Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
In America, an evolving world of domestic security threats, violent protests incited by socio-economic or racial issues and various illicit activities occur on a daily basis, endangering the lives of millions of Americans. Without the necessary militarization of police forces, absurd amounts of pressure would be placed upon federal and state government, in order to provide safety to the majority, without the use of the tools necessary to do so. Thus, the militarization of police is inevitable in order to protect the people, some of which whom accuse it of posing a threat to civil liberties and civilian safety.
While the usage of high-end military grade weaponry is undoubtedly seen as a hazard towards physical health and mental well-being of the people in general, it is extremely important to recognize that the perpetrators themselves also have weapons of an almost equal caliber, usually obtained illegally to use against the very people who they live amongst. In order to protect the populace, police forces must be supplied with tools to match and surpass those of the people who seek to do harm. Without such tools, police would be extremely unprepared to fare well, as exemplified in the UT Austin shooting of 1966. As recounted by William Helmer, a student, the campus police had been brutally unprepared for a sole intruder carrying a multitude of different weapons (Source C). The police force deployed was contrarily under-equipped, with the police having “uniforms and radios”, with “some cops having neither” (Source C). With adequate equipment, tragedy could surely have been avoided, with well-equipped police quickly subduing the subject in question, with reliable communication and organization. These types of school shootings are almost commonplace in American history, with police taking hours to respond, often at the expense of many lives, most notably in Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary. In this particular case, the shooter of UT Austin had equipment that was much more advanced and powerful than those of the law enforcement and fellow citizens who came to assist. In the end, proper equipment would have saved the seventeen lives lost in the summer of 1966. The same fate is also sometimes part of police work, such as the case of the raid and arrest of convicted criminal Marvin Guy. Even though police took all subduing measures such as flashbangs and entrance through less conspicuous openings, such as windows, Marvin Guy still managed to kill an officer and wound four more (Source D). Even with military grade non-lethal grenades, the officers were likely unprepared for the weapons that out-classed their own. Kevlar armor as well could have been a saving factor for the dead policeman. Drug raids and other instances of police work can be immensely dangerous tasks, and without proper utilities to protect both civilians, police forces, and perpetrators themselves, lives are unnecessarily lost.
Apart from the logical support that good equipment saves good lives, modern day America’s method of supplying these tools are not only well-founded in hopes of protecting others, but also extremely fiscally responsible. A new program sponsored by the Pentagon known as the 1033 Program supplies police with surplus weapons that would otherwise go to waste. These weapons, typically costing around $1000 dollars each, can be purchased by local police forces for around $800 less (Source C). Not only does this ensure that local police forces are not under-equipped, but this program also assures the large purchases by the government to not go to waste, as well as help stimulate the economy at the same time, by the purchase of weapons in bulk. Furthermore, the classic American plight about where tax money is going can finally be assured. Through the purchase of cheaper weapons, theoretically taxpayers would not be spending as much money on the very weapons that they wrongly feel creates an unsafe atmosphere. However, it is important to realize that this program does not simply extend to the weapons that supposedly kill excessively, but also purchases the Kevlar that protects the protectors, the gas masks needed in riots and drug houses, the armored vehicles that transport the innocent, and the various other tools used to quietly and efficiently suppress the target.
Many people are under the impression that military-grade weapons are inherently more dangerous than regular, civilian-legal weapons. Apart from the fact that dangerous people indeed have weapons that are just as or even more dangerous than the tools of the law enforcement, the term military-grade is vague and connotes excessiveness. Firstly, SWAT teams do not necessarily use military grade weapons on a daily basis for simple raids or arrests. Secondly, as proclaimed by Rusty York, Fort Wayne’s director of public safety, while the weapons used by SWAT teams are usually military-grade, the ammunition is often not (Source H). These rounds are often designed to be non-lethal and only used for subduing purposes. Furthermore, the fact that weapons are weapons somehow still draws the ire of many different people. Law enforcement groups such as the county police or sheriff departments and SWAT are often portrayed as trigger-happy and violence and damage seeking, but that is simply not the truth. In the case of young Aiyana, whose face was supposedly burned in a police raid by a flashbang, police are accused of being at fault for this travesty (Jones was moments late accidentally shot in the head, but there was a discrepancy over whether the gun was discharged by will of the police officer or interference by a family member). However, police technically should not be at fault for the use of military grade flashbangs. Designed to be non-lethal, the initial explosion from the flashbang did not kill anyone. Furthermore, police should not receive any form of criticize for the burns on Jones, as they had no idea of her proximity towards the grenade that was thrown in as a diversion (Source F). If police were as omniscient as accusers make them out to be, they would not have needed to use the flashbang grenade if they could see where each family member was at the time of the raid, thereby absolving any chance of wrongdoing. These sorts of low-chance, non-lethal technician errors cannot be a legitimate reason for the complete abandonment of military-grade weaponry.
While some Americans are busy attempting to incriminate police for supposed hate crimes of excessive use of force, it often results in the people overlooking the simple matter of fact: police are laying their lives down to protect the populace as a whole, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation etc. In 2012 alone, US law enforcement suffered 120 deaths and thousands more wounded (Source E), all in the pursuit of protecting the masses. Furthermore, while many people question the brash methods used by SWAT teams, lengthy contemplation has no place during a situation of pressure. Simple, straightforward, good training is the true key to saving lives, as chronicled by Hialeah SWAT team, whose procedure is “don’t wait…enter and engage” (Source E). These well trained SWAT teams do not deserve the criticism being launched at their procedures, but require only sympathy from those who they protect, for those who have fallen for that goal. With good training and the necessary proper equipment future law enforcement will be able to reduce the amount of casualties suffered in domestic cases. With the sacrifice and risk that comes with induction into police work, Americans should not solely complain about the possibilities of casualties, but also in turn protect their protectors, by simple funding for safer, newer, more effective tools for law enforcement.
Ultimately, in is important to recognize that the objective of the police is not to specifically target and kill all of its suspects, but to subdue, arrest, and try the perpetrator in the most efficient way, resulting in the least amount of casualties possible. Good equipment is mandatory to pursue that goal. The militarization of police has been happening for decades, and has shown on multiple occasions to be completely effective, not posing a threat to civil liberties and civilian safety, but as the guardian of the rights and livelihoods of the people.