News Release

Police Militarization “Quick Fix”

51J0HZM4E9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_CNN is now reporting: “Obama preparing order on police militarization.”

PETER KRASKA, peter.kraska at eku.edu
Kraska is professor and chair of Graduate Studies and Research in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He is considered a leading expert on police militarization and is author or co-author of numerous books including Essential Criminal Justice and Criminology Research Methods and The American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and Police. In recent months, he’s met at the White House and has given Congressional testimony.

He said today: “It’s positive to see the White House addressing the issue of police militarization as it relates to Ferguson but the approach that they’re they’re taking is a minor step in addressing the overall militarization trend.

“From my meeting at the White House, frankly, they — like most political players — were interested in a quick fix. They want to hear that by somehow tweaking the 1033 program (which transfers equipment from the Pentagon to local law enforcement) that they can have an impact. That program is important symbolically, but there’s an entire for-profit police militarization industry that wouldn’t be affected.

“You also have to review the Department of Homeland Security grant program which provides far more than the military. Also, far more military-style training occurs under DHS and DOD. Local law enforcement also pays for heavy military-type equipment from civil asset forfeiture funds. At the end of the day, what really needs to be addressed is a 25-year-long process of militarizing the culture of military police.

“There needs to be a focus on the demand side rather than the supply. As long as there is a high level of demand for heavy military equipment by local law enforcement, you’re not really fixing the problem.”

On Tuesday, Kraska will be speaking in Seattle on “Militarized Policing and Public Protest: From the WTO Protests to Ferguson.” It’s been 15 years since the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.

Kraska said today: “The WTO protests were one of the first public instances of obvious police militarization. It was targeted not at low level drug dealers or struggling communities, but many middle and upper class folks in what’s considered an affluent city.”

See video of Kraska’s congressional testimony from October.

See his piece: “Militarization of U.S. Police: Ferguson, Mo.”
In it, he says: “Even though I was the first academic to identify, research, and write about these trends — even I would not have predicted the extent to which the Military Model would overtake the Community Policing reform movement so rapidly.”