With a national spotlight on racist and militaristic police practices, now is the time to tell the Department of Justice to do what it can to end these practices.
Although the Department of Justice does not link their new decision to undertake a broad review of police tactics to any specific incident, it comes during a wave of notable instances of police killing unarmed black men and responding with excessive force to a peaceful protest of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The DoJ is also considering reinstating a national commission to provide guidance to police policies. This move is supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
There has been a push to stop the growing militarization of police forces and the overuse of SWAT teams for some time. At present, local police units are being inundated with free military equipment including tanks, assault rifles and vehicles designed to resist land mines. They are also being trained in military tactics. And there is also a push to hire members of the military into the police force.
Here are the concerns:
- In a time when arrests for violent crimes are decreasing, we are seeing instead overly aggressive tactics being used by the police resulting in extrajudicial murders for minor or non-existent crimes.
- The use of SWAT teams, mostly to deliver arrest warrants, has increased 1,500% in the past two decades. And there are no specific guidelines for the use of SWAT teams nor are there mechanisms for transparency and accountability to the public.
- Billions of dollars of military equipment has been transferred to police departments from the Department of Defense without justification for its need.
- Military personnel are being fast-tracked into positions in police forces and the police are being trained in military tactics.
- Military personnel are not adequately screened for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), nor are they excluded from being hired for a diagnosis of PTSD.
- Although it is known that some police officers are addicted to anabolic steroids and that these can lead to hyper-aggressive behavior, there is inadequate screening for this condition.
Here are the recommendations to the DoJ:
1. Recommend repealing section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act to stop the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies.
2. Issue policy guidance to limit the use of SWAT teams to barricades, hostage situations and active shooters in which ordinary police cannot safely operate and create a mechanism for transparency and accountability to the public regarding the use of SWAT teams.
3. Issue policy guidance requiring police to report all stops including race, ethnicity, reason for the stop and what occurred. And take all necessary actions, including the requirement that police wear cameras, to reduce racially-based policing and excessive use of force.
If you agree,please sign the petition above and it will send an email to the DoJ.