Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police

It is the community of Ferguson that makes the killing of Michael Brown unique. The millitarization of police departments has created a shoot first policing practice carried out across the US on a daily basis. We have 16,000 SWAT teams across the country who have their own union. Their lobby is confronting Congress right now asking that their funding remain intact. SWAT teams used to be reserved for tactical responses to imminent danger but now they are responding to calls where a single man is threatening suicide and has a knife. The SWAT team shot and killed him. If a team of officers cannot take down a man with a knife without drawing guns noone is safe and police no longer protetect and serve.

TIME

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.

Glenn Reynolds, in Popular Mechanics, recognized the increasing militarization of the police five years ago. In 2009 he wrote:

Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward…

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