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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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Psychotic Vegas Cop Filmed Beating Man For Filming In Viral Video Queitly Hired By Another Dept. - 12/17Cops Called For Wellness Check Beat Innocent Man, Pile On False Charges; Jury Exonerates, Twice - 12/17Cop Was Not Fired Despite 75 Counts of Stalking and Harassment -- Now He Just Shot a Mother and Her Daughter - 12/17Ontario Cop Sucker-Punched Good Samaritan Grandmother & Broke Her Leg With Karate Kick - 12/17Cop Stops Fellow Cop From Choking a Handcuffed Man, She Was Then Beaten and Fired - 12/18Ignorance Is No Excuse for Wrongdoing, Unless You're a Cop - 12/17Florida Cop Gets Schooled in Law After Harassing Man for Playing Rap Song, "F**k tha Police" - 12/16Police Using Social Media Posts to Determine "Threat Score" of Suspects - 12/16

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