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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Ferguson Fracas and the Militarization of the Police

For years to come, the urban rioting in Ferguson, MO and the local police's handling of the event will stand as a case study on how NOT to do public relations.  Everything the local police leadership has done has made the situation worse.  The cop shooting a jaywalker--presumably after a physical encounter--deserves a thorough investigation and a reappraisal of policies nationwide.  You don't have to be a crazy civil libertarian to wonder, "why did this incident lead to bullets flying in the first place?"

The local police's decision to release a store video showing a huge guy intimidating a shop owner and stealing some stuff, only antagonized the rioters. What were they going to say, oh you're right, Michael Brown really had it coming?

Mark Steyn writes here about the militarization of the police nationwide and how this probably hasn't made us safer.  See Cigars, But Not Close  Steyn is right that there should have been a dashcam on the patrol car that recorded the incident. The Ferguson PO must be the only one in the country that doesn't have dashcams. 

The militarization of the police has been going on for a long time, but it got a lot of wind in its sails after 9/11, when new equipment was justified on anti-terrorism grounds.  All police departments seem to have SWAT teams, which they call out at the drop of a hat.  I attended a local Crimestoppers banquet last year in which one of the speakers discussed her role in making sure all community police had K-9 units.  No one asked, why do they need them?  At the same event, one cop was getting an award for shooting down a guy for robbing an cell phone store in a mall.  He fired about six bullets.  In a mall.

As the philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel wrote years ago in On Power, the decline in authority has led inevitably to the rise in police.
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