April 23, 2019 | 67° F

Militarization of police antithetical to concept of public service

According to a commentary published in the Daily Targum on Sept. 28 titled, “Police militarization necessary for law enforcement,” the events in Ferguson somehow indicate a need for more police empowerment. The writer fails to prove why protecting the police is more important than the safety of the citizens. While it may seem that the protection of the police would be conducive to the protection of the people, it becomes questionable in relation to the legal immunity many officers find themselves granted after committing acts of unjustifiable brutality.

The lack of prosecution — or any sort of accountability — for Darren Wilson, and any of the other mostly white men who murder black people, communicates a message of acceptability: Being a police officer is how you get away with murder. So why are these the people who need military-strength defense? If they need such an extreme measure to handle protests following a climax of blatant injustice, police departments should also be provided with military-strength soundproofing so they don’t have to face even the slightest annoyance while ignoring the call of the citizens they, in theory, serve.

The level of gear the officers used only demonized the protesters by portraying a situation in which officers needed protection similar to soldiers in a combat zone. It showed the lengths law enforcement is willing to go to, if it means they can continue harboring murderers in both a legal and personal context. Why is receiving aid from the United States Department of Defense more important and relevant to the situation than accountability for the shooting of Michael Brown?

The suggestion that the Ferguson police department demonstrated a proper need for military aid ignores the legitimacy of the protests. It implies there is no solution but to subjugate the citizens, as if they have no demands at all, let alone reasonable ones. The Ferguson police department demonstrated a proper need for police reform, especially pertaining to prosecution of police brutality, and a lack of willingness to understand or empathize with the people of their city.

The argument presented in the aforementioned article is based on the false premise that there is absolutely nothing the police can do besides use military equipment. But instead, they can address the concerns of the community and implement reform for the good of the citizens, as public servants are supposed to do.

Melissa Roses Laughlin is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in linguistics and English writing.

Melissa Roses Laughlin

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