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Ferguson proof military might not always right

Is anyone surprised that armored tanks and assault rifles have escalated rather than eased confrontations between civilians and police officers? So much for free stuff from the government not having a hidden price tag.

This just might be the worst re-gifting idea ever.

In the wake of days of violence in Ferguson, Mo., after a police shooting and fueled in part by officers in Humvees pointing machine guns at protesters, Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson plans to introduce legislation to reverse the militarization of police. Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants a review to determine if the Defense Department’s surplus equipment is being used as intended.

Here’s a sneak peek at what the yet-to-be-ordered report might find: Military equipment is intended to be used to fight wars abroad.

The New York Times recently discovered that New Mexico law enforcement agencies have at least 42 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, making the Land of Enchantment No. 1 on the surplus list. While the judicious use of one such vehicle might make sense in a metropolitan area, a state with barely 2 million people has more MRAPs than any other state. Even Texas.

Put aside the baditude such massive firepower engenders for a moment; David Harris, a police expert at the University of Pittsburgh law school, explains the equipment “is an escalation all by itself.”

Yes, New Mexico is a border state that struggles with immigration and drug crimes, but the only similarities to recent war zones are terrain and weather.

As Albuquerque Journal Washington Bureau reporter Michael Coleman recently pointed out in a series on Homeland Security and increasing police militarization, we’re talking Farmington and Columbus, not Fallujah and Kandahar.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is “deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment sends a conflicting message.”

Look no further than Ferguson for proof that military might isn’t always right. New Mexico’s congressional delegation should join the call for investigation into and reversal of the expanding militarization of the nation’s police forces.

— Albuquerque Journal

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