June 9, 2014

Violent crime down, police militarization up

At a time when violent crime in the US is the lowest in a generation why is there an epidemic of police violence?   Or in the words of John Whitehead, why have so many police search warrants turned into violent death warrants, and why have SWAT teams turned into violent death squads at a time when violent crime is in free-fall?
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How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts, complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?
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The latest incident comes out of Atlanta, Georgia, where a SWAT team, attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night, launched a flash bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded in the baby’s face, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. He is currently in the hospital in a medically induced coma.
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each time we as a rational, reasoning, free-minded people fail to be outraged by government wrongdoing—whether it’s the SWAT team raids that go awry, the senseless shootings of unarmed citizens, the stockpiling of military weapons and ammunition by government agencies (including small-town police), the unapologetic misuse of our taxpayer dollars for graft and pork, the incarceration of our fellow citizens in forced labor prisons, etc.—we become accomplices in bringing about our own downfall.
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SWAT teams are no longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day
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Meanwhile, the epidemic of police violence continues to escalate while fear of the police increases and the police state, with all its surveillance gear and military weaponry, expands around us.

Throwing a grenade into a house!  At the link, there are some more appalling stories. Outcries have come from all sides of the political spectrum. 

Cops Kill 8 Times More Americans Than Terrorists

Since 9/11, and the subsequent militarization of the police by the Department of Homeland Security, about 5,000 Americans have been killed by US police officers. The civilian death rate is nearly equal to the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq. In fact, you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

 Police-Militarized

The Growing Epidemic of Police Violence: Is It Time to De-Militarize Police Forces?

The problem with all of these incidents, as one reporter rightly concluded, is "not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it's that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone."

4 shocking examples of police militarization in America’s small towns  Research shows that the number of SWAT teams in municipalities smaller than 50,000 is up more than 300 percent.

Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.

Scenes from a militarized America: Iowa family ‘terrorized’

Posted by Jill Fallon at June 9, 2014 7:55 PM | Permalink