By Thomas Javadi
The “War on Terror” began in the wake of 9/11, our nation’s most traumatic day in the recent past. The concept and applications behind this ideological war may have been well-meaning, but they may have led to more instances of terror at
home. Who has inspired this terror? The people meant to protect us from it.
The events of September 11, 2001 shocked United States
citizens to the core. For the first
time in almost 70 years, foreign
militants had attacked us on our
soil. This prompted an increase
in Homeland Security, as was
both expected and desired by
most Americans. One of the
measures that began to be
utilized more is commonly
referred to as a 1033 Program. 1033 Programs allow for local police departments to request and receive military-grade equipment free of charge.
For the people who aren’t automatically alarmed by the sound of that, a brief rundown of the differences between training for the military and training for your local police department may highlight the impracticality and danger of this equipment transfer.
First, the military. A potential trainee starts by taking physical and mental evaluations that statistics show would weed out more than 71 percent of American youth. Then, they attend basic training, advanced individual training, and possibly leadership training and specialized schools. To be part of a police force, you attend a short academy and pass far less strenuous physical tests. Some departments don’t even require that you attend an academy for training.
Let me be clear, I harbor no ill will towards police officers and I mean no disrespect. In fact, I hold officers of the law in very high regard. There is a problem, however, with under-trained men receiving weapons and equipment that are meant to protect us, but instead can harm us as citizens. Especially when there is no need for most of this equipment to be
transferred away from the military.
Small towns have been able to receive
equipment such as tanks and assault rifles when there is no clear and present threat to the people living there. Perhaps the most pointless and obvious equipment transfer is that of camouflage protection. When you’re walking down the middle of an urban street, forest camo will not keep you hidden from anybody. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Bearcats, M-16s, and other equipment paid for and supplied by our military have no place in our small localities.
People complain about the size of
the deficit, but one of the biggest areas of spending is the defense budget. Perhaps if we stopped sending weapons that police forces misuse due to inadequate training, we would be able to cut down on the deficit. Instances of such misuse include the deployment of tear gas on demonstrators not only in Ferguson, but as far back as the Seattle protests in 1999. Also, a 2014 ACLU report showed that brutality towards citizens is mostly aimed at people of color.
While the goals of the police militarization laws are worthy, they have primary led
to a home-bourne terror. Demilitarization and the end of government-inspired terror would begin with the repeal of “Terror Laws” like the 1033 program.