Libertarian Party Solution: End police militarization

This article was originally published in the Sept. 2015 issue of LP News (page 7).

St. Charles County SWAT team - web res A SWAT team deployed on the streets of Ferguson, Mo.  Photo by Jamelle Bouie. (License: CC BY 2.0)

In Lebanon, Tennessee, 61-year-old John Adams was watching television with his wife when police, looking for an alleged drug offender, pounded on their door and kicked it in. The police claim they identified themselves; Adams’s wife Lorriane claims otherwise. Adams fired his legally-obtained shotgun in self-defense, assuming they were criminal intruders. The police shot and killed him instantly.

The officers later discovered they had entered the wrong house.

Adams is among the hundreds of innocent Americans who have been slain by overly-aggressive law enforcement.

Police forces around the United States are becoming dangerously militarized in both tactics and equipment, owing largely to the War on Drugs and the federal government’s selling them military surplus — including armored personnel carriers, rocket-propelled grenades, and tactical equipment.

Libertarians call for immediately ending police militarization. Police should be peacekeepers who protect the people of their communities and serve them with respect, not as an occupying army. Use of military surplus equipment and supplies by domestic police departments should be strictly prohibited.

Libertarians also call for immediately ending the disastrously failed War on Drugs and for repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides for dispensation of military equipment to federal and state law enforcement agencies for “counter-drug activities.” This will take away the pretext for excessive use of force and leave police with just one crime-fighting mandate: go after only those who pose a real threat to others. Crime will go way down, killings of the innocent will end, and Americans will be safe from injustice in their homes and in the streets.