Positive and Negative Impacts of Police Militarization

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Today’s society has many different views on how police should do their work and what tactics police should use. Society as a whole has many different options as to which form of policing is best and what should be executed in today’s government. There are many different ways police can execute their work and police militarization is one of them, upon many others. Some people agree with the way police execute their work through military tactics and others strongly disagree, as we see most often through social media. However, which is the best way for a community, that police can execute their work? Any tactic used has its pros and cons and, essentially, corresponding supportive sides. However, do these tactics have a negative or positive impact in today’s communities?

For many centuries, and the beginning of time, communities and cities have wanted protection; protection of families, homes and communities. It is a psychological need that human kind seeks instinctively. Mankind has been wired to care and provide for their family, but they can only do so much in a household that will protect their families. They must search for a way to protect their families even when they are not home, which is why the police has become such an essential part of our lives. About 166 years ago, the invention of modern law enforcement began when Sir Robert Peel created the Metropolitan Police District in 1829. By creating this, the British Parliament hoped to address the large number of crime rates they had in and around the nation’s capital. At the time, this soaring rise in crime was related to rapid urban growth, unchecked immigration, poverty, alcoholism, radical political groups, poor infrastructure, unsupervised juveniles and lenient judges. Perhaps the best thing that came out of Sir Robert Peel’s formation of the London Metropolitan Police District were the “bobbies” and the “beats.” The principals of ‘bobbies’ include the use of crime rates to determine the effectiveness of the police, publicly accessible police headquarters, and the value of proper recruitment, selection, and training.

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The ‘beats’ is perhaps the best kept modern invention and most influential. The ‘beats’ were regular patrol areas. Now, this seems like something that happens now, but before ‘beats,’ the police would only respond after a crime had been reported. In the ‘beats,’ Sir Robert Peel assigned his cops to specific geographic zones and held them responsible for preventing and suppressing crimes within the boundaries of their zones. Sir Robert Peel designed ‘beats’ in hopes that his constables would become known to the public. This way, if citizens had questions about criminal activity, they would be more likely to tell a familiar figure, the cop on beat, as opposed to a stranger. He also hoped that since they would be more highly visible, they would deter criminals from committing crimes in the immediate area or surrounding area.

Aside from the police, we have the military, which essentially serves the same purpose as the police – to serve and protect – but in a larger scale. However, the way the military does its job is obviously different than the police, they use different forms of military tactics. The military has general tactics such as fire attacks, force concentration, night combat, and smoke screening to name a few. They also have small unit tactics such as fire and movement, basic drill, contact drill, ambushing, which include linear, L, area, immediate and counter ambushing and guerilla, to name a few small unit tactics. The military also consists of a few classical maneuvers of warfare, which proceed as follows. Penetration of the center is one, where the focus on concentrating the vast majority of their force in the center of the opposing line in order to create a hole. Others they use are the envelopment of a single flank, envelopment of both flanks, attacks in oblique order, feigned withdrawal, attack from a defensive position, indirect approach and perhaps one of the most talked about, offensive revolutionary/guerilla warfare. These all have their pros and cons and cons and the efficiency of each varies, however with training they’re all possible. Training for these, in military as well as in policing, does not have to be physical always, it can be verbal. One of the most effective ways to train a squad can be through verbal training, and having a squad leader sit down with his squad and run through combat scenarios.

Now although modern day policing and military tactics are completely different, they have found a way to merge quite a bit. Now a days, police departments have picked up on a few beneficial military tactics and have incorporated them into how their everyday police jobs. We can see how the two merge quite a bit by analyzing SWAT teams. Special Weapons and Tactics teams, or SWAT teams are police units that possess highly specialized military equipment as well as training. At first, only a few departments had SWAT teams but the use of SWAT teams expanded throughout the US rapidly as the war on drugs grew. After 9/11 we saw another rise in the interest of police militarization. There was a strong public confidence and support for military and local police. For example, in December of 2001, 82% of Americans approved of the way President George W. Bush chose to fight the war on terror. Between 2001 and 2002 Americans’ confidence in the military jumped from 44% to 71% and the majority of Americans agreed to having things like facial-recognition software. So after a tragic terroristic attack most Americans greed in the use of military tactics.

Now SWAT teams are used in our communities to do drug raids, hostile takeovers, and sometimes out of control protests. These raids are done in by police in our communities, and the question always is, do we really need such excessive force with our communities? In a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union, it states that SWAT teams are more likely to be used against minority groups such as people of color. Between 2011 and 2012 approximately 50% of raids were conducted against Black or Hispanic individuals while only 20% of raids were directed towards white suspects. With more and more incidents happening towards minorities, people feel more suppressed, which in return make people not trust police departments and law enforcement due to all the excessive use of military tactics and force directed towards communities. With the United States being a huge melting pot and the minority now slowly becoming the majority, the use of military tactics and equipment have a negative impact on the community.

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