"Federal programs have made it easy for police departments to buy military grade weapons and armored vehicles. Initially, it was to fight the war on drugs and more recently for homeland security. I'm all for preparedness, but a police force most crucially needs to be prepared to do the job of policing its community, not to operate as a quasi-military unit. Militaries fight wars. They don't calm tensions, rather they identify an enemy and engage it in armed conflict. Who exactly is the enemy here? Our citizens? Are we fighting us? Nobody wins that fight. We just get more Fergusons. We need to stop before we go any further to ask whether we want our militarized police forces fighting a war against our citizens.
"If you really want to curb crime in your community, rather than buying a military assault vehicle or beefing up your riot squad, try placing a neighborhood substation in an at-risk community. Build some parks and playgrounds, plant some trees, make sure every department in the city (not just the police) is responsive to the needs of every section of the city. Respect and engagement should be our first line of response to communities that have been marginalized. We also take a proactive stance with people suffering from addiction or mental illness, giving them assistance in order to prevent them from turning to crime. Our police are out on our streets looking for people who need help, not for people to arrest."