah have traditional American conservatives, nationalists and civil libertarians in an outrage at the extent of the militarization of domestic United States law enforcement agencies, including their practices, tactics and equipment.
And while the military-industrial-banking complex may be slavering over the profits it sees from programs like Utah’s, regular citizens are increasingly in the crosshairs of these new soldier-cops, a dangerous prospect for anyone who may find themselves at the mercy of U.S. law enforcement.
A January 19, 2014 article in The Salt Lake Tribune exposed the DoD Excess Property Program, or “1033 program,” run by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) “to transfer leftover military materiel (supplies and equipment) to U.S. state and local civilian law enforcement agencies,” including “grenade launchers, helicopters, military robots, M-16 assault rifles, armored vehicles, riverboats, Battle Dress Uniform clothing, and information technology equipment.”
This past year, the Utah Highway Patrol—totaling about 500 troopers—received a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, typically reserved for war zones. According to The Tribune, law enforcement agencies in Utah also received 1,230 rifles, four grenade launchers, 17 .45-caliber pistols and a variety of magazines and accessories through the 1033 program.
Congress initiated the 1033 program in 1997, which “has transferred more than $4.3 billion worth of property to law enforcement,” according to the Law Enforcement Support Office section of DLA’s website.
The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country’s founders would likely have viewed police, as they exist today, as a standing army, and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in today’s world. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing—one that would have shocked the conscience of America’s founders.
Rise of the Warrior Cop traces the arc of U.S. law enforcement from the constables and private justice of colonial times to present-day SWAT teams and riot cops. Today, relentless “war on drugs” and “war on terror” pronouncements from politicians, along with battle-clad police forces with tanks and machine guns have dangerously blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. Balko’s fascinating, frightening narrative shows how martial rhetoric and reactionary policies have put modern law enforcement on a collision course with the values of a free society.
Softcover, 352 pages, $19
The increasingly militarized nature of domestic American law enforcement has led to widespread abuses of American citizens and consistent violations of their basic civil and human rights. As AMERICAN FREE PRESS’s own Dave Gahary recently reported, many American citizens have tragically seen their own family pets shot and killed as a result of out-of-control police tactics across the country. The American people, including women, young adults and the elderly, have been viciously abused by thuggish cops in recent years, with many of these incidents being filmed and uploaded to the Internet.
Many attribute these types of abuses to the militarization of American police forces.
According to a video from “TheLipTV,” “Over the last decade we have seen over 5,000 people killed by police in the United States,” when “4,489 solders have been killed since the beginning of the Iraq war. Since 9-11, you are 29 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than you are by a terrorist.”
The events of 9-11 have been used to justify not only the fraudulent and disastrous wars America and her North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies currently find themselves involved in, but also to justify the tyrannical abuses of the Constitution and the rise and establishment of the militarized police state, epitomized by the Department of Homeland Security.
Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist with the Central Intelligence Agency and current executive director of the Council for the National Interest, believes that since the events of 9-11, “the United States has abandoned many liberties, constitutional constraints, and its rule of law to become more like Israel”—which includes the increasing militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies and organizations—in order to combat perceived terrorist threats.
Even basic law enforcement practices in the U.S., such as serving arrest warrants and policing the streets, are becoming more and more militarized.
“When police use military-style tactics and weapons to serve warrants on people’s homes,” said Kara Dansky in The Tribune article, a senior lawyer investigating the 1033 program on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, “what we’ve seen is violence ensue.”