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Blurred Lines: The Militarization of Police Highlighted in Ferguson
To some, the events in Ferguson highlight a growing danger.
The events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri shed light on the profound and extensive changes within local police departments that seemingly have come in under the radar. Just last month Eyewitness News reported on the arrival of several war vehicles recently acquired by the Henderson County Sheriff's Office. Although the department maintains the vehicles will be used entirely for search and rescue operations, it highlights a seeming militarized police presence right here in the tri-state. The instance of the H.C.S.O. using military war vehicles for search and rescue blurs the lines between police and military, in regards to equipment at the least.
CNN estimated there were up to 1,000 protesters at the peak of the demonstrations in Ferguson. They were met with officers armed with tear gas in full riot gear.
After the the arrest of one of the Huffington Post's reporters, their Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim said: "Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time."
Just weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union issued an extensive report on the issue. "American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight," the report said.
The weapons are meant to help in the "failed War on Drugs," the report said. "Instead, the use of hyper-aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties."
"Militarization of policing encourages officers to adopt a 'warrior' mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies," the report added.
Today Rand Paul did an Op-Ed piece for Time Magazine titled 'We Must Demilitarize the Police.'