In the far-right news website Breitbart, there was an article named “Police Militarization: It’s Not About the Equipment, It’s About Keeping the Peace.” The author makes a few outdated, illogical arguments for the militarization of police. Like many proponents for police militarization, the author takes a very narrow view of the world and ignores the negative consequences of militarization.
The first argument he makes is that the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have given billions of dollars in military weapons to police departments nationwide and a bill to stop this program was shot down by Congress. Since Congress hasn’t objected, he thinks that there is no issue.
His argument is that if the government doesn’t seem a problem with it, then it must be okay? This argument is flawed for many reasons, especially since it is the government that has the power to oppress citizens. Of course the government wouldn’t immediately find fault with a program that gives them more power. Just because the government allows something does not mean it is morally correct or the right policy decision. Remember when African Americans were enslaved? Or when women couldn’t vote? The author should think twice before using this logic again in the future.
Secondly, the author argues that officers need military weapons because there is more violence against police officers. While there are cases where officers are attacked by citizens, this should not justify billions of dollars spent on military grade equipment. If officers who already have guns can’t defend themselves against an attacker, how will giving them an armored vehicle protect them? How will instilling values of force and violence towards citizens protect them from an attack? The militarization of police is not a solution for officer deaths, it just adds to the problem of police aggression and force.
Although the author cites that police officer murder has been on the rise, this is actually not the case. According to a BBC article, the number of officers killed by a criminal act has actually decreased since the 1970s.
Another interesting trend that debunks the authors claims is that the number of police officers in our country has increased. This combined with the stat above shows that officers are less likely to be killed now than they were in the past.
Those who support militarization are missing the big picture: there are problems in our country surrounding police officer safety, but the answer is not to give officers more expensive weapons and promote violence towards citizens. If individuals want to protect police officers, they should try to fix the deeper issues that make citizens distrust police and kill them.
We don’t need officers with bigger guns, we need police reform.