Jet-black rifles leveled at unarmed citizens and mine-resistant vehicles once used to patrol Iraq and Afghanistan rumbling through small town America. The Washington Post says these are scenes playing out in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal shooting of an unarmed Michael Brown. For veterans of the wars that the Ferguson protests so closely resemble, the police response has appeared to be not only heavy-handed but out of step with the most effective ways for both law enforcement and military personnel to respond to demonstrations.
“You see the police are standing online with bulletproof vests and rifles pointed at peoples chests,” said Jason Fritz, a former Army officer and an international policing operations analyst. “That's not controlling the crowd, that's intimidating them.” Scriven King, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force's law enforcement component and a SWAT officer, attributed the initial spasm of violence to a lack of leadership and mismanagement of public perception on the Ferguson Police Department's behalf. “The first thing that went wrong was when the police showed up with K-9 units,” Scriven said. “The dogs played on racist imagery…it played the situation up and [the department] wasn't cognizant of the imagery.” King added that, instead of deescalating the situation, the police responded with armored vehicles and SWAT officers clad in bulletproof vests and military-grade rifles.