Demilitarization of Police Means Disrupting the Army-to-Police Pipeline

Many police officers are themselves former members of the military who picked up a career in policing after returning from war zones. But this isn’t the only problem. Loaded down with cast-off gear from the Pentagon — body armor, bayonets, automatic rifles, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and surveillance drones — police officers are more likely to regard peaceful protestors as enemy combatants, particularly when the Pentagon’s own top official refers to their protest scenes as “battlespace.”

Policing is the third most common occupation for men and women who served in the military. It is an option widely encouraged by career counselors and veterans’ organizations like the American Legion.  As a result, several hundred thousand veterans are now wearing a badge of some sort. Though veterans comprise just 6 percent of the US population, veterans now working in law enforcement number 19 percent of the total force. Their disproportionate representation is due, in part, to preferential hiring requirements, mandated by state or federal law. In addition, under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice provided local police departments with tens of millions of dollars to fund veterans-only positions.

Jacobinmag Demilitarization of Police Means Disrupting the Army-to-Police Pipeline