On the militarization of our police

It's not about good cops and bad cops. It's about purpose, incentives, and accountability. For the police, all three have been warped by well-intentioned politics with unexpected consequences. We must understand that history before we can possibly fix it.

On the militarization of our police

The government has one purpose that stands above all others: to protect the people.  As Americans who value peace and liberty, we must ask ourselves a question.  Is the increasing militarization of our police in the United States compatible with the government's primary purpose of protecting us?

Let's be clear: GunTab respects and honors all the good people who are serving in law enforcement across our United States.  But this isn't about deciding who is "good" and "bad".  This is about the same mundane things that affect any human organization.  Specifically, this is about purpose, incentives, and accountability.  Over time, any institution with unclear purpose, poorly-aligned incentives, or insufficient accountability will deliver adverse results.  Unfortunately, American politics has damaged all of these essential elements for police, over a long period of time and in a variety of ways.  This damage has collectively resulted in what has been labeled the "militarization" of our police.

The war on drugs is a leading example of poorly-aligned incentives.  Police are supposed to serve their community.  If a community wants the freedom to enjoy cannabis, without harming anyone, the war on drugs does the opposite of serve that community – it harms that community.  Anyone could see how enforcing a criminal prohibition on cannabis would debauch both the police and the community itself.

Qualified immunity is a notorious example of insufficient accountability.  Police should be held accountable if they act recklessly, just like every other American.  But qualified immunity allows them to do things like negligently shoot an innocent child and suffer no repercussions.  Nobody wants that, yet it happens all the time.

The militarization of our police did not happen overnight.  It is the product of countless political decisions over the past century or more.  Although well-intentioned, these political decisions have twisted our police practices to the extent that many of them are downright counter-productive.  So what were these political decisions?

Our friends at Ammo.com have developed an insightful guide to the history of police militarization in America.  It explains the different evolutions of police militarization in the past century, covering Prohibition, the civil rights era, the war on drugs, and the war on terror.   They also delve into some contributing legal practices, like civil asset forfeiture and qualified immunity.  If you want to learn more about the militarization of police in America, they've created a great primer course.  Check it out.

Police Militarization: A Guide to the True Weapons of War on Our Streets
On this episode of the Resistance Library Podcast Dan and Sam discuss everything from the origins of militarized police during Prohibition to DARPA and the future of police militarization in the U.S. You can read the full article at Ammo.com: https://ammo.com/articles/police-militarization-weapons-of-war-darpa-surveillance…