‘Forcing’ the issue

Radley Balko provides a ‘scene from a militarized America‘ (complete with video):

When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we’re talking about. You’ll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family’s door with a battering ram. You’ll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready. More troubling still, you’ll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera’s lens.

From the images in the video, you’d think they were looking for an escaped murderer or a house full of hit men. No, none of that. They were looking for a few people suspected of credit card fraud. None of the people they were looking for were inside of the house, nor was any of the stolen property they were looking for.

This kind of “shoot first and ask questions later” approach to law enforcement has already cost many innocent lives over the years.  And as its usage continues to increase, the risks–both for citizens and law enforcement–only grow.

No citizen should have to give a moment’s pause whether someone breaking into their house might have official immunity for doing so.  There are simply too many other places and methods to apprehend even someone suspected of being dangerous, without having to introduce this ambiguity to society at large.  Watch the video again at the Washington Post link above, and ask yourself what distinguishes between those images of jack-booted invaders, and the “midnight knocks” of Nazi and Soviet lore?

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