Us Versus Them

Miguel Corona

What would you say if you saw a 8 ton mine-resistant armored vehicle driving down the highway? In some towns that would be the regular sight, little towns are now receiving high, advance military equipment. The government has started to give away millions of dollars of equipment to little towns that do not need any of it. The DoD(Department of Defense) is for the safety of officers, they will be receiving better equipment. According to the DoD, police officers of any state, that is part of the DoD, will be eligible to receive equipment. Police officers will be given heavier armor, heavier vehicles, and the most important heavier weapons. The DoD, did not know that this will cause a lot of problems between the people, and the police officers. In many states this has caused riots, protests, and murders. The police in many states have switched from “protect and serve” to “us vs them”. The DoD 1033 program, and police militarization are terrible decisions made by the government.

Not agreeing with police militarization, they still must try to figure out why would the government come up with this idea. The DoD 1033 program was authorized by federal law in 1990. It was created to provide DoD surplus military equipment to state, and local civilian law enforcements for counter-narcotics, and counter-terrorism operations. In other words Police Militarization. This “Surplus” gave local police departments armored personnel carriers, ballistic helmets, ballistic vests, and heavier weapons. Local police officers were ready to go to war, but that is not their job. They are here to protect innocent civilians. They are not in a battlezone. In an interview on Colbert Report show, ex police officer Norm Stamper said, “This militarization movement is exacerbating a really strained relationship between police and community across this country”(Stamper). The relationship between community and police has shifted and become worse.

A little town in Missouri caught the worst of this problem, that did not show until the murder of Michael Brown. A police officer shot down an innocent, African American male for supposedly assaulting the officer. But according to the witnesses Michael Brown was shot multiple times, and he was in fact pleading for his life. In an article written by Paul Szoldra he says, “In the days that have followed, the town with a population of about 21,000 has seen massive protests in response to the shooting, as some witnesses said Brown had his hands up when he was killed”(Szoldra). This terrible incident caused a ragging protest against the police department, and the government. That is when the police department showed its power, its new equipment. During the peaceful protest the police officers were dressed in full armor, and were carrying riot shields.

The police department went from protect and serve to a us versus them situation. It was indeed a peaceful protest until the police department decided to take action. When the police department took action, the people got furious and began to fight back. In an article covering the Michael Brown Incident Paul Szoldra says, “They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters (over 1500 feet). On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each”(Szoldra). The police officers fighting back were ready for war. It is not the people’s fault, the police had no reason to shoot back at the peaceful protesters.There was no reason why the police department should bring out a 8 ton mine-resistant vehicle to a peaceful protest. So far the DoD 1033 program seems like a waste of equipment and the police department has decided to take advantage of their new equipment. However, research on both police militarization, and the DoD 1033 program is needed to figure out if it is actually necessary. There is a couple of reasons why they would give out ‘surplus’ like they did. On February 28, 1997 a scary situation happened in north hollywood. Today it is known as the North HollyWood Shootout. February 28, 1997 the infamous High Incident Bandits, decide to rob a bank in North Hollywood. They were infamous for having heavy weapons. But this time they made sure to give the police a difficult situation. Both Larry Eugene Phillips Jr, and Emil Mătăsăreanu were equipped with bullet proof armor from head to toe. The LAPD did not stand a chance against the high incident bandits. Their bullets would just ricochet off their bodies.

In an article on Daily News written by Rick Orlov he states, “ the heist-gone-bad turned into 44 minutes of gunfire as the robbers sprayed some 1,100 armor-piercing bullets at officers and nearby homes”(Orlov). The weapons used by the High Incident Bandits were much stronger than those used by the police officers. Because the LAPD did not stand a chance they decided to call the S.W.A.T it was not until the S.W.A.T arrived when both were shot down and killed.

The North HollyWood Shootout may have been a terrible incident but it still does not give the government the right to give little towns huge military tanks. In Last Week Tonight with John Oliver he showed that in DoraVille Georgia, they were given a military tank. With a population of 8,500 they were handed a tank. If the government keeps giving away heavy equipment to local cities and states the police department will become way too strong. Their duties are to protect the people not put them in a much bigger risk. This equipment will only make more chaos.

In certain occasions you may argue whether the police militarization, and the DoD 1033 program was a good idea. Yes, there may be incidents where the police officer can be in trouble like in the North HollyWood Shootout. But, that still is not enough to give police officers heavy military equipment. The equipment may go to the police officers head, and that will give them a much bigger advantage to take down anyone they want. The police officers are here to protect civilians, not hurt them. So, when they are given military equipment they will take advantage of the equipment the posses and strike fear into innocent people. The DoD 1033 program, and the police militarization are terrible ideas.

Works Cited

Colbert, Stephen. Interview with Norm Stamper. Colbert Report Show. Comedy Central. 09, 02. 2014 <http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/ukyqb3/police-militarization-in-america—norm-stamper>

 

Szoldra, Paul.  “This is the Terrifying Result of the Militarization of Police.” Business Insider. Web. 01, 12. 2014. <http://www.businessinsider.com/police-militarization-ferguson-2014-8>

Orlov, Rick. “North Hollywood Shootout, 15 years later.” Daily News. 02, 27. 2012. Web. 01, 12. 2015. <http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20120227/north-hollywood-shootout-15-years-later>

Shaw, Jazz. “The “militarization” of police was not only inevitable, but necessary”. Hot Air. 08, 16. 2014. Web. 01, 13. 2015. <http://hotair.com/archives/2014/08/16/the-militarization-of-police-was-not-only-inevitable-but-necessary/>

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