Excellent and powerful OpEd by Arthur Rizer and Joseph Harman in The Atlantic: How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police
The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the “men in blue” from “peace officer” to soldier. This development is absolutely critical and represents a fundamental change in the nature of law enforcement. The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to “keep the peace.” Those whom an officer suspects to have committed a crime are treated as just that – suspects. Police officers are expected, under the rule of law, to protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even the “bad guys.” For domestic law enforcement, a suspect in custody remains innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, police officers operate among a largely friendly population and have traditionally been trained to solve problems using a complex legal system; the deployment of lethal violence is an absolute last resort.
Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups — the enemy and the non-enemy — and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier’s mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, “try” not to kill the non-enemy. Indeed, the Soldier’s Creed declares, “I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.” This is a far cry from the peace officer’s creed that expects its adherents “to protect and serve.”
Black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher than that of whites. But new research shows that young African Americans are actually less likely to use drugs and less likely to develop substance use disorders, compared to whites, Native Americans, Hispanics and people of mixed race.
Nicely done OpEd by Junior Ian Huyett at Kansas State.
Nice to see the DOJ take a little heat in Congress. Thanks to Rep. Steve Cohen.
The Justice Department again came under fire for its enforcement of marijuana laws Wednesday, as a Democratic House member pressed Laurie A. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, on the level of DOJ grant funds that are used to enforce those statutes.
â€œMarijuana is not the problem,â€ Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), said at a House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security oversight hearing. â€œIt’s turning a whole generation of young people against the system and that’s something we can’t afford.â€
Robinson said her office would look into how many Byrne law enforcement grants are used to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for enforcement of cannabis possession laws.
Cohen pressed Robinson to justify the federal government’s role in encouraging the enforcement of laws that the congressman said disproportionately affects people of color and tarnishes the records of young people for their entire lives.
Daughter has cancer and finds marijuana to be the best relief for chemo nausea. Her Congressman father says he supports his daughter, but opposes her ability to get her medicine legally. I find that incomprehensible.