The Ferguson riots after the Michael Brown shooting have prompted a nationwide debate about the militarization of police. Videos and photos of St. Louis area police officers in MRAPs and tactical gear shocked many viewers, but the Pentagon hand-me-downs program has been going on for quite a long time. Before military tanks rolled onto the streets of Ferguson and police officers dodged Molotov cocktails, a vocal portion of America questioned the evolving militarized police presence -- but those folks were largely dismissed as paranoid preppers and Right Wing extremists who feared a too-powerful government. Now liberal politicians like Elizabeth Warren are on the same side of the police militarization debate as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
Police officers need to be able to defend themselves in order to defend the public, and dismissing the idea of another terrorism attack on American soil could spell disaster. The Boston Marathon bombing served as a stark reminder of exactly how quickly standing along a seemingly safe American street can become deadly. The center of the military equipment and gear debate now centers upon how much is too much and where should the line be drawn between police and soldiers.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol took control of the Ferguson protests on Thursday and the military equipment disappeared from view. A calm appears to have settled over the city and many hope that the scene will remain non-violent while an investigation to unearth exactly what happened between Michael Brown, and the officer to be named later today, is permitted to conclude.
Is the United States in the midst of developing a nationalized military police force? Constitutional scholars would be quick to say no, because such a law enforcement entity would be illegal, unconstitutional, and just plain unwise. But the tens of thousands of machine guns being made available to police forces around the country might indicate just such a force could be in the works.
During the Obama administration, approximately 200,000 ammunition magazines, tens of thousands of machine guns, night vision equipment, silencers, camo gear, aircraft, and armored cars have been received by police departments around the country, according to Pentagon data quoted in The New York Times.