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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recommendations for Less Militarized Policing

     Although militarized policing doesn't provide added protection from crime and domestic terrorism, it alienates innocent people, costs money the country can't afford, turns public servants into combat warriors, and, in a free nation, is inappropriately oppressive.

     The first step toward police demilitarization would include a de-escalalation of the war on drugs followed by the disbanding of SWAT teams that exist primarily to serve predawn, no-knock search warrants. Demilitarizing law enforcement would also include the termination of the special forces training of ordinary police officers.

     Step two would involve replacing zero-tolerance, no-discretion law enforcement with the less aggressive community model of policing where officers function more as public servants than as occupiers of enemy territory. Less fear mongering from politicians and police administrators would also improve police-community relations.

     And finally, reducing the role of the federal government in dealing with criminal offenses that can be adequately handled on the local level would further enhance police-community relations.

     In the larger jurisdictions where SWAT teams are occasionally needed, training should be standardized and intense. Officer assigned to routine patrol should not receive SWAT training, or be issued paramilitary weapons. SWAT operations should be subjected to enhanced civilian oversight and, if there are too many botched or low-risk raids, disbanded. Legislators, in cases where victims of wrong-house raids sue the government, might consider a kind of tort law reform that would make the recovery of civil damages less difficult.

     As crime rates have been decreasing nationally for decades, American policing has become more militarized. 

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