Demilitarizing the Police

I just got back from St. Louis, staying just a few blocks from the riots in Ferguson over the police shooting an unarmed teenager.  I didn’t see anything and I don’t want to address the incident, as such.  But the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson raises some interesting questions:

Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?

Now Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), citing what happened in Ferguson and quoting his fellow libertarian Olson, challenges the militarization of the police, which has happened thanks to the federal government. [Read more...]

Lacking any sense of proportion

Mark Steyn tells about a dad who asked his 15-year-old son to hold his beer for a second so he could take a picture.  Whereupon he got busted by the cops for giving alcohol to a minor.  Mr. Steyn puts his finger on a problem in law enforcement that, I would add, is also a problem in politics, public discourse, and the culture in general:  The lack of  any sense of proportion. [Read more...]


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