America’s streets are looking more and more like a war zone. Last week, in a small county in upstate New York with a population of roughly 120,000 people, county legislators approved the receipt of a 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, donated by the US Defense Department to the county sheriff.
Between the Armored Personnel Carriers locking down main streets in major American cities – mimicking our MRAPs in Afghanistan – or Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) and Special Forces units canvassing our country, if we’re not careful, this militarization of our domestic policing will make-over America, and fast.
Here’s how it all happened. A little-known Pentagon program has been quietly militarizing American police forces for years. A total of $4.2bn worth of equipment has been distributed by the Defense Department to municipal law enforcement agencies, with a record $546m in 2012 alone.
In the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1997, the “1033 program” was born. It allows the Defense Department to donate surplus military equipment to local police forces.
Though the program’s existed since the 1990s, it has expanded greatly in recent years, due, in part, to post-9/11 fears and sequestration budget cuts. The expanse, however, seems unnecessary given that the Department of Homeland Security has already handed out $34bn in “terrorism grants” to local polices forces – without oversight mind you – to fund counter-terrorism efforts.
Additional militarization, then, deserves congressional attention as the program is harmful and must be scaled back for a number of reasons.
Boston bombs: a city in the grip of terror
America was experiencing the most intense manhunt for a generation tonight after a 19-year-old student, who bombed the Boston marathon with his brother, escaped during a shoot-out with police, prompting an entire city to be put into lock-down.
Boston’s stations and subways were closed, while airspace was restricted and controlled explosions were carried out on several suspicious packages. Streets were deserted as a city of around a million people was left effectively under siege.
The dramatic scenes unfolded as it emerged that America’s worst terrorist attack since September 11, 2001, had been carried out by young brothers who had been brought up in America by their parents. They appeared to have hatched their plot in a flat in Cambridge, Masachussets, the home of Harvard University, a decade after arriving in the US from the Russian province of Dagestan, on the border with Chechnya.
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- Homeland Security News Wire
- Pentagon’s Militarization of Our Main Streets and Municipal Police (huffingtonpost.com)
- TRANSPARENCY: Utah Won’t Disclose Records On Police Militarization. One of the main forces behin… (pjmedia.com)
- Militarization: When the Extraordinary Becomes Ordinary (psychologytoday.com)
- PressTV: US small towns buy heavily armored MRAP (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- $4.2 Billion in Military Hardware Donations Fuels Militarization of U.S. Police Forces (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)