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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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NY Police Union Says 'Blood On Hands' Of Police Critics - 12/21Video Taken by NYPD Killer Surfaces, Shows Him Being Shaken Down by K-9 Unit Last Year - 12/22Off Duty Cop Tried To Flex His Badge At My Law Student Wife. BIG MISTAKE! - 12/22San Francisco Deputy Charged with Felonies After Surveillance Video Proves he Lied on Arrest Report - 12/22Missouri Homeschool Family Sues After Home Raid - 12/22Celebrating Death & Enacting Violence Will Do Nothing to Stop Police Brutality, It Will Get Worse - 12/22New York Police Declare Their Own Safety 'Top Priority' - 12/22Baby Clings to Life After Flash-Bang Grenade Lands in His Crib - 12/20

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