Military weapons and police duties a bad mix

When the migrant caravan reaches the border sometime in the coming weeks, it will, if the president has his will, be confronted with military force, a deployment at least 14,000 supported by armored vehicles and helicopters (“President Trump signs order denying asylum to illegal border crossers,” Nov. 9). This display of force unfortunately mirrors an increasingly common sight for citizens marching and protesting within our borders as well.

In the past decade, mostly famously in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014, but now appearing all over the country, police are appearing more and more like military personal with combat weapons, armed helicopters and armored vehicles. This militarization, which has been accelerating in recent years, has been made possible by the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program which allows law enforcement agencies to receive military hardware such as the MRAP heavy armored vehicles, free of charge and often without the knowledge or consent of their civilian oversight bodies.

Increasingly, peaceful protesters practicing their constitutional rights are presented by police using military weapons for which they have not been properly trained, obtained through a program accelerated by a president who makes frequent remarks threatening or insulting peaceful protesters. It is well past time to end this program of police militarization.

Most Marylanders oppose this program, and though Sen. Ben Cardin has put forward police training and accountability legislation, more is needed. If Senator Cardin intends to represent the wishes of his constituents, he should support such bills as the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement which Sen. Chris Van Hollen has already been praised for supporting.

Jesse Greer, Silver Spring

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