It's been a while since I've written one of these, but a few news articles caught my eye today regarding the militarization of police. Each of them is concerning on their own, but taken together it seems to show an increasing trend.
First we have Chicago police conducting live drills at a local school. During the school day. I understand the need for police officers to drill, in fact most departments have a space to do this. I was recently a volunteer at a police SWAT training exercise, having police with the best training is a great idea. Even having them train in a school is a good idea. It's a reasonable idea that police officers should know the layout of local schools, malls and office buildings. However, training in a school using blank ammo while students are on site doesn't make sense to me.
The second event was similar, but in Texas. Police and military in Houston flew helicopters over the city with machine guns blazing out blank rounds. Local citizens had no way to know these were blanks, for all they knew someone stole a police helicopter and decided to open up the city.
As well, we have three helicopters buzzing buildings in the capitol in Pennsylvania. This drill involved police (who looked like soldiers) dropping out of helicopters on ropes, again with no notice to the public. I'm sure it looked like a scene out of a movie, and many in the public were justifiably concerned. This article even calls out this is not something they've done before: "This is the first time the state has ever partnered with federal law enforcement in this capacity.".
We also have joint police and military operations in Florida that involve helicopters buzzing over neighborhoods. All in the same week. That's perhaps more than an anomaly. I have two questions, why have police suddenly decided to do military drills in populated areas? The whole reason police train in designated training areas is to minimize civilian concern and potential casualties. What has changed?
The only thing I can come up with is desensitization. That's the only reason to expose people to drills like this. Violent crime has been steadily dropping for a couple decades. The terror organizations seems to be weaker by the day, as we continue to deploy troops in new countries to kill them. The only reason I can think that the additional risk of conducting drills in populated areas makes sense it to get people used to the idea of a militarized police being constantly present. That concerns me.
Stay safe out there!