“National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund … found that 126 law enforcement officers were killed while on duty in 2014”(WIlliams). Over the past few years many police departments over the nation have received a lot of equipment thanks to the DoD 1033. The Department of Defence Excess Property Program also known as the DoD 1033 provides military equipment to law enforcement agencies. To use in counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety. Many people believe that police departments are taking advantage of the DoD 1033 to acquire equipment they do not need. In the Ferguson protest many innocent bystanders were victims of excessive force by police officers, using tear gas on non-violent protesters. Giving police department surplus military equipment is not a logical and cost effective way to fight crime.
There have been occasions where a criminal has done something and the police does not have the equipment to stop them or to protect the civilians.The most memorable incident was the North Hollywood Shootout. The suspect went inside a Bank of America and opened fire, with their automatic weapons. While the LAPD only had semi-automatic handguns and one shotgun. When the officers would shoot at the suspect it would not do anything because the suspects body armor would protect them from such weapons. The officers were shot by huge bullets that could not be stopped by Kevlar which resulted in many injured officers. “Am I the only one who finds this rather insulting to the nation’s first responders in general?”(Shaw). Police officers put their life on the line for people who most of the time they do not even know, yet they cannot get better equipment. The equipment is being sent out to small towns of a few thousands of people. The police, people who are suppose to keep the children safe, will be carrying guns as if they were going in to a warzone.
We all fear in the back of our minds that police officers will start being more and more aggressive because of the new equipment. They will feel like they can do anything because no one can do anything to them. Instead of making peace and stopping crime, they will encourage it so that they could use their “cool” equipment. We have already seen this with the protestors in Ferguson when a police officer was caught on camera saying “Bring it. You f***ing animals, bring it,”(Szoldra). The police officers are now telling the protesters to start something because he knows that he is the one with a gun.
One day the police departments will see how much power they have, just in their hands and want to use it. People may think that the country will be safe with all the new police equipment because it will help people control their actions. Rather than making people safe, has anybody thought of the things the police department could do with all that equipment? The police officers would not let power get to their heads with all the new weapons, “…all sizes have been equipped with more modern, military style equipment for quite some time now and they don’t seem to be converting the rest of the nation into a series of oppressive death camps”(Shaw). However, we have all seen what could happen when the nation’s first response could do if they become corrupt. In Mexico, police officers were the cause of the 40 plus missing students, “They were ambushed and shot at along the way by police forces, leading to three deaths and several injuries,”(Planas). The police department was the cause of the deaths and missing student, so how is it that our country will put so much trust on our first response if we see the brutal truth from all over the world.
If the nation’s first response becomes like this throughout the whole country then how is it that we will trust them to protect us. They might as well become a threat to us because they are the ones encouraging violent behavior. They are supposed to build trust with the community not make us fear the police, “when did “protect and serve” turn into “us versus them”(Szoldra). They make it seem like we are at war with them when they point their guns at us. Even if they are doing something bad do you really think “you can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest”(Szoldra). Even if it will cause fear of death most people do not want to die doing something they did not believe in. Most will go all the way with their beliefs, even if it leads to their death.
Police departments in cities or small towns all have access to the program, and it is obvious that even a small town wants to have the same equipment as a large city. Police departments are incentivized to use this equipment when they do not need to just so they could keep it. Therefore, most of these towns use the equipment in situations where it is not necessary. They will use it like in the Ferguson protest that the police officers through tear gas at the protesters and reporters even though the protest was nonviolent. Many places that do not have much equipment, they want better equipment for the officers, and will take any chance to prove that they need it so they could keep it.
Over the course of our life time we hear more about cops shooting and killing people who are innocent, non-violent, or with their hands up turning themselves in, rather than a cop being shot and killed. The police department all throughout the country have got more and more equipment. They are like little military bases, yet we continue to let them expand. One day we will all become a country who fears the nations first response team. We all live in this country so, why.
Critical Situation: North Hollywood Shootout. Dir. Jim Nally. National Geographic, 2011. Documentary.
Planas, Roque. “Damning Report Claims Mexican Federal Police Participated In Disappearance Of 43 Students.” The Huffington Post. 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/14/missing-students-mexico_n_6321866.html>.
Shaw, Jazz. “The “Militarization” of Police Was Not Only Inevitable, but Necessary.” HotAir.com. HotAir, 16 Aug. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://hotair.com/archives/2014/08/16/the-militarization-of-police-was-not-only-inevitable-but-necessary/>.
Szoldra, Paul. “This Is The Terrifying Result Of The Militarization Of Police.”Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <http://www.businessinsider.com/police-militarization-ferguson-2014-8>.
Williams, Timothy. “Number of Police Officers Killed on the Job Climbs.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Dec. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/31/us/death-toll-climbs-for-on-duty-police-officers-in-2014.html?_r=0>.