Op-Ed: Obama moves to stop militarization of cops and deputies

Posted Aug 23, 2014 by Robert Weller
With it no longer possible to ignore the income disparities in the United States, President Barack Obama is taking action to make sure the rich are not using cops to keep the middle class and mainstream down.
U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama
White House photo
People can see that the cops are armed like they are in Iraq, and in many cases they are using weapons deployed there. The Defense Department handed them over for pennies on the dollar.
The sight of this heavy weaponry being deployed by mostly cops against mostly blacks in St. Louis makes a viewer look twice to make sure it is not Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Los Angeles Times reported Obama wants to know if using this force is “appropriate” against unarmed civilians.
One New Hampshire village got an armored car to protect its pumpkin festival. It wasn’t free, they spent $286,000 from a budget that is inadequate, like most, to pay to fill holes on streets after the winter snow.
SWAT teams were deployed about 3,000 times in 1980, compared with 50,000 annually now, says Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies.
Many of these are for delivery of subpoenas or collection of student loans.
About $4.3 billion in used war equipment has been given to local governments since 1997.
Since the death of 18-year-old black Michael Brown, shot six times for walking down the middle of a Ferguson, Mo., street, there has been criticism of police brutality from liberals and conservatives.
“There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Libertarian Republican from Kentucky, wrote. “The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.”
Obama said police should only buy “stuff that they actually need.”
He also warned that “there is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions.”
The militarization, some say a result of futile drug wars, goes beyond weapons. In many cities citizens are not welcome to even enter police stations, which have become fortresses for cops scared of the people they are supposed to be protecting.