Are We Sliding Toward a Police State?
Law enforcement officials should not behave like an invading army.
Comb through newspapers across the country and one will find many incidents of officer-involved shootings and aggressive behavior by the authorities, who, as an aside, increasingly look like paramilitary rather than community officers. Police say society has become more dangerous, but crime rates are falling even during tough economic times. The number of officers killed on duty is at record lows.
In my view, the reason for the incidents is the nature of policing has changed. Following the 9/11 attacks, officers have convinced themselves that every member of the public is a potential threat. Every local police department is awash in grants from “Homeland Security” to buy the latest toys and weaponry. Attitudes have changed and the local police aren’t your friends any more.
From a practical standpoint, these incidents remind us to think carefully before calling for police help. From a policy perspective, it’s time for a wide-ranging debate about use-of-force issues that’s not dominated by police unions and their political courtiers.