Want to Ease Police-Community Tensions? Start With Demilitarizing
Militarization does no good for police either. As Arthur Rizer, the Director of Justice and National Security Policy at the R Street Institute put it, “To give an officer an M-4 and expect him or her to use it as their primary weapon, limits the menu of response options in a given situation. Peace officers rarely need camouflage, assault rifles, and armored vehicles. In fact, those things can make it more difficult for them to do their jobs effectively.” Because the goal of policing is to serve as keepers of the peace, having weapons designed for war can lead to unnecessary escalations that make officers’ jobs harder and put people in harm’s way.
Rizer calls for departments to focus on acting as the “public servant heroes we expect them to be, rather than the soldiers we expect the military to be.” He argues this could be accomplished through training and a focus on hiring the best candidates, both emotionally and intellectually.