Knowing what 9/11 did to America, it would be easy to assume that an overeager desire to prevent another such tragedy is why our cops look and act more and more like the military these days.
Yet the drug war — first “declared” by Richard Nixon, then militarized by Ronald Reagan — and various laws that came out of the tough on drugs and crime panics of the ‘80s is why every small town seems to have a SWAT team today. Officer Friendly has been taken over by RoboCop.
Though the push-back against the drug war has begun at long last, thanks to successful legislation efforts in Colorado and Washington state, most legislators have yet to stare down the new face of the police themselves.
One rare exception is Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). On March 10, he co-authored a USA Today editorial in which he announced his plan to introduce legislation which would hinder the Pentagon’s 1033 program that allows police departments to acquire surplus military equipment.
But how much success will legislation have when it aims to restrict willing recipients from receiving tech that might just be destroyed? Not as much as it should.
Since 9/11, cops have been given more powers and privileges for fighting terrorism. The New York Police Department (NYPD) now performs a great deal of CIA-ish surveillance in the name of preventing another attack. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg even described the NYPD as his “private army.”
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