Sunday, March 18, 2012

does a town of 23,000 need a tank for its police force?

This is how the Department of Homeland Security spends money.

Since the 1990s, the Pentagon has made military equipment available to local police departments for free or at steep discounts. This, along with drug war-related policies, has spurred a trend toward a more militarized domestic police force in America. Law enforcement and elected officials have argued for years that better-armed, high-powered police departments are needed to fight the war on drugs.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the war on terror has accelerated the trend toward militarization. Homeland Security hands out anti-terrorism grants to cities and towns, many specifically to buy military-grade equipment from companies like Lenco. In December, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported that Homeland Security grants totalled $34 billion, and went to such unlikely terrorism targets as Fargo, N.D.; Fon du Lac, Wisc.; and Canyon County, Idaho. The report noted that because of the grants, defense contractors that long served the Pentagon exclusively have increasingly turned looked to police departments, hoping to tap a "homeland security market" expected to reach $19 billion by 2014.

I suppose it is possible that a small town like Keene NH (or Fargo or any other town) could be the target of terrorists and when that happens, it would be nice if the town had a tank and a store of bazoooka and flame throwers to stop the terrorists. In the meantime, though, they have this Bearcat sitting there. Unused equipment bought with taxpayer money is not a happy discovery. Much better to use the equipment when possible.

This situation--Bearcat needing to be used--will inevitably lead to local police forces using too much force.

Hurray for the protesters in Keene, putting a stop to the purchase.

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