Some Quick Thoughts About the “Militarization” of Police Departments

I ran across this article today in the online version of “The Atlantic.”

“Why Does a Small Town Have an Armored Vehicle? A Police Chief Explains.”

This article hit close to home for me, and I wanted to say a couple things about it. First, this is a perfect example of why no one should jump to conclusions. There is a reason why this vehicle is in Galax, Virginia, as the police chief explains, and it’s a good one. It’s used for response to high-risk situations all over the region, and the Galax police department didn’t buy the vehicle, they agreed to house it and deploy it.

Second, lest you think a sleepy little town like Galax doesn’t need to house and deploy such a vehicle, let me point out that Galax is not that far from Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, where not that long ago a student went on a shooting rampage and killed several people. Oh, and Galax is also near Radford, which is home to a rather good-sized armory, last I checked. While I’m sure the Radford Arsenal has procedures in place to minimize the chance of a disasterous event occuring, there’s always a risk of something going wrong. And did I mention there are railroads in there area on which hazardous materials are often transported, and quite a few 18-wheelers carrying even more hazardous materials use the highways in that region all day and night? Yeah, Galax may be a sleepy little town, but there’s certainly potential for disaster in that region and it’s nice to be prepared for when things do go wrong.

Finally, let me just say I know a thing or two about Galax, Virginia. My first Army Reserve unit was located there. For almost three years, I spent one weekend a month and two weeks a year in Galax working with an Army truck unit. A lot of people in my unit were either local police officers or state troopers. These were good people, very hard working, and they not only served the public in their day jobs as police men and women, but they also served their country by joining the military. I joined the unit just after they came back from the Gulf War, so I know a little about the sacrifices these people made.

In the end, I just want to say that before we paint all police with the same dirty brush, please take time to get to know your local law enforcement departments. Every town has an event at some point where the police and the fire departments go out into the community to meet and greet, just like the event where this picture of the Lenco Bearcat was taken. Parades, holidays, community service events… I see our local police at events like these all the time. Yes, there are police out there who are committing horrible abuses, but a lot of police work damn hard to protect the general public. Get to know them, show them some support. The majority of these folks really are working to do a good job.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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