Via the Huffington Post, the militarization of our police can be turned back, and Radley Balko explains how:
Today in America, SWAT teams are deployed about 100 to 150 times per day, or about 50,000 times per year – a dramatic increase from the 3,000 or so annual deployments in the early 1980s, or the few hundred in the 1970s. The vast majority of today’s deployments are to serve search warrants for drug crimes. The question is, how could the U.S. roll all of this back?
End the Drug War – Even decriminalization would take away many of the incentives to fight the drug war as if it were an actual war. Your average small town SWAT team would probably continue to exist, at least in the short term. But these teams are expensive to maintain, and without federal funding, it seems likely that many would eventually disband.
End The “Equitable Sharing” Civil Asset Forfeiture Program – Under civil asset forfeiture, police agencies can seize any piece of property – cash, cars, homes – that they can reasonably connect to criminal activity. In most places, the proceeds of the seizure go to the police department. Since civil asset forfeiture is used overwhelmingly in drug investigations, this has created a strong incentive for police to send their SWAT teams to serve routine drug warrants.
End The 1033 Program – The so-called 1033 program, passed in 1997, formalized a Pentagon policy of giving away surplus military equipment to domestic police agencies, which had been going on since the Reagan years. Millions of pieces of equipment have since been given away – $500 million worth in 2011 alone. Once they get the gear – tanks, armored personnel vehicles, guns, helicopters, bayonets, you name it – police agencies in tiny towns have used it to start SWAT teams. Even seemingly innocuous items like camouflage uniforms can reinforce a militaristic culture and mindset.
Read the rest at the Huffington Post