ACLU to Investigate the Militarization of Law Enforcement


My friend Radley Balko, who has done more than any other person in the country to document and combat the militarization of law enforcement, and the inevitable abuses that come with it, is finally getting some serious institutional help. The ACLU is launching a major project on the subject:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a nationwide campaign to assess police militarization in the United States. Starting Wednesday, ACLU affiliates in 23 states are sending open records requests to hundreds of state and local police agencies requesting information about their SWAT teams, such as how often and for what reasons they’re deployed, what types of weapons they use, how often citizens are injured during SWAT raids, and how they’re funded. More affiliates may join the effort in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the affiliates will ask for information about drones, GPS tracking devices, how much military equipment the police agencies have obtained through programs run through the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, and how often and for what purpose state National Guards are participating in enforcement of drug laws.

“We’ve known for a while now that American neighborhoods are increasingly being policed by cops armed with the weapons and tactics of war,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which is coordinating the investigation. “The aim of this investigation is to find out just how pervasive this is, and to what extent federal funding is incentivizing this trend.”

Bravo to the ACLU for taking this issue seriously. The use of SWAT teams even by small police forces, often to serve warrants on non-violent offender, has created a huge problem with the violation of civil liberties and a significant number of casualties. The more light we can shine on this, the better.

Comments

  1. tsig says

    “I assume that this will somehow touch on national security and/or state secrets and will thus be stonewalled to the fullest.”

    Obviously we can’t let the terrorisst know what kind of defenses we have in Keokuk, Iowa.

    We can’t even let the citizens of Keokuk know. (til their door blows in)

  2. says

    Yeah, Keokuk sounds like an Arabic name. Can’t be too careful, y’know…

    ANyway, good to know the ACLU are spending time on something more worthwhile than bullying public schools with lawsuits to enforce the rights of bullies to intimidate their targets by non-violent means.

  3. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee writes:

    ANyway, good to know the ACLU are spending time on something more worthwhile than bullying public schools with lawsuits to enforce the rights of bullies to intimidate their targets by non-violent means.

    The ACLU earns its financial, political, and legal capital by consistently defending our equal rights. Their consistent principled non-partisan/tribalistic approach is sometimes is in direct conflict with some partisan agendas who would prefer we apply differing standards which loosens standards for one tribe vs. another.

    My critique here is premised on rejecting Raging Bee’s, “rights of bullies”, strawman. A strawman that misrepresents the nature of some plaintiffs’ behavior who credibly seek equal protection of their non-disruptive, non-harassing speech rights. A strawman apparently built to advocate the ACLU defends the speech rights of speech popular with Raging Bee while not seeking equal protection of speech for those unpopular with Raging Bee.

    Lying about one’s opponents, here it would be those students who sought to express their antipathy towards gay marriage on T-shirts on the Day of Silence, continues to be bad form. Even when its popular to do so amongst some of one’s fellow tribalists.

Leave a Reply