ON DEVELOPMENT | How US Police Became Paramilitaries

June 4, 2020

A police officer armed with a semi-automatic carbine watching from an armored vehicle during a rally protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd, Miami, Florida, May 31, 2020, Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

That beat cops so often look like troops is not just a problem of “optics.” There is, in fact, a “positive and statistically significant relationship between transfers [to police of military equipment] and fatalities from officer-involved shootings,” according to recent research. In other words, the more militarized we allow law enforcement agents to become, the more likely officers are to use lethal violence against citizens. The corollary of more police-involved killings, of course, is more protests in response. That sets up, for some, a convenient “law and order” pretext to occupy American streets—or “dominate” them as President Trump remarked in a recent news conference.

Source: The New York Review of Books, June 3, 2020, by Michael Shank, How Police Became Paramilitaries

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