Police militarization can be termed as the use of tactics and military paraphernalia by law enforcement personnel. These include the use of the tools and armory used by the military by the police such as submachine guns, grenade launchers, assault rifles, and special weapons and tactics (SWAT). Militarization also involves an aggressive technique of law enforcement, a vigorous style of intelligence agency-information collection aimed at the public and political activists. (Peter B. 2015) Define police militarization as the process where the civil police progressively adopt militarism and military tenets. Militarism emphasizes the use of excessive force and heavy weapons in the event of peace disruption as the ideal means of settling a dispute or solving a problem. This concept has been witnessed in the united states of America for example when the police opened fire on the protesting groups with rubber bullets, plastic bullets, and tear gas a concept that was first developed by the united states of America army in 1919.
The militarization of the police has faced lots of concern which has been raised by both political and human activists, which has dramatically criticized the practices. However, the police department has come to the defense of the act claiming this helps the police personnel to protect themselves from attack and respond quickly to an emergency such as fire and medical service emergency. Besides, the 2017 study indicate that militarized police are more likely to have a violent encounter with the public. In the United States, internal security issues are mainly handled by police officers who enforce federal and local laws. The military controls the external threats and aggression. As time goes by the civilian police has significantly become militarized which has brought about the distraction of this order. The government failure to clearly define the extent to which the two forces should operate indicate the lack of democracy (Peter B 2016). As the police militarization increase also the need for substantial reforms in terms of political structural changes takes an active role and grow even stronger.
The Rise of Police Militarization.This started way back after the civil war when the troops were used to enforce the civil laws, the 1878 comitatus act terminated reconstruction and stopped the federal military personnel from enforcing the rules. This act did not take effect to the national level, in events of protests troops were deployed to restore peace. In places like the south, they had the police to restore order against the slaves that were freed, while in North America, the police mainly kept checking on immigrant and unions. Early 20th century the police reforms focused on its culture, hierarchy, creating uniforms and command structures along with the military models that exist to this present day. President Lyndon B. in 1960s sign into law the Omnibus quiet streets and crime control. The act fashioned the Law Enforcement Agency Administration that offered grants to local government to purchase an army like weapons to suppress riots. This money facilitated the creation of SWAT, and another paramilitary polices forces which developed in Los Angeles and other cities to counter the famously known as the black in surgery.
The second president of the united states of America president Richard Nixon declaration of war on drugs and emphasis by president Ronald Reagan contributed to police militarization.
According to Kraska the police paramilitary deployments has dramatically increased in the recent years, paramilitary police units such as SWAT, develop their tactics, weaponry, culture, and procedures from the military units that are specialized in operations. Primarily the function of these units is to respond to situations such as terror attacks, hostage, and sniper. However, it is only in rare conditions where these specialized forces have acted and reacted in this manner. In most cases, they are used to ambush the drug peddlers and deployed in homes where the arrest warrantees have been issued or even without the warrantees. The specialized police forces have, in many instances, used explosive devices to get access in private homes of the suspects. In more than a half raids, the paramilitary police have failed to obtain the weapons from the violent attacks even though the forceful entry was due to the suspected availability of firearms.
In the event of a terror attack, school shooting and other high-risk conditions already occurring. The police paramilitary unit can serve an important role when responding to such circumstances. For example, on 16 of April in 2007, a gunman attacked students and faculty members in Virginia killing thirty-three people. An instance of the reason why militarism could be appropriate. Also, the resent findings indicate that lack of close supervision on the application of SWAT tactics recently has, to a great extent, contributed to the abuse of militarism. Out of all the deployments the SWAT team provided reasons as to why it found fit to apply such tactics of which on occasions such as barricade, hostage or active shooter incidents were on a very few instances. However, the most reason behind the deployment was not valid as most of United States of America households have firearms and this should not be a reason as to why the police paramilitary units should be deployed as this acts undermine the individual constitutional rights and also creates confrontational exchanges and arise unwanted violent acts over nonviolent crimes.
The Potential Dangers Associated by Police Militarization.
According to ( Davis M 2017) to The rise of police militarization has led to declining trust to the police agencies by the public. Majority of Americans stated that the use of the military-like equipment by the police law enforcers is applying excessive force to the civilians. The public argues that the police should be required to have a search warrantee before conducting such exercise on individual homes. This degradation of public support for militarization hinders the law enforcers to effectively carry out their role of ensuring public safety (Meeks D 2006).
Unlike the army whose primary role is to protect and the nation from external aggression and during combat, the part of the police is to provide service to the people. In a situation where the public perceives the police as the potential enemy, it may jeopardize the relationship that exists between the citizens and the police. For adequate service provision, it must be a mutual understanding between the law enforcers and citizens. Police moving in heavy military vehicles and carrying military weapons or wearing military as gears portray to the public an armed police confrontation. Society views the police typically as the servant of the people. Militarization can generate conflict instead of dissolving it contribute to a case where the cops lose public trust. In this, the belief is replaced with fear, which intern reduces the legitimacy of the police.
The military is usually ill-equipped for tasks other than war for the job, such as civil law enforcement. When private law is equipped, it can become inept and ineffective due to the vastness in training differently. The military is less flexible while and generally very reactive when dealing with the public. The military is perceived as the warriors while the police are simply law enforcers.
The emerging trend in police reforms has seen it the police gain better equipment and training to enable the police to effectively and efficiently carry out their roles of law enforcement, but these practices should not degrade the public trust and faith in the police personnel.
Kraska, Peter B. "Militarization and policing-Its relevance to 21st-century police." Policing: a journal of policy and practice1.4 (2007): 501-513.
Meeks, Daryl. "Police militarization in urban areas: The obscure war against the underclass." The Black Scholar 35.4 (2006): 33-41.
Balko, Radley. Rise of the warrior cop: The militarization of America's police forces. PublicAffairs, 2013.
Davis, Mike. "Fortress Los Angeles: the militarization of urban space." Cultural Criminology. Routledge, 2017. 287-314.
Bieler, Sam. "Police militarization in the USA: the state of the field." Policing: an international journal of police strategies & Management 39.4 (2016): 586-600.
Bove, Vincenzo, and Evelina Gavrilova. "A police officer on the frontline or a soldier? the effect of police militarization on crime." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9.3 (2017): 1-18.
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