The state of law enforcement, beyond Ferguson

I keep thinking about Ferguson, MO. And I keep thinking that the issue is much larger. Here is an angle on all of this that I haven’t read about.

Everywhere, all across America, law enforcement is feeling its own brand of stress.

Our nation—namely, the right wing and their severe austerity approach to government spending—is reducing the power of police unions and taking away their pensions.

Policemen and policewomen increasingly work overtime doing jobs like event security because of salary cuts.

Policemen and policewomen have families. Over the past thirty or forty years, these professionals have seen their health and benefits packages placed on political bargaining tables for reasons that have nothing to do with them.

Their support services are getting privatized, and ultimately, corporatized. So the services their families rely upon are getting worse because private companies are using the fat government contract to drive up their stock prices, and these companies could care less about police officers and their families.

This is all beyond the specifics of any city, town or rural area where an officer of the law would work.

All of them are getting screwed over. Which begs the following question:

WHY ARE WE GIVING THESE INCREASINGLY-DISENFRANCHISED AND PISSED OFF INDIVIDUALS UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS OF ACCESS TO ASSAULT WEAPONS AND MILITARY TECHNOLOGY THAT THEY HAVEN’T BEEN TRAINED TO USE?

Innocent American citizens—mainly people of color—are in danger from our police, and from a certain viewpoint, our society is fostering this situation. Here are the steps:

  • Treat police more unfairly, bust their unions and take away their bargaining power
  • Give them historically unprecedented access to advanced military weaponry
  • Don’t adequately train the police to use said weaponry
  • Turn them loose on the population

When men and women who have served our country in uniform write about how the equipment in the hands of the Ferguson Police Department is far beyond what they had in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have to wonder.

Just wondering on this fine Sunday night.

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