Militarization of Law Enforcement

There have been an increasing number of stories of the militarization of law enforcement and the abridgment of citizen and human rights. This is something of which we should all be aware. As Ramsey Clark said,

 “There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.”

Today we share a new ACLU report and several articles on this topic followed by an article about a bill to test the rape kit backlog, which we hope passes.

imgresWAR COMES HOME: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing
ACLU, June 2014, 98 pages

Excerpt from Conclusion:
“The use of paramilitary weapons and tactics to conduct ordinary law enforcement—especially to wage the failed War on Drugs and most aggressively in communities of color—has no place in contemporary society. It is not too late to change course—through greater transparency, more oversight, policies that encourage restraint, and limitations on federal incentives, we can foster a policing culture that honors its mission to protect and serve, not to wage war.”

11 Shocking Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces
The militarization of police is harming civil liberties, impacting children, and transforming neighborhoods into war zones.
AlterNet / By Alex Kane

“The “war on terror” has come home–and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives.  The culprit is the militarization of the police.

The weapons used in the “war on terror” that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.

“Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorize the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.  …”

Beware the Plugged-In Cop
The Crime Report, David J. Krajicek, June 28, 2014

“…the sweeping data collection–with devices including fixed closed-circuit surveillance cameras, wearable police cameras, license-plate readers, Stingray cellphone trackers, GPS devices, drones, and iris, face and voice recognition tools–raises fundamental civil liberties issues.

“The collected data is shared among various police agencies, who are able to create patterns and profiles of individual citizens, added panelist Ali Winston, an independent journalist who has covered police surveillance issues for the Center for Investigative Reporting and other outlets.

“Winston said the technology is “driving a fundamental shift in American policing…

“Much of the technology has been adapted from military uses, he said. …”

Rape Evidence Backlog
New York Times, The Editorial Board, June 28, 2014

“The failure of police departments around the country to test and analyze evidence connected to sexual assaults shows contempt for victims, public safety and justice. Medical personnel collect saliva, semen, blood, hair and other DNA evidence from victims after an attack in so-called rape kits. These kits, however, often sit unopened for years in police evidence rooms or public crime labs.

“Experts say the number of kits awaiting analysis and entry of the DNA profiles into state and national databases — a crucial step for solving cases and identifying other crimes committed by an assailant — is likely well over 100,000.”




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