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Article posted Dec 31 2012, 12:07 AM Category: Tyranny/Police State Source: Al Jazeera English Print

Have US Police Forces Become Too Militarised?

We ask whether civilian police operating as paramilitary forces actually make the US safer.


In the last decade, the US department of homeland security, established after the September 11 attacks, has handed out tens of billions of dollars in grants to local police.

Local law enforcement agencies have used that money to acquire battle gear designed for war rather than public safety.

An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that some police departments have been transformed into "army-like forces" because of the equipment they use.

Police say they need the combat gear to respond to terrorist attacks, such as the one in Mumbai in 2008, which included 11 coordinated shootings and bombings.

They say it is also needed to go up against well-armed criminals.

But the most visible use of that equipment has come as they dispersed largely peaceful protests like those seen at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In July this year, in the Californian city of Anaheim, police officers looked like they were prepared for war as they surrounded unarmed protesters demonstrating against police brutality.

So what are the risks of having militarised police forces in the US?

To discuss this with presenter Shihab Rattansi are guests: George Schulz, a co-author of the report by the Center for Investigative Reporting; Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing; and Radley Balko, a senior writer at the Huffington Post.

"What we've been seeing in the last 10 years is even more disturbing .... The level of force that governments, politicians and law enforcement officials are choosing to use is not really based on a realistic assessment of the threat but increasingly based on what sort of political message that they want to send."

- Radley Balko, a senior writer at the Huffington Post





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This Cop Got a First Hand Taste of Police Brutality and His Violent Arrest was Also Caught on Video - 03/27To Crush a Cop-Watcher: Prosecutorial Abuse in Ada County, Idaho - 03/27Texas Sheriff Gets Shut Down when Trying to Intimidate Man who Flawlessly Flexes his Rights - 03/27New Video Appears to Show Cops Planting Crack in Innocent Man's Car After Brutally Beating Him - 03/27Police Encounters Kill Hundreds of Disabled Americans Every Year, ACLU Argues - 03/23DOJ Report Slams Philadelphia PD, Philly Cops Shoot and Kill People at 6 Times the Rate of NYPD - 03/25'You Might Be a Terrorist If...': Leaked Document Reveals Secret TSA Check List - 03/27Police Officer Caught With His Pants Down... Masturbating At Starbucks - 03/27

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