Is Police Militarization the New Normal?
As police forces around the country become increasingly militarized, concern continues to grow among many politicians and citizens alike. Perhaps that’s why Oakland Mayor Jean Quan just announced that next year they won’t pursue a contract to host Urban Shield, the conference for law enforcement and first responders that has been described as part trade show, part emergency preparedness course.
The five-day event was held there for the second year in a row earlier this month. The 8th annual event is funded by the federal government, and carries a price tag of over one million dollars. Much of the equipment on show illustrates the growing militarization of our police forces.
More Americans are becoming aware of a trend that has been going on since the 1990s, when the DoD 1033 program began putting surplus military equipment, such as assault rifles, body armor, and armed vehicles, into the hands of “state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.”
Over 5 billion dollars worth of military grade equipment has been passed down since then.
Police militarization was on display in Ferguson, and during the Occupy crackdown, including the violent eviction of Occupy Oakland, which left Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen with a fractured skull and brain damage after he was hit with a police projectile.
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