The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.
That’s from The LA Times website. What I find interesting is they don’t talk at all about the actual, federal program that started/enabled the militarization of the police—the 1033 Program. And my guess is that it doesn’t fit the narrative…it was passed by the Clinton administration and it’s currently an election year.
As of 2020, 8,200 local law enforcement agencies participated in the program that has transferred $5.1 billion in military material from the Department of Defense to law enforcement agencies since 1997.
That quote is from the WiKi article for the program. Know that $5.1B wasn’t all military-style weapons and vehicles and a lot of that equipement should be repurposed, but we’re talking about a huge program with a large value that departments won’t let go of easily and I think Obama was on the right track when he sought to limit the types of equipment available through the program and it’s dissapointing that Trump reversed that EO (though I have reservations about executive orders and administrative law.)
The core issue isn’t the equipment itself, it’s the attitude/culture that comes along with it. It’s also the language used, such as “war on crime,” and “war on drugs.”
While I fully appreciate the fact that police see a side of society that most of us pretend doesn’t exist outside of episodes of Law and Order, I also appreciate that we need to recognize the impact that exposure has on individuals. When you have an individual who sees the worst of people day-in and day-out and you provide that individual gear, uniforms, and the language of conflict/war, you’re going to get someone who imagines himself a soldier fighting the good fight.
The fix for this isn’t going to be easy and it damn sure isn’t an abolishment of police altogether. It needs to be complex and multifaceted, to include rethinking emotional support programs for officers, rethinking officers’ duties, rethinking how they are kitted, the role of labor unions, etc.
Consider that in California, the State requires barbers to have 1,500 hours training before taking the State Board exam. But to become a police officer in California, You only need 888 hours of training. This is also a failure of the regulatory state.