On the surface, the ability of local police forces being able to obtain surplus military hardware seems like a good use of resources.
However, I think we need to take another look at this because of the items being obtained. Since 9/11, there has been a substantial increase of the militarization of our local police departments. How often do you see pictures of “normal” police officers in full riot gear dealing with protesters? It has become commonplace. Many of our police look more like storm troopers than the “men in blue” I grew up respecting.
In many drug raids or other type of activities, we see officers not even showing their faces — like the criminals they are after. I am sure they have their reasons; however, this removes personal accountability when your identity is masked.
In our area alone, we have military hardware operating out of Oxford, Anniston and Jacksonville. Why, just because they can get them? Who approved these?
Did the greater communities they serve have any say in these acquisitions?
There is no need for every officer to have access to a military-type assault rifle. Even the sheriff admits this is “a little spooky.” There is no need to have public funds wasted on the repair, maintenance and storage of all this excess equipment that is questionable as to its actual need.
It is time to reevaluate the “serve and protect” function of our local police agencies across our country before we wake up one day and do not recognize the country we live in.
Mark D. Voorhest