Military Characteristics Spreading Among U.S. Police Forces


Are U.S. police forces becoming militarized, asks the New York Times, citing riot police tear-gassing Occupy protesters in Oakland, New York City’s nighttime invasion of Zuccotti Park, carried out with D-Day-like secrecy by officers with klieg lights and a military-style sound machine, and campus police in helmets and face shields dousing demonstrators at the University of California, Davis with pepper spray.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and the Homeland Security dollars that flowed to police in response to them, have further encouraged police forces to embrace paramilitary tactics like those that first emerged in the “war on drugs.” More disturbing than riot gear or heavy-duty weapons slung across the backs of police is a “militaristic mind-set” creeping into officers' approach to their jobs, said Timothy Lynch of the libertarian Cato Institute. “It is in the way they search and raid homes and the way they deal with the public,” he said.

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