CAN MILITARIZATION BE A GOOD THING FOR AMERICA’S POLICE?

SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 by Jason Fritz

In Sangin, Afghanistan, during the fall of 2011, Marine Lieutenant Joshua Waddell identified a suspected bomb-maker while conducting surveillance operations. After obtaining permission from his battalion headquarters, Waddell ordered his men to engage the bomb-maker, wounding the suspected insurgent. As soon as the bomb-maker was hit, a group of civilians — possibly teenagers — rushed to his aid, placing him on a tractor in an attempt to evacuate him from the battlefield. Waddell ordered his snipers to fire on the tractor to disable it so that they could capture the bomb-maker. After discovering that the civilians were minors, Waddell’s chain of command accused him of violating the rules of engagement. They removed him from his leadership position and froze his promotions for two years. Later exonerated and permitted to continue his career, Waddell’s story exemplifies the extent to which the U.S. military can hold its personnel to account in how they use lethal force.

With so many recent cases of police officers using lethal force against unarmed civilians, could it be that the problem with America’s police is that they are not militarized enough? That is the provocative suggestion offered by Rachel Tecott and Sara Plana at Monkey Cage. While most writing on domestic police militarization focuses on equipment, Tecott and Plana describe the differences between military and police rules on the use of force, proffering that U.S. police would do well to adopt the training and legal standards used by the military. They are absolutely right that police often do not train on the use of force — or rather the means to prevent using force — but they exaggerate the standards of accountability in the military, particularly compared to police forces. See full article at http://warontherocks.com/2016/09/can-militarization-be-a-good-thing-for-americas-police/

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