War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

Police RaidThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has recently released a report on a dangerous new trend in law enforcement: the unnecessary militarization of American policing. According to the ACLU, this militarization is due in large part to “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.” Rather than make communities safer, this kind of policing causes “tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties.”

The report, “War Come Homes: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” focuses on the use of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams by state and local law enforcement to demonstrate just how pervasive the problem of police militarization is in American policing. It analyzes both primary and secondary source data to provide news article-esque snapshots of unnecessary, and often violent, SWAT deployments.

For example, analysis of the data reveals that nearly 80% of SWAT raids were conducted for routine operations such as serving search warrants, usually in minor drug cases. The snapshots of these operations, however, reveal even more horrifying information: in many SWAT raids innocent people have been killed, pets shot, and homes ravaged.

This report makes clear ACLU’s plea: “It’s time for American police to remember that they are supposed to protect and serve our communities, not wage war on the people who live in them.”  

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/war-comes-home-the-excessive-militarization-of-american-policing-nbsp